Cooler Master is well known in the PC community. Whether you are a budget builder, avid gamer, or an elite overclocker you have undoubtedly purchased some of their products. That’s because Cooler Master has had their hands in nearly every aspect of computer hardware and has done so for more than 25 years. For this review, they have provided us with the improved mesh variant of the Mastercase H500P, an enthusiast level, mid-tower case with style and tidiness in mind. I will turn the proverbial screws to find out where they have hit their mark and where they have missed.
Here’s a list of the specifications per the Cooler Master website.
|Cooler Master Mastercase H500P Mesh|
|Product Name||MasterCase H500P Mesh|
|Model Number||MCM-H500P-WGNN-S00, MCM-H500P-MGNN-S10|
|Available Color||White, Gun Metal|
|Materials||Outlook: Plastic, Steel Mesh
Side panel: Tempered Glass, Steel
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||544 x 242 x 542mm / 21.4 x 9.5 x 21.3 inch|
|Motherboard Support||Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX, E-ATX (support up to 12″ x 10.7″)|
|Expansion Slots||7 + 2 (Support vertical graphics card installation)|
|I/O Port||USB 3.0 x 2
USB 2.0 x 2
Audio In & Out (supports HD Audio)
|Liquid Cooling Support||
|Power Supply Support||Bottom mount, ATX PS2|
The H500P Mesh comes shipped in a full-color cardboard box. Displayed on the outside is everything a consumer would need to know about the product they are purchasing. Inside the box, the case is protected by molded Styrofoam blocks on the top and bottom. Pretty typical so far, but then we come to a large cloth carry bag. This is somewhat confusing as I doubt anyone will be using a case this large for LAN parties. It does make it easier for pulling out of the box, but otherwise, I don’t see it’s purpose. Moving along we finally get to see our prize inside a clear plastic bag. It’s obvious that Cooler Master has not skimped out in their attempt to protect your order from the usual shipping mishaps.
Included with the H500P Mesh is a small black cardboard box. Inside we find a front fan bracket for mounting a 120mm fan, 140mm fan, or a 360mm radiator to the top front of the case. There is a bundle of ten small zip ties, an RGB controller, a 3-pin to 4-pin Molex adapter for connecting fans, a black cleaning cloth for the tempered glass side panel, and a bag of assorted screws. Finally, there is an owner’s manual and warranty information booklet.
The RGB controller is new to the H500P Mesh and is not included in the non-mesh variant. This controller allows you to change the color and lighting effects of the case when using a motherboard that does not have onboard RGB controls. This is accomplished by connecting your front reset switch to the controller or by using the button on the controller itself. The issue I see with this method is that you now lose the ability to reset your system via the reset switch or if you choose to use the button included on the controller, you need to open up the case anytime you wish to reset. This is certainly a Band-aid fix, albeit a welcomed one, as it’s better to have it than not. I have read rumors that the next iteration of the H500P will include a dedicated switch in the front I/O, but for now, we’ll have to wait and see.
Exterior At A Glance
The Cooler Master Mastercase H500P Mesh can be purchased in White or Gun Metal gray like the one you see here. I should also mention early on that all of these photos are taken in full color. The black and gray case combined with the white and gray photo booth make these images seem to be in black and white. I assure you they are not, and when there is color, it really “pops”.
When looking from the front the first thing you will notice is the massive amount of black painted steel mesh. This will allow for as much air as the twin 200mm intake fans can draw in. This is a major improvement over the non-mesh variant which understandably had issues with airflow. Near the bottom of the mesh panel is the easily recognizable Cooler Master logo in black and silver. At the top of the front is the I/O panel. This houses two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 plugs, headphone and microphone jacks, power button, the reset/RGB switch, and finally, an HDD indicator LED.
The left side of the case is a large, lightly tinted, tempered glass panel. At the top center is the chrome fastener and the whole panel is surrounded with a black bezel. We can also see the mesh screen for the intake at the front and exhaust at the top.
The right side of the case is mainly featureless. There is a solid black steel side panel and the steel mesh ventilation matches the left side. The side panel is secured by two black capacitive screws. This is a nice feature as you won’t have to worry about dropping screws and they’re always right there when you need them.
The top panel features a large acrylic window that wraps around to the rear of the case. This window allows for a good view of your exhaust fans should you choose to add some. It’s curious as to why Cooler Master opted to keep the acrylic window on top with the mesh variant and not to make this mesh also. If improved airflow was the driving force for this version, and it certainly was, then I feel they may have missed a golden opportunity here. But let’s hold our judgment until we get to testing the airflow.
Moving to the rear of the case we see that the case is equipped to house either a 120mm or 140mm rear exhaust fan. There is a 140mm fan pre-installed from the factory. To the left of that is the standard motherboard cutout. Below this is the seven expansion slots and the two vertical slots. These vertical slots can be used to showcase your dual slot GPU if you so choose, you will need to purchase a PCI extension cable though. Near the bottom of the case, we have the PSU mounting plate. This mounting plate is yet another improvement over the non-mesh H500P making the PSU installation just a bit easier. Lastly, if you look closely, you will see the removable dust filter at the very bottom. All quality cases should have removable intake dust filters to keep the dust out of the case and simplify routine cleaning.
The last area to look at before the disassembly is the bottom. With the case on its side, we get a clear view of the removable PSU filter. It spans nearly half the length of the case and regardless what size PSU you install you will have supreme confidence that this filter will provide clean, unobstructed air to your power source. In the four corners, there are large rubber padded feet. When the case is upright there is no chance of it shifting or sliding around on your desk or floor. Where you place it is where it stays. At the front of the bottom is a largely unused area. For whatever reason Cooler Master passed on an opportunity for another 120mm, 140mm intake, or possibly a water pump mount. Here is another opportunity missed I’m afraid.
With the exterior glance taken care of let’s grab the old toolbox and strip this case down to its steel frame.
We will start by taking the left side cover off. To do this we will need a flat head screwdriver and with a quarter turn to the right the tempered glass tilts out and rests nicely waiting for us to lift it off. This panel fits much tighter than the previous version so the screwdriver is necessary, but it also means it won’t open inadvertently.
With a clear view inside the case, we find that the motherboard tray has two fixed motherboard stand-offs pre-installed. Each stand-off location is clearly marked depending on which size motherboard is to be installed. This is a very nice feature and will aid nicely in the build section.
We can see a very large CPU access hole through the motherboard tray. This case features a cover for the CPU access hole. Here is what Cooler Master has to say about this, “Cooler Master was the first to make a CPU cut out hole and we are the first to cover it again.” We will address this further once we get to the right side, for now, let’s continue to the left.
At the top, there are two large openings for the CPU power and fan cables. Working our way around clockwise are the three grommeted openings and a plate for hiding all the cables. The plate is removable and has some stylized shape formed into it but is devoid of any screw holes for attaching a tube style reservoir. At the very bottom of the motherboard tray are two more openings for feeding the audio, USB, and front I/O cables through.
Looking a bit further down we come to the PSU and HDD caddy covers along with the two SSD trays. The PSU cover is attached with three screws and proudly displays the Cooler Master logo. Keeping with the black and gray theme, I feel this is a great choice as too many times we see a companies logo in a bold color that may force a color theme with a build.
As mentioned earlier, to remove the right side panel there are two capacitive screws holding it in place. There is also a handy flare in the panel making it easy to grasp, pull, and swing open similar to the left side.
With the panel off, our eyes get a nice treat. There is a very large cable cover, CPU cover mentioned just above, two slots for locating the SSD trays behind the motherboard, and finally the PSU nesting. The CPU cover snaps on without the need for fasteners. Although its only function is aesthetics, it does look nice. The panel for hiding cables is held on by two screws and as you’ll see in the build section, it keeps everything very neat and tidy. There are a total of 16 slots for cable ties at appropriate locations. Well done Cooler Master.
With both side panels removed, we move forward to the front. By pressing down on the top of the front panel it tilts forward and lifts out. This method is yet again another improvement over the non-mesh variant that has issues with the front panel being loose. A close-up of this panel shows the steel outer mesh and fine inner fabric mesh. While some might not view this as a removable filter, it certainly is. It is toolless, easily removed with one hand, and can be cleaned with a can of air just as any other removable filter would be, a very nice design here.
With the front panel out of the way, we see the duo of monstrous 200mm fans. We’ll pull these off and feature them separately.
Using the single thumb screw we remove the top cover and gain access to the attic space. The ventilation system here is the same as the front panel so if someone decides to go against conventional wisdom and use the attic space as an intake, it is filtered. With a single thumbscrew, I would consider this panel to be another toolless removable filter, very nice again. With the top lid off we notice there is a fan mounting adapter that is secured via four screws. There are also slots for up to three 120mm fans or two 140mm fans which allow a full range of adjustment from front to rear. Removing the adapter we find eight screw holes clearly marked for a pair of 200mm fans. So many choices for top fans, thank you, Cooler Master.
There are two screws keeping the HDD cover in place. Once removed we find the HDD caddy with it’s dual, toolless HDD trays and a slot for a single SSD tray. There are two locations you can mount the HDD caddy and cover. The forward position allows for the longest possible PSU or additional cable space should you opt for a non-modular power supply. The aft position provides clearance for a radiator at the front. The entire caddy is held in place with a single screw at the front and a tab in the rear.
The SSD trays are each secured using a single capacitive screw in the front and tab at the rear. The foremost tray must be removed for the HDD cover to be placed it the aft position.
The PSU cover is secured with three screws and with it removed, we have a great view of the PSU intake filter and six foam rubber anti-vibration pads. To the front of the case, we get to that bare, unused, and wasted space. If a customer didn’t have a need for the HDD caddy this would be a prime location for a 120mm or 140mm fan. You could even mount a water pump here if you were so inclined. As it stands, you would need to purchase a mounting kit to secure a reservoir or pump in this area.
There are three fans included with this case. The dual 200 x 25mm front fans spin at 800 RPM. They are power by a 3-pin connector and have a 4-pin RGB cable as well. The 140 mm x 25 mm rear fan spins at 1200 RPM and also has a 3-pin power connector.
This concludes the teardown portion of this review and I will leave a couple of glamour shots of the case frame, fully stripped down.
We’ve analyzed each section of this case, now let’s grab some parts from the benching station and look at it’s potential. I will highlight this case’s ability to house custom water cooling components as well as large air coolers.
Water Cooled Build
For a custom loop mock-up build, I’ve installed an Alphacool 360 radiator with a thickness of 60mm in the front and paired it with three 120mm fans. To do this it was necessary to use the included bracket. I should note that the screws that came with the case were not long enough to mount the radiator so I had to locate some that would work. If you plan on doing a custom loop be sure to find some long screws. There was enough room up front to adjust the radiator down an additional 25mm. This should give enough room if you decided to add a radiator up top as well. The maximum top clearance with my ASRock 990FX Extreme 9 motherboard was 70mm. So with 25mm thick fans, you would have room for a 45mm thick radiator. That’s not too bad. There is only 20mm of space between the top fans and the top window. This is cutting it close but should be adequate for a proper exhaust.
Air Cooled Build
For an air cooled mock-up build I’ve removed all the water cooling components and installed a Noctua NH-D14. This is to show the exceptional cooler clearance. This Noctua cooler is 160mm tall and there is plenty of room to spare.
As per the cooler master specifications we are able to house two 2.5″ drives and two 2.5″ or 3.5″ drives for a combined total of four. I have discovered that it is possible to house two 2.5″ drives in each tray. This can be done by utilizing low profile screws and mounting a 2.5″ drive on the top and sliding the second drive under the tray. This gives us the potential for a total of six drives, two 3.5″ drives and four 2.5″ drives. With a maximum of only two 3.5″ drives, this case is not really a viable option as a media server. It would be nice if these storage caddies had the ability to stack with additional caddies, but this is not an option here.
While we’re looking at the storage lets take a look at cable clearances. There is about 25mm of clearance behind the motherboard for routing cables. This is more than adequate as most will be routed hidden behind the concealing panel.
We’ve tested what will fit in this case and there are quite a few options for the enthusiast builder. Now it’s time to test the whole purpose of this mesh version. In order to test whether this case is getting adequate airflow, I will load up an AMD FX4130 and HD7950 on stock coolers. We’ll run Aida64 Extreme and Unigine Heaven for about a half hour to get a baseline peak temperature and then remove the side panel and run Heaven one more time to see if there is a temperature drop. If the case is getting proper airflow then the temps will remain relatively the same. If there is a temperature drop with the side panel removed then we know the case is starving for fresh, cool air. I will then repeat this test with three 120mm fans mounted in the top as exhaust to see if the temperatures improve over the case stock set-up. We’re only looking for a temperature drop, so this four core CPU on a stock cooler is more than capable of providing accurate results.
|Case:||Cooler Master H500P Mesh|
|CPU:||AMD FX4130 with stock cooler 3.8Ghz @ 1.35v|
|Motherboard:||ASRock 990FX Extreme 9|
|GPU:||Sapphire HD7950 Vapor-X|
Looking at the results of the test we can see a maximum temperature difference between 1-2 °C for CPUTIN and SYSTIN. This result is similar in both runs. What this indicates is there is adequate airflow in the stock configuration. The addition of top exhaust fans would only be necessary if you were running a hotter system such as an eight-core processor, Dual GPU’s, or perhaps a heavy overclock. As it stands this case passes the airflow test and our concerns for airflow are not warranted. There seems to be no need for an additional fan slot at the bottom of the case, nor mesh at the top.
As with every review we have scrutinized details as strictly as possible. While there are areas I would like to see improved, I believe Cooler Master did an excellent job of addressing the major needs for this case. This case is best suited for the serious gamer or other enthusiast users. What this case is not really suitable for is as a media server with it’s limitation to only housing two 3.5″ HDD’s. The Mastercase H500P has attained all three of its goals with this iteration, style, tidiness, and adequate airflow.
The Cooler Master H500P Mesh White retails for $149.99 at Newegg. This price puts it right in line with other cases of its caliber and at this price point, I can confidently give it the Overclockers.com seal of approval.
Click the stamp for an explanation of what this means.