Cooler Master SL600M Mid Tower Case Review

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Today we will be looking at Cooler Master Mastercase SL600M. Advertised as a premier aluminum mid-tower case, the SL600M replaces the H500 series as their new flagship in the mid-tower line of chassis. Equipped with new features and a sleek new look, this case is sure to turn heads.

Cooler Master’s latest creation has a vertical chimney layout designed to reduce noise and improve airflow. This is accomplished by channeling the heated air from the bottom to the top in it’s natural, rising, direction. This case also features a proximity sensor at the I/O panel that will illuminate the USB ports for ease of access in lower light situations. Back in April, we reviewed Cooler Master’s H500P Mesh so this will be interesting to see what improvements this new design has to offer. Without further adieu, let’s get started.

Cooler Master SL600M

Specifications

Here’s a list of the specifications per the Cooler Master website.

Cooler Master SL600M Mid-tower Case Specifications
Product Name Cooler Master SL600M
Model Number MCM-SL600M-SGNN-S00
Available Color Silver & Black
Materials Body Steel
Front Panel Aluminum
Top Panel Aluminum
Left Side Panel Tempered Glass
Right Side Panel Steel
Dimensions (LxWxH) 544(L) x 242(W) x 573(H)mm / 21.4 x 9.5 x 22.6 inches
Motherboard Support Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX (E-ATX* support up to 12″ x 10.7″, will limit cable management features)
Expansion Slots 7 + 2 (Support vertical graphics card installation) *(Actually it’s a 9 + 2.  See ‘A Closer Look’ below)
Drive Bays
5.25″ 0
2.5″ / 3.5″ 4
2.5″ SSD 4 (Possible 10 Total. See ‘Storage Possibilities’ below)
I/O Port Power-LED Color White
HDD-LED Color White
USB-Ports USB 3.1 Type C x 1, USB 3.0 Type A x 2, USB 2.0 Type A x 2
Audio In / Out 1x 3.5mm Headset Jack (audio+mic) & 1x 3.5mm Mic Jack
Reset Switch N/A
Fan Control 4 step slide, 4pin PWM x 4
Pre-installed Fan(s)
Top N/A
Front N/A
Rear N/A
Bottom 200mm PWM Fan x 2 (Speed: 400~800RPM / Connector: 4Pin)
Fan Support
Top 120mm x 3 or 140mm/200mm x 2
Front N/A
Rear N/A
Bottom 120mm x 3 or 140mm/200mm x 2
Radiator Support
Top 120mm, 140mm, 240mm, 280mm, 360mm (maximum thickness clearance 43mm)
Front N/A
Rear N/A
Bottom 120mm, 140mm, 240mm, 280mm, 360mm (maximum thickness clearance 72mm when the GFX is installed in the vertical position)
Clearances
CPU Cooler 191mm
PSU 200mm
GPU 318mm
Power Supply Support Bottom mount, ATX PS2
Dust Filters Bottom
EAN Code 4719512075135
UPC Code 884102047626
Price $202.99 at Newegg / $199.99 at Amazon

Packaging

The case comes shipped in a traditional brown cardboard box with basic black print. The front of the box clearly identifies the model number and displays a nice isometric view of the case while the right side shows an image of the front of the case. The left side of the box displays lists the specifications from above while the back side is reserved for the key features printed in eight different languages. The top simply displays the Cooler Master logo and the model number while the bottom is devoid of any print at all.

Upon opening the box we find the case is securely protected by two Styrofoam end caps and a large plastic bag. Sitting on top of one of the end caps is a black cardboard accessories box. The packaging as shipped is suitable to protect this case from the usual bumps and bangs that are associated with today’s shipping. In fact, this package has a little damage to the top, but not enough to cause any harm to the inner contents.

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Contents

With the packaging out of the way, let’s take a moment to look at what accessories are included. In addition to the case, there is an owner’s manual and a small black cardboard box. Opening this box we find an assortment of items including cable ties, a black microfiber cleaning cloth (which came in quite handy during this review), a USB cable for updating the firmware, and a bag of screws. All fairly standard accessories from Cooler Master.

Contents

Exterior at a Glance

Let’s take a quick look around before we delve into the minutia. The SL600M’s silver anodized aluminum panels and black accents give this case a sleek, clean look. There are no RGB LEDs with this case. In a time when every component seems to be getting equipped with them, it’s nice to see Cooler Master providing a premium level case for those who are not interested in that much bling. That’s not to say they can’t be added by the user, but we don’t see it integrated. The large tinted glass side panel will certainly show off any lighting that users decide to add. It is curious why Cooler Master lists this case as a mid tower. This thing is massive in comparison to other mid-towers. As a point of reference, the SL600M is larger than my Phanteks Enthoo Luxe and the Cooler Master H500P Mesh.

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Front

The front of the case does not provide for front fans, therefore, the front panel is absent any mesh. This provides a clean, fresh look and is the reason Cooler Master claims this case reduces noise from others. In fact, the only feature visible from the front is a small, gray, Cooler Master logo.

Front

Tempered Glass Side Panel

The left side of the SL600M is a huge, tinted, tempered glass side panel secured by two captive thumb screws. There is a bright red sticker to warn the new owners to be sure to handle with care. Beneath the glass panel, we notice the large case feet. With a quick measurement, we find they provide about 55mm of clearance below the case. More than enough to provide fresh air even when sitting on your shag carpet. At the very back of the top panel, the SL600M features a dovetail design.

Left Side

Right Side Panel

The right side of the case is a simple black painted steel side panel with no features to speak of aside from another pair of captive thumb screws.

Right Side

Rear

The back of the case has the most to look at so far.  Starting at the top we see large exhaust venting from the top panel. Below this is the standard motherboard cutout. To the right of the motherboard cutout, we can see Cooler Master opted to not locate an exhaust fan here. It appears they are going all in on the vertical chimney design. Below the motherboard cutout, is where the expansion slots reside. These can rotate 90° to allow for multiple PCIe cards to be mounted in a vertical fashion. At the bottom of the rear is where we locate the power cord inlet. We’ll need to spend more time here as you’ll notice there is no PSU mount to be found. This is definitely not a typical mid-tower case.

Rear

Top

Moving on to the top of the case we find an aluminum top lid with black steel mesh underneath. There is a large plastic mesh incorporated into the rear of the top panel to assist in exhausting heated air. Located at the front of the top panel is a power button in the shape of the Cooler Master logo. This case does not feature a reset button. That’s a shame.

Top

Bottom

From the bottom, we can see a nearly full length lower intake filter and a good view of those large oversized feet. The Cooler Master SL600M utilizes four rectangular rubber pads to prevent the case from sliding around on the desk or floor.

Bottom

Input/Output Panel

Located at an angle to the front and top is where the I/O port is located. Starting at the left we find a pair of USB 3.0 ports with separated headphone and microphone jacks. At the center is that small proximity sensor and a single USB 3.1 type C port. Finally, at the right, there is a pair of USB 2.0 ports and a four position fan speed switch. The speeds are marked for High, Medium, Low, and user controlled.

I/O Port

Stripped Down

The exterior looks fantastic but I want to see what really makes this case tick. So let’s grab the old toolbox and strip this case down to its steel frame and take a closer look at all the details this case has to offer.

Left

We will start by taking the side covers off. This is accomplished by loosening the two captive thumbscrews for each panel, a slight pull to the rear, and the panels tilt out supporting themselves at about 60° angles before lifting free of the chassis. With the side panels removed, we get our first glance inside. It’s beautiful. I would like to apologize for all the fingerprints on this case, though. Cooler Master went with a higher gloss black paint in this case and fingerprints are nearly impossible to avoid. Once the build is complete give it a good wipe down and it is likely the same issue will not pop up. I, unfortunately, needed to handle this monstrosity quite a bit for this review.

ISO Open

Left Panel Removed

Looking inside and starting at the top left we notice there are pass-through holes for the CPU power connector and top chassis fans. At the roof is a mounting plate for additional exhaust fans, closed loop cooler, or up to a 360mm radiator. Below that is the enormous cut-out to access the CPU cooler mounting. To the right of that are three large, grommeted wire openings. Underneath the cutout, we find a legend for placing the motherboard stand-offs. The SL600M comes with the stand-offs pre-installed for ATX motherboards. This is helpful as ATX is the most popular size motherboard. Taking a quick peek into the screws bag I notice there are additional standoffs for the larger EATX boards. Very good. Where one normally finds a rear exhaust fan, Cooler Master opted to place a multi-function mounting plate. We’ll take a closer look at these in a minute. There are three more of these mounted throughout the chassis. Mounted to the side of the PSU cover is another and the final two are located at the bottom of the case.

Inside Left

Inside Top

To the left of the motherboard tray are the rotatable expansion slots. Cooler Master reports this case as a mid tower with 7 + 2 slots. I’m counting a 9 + 2 layout making this truly a full tower. This is most likely just a typographical error but curious either way. Moving on we can see that below the motherboard tray there is a decent size angled wire pass-through for routing USB connectors, audio connectors, and other cables that normally connect to the lower portion of the motherboard. This is a very nice feature. I, personally, dislike long visible cables. At the basement of the chassis is a large mesh dividing panel protecting the two 200mm case fans that come pre-installed from the factory. Mounted to the top of the basement divider are the final two multi-function mounting plates.

Inside Bottom

At the front of the left side is a large panel that blocks the view to the PSU mount and cover. There are eight rubber grommets on this panel that look spaced out to possibly house SSD’s. We’ll have to investigate this further as the specifications do not list these as a potential location for them. Also visible is a Cooler Master logo presented at the center of this panel. We’ll remove this cover plate via four Phillips head screws. With that out of the way, we can plainly see the PSU cover. It’s secured with a pair of captive thumb screws and not only features the removable multi-function mounting plate but also has a grommeted cable pass-through for the GPU or hard drives should it be decided to locate them here.

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Removing the PSU cover we now get to the PSU mounting adapter. It, too, is fastened with a pair of captive thumb screws. I should mention that both the PSU cover and mounting adapter have rubber vibration dampening posts to reduce any noise. Focusing on the PSU cover, an observant viewer will notice the multi-function plates secure to the PSU cover via two tabs and two screws. With the PSU cover removed we can see there is another location to mount this multi-function plate below the cover. Options are always good. Looking more closely at the PSU mounting adapter, the large mesh is where the intake fan for the power supply will be facing. The mounting adapter features six holes and two slots for positioning the power supply in either direction though.

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Right

Spinning the case around to inspect the right side The first noticeable feature is the main cable channel to the front of the grommeted holes. Cooler Master provided us with three hook and loop cable straps. I measure 35mm of cable clearance here. The remainder of the case has about 20mm to route wiring. Combine that with the twenty locations for zip ties, cable management is exceptional. Looking below the CPU cutout we find a powered fan header. Looking closer at the fan hub starting at the top left is the motherboard PWM input. Below the input is where we plug in the USB cable from the accessories box. This is where firmware can be uploaded. A little lower and we see the connection for the front panel speed switch cable. At the right side, we find four PWM fan headers with the lower two used for the preinstalled fans. The very bottom of the hub is the SATA power connector. This hub is rated for a maximum of two amps per fan connector and a combined maximum of three amps for all connections. To the right of the fan hub, are a pair of SSD sleds. We’ll look at these in detail later.

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Front

Moving up to the front we remove this panel by squeezing six tabs located at the sides. Looking at the top we see where the PSU intake fan will be located. Below this is where one can mount a 240mm radiator. Wait, what? You read that correctly. The SL600M is built on the Mastercase platform. What does that mean? Well, essentially Cooler Master only slightly altered this chassis from the previous Mastercase design. What we have here is a case modder’s jackpot.

Case Modder’s bonus: There is 78mm of clearance between the inside of the front panel to the front fan/rad mount. This is more than enough space to mount a radiator of up to 50mm thick with fans. Doing this would dump a small amount of heat into the PSU that is intaking air directly behind this location. In reality, this is no different than if using a lower radiator as the PSU will be taking in air from inside the case. Looking at the backside of the front panel we are able to see will see that even a novice could cut out an opening and add some modder’s mesh to open up the front. Naturally, this could void any factory warranties and would eliminate the chimney design of this case, but I absolutely love the fact that the option is here for the taking.

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Extra Bonus Feature: If you can get your hands on a top fan bracket that comes shipped with other Mastercase products (like the H500P Mesh) mounting up to a 360mm radiator up front becomes possible.

Top Fan Mount -NOT INCLUDED

Top

Looking at the top panel the SL600M utilizes an aluminum top lid panel. This top lid can sit flush, be lifted on its three posts into an elevated position to allow for additional heat to escape, or may be completely removed for maximum exhausting. The top mesh is made of steel and is not filtered. Using the single thumb screw and six more squeeze tabs we remove the top cover and gain access to the attic space.

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With the top panel removed we can get a closer look at the roof fan mounting plate. There are eight unmarked holes for attaching a pair of 200mm fans. There are slots for mounting up to two 140mm fans or up to a 280mm radiator with 60mm of front to back adjustment. Finally, there are three sets of slots for mounting up to three 120mm fans or up to a 360mm radiator. They are spaced out 15mm from each other measured from left to right of the case and allow for additional clearance to the motherboard should there be a large heatsink in the way. The middle slot provides the most front to back adjustment to the tune of 50mm. There are also four small openings for feeding the fan cables through. This mounting plate is secured by six Phillips head screws. A final note for this plate is that there are no openings to route water lines so any radiator must be mounted under the plate.

Roof Fan Mount Plate

Roof Fan Mount Plate Close-up

Bottom

I’ve removed the multi-function mounting plates so that we can get a good look at the basement divider. The large steel mesh is adequate for preventing any cables from interfering with the fans mounted under it. Caution should be used whenever removing the screws though, as they are able to be dropped through the steel grate. The divider is fastened in place by four screws and once removed it becomes easy to see the fan mounting slots. Two 140mm fans or up to a 280mm radiator may be mounted here with 110mm of front to back adjustment. Users are also able to mount three 120mm fans or up to a 360mm radiator with 50mm of adjustability. This panel also provides three locations for the multi-function mounting plates. With the basement divider out of the picture we get our first look at the included 200mm fans as well and the power supply connector. On a personal note, it would have been nice if Cooler Master had provided an on/off switch next to the power connector. There are times when the power supply needs to be switched off. I prefer to use the switch over just pulling the plug and it will be a hassle to have to open the case and try and reach up into the front mounted PSU to hit the switch.

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Fans and Filter

There are two fans included with this case. They are both MF200R which are 200 x 25mm and are rated at 800 RPM, 12 volts and 0.3 amps. These are PWM fans but feature no RGB lights. The filter is hinged at the middle and features a handle on both sides. There is a fine mesh fabric that should prove adequate for keeping out the majority of dust particles. It can only be installed and removed from the back of the case which is a little surprising as it contains two handles.

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The Builds

We’ve analyzed each section of this case, now let’s grab some parts from the benching station and look at its potential. We will be highlighting this case’s ability to house custom water cooling components as well as large air coolers.

Water Cooled Build

To showcase the magnitude of this case’s water cooling ability I’ve installed an ATX motherboard and a pair of water cooled GPU’s. For radiators, a switch was mounted, a Swiftech 360mm x 30mm at the roof with the fans in a pull configuration. Downstairs is an Alphacool NexXxos UT60 360mm x 60mm radiator with six 3000 RPM Delta fans in push/pull. In this configuration, there was still approximately 13mm of clearance between components both upstairs and downstairs, very impressive to be sure. In this scenario, we went with a smaller pump/res combo and mounted an old Swiftech MCP35x with one of the multi-function mounting plates. There wasn’t a mount for attaching tube style reservoirs so we improvised with zip ties. If this had been a permanent build a best practice would be to pick one up.  There is still ample locations for mounting hard drives, up to six 2.5mm SSD’s and two 3.5mm HDD’s to be precise.

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Air Cooled Build

For an air cooled build I’ve removed all the water cooling components and installed a mATX board with a Cooler Master Hyper 212X air cooler and only a single GPU. With 191mm of CPU cooler clearance, there is still plenty of room to spare. I’ve added a second pair of Cooler Master 200mm fans in the roof for maximum airflow. This is the set-up we will use for testing the thermal properties of this case.

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Storage Possibilities

As per the Cooler Master website, they list a total of eight possible drives, but there are actually more. Located behind the motherboard tray there is a pair of SSD sleds. These are the same sleds reviewed in April with the H500P Mesh case. We discovered then that the case can actually mount two SSD’s per sled by mounting the drive on top of the sled and sliding a second one into the pocket for a total of four drives behind the motherboard. Each multi-function plate can be used to house either a 2.5mm SSD or a 3.5mm HDD as well as a multitude of other items including water pumps and reservoirs. Also, if you recall the cover plate with the rubber grommets, two more 2.5mm SSD’s will fit there. This brings our grand total to ten.

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Vertical GPU’s

Let us spend a little time highlighting the rotatable PCI extension bracket. We’re seeing more and more builds with the GPU mounted in a vertical orientation and Cooler Master is taking this trend to the next level. With the SL600M it is possible to altogether multiple GPUs vertically. Here we see three setups this way. There are enough slots for more, but really there isn’t enough room between the motherboard PCI slots and the GPU’s for more than three to be feasible. Still, this is a feature that other cases just don’t have.

Multi-GPU Vertical Mounting 1

Multi-GPU Vertical Mounting 2

Thermal Testing Procedure

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 whether this case is getting adequate airflow. We will leave the case in its original orientation and run the case and CPU fans at full speed. We overclock the CPU and GPU as high as possible while maintaining stability and not exceeding the thermal limits of the components. Then apply a load to the CPU and GPU using Aida64 Extreme and 3DMark Firestrike for about a half hour. This will get us the maximum temperature possible inside the case. Next, we then remove the side panel and run Firestrike one more time to see if there is a temperature drop. If the case is getting proper airflow then the case temperatures will remain within two degrees. If there is a temperature drop beyond a few degrees with the side panel removed then we know the case is starving for fresh, cool air. If this test fails, the test is repeated with the added fans at the roof and we will see if the temperatures improve over the case’s stock set-up. As this case has a removable lid, we will also run these tests with the lid removed to see if that makes any significance also.

Cooler Master SL600M Testing System
Case Cooler Master SL600M (Fan speed switch set to High)
Motherboard ASUS Z390M-Pro Gaming
CPU Intel i7-8700k @ 4.9Ghz
CPU Cooler Cooler Master Hyper 212X
Memory G.Skill Trident Z 3200Ghz 8GBx2 CL16
GPU Gigabyte RTX 2070 Gaming OC 8Gb
Storage OCZ Agility 3 SSD
Power Supply EVGA Supernova 550W G2
Operating System Windows 10-Home 64 bit
Stock fans 2x MF200R PWM
Added fans 2x MF200R RGB at the top
Temperature Probe Amprobe TMD-52 (located behind CPU cooler)
Ambient Temperature 21 °C

Testing Thermals

Looking at the chart we find some interesting results. At the stock fan settings, we don’t see a major drop in case temperature, but the CPU temperature drop is significant. Considerably more than with the added fans. We believe this is in part due to the temperature probe being located behind the CPU cooler. The CPU cooler is getting more fresh air without the side panel. The GPU temperatures don’t fluctuate all that much because the bottom fans are providing plenty of cool air. There is also the one anomaly GPU spike at the end of the testing. I’m really not sure why this happened but it could just be an outlying result. What these results mean is that while the case passes this thermal test it is recommended to add additional fans to the roof.

Conclusion

The Cooler Master SL600M is definitely a Premium case. It has big water potential and can be air cooled with large tower CPU coolers. It has a lot of storage opportunities for all but the neediest of consumers. This may not be the case for those looking to build a large N.A.S., but it is certainly more than capable of medium to small media servers. The rotatable PCI bracket could even make this case a viable option to house a small mining rig or if to “Fold at Home”. The vertical chimney design does succeed in creating a quiet case but would still recommend additional fans if planning on running a heavily overclocked build.

The Cooler Master SL600M retails for $202.99 at Newegg and $199.99 at Amazon. This price is a bit steep for even a premium case. However, with all the features and extra options, if it has the aesthetics and meets the prospective buyer’s needs than it is worth the extra money. It is a high-quality case that will last for generations of upgrades. Overclockers Approved.

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John Nester (Blaylock)

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