Cooler Master has been a fantastic company to follow, and there are multiple reasons for this. In my opinion, they know how to cater to people who don’t have a lot of money to spend on their gaming rig. Looking at the Q500L Case, Cooler Master has lived up to their reputation. In this article, we are going to take a closer look at the Q500L case, so let us get to it. If you don’t have time to read the article, or prefer to watch a review, hit this link and it will take you to our YouTube channel.
Unboxing the Q500L is like unboxing any case. The box is standard; they have all the necessary information on the box, on the back, there are the specifications for the tower itself (height, length, breadth, etc.). On the one side is an outline of the case. On the front of the box, there is an outline of the front of the case. So nothing too amazing there, that is what you get on most boxes.
Opening the box and removing the case reveals that again, Cooler Master just made sure there was everything with the tower that you need. The stand-offs are positioned for an ATX sized motherboard. The I/O panel is set to the right side, and there is a 120mm Exhaust fan fitted. This case does not come pre-fitted with a power-supply.
Added with the case are the warranty information, motherboard screws and cable ties for cable management. There are also two magnetic dust filters (at least with the case we received), which can fit the front and the top of the case – we will explore this in-depth under the specifications tab.
The design of the case is simple, which is perfect for a budget case. The front panel is Acrylic (Perspex) and secured by basic screws. The back of the case is secured with screws that have rubber guards around them. These rubber guards are something that we thought Cooler Master did just right. These rubber guards can serve as feet so that you can position our case with the transparent panel up. Another way Cooler Master ensures you can use the Q500L the way you want to use it.
Let’s get to the more integral parts of the case and what you can expect from it. So let’s take at the details of the case and then break it down.
- MODEL NUMBER: MCB-Q500L-KANN-S00
- SERIES: MasterBox Series
- SIZE: Mid Tower
- EXTERIOR COLOR: Black
- MATERIALS – BODY: Steel, Plastic
- MATERIALS – SIDE PANEL: Acrylic (Perspex)
- DIMENSIONS (LXWXH): 386(L) x 230(W) x 381(H) mm
- MOTHERBOARD SUPPORT: ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX
- EXPANSION SLOTS: 7
- 2.5″ / 3.5″ DRIVE BAYS (COMBO): 2 (each bay supports: 1 HDD or 2 SSDs)
- 2.5″ DRIVE BAYS: 0
- I/O PANEL: 2x USB 3.0, 1x 3.5mm Audio Jack, 1x 3.5mm Mic Jack
- PRE-INSTALLED FANS – REAR: 1x 120mm
- FAN SUPPORT – TOP: 2x 120/140mm
- FAN SUPPORT – REAR: 1x 120mm
- FAN SUPPORT – BOTTOM: 2x 120mm
- RADIATOR SUPPORT – TOP: 120 / 240mm (35mm max motherboard component height)
- RADIATOR SUPPORT – REAR: 120mm
- CLEARANCE – CPU COOLER: 160mm/6.29.”
- CLEARANCE – PSU: 180mm/7.08″
- CLEARANCE – GFX: 360mm/14.17″ (270mm clearance with PSUs longer than 160mm)
- CABLE ROUTING: 27-30mm
- DUST FILTERS: Bottom
- POWER SUPPLY SUPPORT: Top Front Mount, ATX PS2
What does that all mean? Well, we’re going to breakdown the basics and then go into a bit more detail with the other specs further down. The Q500L is part of the MasterBox series, being the “big brother” of the Q300, which means it can fit ATX motherboards down to the Micro ATX and the Mini ITX. The power supply mounts to the top/front of the case and has an adjustable panel for larger units.
As mentioned in the beginning, the I/O panel can mount in 4 different positions which is neat, the front Acrylic (as we know it in South Africa as the Perspex) panel can move according to the I/O Panel’s position. So, changing the design to how you want it is possible, giving you the “personal” rig feel.
The case itself is a combination of steel and plastic, and there is a fitted dust filter to the bottom of the case. This dust filter is the only one that has been cut out to match where the feet of the case is situated. The dust filter is also held up onto the case by eight rubber tacks that clip into the holes in the steel. I thought the design looked great, but the nails could get lost, and that kind of puts you in an awkward position – honestly, how do you keep your dust filter in place then? It is important to note that the feet of the case are quite short, which can hamper airflow in or out of the case. Depending on your setup, this could increase the thermal temperature in the tower.
The cable management of this case is doable, which is impressive given its small form factor. Behind the motherboard, you can run some of the cables needed. Since everything is so close together, there isn’t much need for the cable ties.
The two magnetic dust filters can fit the front and the top of the case. These filters are useful to hide the screws for the power supply and the fans. These dust filters also have an aesthetic appeal, protecting the perforated steel of the case itself. Being magnetic, they can be removed and cleaned when needed. The box we received only had two magnetic dust filters, having one or two extra would be ideal, especially if you accidentally lose one.
Using the case:
We’ve looked at all the essential information of the case, now let’s get down to using it. We fitted a standard ATX board, with an AMD R9 graphics card. When installing everything, we noticed that since the case is so small, working with more significant parts, like the R9 graphics card, it is quite tricky to fit all the components. Couple the great design of the R9 with a larger power supply, and you could run into some severe space problems.
We then started to explore the fan setup of the case. You have the stock 120mm fan of the case fitted to the back as the exhaust. You could go ahead and install 2 x 120mm or 140mm fans to both the top and the front of the case. The perforated design of the front, top, and bottom of the case means you can mount the fans and use the holes for the screws. While that sounds all great and easy, which it can be in some instances, when installing fans on the front, because of your power supply and it’s position, there’s a high chance that you probably won’t be able to fit fans.
Looking at the Thermals:
One of the essential things that concern me about the case is the thermals. Its small form factor design and perforated panels don’t allow for the most exceptional airflow. In addition to already having poor airflow, the power supply blocks half of the front panel, which means you lose one fan slot, and the possibility of airflow through that panel.
If you have a large graphics card fitted and a large CPU processor, you in effect start recirculating the air with in the case. Even with the 120mm exhaust fan installed, there isn’t enough room in the case for the warm air to escape. In this case, the hot air that is recirculating in the case goes back into the CPU and GPU radiator, which increases the temperature of your hardware. So how can you counteract that? You could replace the stock exhaust fan with an aftermarket one – that does help with exhausting more air. If you are looking at really trying to decrease the heat of your system, then fitting a custom liquid cooling setup is possible – however, very expensive.
Is the case worth it?
We’ve covered a lot of information, and we’ve looked at the Q500L from a technical angle. Let’s look at the practicality of the case. Is it worth it? The short answer is yes.
Now let’s look at the reason why we say yes. Is the case perfect? No. Does it have thermal issues? Yes and no. If you are going to fit the biggest coolers and radiators, and SLI graphics cards, then yes you are going to have thermal issues – this is not recommended for this tower. The Q500L is a budget case buy; if you’re purchasing this case, it’s more than likely because it’s the one that you can afford from a big name brand company. It is unlikely you are going to be fitting the biggest and the most expensive components. For a budget gaming build, this case is worth it.
Pros and Cons:
The Q500L has a small form factor; it is cost-effective and well built. The fact that you make this case yours is a huge bonus too.
This case can have severe thermal issues. It’s small, and fitting larger graphics cards and CPU’s can be difficult and not recommended.
I enjoyed working with the Q500L. Cooler Master had a specific market in mind, and for budget builds, you will be proud of what what you fit into this case. For what Cooler Master was trying to achieve here, I give the case a 7/10. You can look at purchasing the case off of Raru here. If you would like to watch the review, follow this link and it will take you to our YouTube channel. As always, massive thank you to Cooler Master and Rectron for letting have a close look at this case, and if you have anything you’d like to add or comment on, leave it below, and I’ll reply within 48hours.
Hi there! My name is Corbyn and I enjoy love writing tech guides on a variety of topics. I always answer comments so if you have anything you want to ask or suggest, please go ahead and I will reply within 48 hours. If you are interested in getting your hardware or software reviewed, please use my contact form and we can talk business. Thanks for visiting my blog!