Page 2 - Physical Look - Outside
From the first look, I would not blame you if you think the Cooler Master MasterBox Q500L looks the same as the MasterBox Q300L. With the front and top panels, you can see Cooler Master has put large sheets of mesh with magnets behind to keep everything in place. The corners are also cut away as well for a similar effect. Cooler Master's logo can be found at the top front edge as well as on the logo of the power button. The overall look is a very squat and boxy look, which stands out from other cases, but there are a few less than ideal aspects here too. The main reason I say this is because the material choices here are a bit subpar. We do still have a steel frame as its structure and even a windowed side panel. However, there are quite a few plastic elements on this case, including the corners and even the aforementioned window panel. We will look into these materials used later as we continue our inspection. One good thing about Cooler Master using lighter materials is this translates into a lighter product overall. The Cooler Master MasterBox Q500L tips the scales at 3.83kg or 8.44lbs. In terms of dimensions, the Q500L is 386mm in depth, 230mm in width, and 381mm in height. What is surprising is that the Q300L has practically the same dimensions. We will see how Cooler Master was able to stuff a larger motherboard into the same size case later on.
As for the side panel, this is not tempered glass but instead is a plastic panel. Even though it looks clean, this is acrylic, so be sure to keep the plastic wrap on the side while you build in this case, because acrylic scratches easily compared to tempered glass. This window is quite heavily tinted to really only let lighting through the side. This panel is attached to the side with four thumbscrews, and each thumbscrew is lined with a rubber grommet to prevent vibration between the case and the panel. The panel also has some foam pads to aid in the same problem. Since the input and output are on the side, the acrylic panel also has a chunk taken out of it for where the I/O would slot in. On the opposite side, there is a tab to help you remove the panel. However, I often found the panel would fall off once I removed all the thumbscrews. It is a bit unfortunate, but thankfully this actually is not glass so it should not break if it were to drop off. Even so, Cooler Master should have put some sort of lip on the bottom of the case to better secure this side.
As we mentioned previously, the left side is where the I/O for the Cooler Master MasterBox Q500L is situated. From here, you can see we have a standard set of ports and buttons. From left to right, we have a reset square button, headphones and microphone jacks, a hexagonal power button, two USB 3.0 ports, and a square LED for hard drive activity. Unsurprisingly, we do not have any USB Type-C inputs, which would have been nice to see, but is excusable for a more budget oriented case. What is pretty neat is that this module can be moved around to be placed at the top, front, or bottom edge of either side. This does, however, mean that if you do plan on moving it to the other side, you will also have to put your acrylic panel on that side, because it is the only panel with the cutout for the movable I/O panel.
From the back, you can see how Cooler Master was able to fit the specifications of at ATX machine in such a small case like the MasterBox Q500L. The back panel shows a pretty standard set of holes, including openings for the motherboard I/O shield as well as seven expansion card slots below. These are held in by screws rather than being temporary snap-off bars, which is great to see. Besides the back I/O opening, we have a ventilation and a fan mounted here. This can only take 120mm fans, so keep this in mind if you want to replace the fan. The fan is mounted on bars so you can at least slide the fan up or down depending on your needs. Unfortunately, the holes at the back are circular cutouts rather than the standard honeycomb pattern I am used to seeing. This is not the best because this pattern can actually inhibit air from passing through here. One thing you may be wondering about is where the opening for the power supply is. In fact, the only thing resembling a power supply opening is the C14 inlet. This is because the power supply is not mounted in a standard orientation in the MasterBox Q500L, but we will see what that looks like when we take a look inside. The right side panel is relatively uninteresting, but one thing to point out are the thumbscrews on this side. As you can see, these screws are chunkier than expected and have a rubber coating protruding off each screw. The intention of this is so users can actually put the case in a vertical or horizontal orientation. When horizontally placed, the case will rest on this panel, sitting on top of these rubber-tipped screws.
At the bottom of the Cooler Master MasterBox Q500L are a few interesting things to note. In each corner, we have a raised plastic foot with a rubber pad underneath to prevent vibration against the surface the case is sitting on. The bottom is covered by a mesh to prevent dust from entering here, however it is a poor implementation. What annoys me about this is the difficulty to remove and clean this mesh. Several rubber stoppers, ten in total, can be found around the edge of this mesh to hold the plastic sheet on the bottom of the case. Most cases however have a plastic frame and some sort of rail system to let users easily take off the filter for easy cleaning. However, this flimsy shield is susceptible to bending and creasing, which limits its effectiveness as being a filter. It also has some large holes here because these are mounting spots for possible fans or cooling options, as we will explore on the next page.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Outside
3. Physical Look - Inside
4. Installation and Conclusion