Page 4 - Installation and Conclusion
As always, I started with installing the power supply. To do so, I first removed the front I/O module, which meant unscrewing four screws and lifting this trapezoidal unit out. I then removed the power supply bracket from the case, installed the SilverStone Strider Gold S ST85F-GS 850W in place, and remounted the power supply to the front of the case. I should mention, if you are using a modular power supply, you probably want to plug in your necessary cables before remounting the power supply back into the Cooler Master MasterBox Q500L. Mounting the bracket back after a power supply is installed is not the easiest to do, so I would recommend lying the case on the side as I have done in the photo above and letting it rest on its side while you are securing this cage. As we already mentioned, you can install power supplies of up to 180mm in length, though this may affect other components. This power supply is relatively compact, but it takes up about half of the front area already. I tucked the necessary cables through the square routing holes near the front and moved forward.
Despite me installing a mATX motherboard here, this actually fills up the chamber of the Cooler Master MasterBox Q500L, leaving only the bottom three expansion slots not filled in. There still is a notable gap between the right side of the motherboard and the rectangular routing holes, but it is not too noticeable. I routed the necessary cables into place, including the CPU and motherboard cables. Next, I remounted the front I/O and plugged in all of the necessary cables into the motherboard. As for compatibility, Cooler Master has provided a maximum height clearance of 160mm for CPU coolers and a maximum length of 360mm for graphics cards. With a power supply longer than 160mm however, the maximum video card length is reduced to 270mm. Since this case only has one fan, I would probably suggest installing a second or third fan at the bottom for some more intake. Overall, I found the internal layout to be good with necessary routing holes at the sides and bottom to route all the necessary cables.
On the back side, you can mount your necessary storage options, while routing the power and SATA cables through the side routing holes. I did not generally use the zip tie points but I still think there is an ample amount for users who may find it more useful. Unfortunately, the power supply I used had a slightly shorter CPU power cable, so the diagonal path across the back was the only way I could leave the cable with enough length. Thankfully, the more than sufficient spacing at the back meant even the thicker motherboard power cable had no issues being routed through the back. Putting the right side cover back onto the Cooler Master MasterBox Q500L was also done with ease since I did not have to force any cables down. Overall, building in the Cooler Master MasterBox Q500L was a good experience, but the metal flexing was a bit concerning during installation, as I noticed items like the power supply holder bending under pressure.
With my system installed and everything plugged in, I fired up the computer for the first time and everything came to life. With the dark tint, you can barely see into the case, especially if you do not have any internal lighting. According to the standard APH Networks sound scale, where 0 is silence and 10 is loud, the Cooler Master MasterBox Q500L is a 3.0/10 under full load. The single fan included in the MasterBox Q500L is relatively quiet, but the case does not really do much to prevent noise from leaving. With more components inside or louder fans, I would expect this case to get louder. Even so, I would expect users to add a few more fans to the mix to keep components cool inside.
As with Ikea furniture, the Cooler Master MasterBox Q500L works with its space confinements to use what it has efficiently. However, after some closer inspection and installation, some shortcuts have also been taken to get to this outcome. Starting at the design, Cooler Master has not changed a whole lot to get to their current Q500L, which is impressive in itself. Keeping the same smaller size, while still being able to contain a full-sized ATX motherboard is truly commendable. Internally, the one notable difference can be found in the placement of the power supply at the front to keep the case compact. This was a conscious decision by Cooler Master, as they compensated the lack of airflow from the front by adding fan mounting points at the bottom of the case. Behind the motherboard, there is a very generous amount of space to manage your cables and install quite a few drives. Installation was a breeze, especially with the sufficient amount of routing holes and cable management space. However, this cheap and light design exposes a few flaws. For one, the case has several weak points with flex exhibited in the steel panels and brackets. Cooler Master also uses a flimsy bottom mesh that should really have a plastic frame. Furthermore, the restricted airflow nature of the circular pattern on the panels is concerning, even if there was more than just the single fan included. Finally, I think Cooler Master could have improved a few quality of life things such as having a resting lip for the window panel while it is being removed or a USB Type-C port. In the end, the Cooler Master MasterBox Q500L targets a segment of users looking for a budget compact case without compensating on component compatibility. In this perspective they have done so on a budget, as this case retails for $60 USD. Even so, I think Cooler Master needs to polish up the quality of the MasterBox Q500L before I can really recommend it.
Cooler Master provided this product to APH Networks for the purpose of evaluation.
APH Review Focus Summary:
7/10 means Great product with many advantages and certain insignificant drawbacks; but should be considered before purchasing.
6/10 means A product with its advantages, but drawbacks should not be ignored before purchasing.
-- Final APH Numeric Rating is 6.2/10
Please note that the APH Numeric Rating system is based off our proprietary guidelines in the Review Focus, and should not be compared to other sites.
The Cooler Master MasterBox Q500L is a compatible compact case that is letdown by its less than ideal design choices and restrictive airflow.
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1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Outside
3. Physical Look - Inside
4. Installation and Conclusion