Cooler Master's modular future goes beyond the MasterCase


— 9:49 AM on June 11, 2015

Cooler Master introduced its MasterCase chassis at Computex last week, but there's more to this story than just a case. The modular mid-tower is part of a new focus that will eventually spread across the company's products. We spoke to regional marketing chief Rajiv Kothari to get a better sense of what's in store.

One of the central themes is a reduction in the deluge of products in Cooler Master's catalog. The plan is to offer fewer products with greater variation through modular design. Cooler Master wants to help PC users achieve a greater sense of ownership through customization. It also wants the community to help drive the initiative forward. Top modders from around the world were drafted to help create the concept chassis that inspired the MasterCase design.


Modders collaborate on the concept chassis. Source: Cooler Master

Initially, the MasterCase will be available in two variations based on the same internal scaffolding. Users will be able to adjust the exterior to match their tastes via modular panels that snap into the frame. The number of panel options will grow over time, but they probably won't deviate too much from the initial aesthetic. According to Kothari, Cooler Master wants to adhere to a common theme and leave more extreme customization to modders.

Tempered glass panels are in the pipeline, and Cooler Master is looking at offering body panels in different colors. Functional upgrades are also possible. The MasterCase's front-panel connectors can be replaced easily, opening the door to USB Type-C upgrades, and we could see optional side panels lined with acoustic foam.

Interestingly, Cooler Master is encouraging modders to resell panels and pieces that have been painted or otherwise customized. At its Computex booth, the company even had people making panels with 3D printers. When asked whether Cooler Master would release detailed panel specifications so that folks can make their own parts, Kothari said "why shouldn't we?" The info required to 3D-print compatible panels will probably end up online in some form, he added, even if it's not formally published.


First step: the MasterCase Pro 5

The MasterCase's modular internals aren't an entirely new idea. For years, case makers have offered reconfigurable drive cages that let users add more storage or accommodate longer graphics cards. It looks like Cooler Master's "clip and click" mounting system offers more flexibility in how cages are positioned, though. There are also plans to sell reservoirs and other liquid cooling components that hook into the same mounts.

Community demand will ultimately determine the MasterCase's modular options. The case and its various pieces will be sold separately to start, but Cooler Master's long-term goal is to let customers customize cases at the time of purchase, sort of like how you can customize the components inside pre-built PCs today.

Over time, the modular mantra will spread not only to cases with different form factors, but also to the company's other product categories. Kothari told us that Cooler Master envisions keyboards with swappable switches and mice with interchangeable grips and adjustable sensor positioning. Coolers and PSUs will get in on the action, too, though there are limits to how much one can customize a power supply.

Time will tell whether Cooler Master's "make it yours" approach resonates with PC enthusiasts. The concept sounds promising, but we'll have to get our hands on actual products to see how it translates to reality.

   
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