Cooler Master knows that not all PC builders want the same thing. Some folks want a showpiece with clear windows and lights to display on top of their desk, while others want a tidy black box with no illumination beside a couple of indicator LEDs to sit quietly out of sight and out of mind. The company's latest MasterBox K500L addresses the crowd looking to make a statement, and the MasterBox E500L is tailored for those that want simple styling at a low price. As different as they are from a style perspective, both chassis are designed for ATX motherboards.
The E500L is something of a throwback to case design trends from last decade with its sliding front panel and external 5.25" bay. Parents of young children and nosy animals will find a lot to like with this design, which hides the power button, the external drive bay, the front USB 3.0 ports, and the audio jack behind a sliding plastic panel. The case can also fit a pair of old-school 3.5" hard drives. The standard E500L has two steel side panels, but a version with a transparent acrylic side is also on the way.
Cooler Master also managed to mix in some of the more positive trends in case design from more recent years, including a pair of mounts for 2.5" storage devices, bulges in both side panels that should make it easier to slide the sides on when the cases is stuffed with a tall air cooler (up to 6.2" or 15.7 cm) and yards of cabling. The manufacturer says those bulges provide up to 0.9"-worth (2.2 cm) of room for cable management behind the motherboard tray.
The E500L also shows off its 2018 origins with provisions for a 280-mm front radiator and a 120-mm liquid-to-air heat exchanger on the back panel. Liquid-averse builders can put fans in those spots and add another pair of 120-mm rotating air movers in the top. Graphics cards as long as 15.7" (40 cm) and power supplies as long as 8.6" (22 cm) also make the cut. Cooler Master offers three versions of the E500L, all are mostly black with a choice of blue, red, or silver trim. The venting around the sides of the solid front panel appears generous; if that turns out to be the case, cooling performance should be good.
The MasterBox K500L puts its gaming aspirations on full display with its "look at me" LED-illuminated fans behind a piece of clear acrylic on the angular front panel. Cooler Master also outfitted the case with a red power indicator and additional red lighting where the various angled elements of the front panel intersect. Liquid-cooling enthusiasts get the same options as the E500L, with mounts for a 280-mm radiator up front and a 120-mm unit on the back panel.
Builders can use tower-style CPU coolers as tall as 6.3" (16 cm) and graphics cards as long as 15.7" (40 cm). Cooler Master says the fully-shrouded basement chamber can hold PSUs as long as 7.1" (18 cm). The maximum space for cabling behind the motherboard tray is the same 0.9" (2.2 cm) as the E500L, but it necks down to as little as 0.6" (1.5 cm) in some spots.
Leak-averse builders can cram in up to three 120-mm or two 140-mm fans behind the front panel, plus two more spinners on the top and another one in the back. Venting for the front fans appears to be limited to a small triangular grill near the front I/O, suggesting that form won at least one battle with function.
Cooler Master will offer up two versions of the MasterBox K500L, one with a steel left-side panel, and a second variation with an all-transparent acrylic side. The steel panel appears to mount with a pair of thumbscrews on the back, but the acrylic side panel is attached with four thumbscrews in a way that imitates many contemporary cases with tempered glass sides.
Cooler Master doesn't list prices on its website, but Eteknix says the MasterBox K500L will hit shelves in Europe for a budget-friendly €55 with VAT, which converts to about $55 in US currency without taxes. We aren't sure if that price applies to steel- or acrylic-paneled versions of the case. The site also says the windowless MasterBox E500L with one pre-installed fan should land at an even more affordable €40 with tax, which is about $40 American. No pricing information was given for the see-through version of the E500L, but we suspect it will cost more given it includes a second fan and the all-acrylic side panel. The manufacturer backs all of its cases with a two-year warranty.