Cooler Master’s MasterCase Pro 6 reviewed

Cooler Master’s MasterCase Pro 6 interested me from my first glance. Its simple and professional design made it easy to picture this ATX mid-tower case sitting on my desk.

The case’s angular front panel sets the tone for the MasterCase Pro 6’s overall look: hard straight lines and large, smooth stretches of plastic. Lightly pulling out on the top and the bottom of the panel will offset the panel from the body by about .4” or 9 mm, opening up  vents at the front of the case. An additional light pull on the top of the panel will disconnect four magnets and allow the front to pivot out for access to two 5.25” bays, or allow owners to lift the panel off the body completely.

Once the front panel is removed, the MasterCase’s front dust filter can be removed by pulling out on the bottom edge of its frame. Removing the filter exposes the case’s two pre-installed 140-mm fans and an LED accent strip that lights up the bottom of the front panel. This LED strip is powered with its own SATA connector, and Cooler Master offers versions of the case with red or blue accent lighting. If you don’t need the 5.25” bays for your build, you can also add an additional 120-mm or 140-mm fan at the top of the case using an included bracket. The pre-installed fans can be removed to support a 240-mm or 280-mm radiator, as well.

The MasterCase’s front ports sit underneath a flip-up cover. This door uses a magnetic strip to keep it closed. Two USB 3.0 ports, a 3.5 mm headphone jack, a 3.5 mm microphone jack, a hard-drive activity light, power and reset switches hide under this panel.

Lightly pull up on the front and back of the top panel, and it’ll pop up to open the case’s top vent. Pull up even farther, and four magnets will disengage so you can remove the panel from the body of the case. Removing the panel provides access to the top mounting plate for 120-mm or 140-mm fans, or 240-mm or 280-mm radiators. To make installation of those fans or radiators easier, builders can remove that bracket using four captive thumbscrews. If you’re installing a radiator on the top panel, be aware that its length can’t exceed 11.7” (297 mm) overall.

Spinning the case around to the rear panel, we’re met with a plastic bezel attached with two magnets. The rear of the case features a standard ATX layout with an I/O cutout, seven expansion slots, a pre-installed 140-mm fan with a three-pin connector, and plenty of mesh for extra airflow. It also features a metal face plate for a PSU mounting point for an easily installed unit.  A light tug removes the plastic bezel to provide access to the four thumb screws attaching the side panels to the body of the case. The left side panel of the case features a large plastic window with a tinted, removable section that shields the power supply and bottom mounted hard drive bays from view. The right side of the case uses a plain, solid metal panel.

On the bottom of the case, there is an easily removable dust filter and two full-width feet with rubber pads to reduce vibration transfer to one’s floor or desk. The dust filter slides out from the rear of the case, which some might find inconvenient with a system inside. In part, that’s because the hefty steel construction of the MasterCase Pro 6 ends up weighing about 26 pounds, or 11.7 kg.

Here are the MasterCase Pro 6’s key specifications in convenient tabular form:

  Cooler Master MasterCase Pro 6
Type ATX mid-tower
Dimensions (W x H x D) 9.3″ x 21.4″ x 21.6″  (235 x 548 x 544 mm)
Supported motherboards Mini-ITX, microATX, ATX
3.5″ drive mounts 5 2.5″/3.5″ combo bays
2.5″ drive mounts 2 dedicated
5.25″ drive bays 2
Fan mounts 3 120-mm or 140-mm front fans

2 120-mm or 140-mm top fans

1 120-mm or 140-mm rear fan

Radiator mounts Front radiators up to 240 mm or 280 mm long

Top radiators up to 240 mm or 280 mm long

1 120-mm or 140-mm rear radiator

Included fans 2x 140-mm front fans

1x 140-mm rear fan

Front panel I/O 2x USB 3.0

Headphone

Microphone

Max. graphics card length 16.22″ (412 mm) without hard drive cages

11.7″ (296 mm) with hard drive cages

Max. CPU cooler height 7.48″ (190 mm)

The MasterCase Pro 6 goes for $159.99 on Newegg right now, in line with Cooler Master’s other high-end MasterCases. In absolute terms, though, $160 is a lot for a case these days. Let’s dive inside and see whether the Pro 6 lives up to its lofty price tag.

 

Popping in

The interior of the MasterCase Pro 6 is divided into two chambers. The bottom chamber is where the PSU mounts, and it also holds a removable tray that can hold two 2.5” or 3.5” drives. Cooler Master recommends that PSU length not exceed 7.9”, or 200 mm. The bottom drive tray can be repositioned or removed by loosening three thumbscrews.

The divider between the top and bottom chambers has two grommeted cable holes for clean cable management. Two metal trays for SSDs mount to this divider in the main chamber, and they can be moved to the back of the motherboard tray, as well. The main chamber provides another three 2.5” or 3.5” drive bays through tool-free sleds mounted in a dedicated cage.

Both the 5.25” bays and 3.5” drive cage can be repositioned or removed using Cooler Master’s FreeForm modular system. Even with the drive bays installed, the case has enough room for graphics cards as long as 11.7” (296 mm), and it can hold cards as long as 16.2” (412 mm) if the drive cage is removed entirely. This case can support ATX, Micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX motherboards with a maximum CPU cooler height of 190mm.

After the left side panel was removed for the first time, I noticed a decent gap in between the thumbscrew and its respective hole, about .375”. The panel doesn’t quite seem to be square with the rest of the case. I also noticed a missing screw in the plastic window on the left side of the case. Other TR case writers have noticed similar fit-and-finish issues with MasterCases in the past, and it’s a little disconcerting that CM still hasn’t nailed down these problems. This is a $160 case, so it should be free of these minor issues.

The build

I found all of the MasterCase’s thumbscrews to be too tight from the factory, so I needed a screwdriver to loosen them. That wasn’t that big of a deal, but it was mildly annoying for a system that’s ostensibly tool-free. A stubby screwdriver will be needed to remove the bottom 3.5” drive cage. That being said, there is plenty of room in between the PSU and the drive cage,  The thumbscrews are all captive in the modular components they hold in place. That sounds great in theory, but I found that the screws bind up in their brackets quite often.

The modular 3.5” drive cage is nice, as you can move the cage up or down on the peg area at the front of the case—all the way up, even, if you remove the 5.25” cage. I had enough room for the graphics card prior to removing or adjusting the cage. Cooler Master’s modular system means builders can install more drive cages down the line for extra capacity, should they need it.

Installing the standoffs for my ATX motherboard was an easy task, thanks to the imprinted labels next to each hole and a quick look at the included instructions. The motherboard was easy to slide in and had plenty of clearance. The built-in wiring easily reached the headers on my motherboard, except for that of the front two fans. Only one of the fans had lengthy enough wiring to reach the motherboard headers.

Cooler Master did provide adapters to connect the fans to four-pin Molex plugs on the PSU, but a three-pin extension or two would have been preferable. Otherwise, I had no problems routing my cables and keeping them organized.

To finish off the build, I grabbed Cooler Master’s MasterLiquid 120mm liquid cooler and tried mounting it in a push-pull configuration on the radiator mount on the top of the case. Because of the tight clearances between the top bracket and motherboard, though, there was only room for one fan on the radiator. There was no way to add the “pull” fan on the other side, as it ran into the motherboard. Ultimately, I opted to replace the rear 140-mm fan with the liquid-cooling radiator instead.

While I was building the system, I found the rear plastic bezel to be a small hassle to remove every time I needed to open the side panel, as it covered the thumbscrews and all the cables plugged into the back of the computer. The hinged front plastic panel looks good, but I feel like having to swing it away to gain access to the 5.25” bays could be frustrating if you need access to those bays a lot. Once it’s built and running, though, this case does look good.

 

Our testing methods

Here are the specifications of our test system:

Processor Intel Core i7-6700K
Motherboard ASRock Z170 Extreme7+
Memory 16GB (2x8GB) G.Skill Trident Z DDR4-3000
Graphics card Sapphire Radeon R9 380X
Storage OCZ Vector 180 480GB SSD

WD Black 1TB HDD

Power supply Cooler Master V550
CPU cooler Cooler Master MasterLiquid 120
OS Windows 10 Pro

Our thanks to Intel, ASRock, G.Skill, Gigabyte, Kingston, WD, and Cooler Master for their contributions to our test system. Our thanks to Cooler Master for providing the case we’re testing today, as well.

Our case-testing cycle consists of the following phases:

  • 10 minutes idling at the Windows 10 desktop
  • 10 minutes running the Prime95 CPU torture test
  • 10 minutes running the Prime95 CPU torture test and the Unigine Heaven GPU torture test
  • 10 minutes idling at the Windows 10 desktop

Cooling performance

Here are the results of our cooling tests, plotted over time:


And here are some minimum and maximum temperatures from each testing phase:


Let’s talk temps. Testing temperatures at idle with and without the vents open showed little difference. In fact, the vents seemed to make cooling performance slightly worse overall. I tested the case twice to ensure this data was not a fluke. When idling, it seems to be warmer with the vents open. Under full load, this case succeeded on keeping the components below any dangerous or damaging levels.

Our load tests show how opening the vents strangely increase temperatures, but only slightly. The difference in performance between opening the vents and closing them would probably go unnoticed unless you run a temperature log like we do. Although the idea behind the vents is interesting, they ultimately don’t have a meaningful effect on performance with our setup.

Noise levels


With my test system at idle, the noise emitting from the case was acceptable with the vents open as well as closed. At full load, i was still in my comfort range. The vents being open or closed, didn’t seem to make much of a difference in the sound levels I perceived at any point through the tests. I would describe the noise character of the case as a smooth hum at idle as well as under load. When the fans kick into high gear under load, you can hear the increased noise levels, but I didn’t feel it was prominent enough to annoy or distract the user. The MasterCase Pro 6 should serve well as a quiet host for a gaming rig.

 

Conclusions

Above all, Cooler Master’s MasterCase Pro 6 is about clean and simple design. I like the mixture of gaming- and business-friendly style this case offers, and its solid steel construction is reassuringly hefty for its $160 price tag.

The pop-out top and front vents on this MasterCase are an interesting idea for giving the builder more control over cooling and noise, but the system doesn’t deliver the results you would expect from less-obstructed airflow. Instead, we found that popping out the top and front panels actually makes performance slightly worse. Leaving the panels closed both lets the case cool better and maintains its clean lines.

My impression of the MasterCase Pro 6 was marred a bit by some oversights and minor annoyances. For example, the fan cables for the two included 140-mm fans were too short to easily reach our test motherboard’s fan headers. The left-side panel was strangely out of square on our review unit, and a missing screw from that panel suggests either shipping damage or poor quality control could be to blame. Either way, these issues shouldn’t make their way into a $160 case.

Those minor annoyances aside, the MasterCase Pro 6 is a flexible and easy-to-use enclosure. I found the FreeForm system’s modular abilities useful, and its component parts are easy to move around once you loosen the thumb screws for the first time. Cooler Master now offers a wide range of accessories to change up the functionality and style of the case, as well.

The MasterCase Pro 6 carries a $30 premium over the similarly-outfitted but more open MasterCase Pro 5. Given the functional similarity of this case to the Pro 5, you’ll need to really like the look of the Pro 6-specific top and front panels to make the step up worth it. Presuming its design clicks for you, though, the Pro 6 backs up its unique looks with a tried-and-true modular design and fine performance.

Comments closed
    • Metonymy
    • 2 years ago

    I find that square, presumably-sharp-cornered cover over the buttons and USB ports to be annoying as hell. Maybe I’m just clumsy, but apart from the annoyance of having to lift it up all of the time, if I’m using a thumb drive, I don’t like the idea of it sticking up in the air. I’m fine with covers for things that don’t get used very often, but this seems like breakage waiting to happen.

      • MikeLongworth
      • 2 years ago

      The cover will lay back all the way but seems to put a little bit of strain on it. It was photographed this way to show the piece “in motion”.

    • Vaughn
    • 2 years ago

    Cooler MasterCase Pro 5 still better than this?

    • Blytz
    • 2 years ago

    I find it a little lacking there’s no type-c usb on the front i/o. Now that it’s becoming more prevalent and it’s predecessor has it (one of them at least)

    • derFunkenstein
    • 2 years ago

    Hello, new guy. Welcome to writing for TR!

    Page 3:
    [quote<] tem Let’s talk temps[/quote<] some stray characters at the start of the paragraph.

      • morphine
      • 2 years ago

      Oops, fixed.

    • tsk
    • 2 years ago

    I feel the interior of this case is a bit old school with the 5,25″ bays the position of the 3,5″ bays but I guess it’s OK with the modularity but I think the bequiet dark base pro 900 is a better case than this.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 2 years ago

      5.25″ bays still have their place. Aside from optical drives, those front-accessible fan controllers or RGBLED controllers tend to fit in those spaces. I, for one, welcome our 5.25-inch-wide overlords.

      Including a bracket to replace them with a 120mm fan is the way to go. Good on CoolerMaster.

        • hansmuff
        • 2 years ago

        I like what Corsair does with the 5.25″ bay on the Carbide 600Q. At the top, behind a nice door; inside hidden behind a plastic shroud together with the PSU. Very, very neat layout.

      • PBCrunch
      • 2 years ago

      At $160 for a case made of steel and plastic, rather than aluminum, it seems like maybe it should just come with two front panels. And have panels that line up straight. And have a tempered glass window instead of cheap acrylic.

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