Cooler Master H500P Case Review: Illegitimate Heir

By Published October 10, 2017 at 8:00 am
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Additional Info

  • Component: Case
  • Original MSRP: 150
  • Manufacturer: Cooler Master

The Cooler Master MasterCase H500P is the newest in the modular MasterCase series, but is inspired by the old high airflow (“HAF”) line of cases, mainly in the form of monster 200mm intake fans and a general “rugged and futuristic design.” We covered the H500P along with the Cosmos series refresh C700P at Computex back in June, and now the time for reviewing has finally come.

Cooler Master’s H500P exhibited significant and plentiful quality control concerns, questionable design decisions, and limited semblance to the meaning behind “High Airflow” in the “HAF” naming. The case has its ups, too, primarily in the looks and cable management deparatments -- but we’ll go through all of that in this review. For Steve’s (rather animated) take on this case, check the video.

 

Cooler Master H500P Specs

Colors

Gun Metal / Black

Materials

Outlook: Plastic, Steel Mesh
Body: Steel
Side panel: Tempered Glass, Steel

Dimensions (LxWxH)

544 x 242 x 542mm / 21.4 x 9.5 x 21.3 inch

Motherboard Support

Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX, E-ATX (support up to 12" x 10.7")

Expansion Slots

7 + 2 (Support vertical graphics card installation)

Drive Bays

5.25” x 0 (2 optional via bracket)
2.5”/3.5” x 2

2.5” SSD x 2

I/O Port

USB 3.0 x 2, USB 2.0 x 2, Audio In & Out (supports HD Audio)

Preinstalled Fans

Front: 200 x 25mm RGB fan x 2, 800RPM

Rear: 140 x 25mm fan x 1, 1200RPM

Fan Support

Top: 120/140mm fan x 3 or 200mm fan x 2

Front: 120/140mm fan x 3 or 200mm fan x 2

Rear: 120/140mm fan x 1

Radiator Support

Top: 120mm, 140mm, 240mm, 280mm, 360mm (maximum thickness clearance 55mm)
Front: 120mm, 140mm 240mm, 280mm, 360mm
Rear: 120mm, 140mm

Clearances

CPU Cooler: 190mm/7.5 inch
GPU: 412mm/16.2 inch

PSU Support

Bottom Mount, ATX PS2

MSRP

$150

Cooler Master H500P Build Quality & Appearance

Many people have already fallen in love with the appearance of the H500P. Two gigantic 200mm RGB fans are the most distinctive features, fully visible through the angled front panel, with an additional window on top of the case and a full tempered glass side panel. The trim is angular and skeletal, like the EVGA FTW3, backed with mesh that still allows the LEDs to shine through. The front I/O panel is similar in style to the C700P we just reviewed, a nice indication that Cooler Master is going for a unified look in their new cases.

Cable management was easy thanks to the PSU shroud and plenty of tie points. Cooler Master includes a steel cover for cables at the front of the case and a plastic cap for the hole in the motherboard tray to make things look as tidy as possible, and it really does work to keep everything hidden for serious neat freaks. Nobody will ever be able see that tidiness outside of a trade show, though, and taking them both out is a great way to make the case roomier and easier to build in.

cm h500p review 2

One of the most difficult parts of disassembling a case is often trying to pry off the front panel, and it seems Cooler Master has deliberately made that process easier by using plastic tabs that loosely socket into place instead of the usual stiff alligator clips or latches. They may have gone too far in the other direction, though. Carrying the H500P requires special care as the top and front panels will not support any weight at all without popping off, as we show in the first few seconds of the video. Most users won’t be picking their cases up on a regular basis, but most users also won’t be taking those panels off on a regular basis: it’s a strange compromise that could be solved with a couple well-placed thumbscrews or an alligator clip, and the compromise is the potential to drop a ca se -- or minimally increase difficulty of transport.

After so much tempered glass and steel in our case reviews recently, the plastic panels of the H500P feel unpleasantly flimsy. The distinctive front and top windows look good on camera, but they feel destined to get scratched. There’s not an easy solution to this (glass is expensive and easier to work with in flat panes), but a sturdier frame for the plastic might help the perceived quality. The chassis is made of sturdy steel, and thin flexible plastic is a stark contrast. It doesn’t help that the plastic creaks when it’s prodded or moved around, and that the paneling flexes and bows at the slightest of presses.

There’s no RGB controller included with this case, despite front I/O dummy buttons that clearly are placeholders for a future case (and could offer RGB control). Software control via a motherboard header is superior to external hardware in a few ways, but older boards and boards that haven’t succumbed to the RGB craze won’t have RGB headers. We installed a cheap third-party RGB controller (from an unpublished review) for filming purposes. The H500P is fairly expensive case and it could be argued that customers will either have a compatible mobo or a HUE+, but then it seems backwards that an ultra expensive case like the C700P would include external RGB controls. The controller included with the C700P has both baked-in color presets and a “motherboard control” mode, which would be great here. A splitter is included so that up to three RGB fans can be controlled from one jack, but only two of the three stock fans are RGB. There’s also a three-way fan power splitter included that we didn’t make use of.

cm h500p review 4

Users can optionally buy a VGA support from Cooler Master for vertical installation, but it’s not vital: the full weight of the card can be supported by the PCIe cover. For thermal testing, we zip tied things in place again, because--like the View 71 TG--the GPU mount was too high for our Twin Frozr GPU cooler to fit under our air cooler. When using a riser cable (purchased separately), the SSD trays on top of the PSU shroud must be moved elsewhere.

In our initial Computex coverage of the H500P, we reported that it would be possible to add additional hard drive cages for more 3.5” drive capacity. There is a slot and screw hole on the top of the stock HDD cage that indicates additional ones could be stacked there, if compatible HDD cages are made available for sale. For now, the stock case includes two 3.5” bays.

The PSU shroud is divided into two parts, so that the front section can be slid backwards to accommodate liquid cooling. The front section must be removed to deal with HDDs, and the full shroud must be removed to install a PSU. The front section in our review sample was bent out of place by a rivet, but removing and reinstalling it fixed this. The adjustable shroud is a clever alternative to the pop-out shroud sections we’ve seen in cases like the Meshify C.

cm h500p review 3

The tempered glass side panel is secured by metal tabs at the bottom (always a positive feature when working with glass) and a latch at the top, similar to the In Win 303. Unlike the 303, though, the glass isn’t set into the chassis, it’s just pressed against the side by a simple rotating latch. It keeps the glass from falling outwards, but (at least in our review sample) it didn’t hold it tightly enough to prevent it from sliding a couple millimeters side-to-side. The latch was also too stiff to be turned by hand and required a screwdriver or a coin, eliminating the “tool-less” aspect of it. The entire glass side panel feels like an afterthought, and doesn’t  convey high quality design.

Radiator placement is flexible, but takes some explaining. The included 200mm intake fans are actually outside of the chassis in front of the normal fan mounts, and theoretically a radiator could be installed in the empty mounts, flush against the 200mm fans. Cooler Master doesn’t show this configuration in the case manual, presumably because big, slow fans have relatively poor static pressure (as we noted at Computex), making them a poor choice for forcing air through radiators. Instead, they suggest placing the radiator inside the case and installing some appropriately sized fans into the fan mounts for pushing air through. If that’s confusing, don’t worry--we’re planning to publish more H500P content in the near future.

Continue to Page 2 for thermal & noise results.


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Last modified on October 10, 2017 at 8:00 am

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