Cooler Master’s H500M is the 18th addition to our “Cases Named H500” chart. The H500M was shown at CES 2018, and follows-up the initial H500P, the H500P Mesh, and the unrelated H500 and H500i cases from NZXT. This is Cooler Master’s high-end solution, shipping at $200 and including user-swappable glass or mesh front panels, with the mesh panel pre-installed in a default configuration. Today, we’re reviewing the Cooler Master H500M enclosure.
Cooler Master’s H500M officially launches for product availability to consumers in the second week of June, just after Computex ends, and carries an MSRP of $200. For clarity, this is a different product than the H500P Mesh that we previously reviewed, although it does ship with a mesh front by default. The H500M also includes a swappable glass front, and otherwise primarily differentiates itself with additional gloss and ARGB support and controllers.
From the ARGB side, software is still to come, and immediate compatibility includes ASUS motherboards. Cooler Master is working with other vendors on further integration. For our purposes today, we’re more focused on overall build quality and thermal performance; besides, we’ve got Computex and flights to Asia breathing down our necks, so we’ll stick with what we’re good at.
If you went through our original H500P review and addressed each complaint one by one, the result would be the H500P Mesh, Cooler Master’s new mesh-fronted variant of the (formerly) underwhelming HAF successor. We previously built our own Cooler Master mesh mod, and the performance results there nearly linearly mirror what we found in Cooler Master’s actual H500P Mesh case.
In our Cooler Master H500P Mesh review, we’ll run through temperature testing (thermals), airflow testing with an anemometer, and noise testing. Additional quality analysis will be done to gauge whether the substantial issues with the original H500P front and top panels have been resolved.
As this case is the same barebones chassis as the original H500P, we encourage you to read that review for more detailed notes on the build process. The focus here is on airflow, thermals, noise, and external build quality or other resolutions. As a reminder, the original marketing advertised “guaranteed high-volume airflow,” and suggested to reviewers that the case was a high-airflow enclosure with performance-oriented qualities. That, clearly, was not true, and was what resulted in the lashing the H500P received. Honest marketing matters.
We recently revisited the “King of Case Airflow”, the SilverStone Raven 02, which we originally reviewed back in 2013. It’s certainly the king compared to anything we’ve tested recently, but competition for the crown was a lot stronger back when the case was released, and the ultimate example of high airflow early 2010’s cases is the Cooler Master HAF X (still available, by the way). 2010 seems like ancient history, back when certain people were working for Newegg TV and others for NCIX, but the HAF series remains so respected that Cooler Master leveraged the name to promote the H500P last year; the HAF X specifically was so popular that brand new ones are available for purchase on Newegg right now, nearly eight years after its release.
GamersNexus did exist when the HAF X launched, but we never officially reviewed it. Steve bought the case featured in this revisit for his own system years ago, and we ran a contest for a HAF X shirt in 2012. It seems like everyone had a high opinion of it, including us, which made the H500P a big letdown. This revisit aims to find out whether the HAF X was really worthy of all that hype.
We’re revisiting one of the best ~200mm-ish fans that existed: The SilverStone Air Penetrator 180, or AP181, that was found in the chart-topping Raven02 case that we once held in high regard. We dug these fans out of our old Raven, still hanging around post-testing from years ago, and threw them into a test bench versus the Noctua 200mm and Cooler Master 200mm RGB fans (the latter coming from the H500P case).
These three fans, two of which are advertised as 200mm, all have different mounting holes. This is part of the reason that 200mm fans faded from prominence (the other being replacing mesh side panels with a sheet of glass), as companies were all fighting over a non-standardized fan size. Generally speaking, buying a case with 200mm fans did not – and still does not – guarantee that other 200mm fans will work in that case. The screw hole spacing is different, the fan size could be different, and there were about 4 types of 200mm-ish fans from the time: 180mm, 200mm, 220mm, and 230mm.
That’s a large part of the vanishing act of the 200mm fans, although a recent revival by Cooler Master has resurrected some interest in them. It’s almost like a fashion trend: All the manufacturers saw at Computex that 200mm fans were “in” again, and immediately, we started seeing CES 2018 cases making a 200mm push.
We have a long, known history with the Cooler Master H500P. Our review set the stage, with our mesh mod “fixing” the product (as we said), and the disappointment build closing-out the year. Although Cooler Master didn’t particularly like what we had to say (and challenged us on the mesh mod), it seems that the company took the criticism to heart. Nearly every issue we complained about has been fixed. The company never told us about these changes, of course – we had to hear about it from you all, via Twitter – but we found out, and we visited the suite to look at the H500P Mesh and H500M.
The H500P Mesh enclosure fixes these primary concerns from our review: (1) The case falling apart, (2) the limited intake, (3) the power supply shroud installation procedure, and (4) the left panel no longer ‘wiggles’ or ‘wobbles’ side-to-side.
The revolution of 200mm fans was a short-live one. Large fans are still around, but the brief, bombastic era of sticking a 200mm fan in every slot didn’t last long: The CM HAF X, NZXT Phantom 820, SilverStone Raven 02 (180mm), Throne & Thor, and 500R all have designs that have largely been replaced in the market. That replacement comes in the form of an obsession with the word “sleek” in marketing materials, which generally means flat, unvented paneling that would conflict with the poorer static pressure performance of large fans. That’s not to say 200mm fans are inherently good or bad, just that the industry has trended away from them.
That is, until the Cooler Master H500P, which runs 2x MasterFan MF200R units dead-center, fully garnished with RGB LEDs. We didn’t necessarily like the H500P in its stock configuration (but did fix it), but we know the case is popular, and it’s the best test bench for 200mm fans. There’s a good chance that purchasers of the NF-A20 are buying them for the H500P.
And that’s what we’re reviewing today. In this benchmark, we’re reviewing the Noctua NF-A20 200mm fans versus the Cooler Master MasterFan MF200Rs, which come stock with the H500P. The MF200R fans will almost certainly become available separately, at some point, but presently only ship with the H500P.
Our review of Cooler Master’s H500P primarily highlighted the distinct cooling limitation of a case which has been both implicitly and explicitly marketed as “High Airflow.” The case offered decidedly low airflow, a byproduct of covering the vast majority of the fan – the selling point of the case – with an easily removed piece of clear plastic. In initial testing, we removed the case’s front panel for a closer look at thermals without obstructions, finding a reduction in CPU temperature of ~12~13 degrees Celsius. That gave a better idea for where the H500P could have performed, had the case not been suffocated by design, and started giving us ideas for mesh mods.
The mod is shown start-to-finish in the below video, but it’s all fairly trivial: Time to build was less than 30 minutes, with the next few hours spent on testing. The acrylic top and front panels are held in by double-sided tape, but that tape’s not strong enough to resist a light, sheer force. The panel separates mostly instantly when pressed on, with the rest of the tape removed by opposing presses down the paneling.
Radiator placement testing should be done on a per-case basis, not applied globally as a universal “X position is always better.” There are general trends that emerge, like front-mounted radiators generally resulting in lower CPU thermals for mesh-covered cases, but those do not persist to every case (see: In Win 303). The H500P is the first case for which we’ve gone out of the way to specifically explore radiator placement “optimization,” and we’ve also added in some best fan placement positions for the case. Radiator placement benchmarks the top versus front orientations, with push vs. pull setups tested in conjunction with Cooler Master’s 200mm fans.
Being that the selling point of the case is its 200mm fans – or one of the major ones, anyway – most of our configurations for both air and liquid attempt to utilize the fans. Some remove them, for academic reasons, but most keep the units mounted.
Our standard test bench will be listed below, but note that we are using the EVGA CLC 240 liquid cooler for radiator placement tests, rather than the MSI air cooler. The tests maximize the pump and fan RPMs, as we care only about the peak-to-peak delta in performance, not the noise levels. Noise levels are about 50-55dBA, roughly speaking, with this setup – not really tenable.
For a recap of our previous Cooler Master H500P results, check our review article and thermal testing section.
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.
We first went hands-on with the C700P and H500P at Computex this year, and since then Cooler Master has been building excitement for their releases in a way that’s rare for enclosures. The C700P is one of the newest in the Cosmos line, which also recently added the Cosmos II 25th Anniversary Edition. Our initial review of the Cosmos C700P was conducted at PAX -- later renamed to "preview," because some struggling publications lamented the use of the words "initial review" -- and covered the case inversion process and other installation features. This is a follow-up to that, finalizing the thermal and acoustics analysis.
Cooler Master has revised their website since we mentioned the C700P in our Thermaltake View 71 TG review, correcting the its weight: it’s actually 49 pounds, not 58. The CM website had initially suggested the case would weigh 26.2kg but, after double-checking, we can say that the 22.2kg weight is accurate. Not that it’s a big difference, at that point.
For Steve’s take on the case, check the video below. The team’s written review of the case will continue after the specs listing.
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