Meet the new bud­get blue­print.

APC Australia - - Contents - Zak Storey

It’s far too easy to get caught up in the razzmatazz of full­sized pre­mium cases and be­spoke cus­tom tow­ers. Those rec­tan­gu­lar boxes that pack ev­ery in­no­va­tive fea­ture around into their volup­tuously carved forms ap­pear be­fore us like sirens. Their en­tic­ing fig­ures draw us closer, be­fore the re­al­ity sets in. Sure, they have their pur­pose, and the mar­ket is cer­tainly there for those who can af­ford such lux­ury in their com­put­ing lives, but those triple-digit trans­ac­tions are of­ten an un­nec­es­sary in­dul­gence.

The flag­ships may have bet­ter mar­gins and the most ad­vanced fea­ture sets, but it’s the sub-$150 boxes — ca­pa­ble of dis­till­ing those heav­enly at­tributes and con­dens­ing them down into a pack­age that’s both ap­peal­ing and af­ford­able — that ul­ti­mately win the war.

The MasterBox Lite 5 RGB is one of those of­fer­ings: the cul­mi­na­tion of a de­sire to pro­duce an af­ford­able, mar­ket-dom­i­nat­ing chas­sis, with all of Cooler Mas­ter’s lat­est and great­est de­sign touches trimmed to suit a more down-to-earth au­di­ence. This is bud­get done well.

A quick glance over the chas­sis soon re­veals which cor­ners have been cut to make form fit func­tion, yet Cooler Mas­ter has done this with­out im­pact­ing the end user in any ma­jor man­ner. The trans­par­ent front panel is made of a more af­ford­able plas­tic poly­mer, not glass. The dust fil­ters, although small, are in­tu­itively placed to en­sure max­i­mum cov­er­age of air in­take. The hard drive cage, bot­tom-mounted be­low the PSU cover, is non-re­mov­able and pop-riv­eted into po­si­tion. There’s sup­port for four 2.5-inch SSD mounts, with only one bracket in­cluded. And a tem­pered glass side panel is se­curely fixed in place by a bot­tom­mounted hinge and just two thumb screws across the top. The MasterBox Lite is a bal­ance be­tween fea­ture and price.

That tem­pered glass and PSU cover im­pressed us, as did the sup­port for up to a 360mm AIO in the front, the three in­cluded RGB front fans, the abil­ity to rear­mount the 2.5-inch SSD and the in­cluded white or red ac­cents, which you can swap out on the front panel. Cou­ple all that with the stel­lar price tag, and we’re look­ing at a new bud­get favourite.

One flaw, how­ever, stems from the ma­te­rial used. Un­for­tu­nately, the plain black steel used across the ex­te­rior and in­te­rior of the chas­sis feels thin, and a lit­tle lack­lus­ter un­der the thumb. And as we’ve seen, the same ma­te­rial used in cases for the last eight years or so, we just wish there was a touch more ef­fort used on the fin­ish, or some­thing dif­fer­ent en­tirely. But as that’s our only stick­ing point, we’ll let it slide.

Cooler Mas­ter’s MasterBox Lite 5 RGB is a phe­nom­e­nally priced bud­get box for any builder look­ing to con­struct a modern ma­chine in a case that plays like a flag­ship. Its fea­ture set is in­clu­sive, its de­sign aes­thet­i­cally stun­ning, and its price the per­fect bal­ance. What more can be said?

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