Who would have thought that Apple’s infamous “cheese grater” design for the Mac Pro would work its way into a custom PC? As much criticism as Apple received, the Mac Pro’s design certainly made a statement, and Cooler Master is making a similar statement with its highly modular Cube 500 flat pack.
It blows the whistle on the best PC cases, spoiling with a design that feels exactly like its own. However, it’s not just a case of lots of holes; The Cube 500 has a modular, flat-pack design that provides one of the most unique building experiences I’ve ever experienced.
make it as you make it
The Cube 500 Flat Pack is a case that you create as you build. The case’s claim to fame is that it’s completely modular, and Cooler Master ships it in a flat box completely disassembled – convenient for shipping purposes, but it may put some builders off. I wasn’t too excited about building my own PC cases before I built my own, but didn’t have that experience with the Cube 500.
Just like you build a PC, you build a case. This is the process of removing one or two parts, putting some of your structure back together, and then removing more parts of the case. This could easily become frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be. Cooler Master has the steps printed inside the box with QR codes, each of which links to a video from Cooler Master. The parts of the case are arranged in such a way that you don’t need to unbox everything at once. The parts are layered, so as you build you see the next parts you need.
This ended up being less frustrating than the traditional construction experience, and there are several reasons for this. For starters, cable management. Routing your cables is part of assembling the case, so you have more neat access to plug everything in and manage your cables before finishing the case.
Second, Cooler Master includes a bag of screws that work with everything. They are the screws you use to assemble the case as well as connect the motherboard, graphics card, and power supply. When I needed to switch from PC building mode to case building mode, I never had to worry about finding the right screws. I just grabbed a screw, took my next step and it worked.
If things don’t go according to plan, you still have a lot of flexibility. I ignored the instructions and installed the bottom of the case before connecting my front panel ports. I realized that there wasn’t a gap wide enough to connect the top of the USB 3.2 connector to the bottom. In a normal situation, I would have to compromise with an ugly cable extending over the motherboard or no USB 3.2 on the front panel. With the Cube 500, I unscrewed two screws to remove the bottom, attached the cable, and I was set.
This modular design shouldn’t work, and even with good intentions, it’s clear how Cooler Master could get such a bad design. Cooler Master paid attention to details here, creating a unique building experience that’s surprisingly easy to wrap your head around.
You can build the Cube 500 exactly like Cooler Master says, and it works great. However, there are many options for making it your own, and it mainly comes down to the feet.
The Cooler Master includes four legs that go on the bottom of the case, but you can add them elsewhere. You can throw them on the front and orient the case so that your ports are on top, or you can put them on the side panels and lay the case flat. This may not seem like a big deal, but that’s because the solution is very simple. You have several options for setting up the case; They just need to swap legs.
However, the Cube 500 has more tricks up its sleeve than legs. The box includes a vertical GPU mount that slots into the usual bracket, allowing you to install your GPU vertically without an extensive case mod. There’s also a swinging bracket you can choose to install, allowing you to mount a fan, cooler, or hard drive on the side of the case (there’s even more mounting room on the back).
Outside of the front and back panels, you can mix and match the edges as you wish. They all work, even swapping the top and bottom if you want. The colored plates that hold the dust filters are also modular, as you can install them on whichever side of the case feels best for your layout.
Going even further, there is a test bench mode. One of the keys to the Cube 500 is that the power supply and motherboard are mounted on the same plate, so you can remove the front, top, and bottom for a test bench setup. This configuration also has spaces to install the legs.
Modularity also opens up a lot of options for hardware support. The case is only 33 liters of volume, but it still supports E-ATX motherboards, ATX power supplies, 360mm GPU, four 3.5-inch HDDs, and three 2.5-inch SSDs. There’s room for a 280mm radiator on the top, bottom, or left side with a bracket, as well as a 120mm fan at the rear and a 120mm/140mm fan at the front. You can also get rid of the 280mm radiator on the front if you install the power supply in the bottom of the case.
You won’t be able to mount everything at once, but there’s a lot of flexibility here. Given how modular the design is, you’re free to mount fans, hard drives, and even your power supply in many different places, allowing for whatever other hardware you want. Will get a place. This is a surprisingly effective use of space, and Cooler Master still leaves you some solid room for cable management.
All the holes around the Cube 500 are more than cosmetic. It is the basis of a modular ecosystem of accessories, some of which are included in the Cooler Master Box. Outside the gate, you get two hooks and two cable routing plugs. These are great for clearing out messy cables and hanging accessories, whether it’s a controller, a headset, or even your keyboard.
You could stop just there, but Cooler Master provides eight files so you can print your own accessories with a 3D printer for free. It also includes a template for these accessories, so you can design and print your own.
I don’t think these accessories are a reason to buy the Cube 500, despite Cooler Master’s marketing materials. However, they are definitely a plus. I’m not interested in making changes to the case with my own designs, but I do like the option for those who are deeply interested in 3D printing.
The Cube 500 is a great case, especially considering its price, but it does have some issues. First is the practicality of using an all-in-one liquid cooler. Cooler Master includes a lot of support, but it’s not always practical. The side bracket blocks your view of the inside of the case, and you don’t have the option of a 360mm AIO.
The bigger issue is air flow. Cooler Master only includes one fan, and it is an exhaust fan. If you’re planning on installing an AIO, you’ll probably also want to purchase two additional fans for the intake. The only problem is that you can’t mount them from the front due to the position of the power supply, so you have to mount them on the bottom, which means you can’t use that space for the hard drive. I hope you see how this can snowball.
The Cooler Master Cube 500 makes efficient use of space, but that also means you need to plan your build inside it. Moving one component often means compromising another. Most cases give you basic intake and exhaust setup right from the start, so you don’t have to think about it. That’s not the case here, so you’ll need to keep fans and placement in mind when building your PC.
The small size and awkward compromises with other components mean you may face thermal issues if you pack high-end hardware in the case. For example, it can fit an RTX 4090 and a Core i9-14900K, but it’s hard to get the cooling you need to manage these components.
Should you buy the Cube 500?
This case isn’t for everyone based solely on aesthetics. It looks a bit strange, so if you don’t love the design, this isn’t the case for you. I love the design, and it’s made even better given the modularity of this case and its price.
The Cube 500 is surprisingly cheap. You can get it for around $90 if you opt for the black or white version or thereabouts
, I reviewed this version, which comes with three options of colors for the top and front panels, which you are free to mix and match.
Your options around that price are pretty standard mid-tower designs. Designs like the NZXT H5 and Corsair 3000D aren’t bad, but they’re much less flexible than the Cube 500. This is one of the few cases that really stands out around this price, and it’s a great option if you don’t mind dealing with some of its quirks.