The ultimate compromise between size and capability in a desktop PC platform, Micro ATX is too often overlooked by builders who desire more space for cooling as well as those who want something a little easier to move around. We’ve seen liquid cooling mid-towers grow to full-tower proportions without keeping traditional full-tower features, while builders looking for a compromise debate between an ATX PC they can’t move and a Mini-ITX PC they can’t expand. Meanwhile, SLI motherboards in the Micro ATX form factor come and go without getting much attention.
Cooler Master hopes to change all that with its MasterCase Pro 3.
The MasterCase Pro 3 gives buyers a fifth expansion slot to help builders place a double-slot graphics card in the bottom (fourth) slot of a Micro-ATX motherboard, and builders can get even more space for enormous GPU coolers by removing or moving a couple SSD trays. Space above the motherboard is similarly generous, with 2.5” of room for thick radiators with 120x240mm or 140x280mm fan placement.
Located on a slanted portion of the top panel, the MasterCase Pro 3’s front panel connectors include just a pair of USB 3.0 ports along with headphone and microphone jacks. A top panel vent above those also serves as a carrying handle. All of these panels are given a matte graphite finish that sparkles softly under the reflection of intense light.
The rear of the top panel also features a vent port that doubles as a carrying handle, with metal supports internally framing both holes. From this angle we also see the included 140mm fan and accompanying 120mm mounts, both of which use long screw slots to ease the raising and lowering of rear-mounted radiators for tank and fitting clearance.
Anyone who doesn’t think the carrying handle holes are large enough to function as vents is welcome to pull off the MasterCase Pro 3’s magnetically-attached top panel cover.
A power supply dust filter slides out from beneath the rear edge of the MasterCase Pro 3’s bottom panel. The wide rear foot resembles a loop style handle, and its open center provides additional ventilation beneath that filter.
The MasterCase Pro 3’s front dust filter is integrated within a subsection of the front panel. Both the outer frame of the front panel and the inner filter portion are secured with flat barbs that must be squeezed out of the way to allow damage-free removal. The MasterCase Pro 3 includes add-in brackets for a 5.25” bay device and a removable bay cover to support that alteration.
Building With The MasterCase Pro 3
Front-panel radiator capabilities match those of the top panel, and a 2.5” gap in the removable mid panel provides radiator clearance. The 3.5” drive cage can also be relocated 2.0” closer to the power supply to make room for a front-panel radiator. If the builder decides to ditch the center panel, one of its 2.5” trays can be relocated behind the motherboard tray using the slot and screw hole seen beneath the CPU cooler bracket’s access hole.
The front fan opening rolls into a forward mounting flange replete with screw holes, peg holes, and slots that can be used with various brackets, including the 3.5” drive cage.
A vertical mounting bracket found between the front panel and cable passages can be moved rearward and placed directly over those passages, revealing a giant slot at the front of the motherboard tray. We weren’t exactly certain why anyone would want to move the bracket there until we removed the drive cage:
Two rubberized pegs on the back of the drive cage engage holes in the vertical bracket mentioned above, but only after it’s been moved rearward.
While many builders have praised closed power supply tunnels for providing a way to conceal cables, those designs aren’t always practical when adding or removing cables from a modular unit. Cooler Master’s solution is to place a removable, ultra-dark tinted panel on the inside of the window. This provides builders with the option of concealing or revealing these components, without hindering access to power supply cables.
The MasterCase Pro 3 provides 0.8” of cable space behind the motherboard, along with the alternative SSD tray mount. Power supplies can slide in from behind the case by removing the mounting plate, or from the inside by removing the center panel.
Front panel connectors include the power and LED segment, USB 3.0, and HD Audio. The power LED connector is split to fit both standard (2-pin) and Asus/legacy (3-pin) spacing.