Anirudh RegidiNov 23, 2020 10:26:23 IST
If you’re looking to build a mid-range PC, CoolerMaster’s MB511 ARGB cabinet is a great starting point.
At 7k, it’s not too expensive, and it’s one of the few cabinets in this price range that includes multiple addressable RGB fans (ARGB, get it?).
Build and design
The 511 is a mid-tower chassis with support for everything up to E-ATX motherboards (limited support). You get a mesh front panel, behind which the three included ARGB fans are housed, a top vent with a magnetically attached dust filter, a rear exhaust vent with no mesh (this can be a problem, as I’ll explain later), and a PSU and HDD shroud at the bottom that doesn’t extend all the way to the front of the cabinet. The bottom-mounted air intake for the PSU includes a dust filter.
The design is simple, mostly tool-less, and very functional.
The tempered glass side panel (Yay!) is mounted with floating thumb screws, as is the motherboard panel.
You’ll need a screwdriver for mounting the PSU, motherboard, and GPU, but the SSDs and HDDs can be attached with minimal effort and no tools.
Speaking of, the chassis can hold 3x SSDs and 2x HDDs by default (or up to 5x SSDs and no HDDs, depending on your config), and you can mount an additional SSD if you purchase a mounting bracket separately.
Two SSDs can be mounted directly above the PSU shroud via brackets, only one of which is included. Two more can be mounted behind the motherboard. The two 3.5” HDDs or 2.5” SSDs can be mounted in front of the PSU in dedicated, tool-less trays.
Cable-management cut-outs are present all over the motherboard at appropriate points, and there are attachment points at the back for cable-ties. With a bit of effort, you can end up with a very clean build.
The ARGB fans can be controlled via an included controller, the front panel reset button, or via a supported motherboard’s ARGB header. The fans themselves can cycle between a score of presets at the press of a button.
Front panel I/O comprises two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, a power and reset switch, and two 3.5 mm audio jacks.
For cooling, you only have the three front-panel fans, which means that by default, you have to go with a positive pressure design, especially with an open rear vent.
The front and top panels both support up to 360 mm radiators or 3x 120 mm fans each, or 2x 140 mm fans each, and you can mount an additional 120 mm fan on the rear.
My one issue with the design is radiator clearance and placement.
While the radiators can be mounted at the top or at the front, the clearance at the top for motherboard components is only 44 mm.
With a monster of a board like the ASUS ROG Maximus XII Extreme, a top-mounted radiator just barely clears the heatsinks. RAM clearance is also an issue. Regular RAM modules or those with tiny heatsinks can be installed, but anything larger, like high-performance modules with large heatsinks, or modules with RGB lighting kits, will not fit under a top-mounted radiator.
If you can’t mount the radiator up top, then you need to mount it on the front panel. The three 120 mm front panel fans will then have to be shifted up top, which brings with it yet another issue. The screws for the fans stick out slightly when they’re mounted in the top panel, which means that the magnetic mesh doesn’t sit flush with the top of the case in such a configuration.
There’s also the issue of airflow:
- If you have a front-mounted radiator, cool air from outside will rush in, absorb heat, and then flow over the GPU, affecting its performance.
- Conversely, if the front-mounted radiator is set as an exhaust, you’re blowing hot, GPU air over the radiator and affecting CPU performance. On a related note, if you think you could configure the now top-mounted 120 mm A-RGB fans as exhaust, to help drive out hot air, you shouldn’t, because air will then be drawn in from the rear vent, which has no dust filter.
This was a real issue when I installed an Intel 10900K and RTX 3080 in the system. These components run HOT. Overclocked, the Intel CPU would hit 94°C in seconds, and the GPU routinely ran at over 86°C. With a front-mounted 240 mm radiator – my only option given that my high-performance RGB RAM had a massive heatsink – the CPU and GPU would both hit thermal limits fairly quickly.
With the side panel removed, temperatures immediately dropped by several degrees and neither hit its thermal limits.
Airflow and temperatures aren’t a problem for more mid-range components, however. I tried various configurations involving an Intel 10600K, Intel 6700K, and AMD 1600x paired with a much cooler RTX 2070 Super GPU, and I had no issues with heat management.
These components did get hot under heavy loads, about 70–80°C in most cases, but they never hit their thermal limits, even with a 20% overclock applied.
If you’re going for a high-end build, you’ll need to consider your components carefully, taking into account your intended cooling config and clearance for RAM. You might also want to consider investing in additional, high-airflow fans.
Ease of assembly
The actual build process was a breeze. The cabinet is fairly large and roomy, and manoeuvring tiny cables through various vents and gaps wasn’t a challenge. Everything was easy to mount, and the front panel also comes off to make it easier to mount/unmount fans and radiators.
Do bear in mind that the clearance between the PSU and the HDD tray is a bit of a problem if you have a large PSU. The Corsair AX850 PSU and its cables just barely fit behind the trays. Excess cabling also has nowhere to go. Smaller PSUs slot in just fine.
If you’re not using the 3.5” HDD brackets, you can remove them and take advantage of the additional clearance for cable management.
I really liked working with the MB511 A-RGB. It’s a spacious cabinet that is, for the most part, well-designed. The tempered glass side panel is nice to have, and the A-RGB fans do add some flair to the design.
While its default config isn’t ideal for really high-end PC builds, and there’s nothing you can do about the clearance issues, you do get support for 7 fans, and/or dual 360 mm radiators. Few cabinets offer this much flexibility, and fewer still offer it at this price.
Dimensions: 496x217x469 mm
Weight: 6.59 kg
Motherboard support: Mini ITX, Micro ATX, ATX, SSI CEB, E-ATX
Expansion Slots: 7
2.5”/3.5” drive bays: 2 (max. 2)
2.5” drive bays: 5 (max. 6)
I/O Panel: 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 2x 3.5 mm audio, 1x ARGB Controller, 1x ARGB 2-to-3 splitter
Pre-installed fans: 3x 120 mm ARGB fans (front)
Fan support: 3x 120 mm / 2x 140 mm (top and front), 1x 120 mm (rear)
Radiator support: up to 360 mm top (44 mm max motherboard component clearance), up to 360 mm front (75 mm clearance), 120 mm rear
CPU cooler clearance: 165 mm
PSU clearance: 180 mm
GFX clearance: 410 mm
Dust filters: Front, Top, Bottom
PSU support: Bottom, ATX