Cooler Master MasterCase Pro 3 Micro ATX Mid-Tower Review

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Oct 20, 2008
I think I just might add this to my list of possible cases for a Zen build. Hopefully they'll come out with some performance AM4 uATX boards instead of practically only ATX like with AM3+
Sep 30, 2013
The problem with Micro-ATX is that they aren't that much smaller than ATX at all.. I can't say "it's not worth bothering with" but well - it's not small! So it fails.

Mini-ITX builds are much smaller. As for the expansion capability beyond that of a Mini-ITX board not really needed anyway.


The Cooler Master MasterCase Pro 3 is designed for SLI/CrossFire and big CPU coolers. You and I might not be the perfect customers for those features, but many people still want them. To put this in perspective:

Mini ITX supports neither four DIMMs nor two cards. Even the voltage regulator space is compromised. That's three strikes. For every "Micro ATX Fails", Mini ITX fails thrice.

As for size, Micro ATX is halfway between ATX and Mini ITX. That half step solves all those Mini ITX fails. So, for anyone who thinks that both Mini ITX and full ATX make sense but Micro ATX doesn't, logic fails.

Sep 30, 2013
Don't the coolers fit Mini-ITX-boards too?

Of course a Mini-ITX card with two memory module slots and one PCI-express slot won't handle SLI and CrossFire but very few people actually need the later and the former isn't much of an issue if you get enough RAM from the beginning.
Since buying bundles I've switched from BSD and Linux to Windows but before I last ran 64 bit Linux and thought having just 8 GB of RAM was a complete disaster and as such saw 16 GB as a necessity for a new built but wanted to be able to have 32 GB of RAM. With DDR3 on the mainstream chipsets that was a no-go. Nowadays I do use Windows though still on the same shitty machine but 8 GB is much more tolerable in Windows and just now some games have started to recommend 16 GB of RAM but that will likely be enough for a while now.
ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac which is a Mini-ITX board with Z170 can handle up to 32 GB of RAM which is totally fine for any average home mainstream consumer and gamer even up and including the enthusiasts I'd say except for possibly virtualization really.
Of course there will be people who NEED to have more graphics cards and NEED to have more than 32 GB of RAM but 95+% of the buyers likely don't.

I don't know how large the voltage regulation issue is, if at all. The motherboard mentioned above is an 8 phase Digi Power design, don't some motherboards "aimed" (well, marketed as supporting..) at the FX processors use like 2+1 or something? .. I don't know how it works but I wouldn't be surprised if a board for desktop processors with just two memory slots and one graphics card slot actually doesn't NEED as many components for voltage regulation simply because the components on the board will never use as much current anyway. There's a difference in a mainstream processor, 2 memory modules and one graphics card and a server processor, 8 memory modules and say four graphics cards.

The trade-off as I see it with H110 and Mini-ITX is of course that since you do have just two memory module slots you should for a gaming build pick at-least 2x8 GB rather than 2x4 GB of RAM and be done with it rather than later having to do whatever with your old modules once you decide to upgrade. That's just a thing you need to be aware of and not really an issue if you do the right choice based on the motherboard you've chosen.

I assume many "want" those features simply because they exist. That doesn't mean they WILL run an SLI setup. Many likely "save" on buying very little RAM for some stupid reason (="it works!")

I view the ATX as desktop computer standard an old relic from the time when the motherboards didn't had sound, ethernet/modem, graphics, maybe not even disk controllers, possibly USB (going back long enough maybe not even serial and parallell ports?) on board. Now they do and many Mini-ITX motherboards even come with wireless network as-well.

Right now you can build a i7 6950X, 32 GB, Titan X build on Mini-ITX.
How large is the home computer build market where that isn't enough?

Edit: Ok, now with the new SSD on M.2 and PCI-express possibly there. As I see it M.2 SSD isn't all that interesting _FOR ME_ because it's much more expensive, just somewhat faster and the large gap is of course going from HDD too SSD at all where you'll find speed differences of about 100x in some tasks. The Mini-ITX boards _DO_ come with M.2 though. comes with both:
"1 x Vertical Half-size Mini-PCI Express Slot: For WiFi + BT Module"
"1 x Ultra M.2 Socket, supports M.2 SATA3 6.0 Gb/s module and M.2 PCI Express module up to Gen3 x4 (32 Gb/s)"
"- 1 x Half-size Mini-PCI Express Slot: For WiFi + BT Module"
"- 1 x Ultra M.2 Socket, supports type 2260/2280 M.2 SATA3 6.0 Gb/s module and M.2 PCI Express module up to Gen3 x4 (32 Gb/s)**" aswell.
Personally I consider one M.2 SSD enough if you decide to get one but of course some may not think so, but they aren't the mainstream consumers and for most Mini-ITX would be perfectly fine.

And as said, the microATX cases are HUGE by comparision, like twice the size and not much smaller than ATX cases at all.


Sorry I don't have time to go through a point by point reply on the entire list, but it is fairly long. BitFenix had a big Mini ITX case, and they turned it into Micro ATX, so the comparison really depends on the case you're comparing. As shown in the BitFenix example, by the time you add room to a DTX case for a big cooler you're halfway there (I said DTX because these gaming cases have two slots).

I like ASRock's X99E-ITXac, but you're fighting against an enthusiast market that will often demand all four memory channels be filled even if they never use a program that benefits. The same is true of SLI. These are the people for whom Micro ATX can be a viable middle step.

As for me, I'd really like 64GB in my Mini ITX system. It's not going to happen unless I use a workstation board with four SODIMMs. And since overclocking is such a large part of what makes this site interesting, you're not going to see a lot of focus on those boards. That's also why there's so little activity on the performance SODIMM front.
Sep 30, 2013
Well, to a degree it depends on the case, to another degree not.

Trust me, I've chased small computers for years and I've calculated liter volume of LOTS and LOTS of cases and the fact is that the microATX cases are like twice as large as the Mini-ITX cases on average or so. Possibly because they do as you say think that "oh people who buy microATX totally need extra stuff" so they make room for plenty of HDDs and ODDS and what not. I would had wanted to say "no" to your claim and then claim that the Bitfenix case just wasn't well optimized for Mini-ITX and not small again but then again I too think that a microATX case could be made smaller by doing clever designs with the components. Tom´s hardware(?) just reviewed a slimmer ATX case which had fitted the graphics card on a riser (on the bottom slot on an ATX case upside down?) which made the graphics card cover all the other expansion slots rendering it a one expansion card only solution even though it was ATX but to shrink it in size. Kinda a waste but ATX is budget friendly and it got the size issue solved somewhat.

There's absolutely NO similar sized solutions for small Mini-ITX vs small microATX systems or average Mini-ITX vs average microATX systems which can be made though. Mini-ITX allow for MUCH smaller designs if actual outcome is anything to judge by.

Mini-ITX motherboards are more expensive which can be held against them, however here in Sweden the cheapest ATX Z170 motherboard is the Gigabyte GA-Z170-HD3 which can be had for 949 SEK.
I don't know if the MSI Z170I Gaming Pro AC is the most price-worthy Mini-ITX card but it's a nice one and sits at 1515 SEK.
So 564 SEK more or 55% more expensive.
Only the later card offer USB 3.1 (sadly not C! MSI SLI PLUS do so on ATX form factor for less), ALC1150, Wifi and Bluetooth and that's also worth something. Previously mentioned SLI PLUS card from MSI wouldn't offer wifi or bluetooth but would offer ALC 1150, USB 3.1 and type C (and expansion slots where you could place a wifi network adapter.)

Room for CPU cooler is an option but the most realistic way around that is likely something like the Corsair H110i or something such, which indeed cost additional money too, though I guess you may be able to get by with the Noctua NH-L12 too.

The X99 motherboard you mention cost twice as much as the Z170 motherboard, which is about how it works for them on average. I too think it's cool but Broadwell-E made the enthusiast platform less interesting by raising the price of the socket 2011-3 processors even more.

Back before when 5820K and GTX 970 were fresh and I still ran at that time Linux I "too" wanted 32 GB as said but as I'm running Windows now I think I would even just order 16 GB myself, if I ordered 32 GB it would _ONLY_ be because of virtualization and for political activism, with encryption, Tor and so on. But I don't really consider that safe enough and would rather want to separate the devices, the network access, the network interfaces, the geographical location, ...

It is some trouble, but in the larger picture frame it's pretty cheap for the freedom and safety it would provide you and likely totally worth it, as is backups .. =P

Reminds me of some ad I saw before here in Sweden for a short time for a case which was the one which could hold both an ATX and a Mini-ITX system in one case. It still make you fragile but I guess it slightly beat virtualization and it's very nice regardless =P. Phantek Enthoo Mini XL:

Anyway, for lots of people AMD APUs is enough. For yet some other people i3s and mid-end graphics cards (=low-end gaming cards) is enough. For yet some other people i5 and mid-end graphics is well enough, and for lots of even the enthusiasts one of the fatest i7, 32 GB of RAM and the fatest graphics card on the market is enough. Those who need even more than that is pretty uncommon in the home or gaming market.


Aug 11, 2013

Look, I'm totally following you for the first paragraph but not the second.

'Micro ATX is halfway between ATX and Mini ITX' is only consistently true in the context of motherboards. What the OP was referring to though could be the case market.

I just snipped two of the dimensions from official websites, one of which is the Mastercase Pro 3:
467 x 235 x 505mm = 55.42 L
464 x 232 x 523mm = 56.3 L

Guess which one is the Mastercase? The first one, which is in two dimensions larger than the second case, sans length.

What is the second case? A Define R4.

Like what?! This is my precise reaction during research, when I initially thought this as a worthy downsize from my *own* Define R4. So in the name of flexibility, they made a case less than 1L smaller than an already versatile mid-large ATX case, *and* limit it to mATX boards? Not an attractive proposition at all.

Prior to the R4 I was using an CM N200 so it's not like I am reluctant to use CM products. But I'm in the market for silent subcompact cases with updated features and it doesn't seem like there are any on the market now. And it just seems like Cooler Master over engineered the Pro 3 and totally missed the point of what FF a vanilla mATX case should fit itself in.


But you're not comparing the 23" EATX behemoths that this thing is a substitute for. And if you'd like to compare a slim Mini ITX case to something, you'd have to compare that to a slim Micro ATX case.

I currently use a Mini ITX case that's 2/3 the size of this monster in my office. It's designed for a big (huge) air cooler. I chose it to maintain minimum fan speed while stressing a super-fast CPU.

So if case dimensions are defined by cooler size, the only way to compare form factor scale is to compare the boards that define the form factor. Of course we could just start comparing slim Mini ITX cases, like my wife's, to slim Micro ATX cases, like we used to see in VCR-sized media center PCs, to slim ATX desktops, like the ones people used to prop up their monitors in the early 90s.

Without that kind of perspective, a person comparing my supersized mini ITX to the MasterCase Pro 3, and the MasterCase Pro 3 to some super-tall gaming case, will always end up facing off with a distractor comparing mini cubes to towers.

This case is interesting looking and has lots of ways you can configure it. Cases to me are always a "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" deal. It is the one item your customer will judge the entire build on when he 1st sees it before it's even turned on. A case that appeals to your customer is bound to be a big plus getting him happy. If he hates the case there isn't too much you can do to make him/her happy. I always prefer the customer have the enduser pick the case. Usually I recommend offering the customers a max of 3 options or they just get confused and can't make any decision. This case can definitely be in the discussion.

It's been my experience mATX builds are usually more for a budget builds. I don't recall ever building a multi-GPU mATX system. Usually if a customer is going for multi-GPUs we go with a ATX motherboard & a Mid to Full sized ATX tower for the best options on the VGA card placement in the case and cooling. Usually mATX builds were budget builds for businesses using integrated video, a single hard drive and perhaps a DVD.

Mini-ITX is usually a totally different segment then mATX. Mini-ITX is not a budget build and usually the components run at a much higher in cost. Customers expect higher integration in Mini-ITX builds and expect to pay more. Many Mini-ITX builds use low power versions of CPUs which I almost never have never used in a mATX build. I have never cared for Mini-ITX because of the heat issues, but some customers seem want the power of a highend system in a matchbox.

Personally I want a full sized ATX case and I want it to weigh a ton so if someone breaks in to my home and tries to steal my rig he blows out his back trying to move it.


People who associate μATX with low-cost systems are living in the 90s. μATX was the foundation for the original high-performance LAN boxes, back in the 00s when mITX was almost exclusively a low-energy play.

Tom's Hardware has built several SLI or CrossFire rigs on high-end gaming μATX motherboards. The reason these boards don't stay in the spotlight very long is because when it comes to μATX, most high-end customers are also living in the 90s. Many who knew about the LAN box movement soon forgot and reverted to 90s thinking.

Sep 30, 2013
And this is the normal scenario.

Fractal design don't really make any SMALL cases:
Define S,, 23.3*46.5*53.3 = 57.7 liter (ATX)
Define Mini,, 21.1*39.5*49 = 40.8 liter (Micro-ATX)
Nano S,, 20.3*34.4*41.2 = 28.8 liter (miniITX)
Which is sad. Then again they may be more comfortable to place things inside.

If you try to find some of the smaller cases:
SilverStone SG13, 22.2*18.1*28.5 = 11.5 liter.
Cooler Master Elite 120, 24*20.74*40.14 = 20 liter.
Xigmatek Nebula, 26*33*26 = 22.3 liter.

SilverStone FT03, 23.5*48.7*28.4 = 32.5 liter.
Corsair Air 240, 39.7*26*32 = 33 liter.
BitFenix Prodigy M, 25*40.4*35.9 = 36.3 liter.

The Corsair Graphite 380T is a miniITX case too but with a very shape and it's not really the 40+ liter you'd get from just multiplying the maximum sizes on each end.

Cooler Master HAF XB, 44.2*33*42.3 = 61.7 liter.
Corsair Air 540, 41.5*33.2*45.8 = 63.1 liter.

So yeah, I guess vs that the Micro-ATX cases actually sit inbetween.

Anyway I have a hard time considering a case 40+ cm on any side for small, in the most extreme case above the miniITX case has just 1/3 the volume of the Micro-ATX case. And yeah then there's cases for not full height slots and with risers and both can make the outcome smaller but Micro-ATX will still be huge in comparision in all cases I've found and for what? Room for another graphics cards and two more memory slots. The later I considered a feature with Z97 but as said don't really view as a necessity any longer and the former definitely not.
No-one was comparing different style cases, here's slim lines:
Lian-Li PC05S,, 38.4*46.5*14.8 = 26.4 liter (miniITX.)
Lian-Li PC06S,, 48.4*51.5*14.8 = 36.9 liter (Micro-ATX.)
Lian-Li PC07S,, 51.4*58.5*14.8 = 44.5 liter (ATX & E-ATX.)

If anything slim-line seem to benefit ATX more, likely because that mean you at-least TRY to make a small volume case in the first place.

I don't understand why someone want those large boxes, sure some people (enthusiasts more so if they like to collect their old smaller hard-drives and stick with them) will need it but take the popular Fractal Design R5 for instance:
2x 5.25" slots
8x 3.5" slots
2x 2.5" slots
And then we have people who just order their computer with a 500 GB SSD only. Yeah. Use that case!

Personally I think the desktop cases which sat under monitors was much more attractive than the towers which replaced them.
The tower is like a huge fucking wall blocking off half of the universe to either of your side :D
I don't want my computer to be a room separator wall.

Okay, so all my customer's, vendor's and I are living in the 90s should I buy Apple stock, or did I miss the best time to buy?

The fact that the perception is mATX are for value builds is still going on by the majority of the public, channel and most professionals. This is because the price point of the mATX is usually the lowest, and most of the entry models are mATX and most the higher end expensive motherboards are usually Full ATX or even EATX. That is reality here in the 90s.

Fast forwarding to 2016 when I check my inventory on the newest Skylake models all the entry level models seem to be .... wait for it ..... mATX, so I guess the manufacturers are trapped with all of us in the 90s too. Starting at the most expensive Skylake boards I sell and going down in price. Out of the top 50 most expensive models 6 are mATX and 2 are Mini-ITX and 2 models are EATX the rest (40 models) are all ATX. So that is where the perception about mATX being more of a budget platform is today, and it appears not to be changing that much from the 90s.


Sep 17, 2004
If I use a double 120 rad, eg. a corsair h110, can I still add another drive cage for 3.5" drive. I want to carry over my existing 4 HDD to this case.


This appears possible with a front-mounted radiator by using two cages in the top position and the rear position, but you'll want to confirm with Cooler Master. Otherwise, you'll want to mount the radiator on the top panel. Either way, you'll want to contact Cooler Master about that second drive cage, as they have a parts store.
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