At Computex 2019, several mini-ITX computer cases on the trade show’s floor caught our eye. Among them was Cooler Master’s MasterCase H100, a pint-sized addition to the company’s H-series. The compact tower’s 200mm RGB front fan—the signature feature of the H-series line—makes it unique among its competition.
So when a sample of the MasterCase H100 arrived just ahead of its July 9th launch, we were eager to build in it. Other projects (like the Ryzen 3000 and Radeon RX 5700 and 5700 XT launches) kept us from plunging in right away, however. Instead, we settled for hauling it out of the box for a once-over, then grabbing a screwdriver and opening it up.
Specs and design
Available in black and “iron gray,” the MasterCase H100 is taller than it is wide, though the case does have cube-like proportions: This itty-bitty tower measures 12.28 x 8.5 x 11.85 inches (312 x 216 x 301 mm), with a listed volume of 17.6 liters.
Accordingly, the H100 only accommodates graphics cards with a maximum of 210mm in length (180mm when a front radiator is installed). That limits the options for graphics cards compared to competing cases that have less height and more depth, like the Silverstone SG13 or even Cooler Master’s own Elite 130.
For CPU coolers, the H100 has enough clearance to accommodate up to 83mm in height.
A 200mm, 800 RPM RGB fan on the front provides all of the cooling for the case. The RGB lighting can be controlled from the motherboard (if supported) or the case’s reset button. If you prefer to install an AIO liquid cooler, you can swap out the 200mm fan for a single 120mm or single 140mm radiator instead.
Like Cooler Master’s other H-series cases, the H100 sports mesh along the front and top panels, with dust filters behind each section. Also along the top panel is a built-in carrying handle, found toward the rear of the case, as well as an I/O panel with two 3.5mm audio jacks, two USB 3.0 ports, and a reset button at the front.
At the back is the mounting bracket for a full-sized ATX power supply.
Inside the case
The MasterCase H100 comes apart easily, which makes the jigsaw puzzle–like process of building in a small-form factor case much simpler. Even if you don’t read the manual, the order of the teardown is clear, and removing the various panels and plates is straightforward. No awkward angles while removing screws or fiddly plastic clips found here.
You will have to work your way from one side of the case to the other, however, which may be unexpected if you’re accustomed to removing both side panels on a case at the start.
Popping off the first side panel reveals a storage drive mounting plate, which holds up to two drives. (Two more spots for drive sit at the bottom of the case; overall, you get one combo spot for either a 2.5- or 3.5-inch drive, and another three dedicated 2.5-inch spots.) Removing the plate opens up access to the full interior of the case.
For better maneuverability while building, we advise continuing to teardown the case to pull off the top panel, the metal plate that sits over the power supply mounting bracket, and the power supply mounting bracket. To do so, you’ll actually need to also remove the front panel to access part of the screws securing the top panel. Fortunately, when compared to other cases, the H100’s front panel doesn’t take excessive effort to pry it loose.
Once the top panel is gone, it’s a simple matter of undoing another set of screws and sliding out the short metal plate that remains, then doing the same for the power supply mounting bracket. At this point, you can choose to pull off the second side panel, which involves more screws and releasing its plastic clips.
Pricing and initial thoughts
Cooler Master’s MasterCase H100 is a tidy and attractive case, though with an MSRP of $69.99, it may give utilitarian builders pause. The previously mentioned Silverstone SG13 and Cooler Master Elite 130 are both cheaper by about $10, and more importantly, they can support bigger, beefier graphics cards.
Interested builders won’t care about the money, but they will likely wonder about the H100’s internal temperature once a full set of parts are installed. It’s a valid concern, as just one rail exists for cable tie-offs. If the front fan can move enough air through the case, it’s not a problem, but the question can only be settled through real-world experience.
Without having built in the case, I obviously can’t comment on this point, but that makes me only want to get to that part of the experience sooner rather than later.
Correction, 7/9/19: Clarified the positions of the drive bays within the case.
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Alaina Yee is PCWorld's resident bargain hunter—when she's not covering PC building, computer components, mini-PCs, and more, she's scouring for the best tech deals. Previously her work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.