UK price (as reviewed): MSRP £189.99 (inc. VAT)
US price (as reviewed): MSRP $249.99 (exc. tax)
Better known for its motherboards and graphics cards, MSI has been trying its hand in the case market too for the last few years but has thus far made little impact. Looking to change that, it announced the MPG Sekira 500 family of cases back in August. Based around the same core chassis, these three cases (top-end 500X, mid-tier 500G, and entry-level 500P) seek to pair clean aesthetics with ample room for high-end hardware, with prices ranging from £180 to £220, or $240 to $290 in the US. Those are the MSRPs, at least; at the time of writing, a lack of UK availability means we're seeing inflated UK pricing as a result of grey import sales, but this should be addressed once the proper shipment lands by the end of October.
We’ve been outfitted with the £190 Sekira 500G, and initial impressions are very good. We’d say it’s easily the best looking chassis MSI has produced thus far, and the clean lines, brushed aluminium front and roof, and rose gold trim sections (designed to match the X570 Ace motherboard) were appreciated by multiple sets of eyes in the bit-tech offices. The case feels very well built too, and it’s near-20kg weight is testament to that. Rubber feet make doubly sure the case won’t be sliding around anywhere fast regardless of where you place it. Meanwhile, the ventilated side sections on the front, top, and bottom achieve some attractive symmetry and frame the glass panels rather nicely.
While the use of tempered glass is expected these days, it’s questionable when deployed on both sides, especially as MSI has opted for non-tinted glass. This makes total sense on the left panel, but the right one just gives you a view of an area that will be largely dominated by cables. We much prefer to see dark-tinted glass on this side for this reason. That said, we are definitely fans of the hinge mechanism MSI uses, as it makes opening and closing both sides very easy. The handles are a bit of an eyesore, mind, and these are purely for grip. When shut, the doors are held in place by magnets, and these could do with being stronger.
A view from the rear reveals eight expansion slots on this full-tower chassis, giving users the ability to have a third GPU running in the bottom slot of a motherboard without resorting to water-cooling. The X570 Ace supports just such a setup… you can see where MSI is going with this. There are also vertical expansion slots, as this method of GPU mounting is also available, but users will need to purchase a riser card separately.
If you opt for the Sekira 500G, you’ll get a pair of 200mm intake fans (complete with rubberised corners) fitted behind that front panel and a single 120mm for rear exhaust duties. These are four-pin PWM fans with an all-black colour scheme. The same-price 500P swaps the front fans to a trio of 120mm models, while the pricier 500X adds two more 200mm fans (in the roof), and switches the majority of the fans to ARGB models that can be seen through the roof and front thanks to a different panel design. No versions of the case come with any form of PWM fan control hub, however, which is a shame given the asking price.
While we always enjoy being treated to a case with 200mm fans, the Sekira 500G does not look especially airflow-friendly. Although the ventilated strips on the front panel extend the full height of the case and are about 35mm deep, only around 10mm of this sits in front of the fans, and part of this 10mm is partially obscured by the internal plastic frame - this will severely hamper the front fans' ability to draw in air. The roof ventilation is also going to be of limited use without a fan there to drive air up and out through the sides.
When it comes to dust filtering, MSI assumes the tightness of the mesh on the front panel will be sufficient, as once you pull this panel off, you see that there’s no additional filter in front of the 200mm fans. However, MSI does install filters along the bottom, presumably because this area is more open at the rear. One filter covers the PSU and pulls out at the back; the other covers an area that has a single, unadvertised 120mm fan mount, which is bizarre, and this pulls out to the front. It would definitely have been better just to have had a single, full-length filter accessible from the front.
If you feel the need to expand or change the cooling, the case has room for a further two 200mm fans in the roof (or 140mm models, or three 120mm), and the front fans can also be swapped to a trio of 140mm or 120mm fans. It’s a shame to only see a 120mm rear fan given this area supports 140mm models as well, but it's definitely better than nothing.
With four USB 3.0 ports (AKA USB 3.1/3.2 Gen 1) and a proper USB 3.1 Type-C port (AKA USB 3.1/3.2 Gen 2... sigh), the front I/O panel is well equipped indeed. The headphone and microphone jacks are kept separate, and the rose gold trim is a nice touch for consistency. Annoyingly, MSI has left the ‘LED’ label on the button which is actually the reset switch; this is a hangover from the 500X design, which just seems lazy and silly in so premium an offering.
July 1 2020 | 17:34