A Closer Look
The front of the case is fairly nondescript, with a black, perforated steel mesh covering both the unused drive bays and the front intake fan. The bezel surrounding this is plastic, and must be removed before any drives can be swapped into or out of the 5.25″ bays.
A look at the top reveals a few more points of interest. First, we have the I/O panel, which features four USB 2.0 ports, headphone and microphone 3.5mm jacks and one eSATA port. The large square button to the left is the power switch, with the small recessed circle above serving as the reset switch. The slightly larger circular button in top-center toggles the LED lights in the front and rear fans on and off. Sadly, this is the whole extent of the “customizeable lighting” promised on the packaging.
The carry handle, seen here in the center, is made of a hard plastic, but is quite solid. Unless you’re in the habit of hauling miniature bowling balls around inside your case, the weight of the system should present no issues. In the top rear, we see ventilation slits for the top exhaust fan. The mounting screws that hold it to the inside of the case can be accessed with a long bladed Philips head screwdriver. The preinstalled fan measures 140 mm, but there are mounting holes for a standard 120 mm fan as well.
The bottom of the case is fairly unremarkable: four hard plastic feet and a perforated mesh that allows the power supply to draw in cool air from outside of the case. Obviously, this only works with power supplies that feature a bottom mounted intake. This has become something of a de facto standard, but it is still worth noting. The bottom of the front bezel has a large cutout for supplying air to the front intake fan.
The layout of the case rear is fairly standard. No I/O backplate was provided for the motherboard; given that most motherboards come with their own, this should not be a major issue. Next to the backplate, Cooler Master has mounted a clear 120 mm fan which glows red when the lights are turned on. The two 140 mm fans also do this, but are somewhat more covered up.
One part of a case that doesn’t usually get much attention is the expansion slot covers. Cooler Master has done something unusual with one of these–they have shaped it such that a couple of cords can be wrapped around it and left to trail out the back. Presumably this is to discourage casual theft of peripherals at a LAN party; realistically speaking the only defense against that is having a buddy watch your stuff when you’re not there. Still, it does the job it was designed to do, so I can’t fault them for that.
Expansion cards and slot covers both are held in by a series of pivoting latches that can be removed if you prefer to use screws. The “StormGuard”–CM’s baroquely named cable-holder slot cover, is secured with a thumbscrew.