by William Kelley on January 20, 2010 in Mid-Tower
When Cooler Master released its 690 chassis over two years ago, we’re doubtful that even it could have predicted just how well-received it was going to be. It did a lot right in terms of design and function, and with the 690 II, those two factors are pushed even further. The result? The best $100 chassis we’ve ever looked at, bar none.
To assure that our results are as accurate as possible, all of our chassis testing is performed under highly-controlled conditions. Our test chassis is kept in a near-steady 20°C ambient environment, with readings taken before and after testing with a standard room thermometer. After we boot up our machine, we allow Windows to settle itself down for 10 minutes, to stabilize processes that might be running in the background. Once Windows is completely idle, we record the current CPU temperature as that in our results.
BIOS settings are verified prior to each run, and to help with quick switching of our various profiles, we make use of the motherboard’s ability to store multiple configurations. We primarily use two for our testing here – stock speed, of 3.0GHz, and also a maximum over clock, of 3.95GHz. Stock settings were achieved by using “Load Optimum Default”, and storing those as our stock profile. The maximum over clock was obtained after extensive testing and tweaking to insure it was stable. The CPU’s vCore was raised to 1.400v, and the Northbridge was raised to 1.30v. The RAM is run unlinked to run at factory speeds and voltages.
For our monitoring and temperature reporting, we use Everest Ultimate Edition 5, from Lavalys. It allows us to grab the results from each one of the cores, and the CPU as a whole, so we believe it to be indispensable to our toolkit. To help push our Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 to its breaking-point, we use LinX. The reason is simple: it utilizes LINPACK. After much testing with various “stress testers” in the past, we’ve found that running a multi-threaded tool that supports LINPACK, like LinX, pushes both AMD and Intel CPUs like no other. This results in higher temperatures than others (like Prime95) can muster, and also greater power consumption.
Because our test machine is equipped with 4GB of RAM, we set LinX to use 3072MB, and then set the test to run 5 times over, which takes about 15 minutes total. With the help of Everest, the CPU’s various temperatures are recorded throughout all of the testing, and also for a minute after the test ends. The maximum recorded temperature found in the results file is labeled as “Max” in our results.
Without further ado, here is a breakdown of our test machine:
The build process was straight-forward. There is plenty of room for your hands and there are no sharp edges anywhere to be found. Within 20 minutes I had everything installed and wired up. I have to admit that while I have a lot of practice, and it may take you somewhat longer to do your install, I feel that there is nothing here preventing you from getting the job done quick enough. The depth of the interior really gets shown off by the fact the large HD 4870 is just swallowed up and made to look small. While not the largest GPU on the market, it does put available room into perspective.
Out back I wanted to highlight that even with my “rush” job installation it is again easy to make it look decent enough. When I build my machines for my personal use I do take even more time to perfectly align everything, but with minimal work you can get great results.
With everything installed I ran some testing. The 690 II Advanced proves that it has the right stuff and got the job done VERY well. Looking back over some of my previous reviews tells me that once again Cooler Master has delivered the performance of cases costing double or even more.
I actually re-ran my tests a few times as I wanted to verify the strong performance versus the lack of sound. This is one quiet chassis and any quiet freak will embrace the near lack of noise. I can remember the day when it was normal to have to speak up over the sound of case fans but that is just not acceptable today.