by William Kelley on April 8, 2009 in Mid-Tower
Cooler Master is well-known for their creation of high-quality products, but things are taken to the next level with their new CM Storm brand. Their first product here is the mid-tower Sniper, and what a chassis this is! In addition to offering features specific to LAN gamers, the overall design, cooling ability and aesthetics make it well worth checking out.
Cooler Master is a company on a mission. Having been around for decades, they are showing the results of hard work and even harder listening. With each new release, I am just that much more impressed with the level of quality offered in their cases for the price of admission. It is obvious to me that they have done their homework and dotted every ‘i’ and crossed every ‘t’ in a relentless pursuit to satisfy the consumer.
Flush with their recent success in the PC gaming aftermarket, Cooler Master has unleashed a new name upon the masses, CM Storm. This new lineup is geared directly towards the LAN crowd and it takes their favorite genre, the war game, to a new level. They have even built a dedicated new web site to the CM Storm name.
To complete their mission they have unveiled the use of “Storm Tactics“. These tactics focus on three things: Strength, Security and Control. Strength is achieved by using high grade materials. Security is accomplished with a new way to secure your peripherals while at a LAN-party. Control is giving you absolute power over the operation of your hardware. With military precision they have set out to rule the market. These chassis’ are not just meant to house your PC; they are designed to turn it into a weapon.
Here, we get our first look at the front of the Sniper. Liberal use of airflow enhancing materials is evident everywhere. All of the 5 1/4 bay covers are mesh screened as is the large 140mm front intake fan. There is no doubt you will get a lot of air through here.
The side panel is also nearly entirely opened up by the use of the same mesh paneling as the front of the case. The grid work behind the mesh also allows for the mounting of side panel fans with the included screws. I much prefer this design over a simple window since you get very effective added cooling capabilities whether using fans or not.
The opposite side panel is also formed in the same design for symmetry as well. There is nothing much here to look at other than the CM Storm logo.
Looking closer at the rear panel you see a pretty much standard layout with the addition of large rubber grommets for water cooling lines to pass through. Take notice of the large 140mm exhaust fan with capability to install a smaller fan if you should desire. Also note the “Storm Guard” cutout that is perpendicular to the PCI slot covers. There are even two pre-punched holes down by the power supply if you prefer to run your water-lines in that area.
A close up of the “Storm Guard” shows us how this feature is implemented. What you have to do to safely secure everything is wind the cables of your peripherals through the slots in plate. This will make it extremely difficult for someone to just walk by and snatch up your stuff without making a lot of fuss. I feel this is a great idea and uses space that is almost never utilized.
On the bottom we see the large swiveling feet that lock in a 45 and 90 degree angle. Even when folded in the storage position, the case felt sold and firm footed. Also take note of the amount of venting here as well. Nearly the entire bottom is vented.
The front I/O panel is located up top. The layout is simple and very effective. We are given four USB, a single FireWire, e-SATA and headphone/microphone jacks. The large knob is a fan controller and inside the knob is a push-button controller for fan LED’s. The power and reset buttons are on the left.
Inside we see the wide open layout design. Space is aplenty for routing all of your cabling. I would have preferred to see it painted black like the exterior. A nice added touch though, is the removable label for the motherboard tray showing you exactly where to install the standoffs. This is a great feature to help the novice builder get it right the first time.
Taking a closer look at the motherboard area we see the large cutout behind the CPU is that allows for easy access for changing CPU coolers. The tool-less PCI latches are easy to use and very effective. You can also see the “Storm Guard” and the thumbscrew holding it securely in place.
Using the same design as the HAF 932, the hard drive trays are also tool-less and very easy to use. A simple push of the latch to the right allows you to slide the hard drive caddy out for servicing. We also see the large 200mm front intake fan which sports red LEDs. This fan is controlled by the built-in fan controller.
Installing a DVD drive has never been easier thanks to the use of push button locks. Pop off the front panel mesh cover and slide your drive in. The locks are very effective and hold the drive very firmly. There is an opening should you wish to go the extra mile and place a screw in to fully secure your drive, but in my opinion this is not needed.
At the bottom we see the ample venting given to the power supply. If your power supply has a 120mm/140mm intake fan it will breathe very nicely. Also included is a plastic tool-less bracket for an optional 120mm fan. This is another example of a great design and no wasted space.
The top mounted 200mm exhaust fan is also controlled by the built-in fan controller and sports red LEDs. There are mountings for dual 120mm fans up top which gives you the option to install up to a 240mm water-cooling radiator internally.
Underneath the black plastic ABS top panel we see the exhaust fans exit area. I really like the way they molded the panel to direct the airflow evenly. Fan air noise is reduced when it is given a path the flow through. This is another simple yet effective design touch.
The included hardware is simple, but everything is included you’ll need to get up and running. You get brackets to allow the installation of a 3 1/2 drive into a 5 1/4 drive bay. A bag of screws and standoffs covers all possibilities. There are some stick-on rubber case feet as well as a few more grommets should you desire to use the pre-punched holes down by the power supply for water-lines.
About the only thing missing is a 8-pin EPX power cable extension since bottom mounted power supplies can have trouble with the length of that cable. Otherwise, this is a very well-rounded package. So, let’s put some hardware in and put it to the test.