Page 2 - Physical Look - Outside
While it is probably fairly obvious, the Cooler Master Storm Trooper is an all black computer chassis. Black just seems to be a common color when it comes to cases these days, so I hope this doesn't come as a surprise. One of my personal favorite features of the Storm Trooper are the nine 5.25" drive bay covers. The clips are integrated into the design of the front. This creates an extremely convenient utility without compromising on aesthetics. Each of them comes with a dust filter, and pop off without putting too much pressure on the tabs. Don't be mislead, however, as they do stay securely in place, and are very easy to put back once removed.
At the bottom, you can find another removable panel. On this panel, you can see the CM Storm name with its respective logo. Taking the panel off reveals a sliding tray, which contains all the parts for the chassis. Not sure it would really serve much of a purpose after you have installed everything, but just in case you feel the need to always have the spare parts attached to your computer, that is an option. While I do like the idea, Cooler Master really needs to look into making this panel more secure. Basically, when this little panel tilts forward slightly, it seems to enjoy making a very irritating vibration noise. It is almost like buying a high-end luxury car, but when you start driving, the doors rattle. Not exactly what I would call an ideal design, but it works. This is certainly an area for improvement down the road.
When looking at the dimensions, it is easy to conclude that this is a full tower case. It measures in at 250mm width, 605.6mm height, and 578.5mm depth. Anyone who uses an ATX computer case will simply find these numbers to be absurd; fortunately, this isn’t an ATX chassis -- and because of that, these dimensions are not out of this world. The height listed is a bit misleading, because it doesn't look as tall as the number would lead you to believe. The top of the case comes up like a pyramid for the carrying handle, which means most of the top is below the 605.6mm mark. However, if you happen to be at a LAN party and people are comparing how big they are, 605.6mm is hard to beat. The top part is made of plastic, but it is the most unusual sort of plastic. The unusual part is that the surface is very smooth and soft; it almost has a rubber like feel to it. On the plus side, you don't have to worry about it feeling cheap when carrying the chassis. The handle itself has a soft rubber grip; this ensures any butter fingers will not result in a dent on the ground, or worse yet, a dent in your wallet!
The CM Storm Trooper really looks like it has a control panel on the front. I am a fan of the super-sized power button; great for those with poor eyesight after a night of long games. This military grade control panel offers easy to access control buttons to increase or decrease fan speed to suite your needs. In addition, there is a simplistic and recessed reset button. People always forget about how useful it is to have a recessed reset button. It prevents accident prone people from bumping into it during LAN parties, which seems to be more frequent when you are "pwning some noobs". Additionally, there are a number of I/O ports on the top, which includes two USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, one eSATA, and two 3.5mm audio jacks. This provides an excellent array of easy to access ports to suite your basic needs. I typically have a USB flash drive plugged into the front, so the more ports, the better. Above the audio jacks, you can also see two LED indicators; one for power, and the other for hard drive activity. This is pretty typical for a chassis, but I'm wondering why they would even bother with these considering, they gave us a nice large power button with its own LED anyway. I'd be more accepting of the little LEDs if I could disable the power button's light, but since I can't, they seem redundant and unnecessary.
Below the front panel, you can see something labeled X-DOCK, which is an external docking slot for any 2.5" drives you might have kicking around. I will probably never use it, but for those who want the ability to quickly put a drive in and take it out, you cannot deny how great of a feature this is. The most practical and non-electronic feature you will find on the top is the handle. In fact, I was very impressed that Cooler Master designed the handle to be perfectly balanced when empty, as well as when my computer parts are inside the case. This is a great feature for gamers who take their desktop to LAN parties. I'm tempted to even say this is a requirement for the CM Storm Trooper, as this soldier is pretty heavy, and it isn't exactly the small. Although you cannot see it in the above picture, the top vent does have a sliding dust filter. A nice maintenance feature, as you can easily remove it for cleaning.
Taking a look from the back side, this assault trooper provides a number of useful features. At the top you can see three holes; each with rubber grommets. Below the holes, you can see the rear exhaust fan, which allows for the installation of a 140mm or 120mm fan to suit your needs. The Cooler Master Storm Trooper comes with a 140mm fan, so unless you have your own aftermarket fans, I'll assume you won't be swapping them out. Adjacent to the exhaust fan is the typical motherboard I/O panel, and below that are the PCI expansion slots. In total, there are nine slots for all of your graphics needs. This allows you to setup quad SLI/CrossFire configurations without having to worry about running out of space. Finally, when looking down near the bottom of the shock trooper, you will see the power supply bay. And a little further down, you can see another sliding dust filter. Again, this provides an easy way to clean the filters without having to even open the chassis. While the back side doesn't have anything that particularly stands out, it certainly provides everything that you would expect, and it keeps things simple.
When you look at the side panel, it is hard to miss the very large side vent. This industrial sized opening allows for tons of airflow without letting in dust, because of the dust filter behind the metal mesh. While I'm very happy for the dust filter, I'm not impressed with the metal mesh on the upper part of the side panels. These holes do not have any filters or protection against dust, and considering how easily dust collects in my room, I can tell you this opening is a huge vulnerability. After almost two weeks of usage, I am starting to see some dust building up around this opening, and I can imagine that most of the dust has made its way inside my computer from this entry point. I would call this a critical design flaw, and something Cooler Master needs to take action against. I would even go as far to say this is the Achilles' heel of the Storm Trooper. While I'm not expecting this chassis to be completely dust-proof, I do have some basic expectations. If you go out of your way to design a chassis with dust filters, do not leave openings exposed for dust to enter, as it pretty much nullifies the point of having them in the first place.
Resting the CM Storm Trooper on its side, you are able to see the bottom side of the chassis. The feet on the Cooler Master case are very well designed. Offering a significant amount of space, it allows for air to easily flow below it. This means any bottom mounted fans will be able to easily circulate air without being restricted. Additionally, there are two removable dust filters to allow for easy cleaning. The bottom also provides virtually no entry points for dust. This is exactly what you would expect from a high quality product. At the bottom, you have the option of mounting two more 120mm fans; a great option for those who have extra aftermarket fans. As I mentioned earlier, the feet do raise the chassis up a fair amount. This means that installing fans on the bottom will provide significantly more benefit than most other full towers, which barely gives you any room beneath the case. Overall, the outside is looking pretty slick, and offers plenty of useful features, but now, it is time to crack it open and see what is inside.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Outside
3. Physical Look - Inside
4. Installation and Conclusion