CoolerMaster Storm Sniper Black Edition Review

Compxpert - 2009-09-21 21:55:50 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: Compxpert   
Reviewed on: November 11, 2009
Price: $140

Introduction:

With many people now using the popular Intel Core i7, I'd figure many of you are also looking into overclocking it, right? After a heatsink or watercooling loop, the next weakest link in any attempt at a decent overclock is the case. A case must have great airflow, wire managability and many good fans in order to push it to the max. But what about the ability to mount a radiator if you want water cooling? If this is some of what you're looking for in a case, then CoolerMaster might just be your answer, with the Storm Sniper Black Edition. Now, you might be sitting here wondering, "Hey didn't OCC already review the Storm Sniper?". Well, if that is your question, then you'd be correct. Already reviewed was the Storm Sniper, but here we have new words - 'Black Edition'. So does that mean the case is black? No. It is simply a new revision to an already excellent case. The Storm Sniper Black Edition ships with SSD mounting capabilities and even comes with a mousepad. But that's not all. The entire case is now black, which originally the inside and back were not. In addition to that, the 200mm side fan is now included instead of optional.

 

Closer Look:

So, I already mentioned some great features that are packed into this wonderful case, but you have not even seen the box yet. On the front you can clearly see what I already mentioned. This case comes with a mousepad. How many other case manufacturers actually do that? As you can then see on the left-side of the box, we have the specifications and on the right we just have a picture of the case. On the back, however, here we get into the nitty gritty. Here we are told the features of the case. You can also that below the features, is the Storm Tactics guarantee. You will also find that this case is recommended by gamers and lists three such groups that recommend this case. We are also shown pictures with captions pointing out specific features of the case.

 

 

  

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

So how about we unpack this case? What we have is a typical packing set-up, complete with a bag of plastic over the case, which is then sandwiched between to pieces of Styrofoam. You can also see in the second picture that the case came packaged with a manual.

 

 

So now that we have the case, unpacked let's take an even closer look.

Closer Look:

As I look at this, I'm already impressed with the layout. Everything is almost symmetrical in a way, because of the layout on the top. In fact, let's talk about the top. The top sports an awesome 200mm LED fan. I really like the effect the mesh puts over top the fan. It even forces the air out from the front portion of the opening, which feels like a nice breeze. The LEDs on the case fans, which consist of top, side and front, are all blue. The top fan runs at 500 - 1000rpm at only 17 - 23 dBA, which in my opinion is pretty quiet.. So why the 500 - 1000rpm? Well, all three LED fans are driven by a fan controller that CoolerMaster included, which is already set up. Just plug in and the fans work.

Also sporting alongside the fan controller are a lot of nice features, but I'll talk about those in the next paragraph. The side panel also comes with a fan, which features the same specs as the top fan, also running at 500 - 1000rpm at 17 - 23dBA. The side panel is completely mesh, but upon looking at CoolerMaster's site, I also found a window version. However, it would seem the window version doesn't include a side fan. On the back of the case you'll notice two ports at the top for WC tubes. Heck, there are some on the bottom too, if you want another radiator in the rear. The top also supports a dual 120mm fan setup for a radiator. I really like this, because that gives really great water cooling potential.

The PSU also mounts on the bottom of the case, which makes access easy for a 120mm radiator mount. If you're really into that, I will tell you something that is also very awesome in the next paragraph. Apart from that, the only things worth mentioning on the back are the full set of seven expansion slots and over on the side of that, you can also see the included Storm Guard™, as I mentioned in my last mouse review of the CoolerMaster Storm Sentential. As mentioned in that review, the case comes with essentially a locking device of CoolerMaster's own design. What the Storm Guard™ does, is that allows you to secure up to three devices with a USB cord or similar thickness into a PCI slot, which then keeps them there. So unless someone picks the lock on the side of your case at a LAN, no-one can get the devices out. Additionally, there is a 120mm fan on the rear panel, which sadly is the only fan featured on the case that isn't LED, but that isn't really that bad considering how inexpensive fans are. The fan runs nicely at 1200rpm with 7 dBA. Apart from that, there isn't much else to say here. I suppose though, that the other side of the case does look very nice - especially the CM Storm logo on the side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I said in the last paragraph, I will talk more about the front panel connections. But first, I will talk about the fan controller. The fan controller is a fully adjustable knob, which is clearly labeled for slow, medium, and fast. Also in the center of it is a button that allows you to turn on and off the LEDs on the fans. Next to the fan controller on the left is the power button. I really like how it's the same size as the button next to it. It makes it look like CoolerMaster spent time to make things really neat and organized on this case. On to the front panel. Something you won't find on many cases is a FireWire port. Also featured is the ever-popular eSATA connection. Apart from that though, you have the standard arrangement of USB ports and MIC and Headphone connections. Here you also have a HDD indicator LED and Power LED.

The front of this is also a nice polished looking black aluminum. Keeping consistent specs with all but the rear fan, the front fan is also the same as the top and bottom in terms of specifications, since it is also sporting 500 - 1000rpm at 17 - 23dBA. Moving on, you can see the top of the case with the top panel removed, showing the 200mm fan, but also showing the holes for a dual 120mm radiator. Finally, note the awesome feature of movable feet. Also inside the box of hardware are regular rubber feet in case this isn't to your taste.

 

 

 

So here is the front of the case. As you may notice, there are a total of five 5.25" bays, one of these being able to convert to a 3.5" bay. I really like that this is provided, so one can use either an internal floppy drive or card reader if desired. Here you can also see the awesomeness of the front 200mm fan.

 

So you've seen the outside of the case, but what about the inside? Let's move on.

 

Closer Look:

So here we are - the inside of the case. It even comes with a cool sheet of paper on the motherboard tray that tells you which screws go with either a full ATX or mATX board. Also, we have here our hardware box tied to the HDD bay with a twist-tie. Also of note is the big hole for swapping heatsinks on the motherboard tray. This seems to be a growing trend with new cases now allowing you to swap the heatsink without having to remove the motherboard. Also note the detailed diagram pointing out which stand-offs are for which board.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ah, tool-less features. We have these for the 5.25" drives and ones for your hard drives. The 5.25" is a really nice solution. Just insert the drive and push the button in and it clicks into place to hold the drive. Push it again to remove the drive. Moving on to the hard drive bay, you will find it nice easy to remove the trays. All you need to do is remove, insert the drive into the tray and slide in and close the front. Also note the tool-less solution for expansion devices. This pushes back towards you when you want to insert/remove devices. The last thing of note is the optional fan for the bottom, which can take a 120mm or 140mm fan. I'm not sure exactly if this is really beneficial or not, but it's nice either way, I suppose.

 

 

 

Here we have a look at the back of the case with the side panel off. There are a good number of cables here, two of which relate to the fan controller for power, one is for LED control of the side panel fan and the other is for an optional LED fan. This mass of cables also includes front panel switches, LEDs, USB, FireWire, and sound. CoolerMaster has even kindly zip-tied these wires down for you, so you don't have to. Below are detailed pics also showing you each of the different wires. The fan controller features five male four-pin Molex cables for power output to fans and one female Molex for input to the controller. Here you can also see the side panel off with the 200mm fan.

 

 

 

Here we have a closer look at the tool-less insert for hard drives. The front opens and closes in order to lock in the drive, which is different then most solutions I've seen. Here we also have a picture of our box of hardware and what is inside. Featured here are screws for Solid State Drives, adapters for Solid State Drives, grommets for the tube holes that run beside the PSU hole, rubber feet, motherboard screws and stand-offs, zip tie, and some really long screws that I have no idea about - no doubt detailed in the manual.

 

 

 

Of course here is a closer look at that very manual. Not much to say about it here, but I will mention that I had to refer to it a couple of times to figure out the fan controller.

 

Here we have the included mousepad packaged with the case. It is the CS-M FPS Tactics DC mousepad. I will also list specifications and features on the next page for this as well. Just looking at the box, you can notice it is a little larger than that of the CS-M Weapon of Choice M4 DM. More on why below.

 

 

 

Of course I can't move on with out a little show-and-tell, so let's do just that. This mousepad is thicker than the M4 by 2mm and the surface is also much more smooth than the M4 DM. However, besides the thickness and surface difference, I notice no difference in the rubber backing and the other dimensions are the same between the two. Also printed on the mouse pad, are handy 'Do Nots' you should keep in mind for any FPS situation.

 

 

Doesn't it look nice with the lights on? You bet. But honestly - what is better than that you ask? Well, you may remember a page back I mentioned something that was just as nice as the great water cooling support. Well, now I'm going to talk about it. Looking at the picture on the left, what do you notice that is there? If you saw that I have both fans on the heatsink, as well as the top 200mm fan in there at the same time, then you found exactly what I'm talking about. This is awesome. I haven't had a case yet that could contain all of Thor's hammer with its fans in a 'push-pull' configuration, all while having another fan above it. So go ahead and throw any 120mm heatsink in here and put it in a 'push-pull configuration'. I assure you it will work with the 200mm fan above. I can't vouch for every configuration possible though, but I should think a TRUE would also mount in either direction and I do believe Thor's hammer could do the same.

 

 

Well I believe that about sums it up. Let's review the specifications and features on the next page.

Specifications:

 

The case:

 

Model Number:

SGC-6000-KXN1-GP

Available Color:

Interior/Exerior: Black

Dimensons:

(D)566.6 x (W)254.6 X (H)551 mm

(D)22.3 x (W)10 x (H)21.7 inches

Net Weight:

12kg / 26.46 lbs

M/B Type:

Micro-ATX/ATX

5.25” Drive Bay:

5 Exposed (withough the use of the exposed 3.5” Drive Bay)

3.5” Drive bay:

5 Hidden

1 Exposed (converted from one 5.25” Drive Bay)

2.5” Drive Bay:

1 Hidden (Converted from one 3.5” Drive Bay)

Cooling System:

Front:

200x30mm Blue LED Fan x 1 (500 - 1000rpm, 17 - 23 dBA)

Top:

200x30mm Blue LED Fan x 1 (500 - 1000rpm, 17 - 23 dBA)

 

(can be swapped for two 120mm fans or 120x240mm Radiator)

Side:

200x30mm Blue LED Fan x 1 (500 - 1000rpm, 17 - 23 dBA)120x25mm Fan x 2  (optional)

Rear:
120x25mm Standard Fan x 1 (1200rpm, 17 dBA)
 
(can be swapped for 90mm fan or 80mm fan)
Bottom:

Supports 140mm Fan x 1 or 120mm Fan x 1 w/ Dust Filter (optional)

Expansion Slots:

Standard x 7, Special x 1

I/O panel:

USB2.0 x 4; IEEE 1294 x1; eSATA x1; Mic x1; HD Audio+AC’97 x1

Power Supply:

Standard ATX PS2 / EPS 12V (optional)

Included Accessories:

StormGuard™ - groundbreaking security system for safeguarding your gaming peripherals.

Solid Bridge - 1.8" or 2.5" to 3.5" mounting bracket for SSD or HDD.

 

The Mousepad:

 

Model Number:

SGS-4000-KSM-1-GP

Surface Type:

DuraclothTM
Size:

405 x 285 x5 mm
15.9 x 11.2 x 0.20 inch

Base:

100% Natural Rubber

 

Features:

 

The case:

 

The Mousepad:

 

 

Information courtesy of CoolerMaster@ Case: http://www.cmstorm.com/en/products/chassis/sniperblackmesh/ Mousepad: http://www.cmstorm.com/en/products/surfaces/cs_m_fps_tactics_dc/

Testing:

Now we're on to testing the case. For all tests, I used a combination of HWmonitor and RealTemp to get temperatures. To get all idle temperatures, I restarted the computer and then left it to run with no load for over an hour, after which I recorded the temperatures. For load tests on the CPU and Chipset, I simply ran Prime 95 in blend mode, which stresses a bit of everything. After an hour I recorded temperatures. For testing GPU temperatures, I simply turned on Folding@Home GPU and left it to run on the card for an hour and then recorded temperatures. For HDD temp, I stressed the HDD using HDTune and then recorded temperatures after an hour.

 

Testing System:

 

Comparison Cases:

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wow! Amazing performance from the Sniper. It beats the competition by a whole 1-2°C in half the tests and even got a whole 6-8°C variance on others. It only ties on the GPU load test. Quite impressive performance from CoolerMaster.

Conclusion:

Well, after what seemed like a long review, we're finally at the conclusion. What a case we have here today! CoolerMaster not only took the performance crown, but even took my breath away with awesome features like an all-black interior, full tool-less drive and expansion installation and three 200mm fans. What is not to like about this case? It even fits a whole Thor's Hammer heatsink and 'push-pull' fans without having to remove the top 200mm fan. It even sports some other nice features that are now being included on most new cases, like the ability to remove a heatsink without the trouble of removing the motherboard, which is something else I like to see. There is something for everyone here. You could even have two radiators in a watercooling loop, using the two sets of holes provided in the case, let alone the fact that the top supports a dual 120mm radiator mount. The case even offers up plenty of wire management possibilities and comes with a decent number of zip-ties to hide away those wires. The ability to lock down your high dollar peripherals is an interesting feature, not to mention the fan and lighting controls. Unfortunately, great stuff usually comes at a premium and a quick search on google comes up with a price tag of around $140. Bear in mind that the new version has yet to hit Newegg. However, the bottom line is that you usually get what you pay for. Great looks, innovative features and great cooling performance, are a tough combo to beat.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: