CM Storm Trooper ReviewBluePanda - October 30, 2011
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Now that the case is out of the box we can get to the reason why we are here. Let’s take a look at what the case looks, feels, and smells like. Well, maybe we can pass on smelling it. Regardless, the first word for me is "wow" because this case just looks nice. It is solid, heavy, and has a nice finish. The front of the case has easy-to-remove bay covers for mounting water cooling components, optical drives, and hard drives. If your hard drives are mounted properly you can even access those from the bottom since the bay covers can be removed from top to bottom. This case provides plenty of expansion room.
Just as the box mentioned, the back side of the case has the three pre-cut holes for water cooling tubing. They could also be used for routing cables to provide access from the outside of the case to the inside, or vice versa. The exhaust supports either a 120mm or a 140mm fan, which means if you have a CoolIT ECO A.L.C. or a Corsair H80 there is ample room to mount it inside your case. We'll take a closer look at the Storm Guard that I mentioned on the previous page in the "Working Components" section ahead.
The two side panels are almost exactly the same. The only difference between them, beyond being on opposite sides of the case, is the fact that one side has mesh throughout the entire extruded region while the other is solid to keep those hidden cables, well, hidden. The mesh appears to be very fine and, unless there is light coming through the other side, it does not let you view much of the inside of the case. At the same time it might be a nice change from the large Plexi windows that end up collecting scratches over time.
The front panel of the case is something worthy of your undivided attention. The semi-hexagonal pattern of buttons almost looks like a face. Although this similarity may be a stretch, it will allow me to more easily convey directional location. The large button with the CM logo is the power button and is probably the largest power button I have ever seen. Hopefully I will not bump my computer on and off all the time. However, even with its size the button requires a solid press to get the “click” sound so bumping should not be an issue.
What I will call the mouth of the buttons manages the fan controller. That's right, it has a built-in fan controller that can take charge of up to four fans. The two fans on the HDD modules are already pre-connected to the fan controller. The other two are up to you to decide which fans you would like to control. I plugged in the top case fan and the rear fans for my setup. Also, if you have certain Cooler Master fans you will be able to plug in the LED connectors and be able to turn the LEDs on and off with a press of the center button. The two HDD fans have red LEDs that turn on and off with this button. The plus and minus buttons allow for six settings of the fans speeds. The lights making up the eyes and nose show the currently selected fan speed setting. Every two presses provide a bright red light at each of the three areas, while the intermediate clicks provide a dim light indicator. It is difficult to describe, but in operation it is obvious at what levels your fans are spinning with a quick glance.
The rest of the front panel is pretty simple: two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA port, headphone and microphone jacks, a small reset button, and a hard drive and power LED indicator. The big surprise is the tiny, almost hidden docking station that is designed to accommodate any 2.5" SATA drive and allow you to easily access files from the front of your computer. The dock has a flap door much like the old cassette decks – it pushes in and up when a drive is inserted and falls back down when removed. It seems like a nice option to help out a friend without opening your case and mounting a drive the old-fashioned way.
Unlike many other cases the top of the Storm Trooper is not flat. It has a nice rubbery feel to it and sports its "TROOPER" name just behind the handle. It is rather open with plenty of mesh vents to allow the top fan to push or pull air into or out of the case. The bonus is the fan filter you can barely see from this angle; we will talk a little more about it later. The handle itself is super soft and has ripples similar to a premium shovel or tool box handle. It makes the case easy to pick up without hurting your hand or losing your grip. There should not be any inappropriate lifting with your back while picking up this case.
Now that we’ve made a full 360° view of the case I want to come back to the front. More specifically, I will take a look at the bottom where the fancy CM Storm logo is displayed below all the bay slots. It appears to be just a nice looking portion of the bottom of the case; however, it is actually a secret compartment bay that houses extra parts or anything else you want to put there. The cover comes off by pushing in two spring-loaded buttons on either side. The plastic tub is held in with a single screw that I decided to leave out after undoing it. The tray fits in snugly enough, and I do not want to find my screw driver every time I retrieve an item from the compartment. All the extra screws, zip ties, drive converters, and motherboard speaker were tucked right in. It seems like a neat place to store your extra screws – when you get new hardware you will not have to search the entire house for that bag of screws. This compartment is perhaps one of my favorite "hidden" features in this case.
Just looking at the outside of this case makes me think I am already in love with it. The case is solid and does not feel cheap at all. Everything is built ready to handle some travel and any abuse you can throw at it, which says quite a bit for a case. I am very excited to get some hardware in it, but first we shall open it up and see what is inside.