CM Storm Trooper Review

BluePanda - 2011-09-27 19:32:19 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: BluePanda   
Reviewed on: October 30, 2011
Price: $189.99

Introduction:

Cooler Master is at it again with another case on the market. After being thrilled with their HAF 932 Black Edition I thought I would never buy another case. However, once I get an up close and personal look at their newest release I might be checking out the market again. The CM Storm Trooper is a full chassis designed with extra space for all your hardware upgrades as well as a durable, built-in handle to lug it from LAN party to LAN party.

I personally have a love for full tower designs over the majority of other case form factors. After working with all the extra space, especially the added room for cable management behind the motherboard, going back to a smaller case is hardly worth the lower cost. I’m looking forward to seeing everything the Storm Trooper has to offer, so let’s check it out.

 

Closer Look:

After a long day of classes I drove home to find a tall box sitting inside the mudroom door. Thankfully, the delivery guy was kind enough to place it out of the rain. Due to the stature of the package I knew it was another case for review, but I took one look at it and was pretty excited to dig into the box. It isn’t the ordinary brown box with some black and white drawings that play tricks with your mind while you try to figure out what it actually contains. Instead the box has an actual image of the case with its subtle red lighting from the lower fans and power button. It almost looks scary; I better leave the lights on tonight!

Turning the box around to the back side we find eight different languages bragging about some of its unique elements. The features that seem to be different than most of the "usual" cases are the three grommet ports for water cooling, the Storm Guard (protects your parts from being stolen), built-in dust filters for the fans, and two removable/rotating HDD modules. I cannot wait to play with this case because there is so much more to do with it than just load it up with hardware.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sides of the box are a little less exciting, but they go on to list the specifications and give one more look at the case. The punch-in handles on the box make it easy to transport, and they are well needed since this case is already heavy even when completely empty. Enough about the box though, let’s open it.

 

 

The top of the box opens up just like any other box; nothing too difficult for any of you out there. The case itself is wrapped in a soft foam packing bag and sandwiched between the usual foam end caps. It fits snugly in the box with little room to move, which means it will enjoy a nice safe ride on the delivery truck. Despite being tightly packed, pulling it out of the box is a little easier than most cases due to that featured top handle. With such tight tolerances between the box and foam, getting it out of the the packaging without the handle would have been a two-person job.

 

 

Enough with the packing already! Most of you do not care how it shows up as long as it is in one piece. Even if your delivery man likes to throw packages around I can confidently assure you the Storm Trooper will arrive safely at your doorstep.

Closer Look:

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.

Closer Look:

The best part about opening any case is finding the little brown box inside with extra parts and knowing there is more inside than simply air. The box for the Storm Trooper was wired to the upper drive bays with a long twist tie. Since we already found the screws and accessories in the hidden compartment I was not sure what else could be contained in such a large box. It ended up being the drive rails for HDDs. You will see those when we take off the back panel. Now with all the bay covers pulled out you would have been able to see right through the case had I rotated the HDD modules 90 degrees. With the panel off we can see the mess of cables that make that front panel work as well as the two fans that light up red. At first glance it looks like it will be fairly easy to hide some cables. The wide cable slots have the usual rubber grommets and the backplate slot for the motherboard is huge! I don’t have to worry about being able to access my backplate anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at the inside of the case allows us to view the nicely finished interior. The tray has markings for the different motherboard types, and there is a mess of cables to be connected. A closer look at the fan modules shows ten thumb screws holding them in position, and it looks as if it might take some effort to rotate them. Even though I will be testing the case with the delivered setup, I made the attempt to rotate the modules. Although they are thumb screws, the fact that the holes have some paint in them from the powder coating process proves that you will require some strong thumbs or a stubby screw driver. It was not much of a hassle to get the bays rotated around since the parts are labeled with which directions they should face. With a little struggle you can have them rotated 90 degrees.

 

 

Looking through the back you can see the pre-installed 140mm fan. There are nine PCIe slot covers with easy installation/removal thumbscrews. Again we get another glimpse of the Storm Guard, which is a feature that allows you to wrap your mouse and keyboard cables around the inside of your case to prevent people from unplugging them and running off with them. Instead, the thief would have to open the side panel and remove the thumb screw to make off with your equipment.  Hopefully at that point you would notice them taking your stuff. It is also a nice way to keep you from unplugging your gear when you are gaming too hard.  I am not sure I will use the Storm Guard but I like that it is available if I need it.

Rotating views to the bottom of the case not only shows the mess of cables again but also the small, special bays for 2.5" drives. These bays are perfect for your SSDs since a bay converter is not required. With room for four drives here you have a total of 13 2.5" drive slots if you decide to convert the front 9 bays down. Talk about some serious drive space.

 

 

If you look at the motherboard tray again you can more easily see how much room is available to manage cables. I might have small hands, but I can easily squeeze my fingers into the opening. The ample room means you do not need to worry about cramming the back panel on. Unlike the front fans, the top and back fan cables are not already plugged into the fan controller but are hanging loose, so do not forget to connect them! Perhaps you will plug them in elsewhere, but just realize they need connected. Looking towards the front you can see two of the 10 screws that help rotate the drive bays around. These screws are the first you will want to remove if you plan on turning the bays. The next two screws are behind the bay covers, and the rest are pretty obvious.

 

 

Tucked way up underneath the front panel, in a rather difficult position to photograph, is the back side of the front docking station. If you ever plan to use it you will need to wiggle your hands up there and plug in the power and SATA cables. It is well hidden and not part of the cable mess, so make sure it is plugged in before you attempt to use it and think it is defective.

 

Returning to the back side of the case you can almost see the fan filter I mentioned previously. It is situated in the top of the case just before the handle. That little lip on the edge is somewhat of a handle for the filter; pull on it and the filter slides right out. It does detach from the case so you can run it through the sink to get rid of all the cat hair or dust it collected. The bottom of the case has another filter that can be removed in a similar fashion.

 

 

Turning the case all the way around to the back side of the motherboard tray we find tons of room to hide cables. With the right cable management this will be a sleek looking case once everything is inside! The drive rails are in the brown cardboard box from the top drive slot; if you are mounting HDDs here it is easier than you thought. The rails slide right in and lock into place. Give them a simple squeeze at the ends and they come right back out, a mechanism that is quite similar to that of drive rails from other Cooler Master cases. With so many slots that will likely go unused, you will either have plenty of room for hiding cables here or just have extra space waiting to accept more drives. Remember you can always rotate these around to have more optical drives, water bays, or whatever you wish in the front of the case.

 

 

The back side also shows us a few of the cable connections that were already made. However, if you decide you would rather control different fans you can. The back fan also comes with the adapter to plug into molex rather than forcing you to either plug it into your board or find an adaptor in your pile of extra cables.

 

 

Finally, untying the bundle of cables allows you to see a closeup of what needs, or can be, plugged in to the other components. We already talked about what is on the front panel, so you should not be too surprised to see what needs plugged in here. I also want to mention at this point that if you have not plugged in a USB 3.0 cable to your board before, be careful. This plug fits a bit snugly; if it is not going in smoothly do not force it because the fragile pins require you to carefully line up the connector to avoid bending them. The Storm Trooper is one of the few USB 3.0 cases I’ve had; needless to say my board has not been configured in this manner before today.

 

 

Once everything was hooked up and running it ended up being a very sexy case even with my overtly blue fans in place. I could not believe how much room was left between my motherboard and power supply. As with many other case fans, there are no protective grills on the red fans covering the HDD bays. Make sure you don’t catch a finger while they are spinning because it hurts. But surely you will be a little more careful than I was or at least smart enough to power down before cracking open your case. The last shot shows off the fan controller running the fans at full speed. Glowing with an almost evil look to it, the Storm Trooper is one hell of a case.

 

Specifications:

Dimensions:
250 x 605.6 x 578.5 mm
Materials:
Steel body, Front Mesh / Plastic bezel
Available Color:
All Black
Total Weight:
14.4 KG
Motherboard Support:
Micro-ATX, ATX, XL-ATX
PSU Support:
Standard ATX PS2/ EPS 12V
External Connections:
USB 3.0 x 2 ,USB 2.0 x 2, e-SATA x 1, HD Audio
5.25" Bay Slots:
9
3.5" Bay Slots:
Up to 8 (converted 5.25")
2.5" Bay Slots :
Up to 13 (converted 5.25")

 

Features:

Cooling:

Clearances:

 

 

All information provided by: http://www.cmstorm.com/en/products/chassis/trooper/

Testing:

Testing the CM Storm Trooper required turning up the heat! Testing involved recording temperatures for the CPU, GPU, chipset, hard drives, and overall system during idle and load phases. Load was simulated by running Prime95’s small FFTs, HD Tune, and 3Dmark Vantage for one hour. The maximum temperatures were recorded using HW Monitor. It is important to note that each case is tested in its factory configuration, including location of fans, unless otherwise specified.

Although the Storm Trooper has a few different location options for placing the two red LED fans, the case was tested as it was shipped. All the pictures provided represent this positioning. It is also important to note that due to my water cooling setup, the back 140mm stock fan was replaced with the 2 x 120mm fans on my radiator. Nonetheless the testing results of this setup are pretty indicative of the standard performance of this case, especially considering the comparison cases were tested in a similar manner.

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Cases:

 

Results:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall I was not too surprised by the results. When compared to the Cooler Master HAF 932 case I was expecting similar results considering size and amount of air flow. In comparison, the other cases are small, inexpensive chassis with little room for extra hardware. The numbers that impressed me most were the HDD temperatures. In most cases these temperatures are similar at idle and at load, but the CM Storm Trooper had dramatically less heat from the beginning. I have to give credit to the two fans that sit on the drive bays as they clearly have an effect on the HDD temperatures by moving large amounts of air though the bays. It would be interesting to see how this changes with multiple drives, but I am confident it would still beat out the competition. In the end it is a large case, and good air flow should be expected. Overall the results meet my expectations.

Conclusion:

Overall this is an awesome case. The price is up there with a lot of other top-end models, but it performs at least to that value if not slightly more. The structure of the case is built solidly and is not flimsy in any way. The parts to move things around seem built to last – they already have taken a beating being dropped and moved around a few times by yours truly and show little indication of use. The handle on top makes the case a cinch to carry from one room to the next. If you are like me and don’t want to build your rig on the office floor, the handle at least makes it easy to transport the case back to your office from wherever you put it together. There is no side window to break with your knee as you carry it around, but the case provides plenty to show off without making everyone look at your hardware.

The CM Storm Trooper is a great case, and I really couldn’t have asked for more. The fact that the fan controller has only six discrete speeds is a little annoying, but that would be my only real complaint. If you have other LED fans connected to the controller that do not have the extra plug for the LEDs, they obviously will not shut off with the LED button. They will also pulse or flash when you reduce the speeds via the controller, making fans of this type better if plugged in elsewhere (just a heads-up). Otherwise I truly like the case, and if it happens to go on sale I will be buying one for a good friend of mine this holiday season.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: