Cooler Master CMedia 282 Case Review

ccokeman - 2007-09-12 20:54:26 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: September 24, 2007
Cooler Master
Cooler Master
Price: $159.99

Introduction:

How long have you been looking at that box of spare computer parts on the shelf? If you are like many of us in the enthusiast community it's been a little bit too long. Have you had thoughts of putting together a Home Theater PC? That would be a good outlet for that pile of parts that just can't be gotten rid of. When it comes to case selection during any project, the looks and function are two of the biggest things that people look at. Do you want something that just looks fine in a corner, or do you want something that integrates well with the existing component that are already in the home entertainment center? With the Cooler Master Cmedia 282 there is a case that does both. How is that you say? The Enclosure has the capability of being transformed from a mid-tower design, to a desktop design with a simple reconfiguring of the pieces of the case. The enclosure features the ability to handle an ATX motherboard, as well as the ability to house the latest high end graphics hardware, be it ATI or Nvidia. Oh, and don't forget the included LED screen and remote control to operate the system once all of the parts have been installed.

"Cooler Master was founded with the mission of providing the industry's best thermal solutions. Since its establishment a decade ago, the company has remained faithful to this mission, emerging as a world leader in products and services for companies dealing with devices where heat issues must be resolved. In pursuing this mission, Cooler Master is absolutely committed to delivering solutions that precisely meet customer requirements for features, performance, and quality. Moreover, we strive to be a reliable long-term partner for our customers that they can truly depend on. It aims to be the first and foremost name that comes to mind for companies around the world seeking thermal solutions, and seeks to build such a reputation through outstanding technology, sophisticated design, and superior service."

 

Closer Look:

The case that the chassis came in shows off the case on the front panel, and alludes to the fact that the chassis can be converted from a tower to a desktop configuration. The rear panel of the box describes many of the features built into this enclosure. The left side panel contains the specifications of the enclosure, while the right hand side features a view of the case with the included multimedia remote control.

 

 

 

Opening the package up we can see that the case is secured between two large styrofoam packing blocks and wrapped in a plastic bag to protect the finish of the case.

 

 

Closer Look:

The Case:

The chassis is all steel with the exception of the front bezel, which is both brushed anodized aluminum on the doors, and black ABS plastic on the rounded features. The rest of the case panels are painted a textured matte black that meshes well with just about any entertainment center. The left side of the case has four rubber plugs that hide threaded holes so that if the conversion to a desktop style case is done the legs can be mounted here. Ventilation is accomplished via four 120mm fans.

 

 

 

 

 

The top side of the case utilizes one 120mm fan for cooling purposes. The power supply is mounted underneath this opening, and is supposed to be oriented so that it pulls air from outside the enclosure to cool down the unit. The bottom of the case features the rubber bottomed feet that can be mounted onto the side panel if the orientation of the case is changed.

 

 

The front of the case features three swing open doors to hide the peripheral connections as well as the optical drives. The middle door hides the location that can be used for either a floppy drive or a multi card reader. The company includes an L.E.D. panel on the front to monitor the functions of the computer when set up.

 

 

 

The doors use a push-to-lock type latch to secure the doors. Push it in to latch, then push in again to unlatch the doors. This feature works quite well and requires just a light touch to operate.

Now that we have seen the outside of the enclosure, let's take a look at the innards.

Closer Look:

Working Components:

Once open, one can see how much room there really is inside this case. In fact, one of the attributes of this case is the ability to run full size video cards, in either Crossfire for ATI cards, or SLI for the Nvidia crowd. With that kind of room to play with, installing components should be a breeze. The enclosure is designed to use either an ATX or mATX motherboard. Shipped inside the case is a box containing the hardware for this enclosure.

 

 

 

The front panel wiring includes a bit more wire than the every day enclosure. There are the normal connections for the LEDs, the power and reset switches, front panel USB and Firewire, as well as the front panel audio connections. You will note the 24-pin adapter harness and the black cable. These items go to the front panel LED for power and sending data to the display.

 

The hard drive cage allows for the installation of up to five hard drives. The hard drive cage can be lifted out after removing two retaining screws. The cage has four pins that fit into slots on the chassis to guide it into place while reinstalling it. The hard drive cage uses silicone bushings to dampen the vibration and noise created by the hard drives. The screws that hold the drives have a shoulder that fits snugly into the bushings.

 

 

The floppy drive cage is hidden in between the optical drive rack and the hard drive rack. It is held in place with one screw. Removal can be a challenge for those with big hands, but for the majority of people there is no problem. The optical drive cage features tool-less mounting of the drives. The drive cage has been designed to work in both the tower and desktop orientation with the tooless mounting hardware installed for both configurations.

 

 

Ventilation for the enclosure is provided by a series of fan openings in the case, four to be exact. The side fan, or top depending on orientation, is able to use any of the common fan sizes, from 80mm to 120mm. All of the others can use a 120mm fan to perform the cooling chores. Only one fan is included with the enclosure, so that is how we will test it when the time comes. This fan measures 120mm x 25mm.

 

Closer Look:

Working Components (Tower Conversion):

One of the features of this case is the ability to convert it from a tower (pedestal) to a desktop style enclosure. We will take a look at what is required to make that conversion from tower to desktop.  

 

 

 

 

So what does it really take to make the transition? Not a whole lot, actually. Cooler Master has made the process pretty darn simple. The first thing to do is take the legs off of the bottom of the case, and cover the holes with the plugs that are in the similar holes on the side/bottom of the case. Once the legs are removed from the bottom of the case, install them on the panel that becomes the bottom of the enclosure in the desktop configuration.

 

 

 

The second thing to do is to remove the front panel. It is held on by four clips along the edge of the front bezel. Simply push up, and pull the bezel forward to remove it. The lower edge is hinged to help the process along by allowing the bezel to swing away easily.

 


Once the front bezel is down, the rear of the LCD display and all of the front panel connections are now visible. The front bezel has two removable panels to allow them to be rotated 90 degrees and put back into place. The front panels are held in by a molded clip cast into the removable panels. Reinstalling the panels takes just a gentle push to put them back into place. Once done, it's on to the next stage.

 

 

 

The last bit of business before clipping the bezel back into place, is to rotate the optical drive bay support bracket. It rotates 90 degrees to put it into position for either the tower, or desktop configuration.

 

 

Once the support bracket is installed into the correct configuration for the orientation of the enclosure, the bezel can be reinstalled so that the hardware can be installed.

 

Installation:

Because this case supports a full size ATX motherboard, that is what will be installed. In addition to that, the case has the room for full-size graphics cards.  It looks like the ATI 1900XT gets the call for this job. Installing the components in this enclosure should provide little in the way of excitement, since it will be like working on a traditional mid-tower case. Some additional work needs to be done to hook up the included LCD, but that's just part of the process.

While not all of the items listed below are the latest and greatest, they are a decent start on an HTPC!

The first thing that was installed was the optical drive. The top optical drive slot allows for a recessed mounting to stealth a DVD-ROM drive. Insert the drive, and secure the drive in place with the tool-less mounting hardware. The front bezel had to be removed in order to do this, since the drive would not slide in from the back of the drive cage. This way the bezel would not have to be removed later during the install process once the wiring was ready to be connected.

 

The power supply mounts a little differently than the normal configuration in this enclosure. Normally the power supply is used as additional ventilation to help exhaust hot air out of the enclosure. On this enclosure it mounts with the power supply air intake pulling fresh air into the unit, and exhausting the hot air out the back of the enclosure. It does not help in ventilating the enclosure at all, but if the power supply has a thermal sensor, this can reduce noise output making the viewing experience much more enjoyable, not to mention quieter.

 

 

With the optical drive and power supply out of the way, it's time to put the motherboard in. I usually pre-install the CPU and heatsink before installing the motherboard into the chassis. Once the motherboard is in place, it can be secured in place with the provided screws.

 

Install the hard drive(s) by removing the two screws holding the hard drive cage in place, and remove it by lifting up and out. Install the drive into the cage using the supplied shouldered screws and secure the cage back into place with the two mounting screws.

 

 

Make all of the wire connections and install the expansion cards that will be used. Install the system memory, double check all of the wiring connections, and the case is ready for use.

 

Configuration:

IMON / IMEDIA Software:

Included with the enclosure was a CD-ROM that has the media software to use this enclosure as an HTPC. This software, in addition to being able to run the HTPC, also feeds information to the front LCD screen. To get started, just pop in the CD and the installation starts. The first screen you are greeted with is the IMON setup manager. Read the contents and choose "Start Setup." 

 

 

 

 

After starting the program, follow the directions until the install is finished. On this system a Windows Media Format 9 Runtime addition was required. Choose "yes" to install, and the installation will move forward and complete.

 

 

 

The first time the IMON software starts, it automatically updates to the latest version. Once the update is finished, you can move through the initial setup, and choose the configuration that best suits the sytem that has been installed.

 

 

 

After the intial setup the main settings page comes up. Each tab has several sub folders allowing the user to configure the software to their particular tastes. On a basic no frills HTPC many options will not be utilized, but once the PC has been upgraded, the software is able to be used to the extent it was designed.

 

 

The IMON software configuration can appear to be a daunting task, but if you take your time and set up all of the options that apply to the system you have installed, it should go smoothly. The remote control can be configured to the liking of the end-user, or use the default configuration. The front panel display can be configured to display any number of things, from world news to system status, to showing the equalizer settings.

 

 

One thing that the software does is automatically start scrolling information across the LED screen. It will scroll news headlines, system information, as well as info about what you are watching. The LED is much clearer than I imagined it would be. As this photo shows, I just happened to catch a blurb about Britney Spears during this shot.

 

Specifications:

 

Available Color
Black

Dimension (W / H / D)

(W)430mm x (H)178mm x (D)477mm
Weight
9.2 kg
Material
Chassis: SECC, Bezel: AL+ABS
Motherboards
ATX, Micro-ATX
5.25" DriveBay
3 (Exposed)
3.5" DriveBay
5 (Hidden) , 1 (Exposed)
I/O Panel

USB 2.0x2, IEEE 1394 x1, MIC x1, SPK x1

Cooling System

One 120x120x25mm Rear Silent Fan(1200 RPM, 17dBA),
One 120x120x25mm Front Fan (Optional),
One 120x120x25mm Top Fan(Optional),
One 120x120x25mm Side Fan(Optional)

Expansion Slots
7
Power Supply

Standard ATX PS2/ EPS 12V (Optional)

 

Features:

 

Testing:

To test the CMedia 282 enclosure, we will check the temperatures of a few key components to verify any increase or decrease in the cooling performance. The testing will include running Stress Prime 2004 to create a load on the CPU, chipset and system memory. To load the video card I will loop 3Dmark06 three times, and take the maximum temperature during the run. Testing the hard drive will consist of running HD tune to put a load on the drive. I will be using software programs to monitor the temperatures of the devices.  Speed Fan 4.33 will be used to monitor the temperatures of the CPU, chipset and hard drive. ATI Tool will be used to measure the video card temperature at the end of the benchmark testing. Even though software programs may be inaccurate, they do show differences in temperatures equally across the same platform. With the enclosure being the only variable, a comparison of the results can be made. All results are in degrees Celcius, with lower results being better. The test bed setup is listed below.

 

Testing Setup:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Temperatures for most of the testing are pretty close. The Cmedia case is slightly higher, temperature wise, throughout the testing. The upside for the Cmedia case is the potential improvement with the addition of three more 120mm fans. The fact that it only comes with one blowing out the back of the case handicaps the case.

Conclusion:

The fact that this case can hold full-size ATX boards and full-size graphics cards is a big plus. No more having to compromise on the graphics card or use onboard video for that HTPC project of yours. Take the biggest, gnarliest card, slap it into this case, and still have room for another video card. The case was easy to work with, and the conversion from a tower orientation to desktop orientation took literally five minutes. I was surprised at just how easy the conversion was to complete. The case only comes with one cooling fan, but seems to flow air through the case well enough to keep our components alive. With the addition of a few more fans, this case would be complete, and truly be capable of venting the heat generated by two video cards. The front LED is clear and well lit, without any fuzziness to distract the view. The stealthed drive bay and tool-less mounting of the top optical drive were added bonuses. Whether you are looking for a case that can be a nice addition to your entertainment system, or as just a nice mid-tower for a workstation, this case can do it all.

Pros:

 

 

Cons: