Coolermaster Centurion 534 Computer Case Review
Reviewed by: Admin
Reviewed on: April 16, 2006
Price: $65 USD
Today we take a look at the Centurion 534 computer enclosure by Cooler Master. This new addition expands the Centurion line of cases, which is aimed towards the average user. Cooler Master is best known for offering quality products in the computer industry, and this comes as no surprise since they have been in business for over 10 years. Their goal is dealing with products in which heat issues must me solved. They offer a wide lineup of thermal solutions for a full range of applications. Their solutions are not limited to computers, but also cover industrial machinery, telecommunications equipment and more. The Centurion 534 is a solid enclosure, and I was eager to have a look at it when the package arrived to me.
When I saw the big box at my door, it gave me a good idea of what was inside and left no room for imagination - the packaging this case came in was not a plain brown box, but colorful and the kind that easily draws people's attention and clearly states its contents. After it was all taken out of the cardboard box, I was pleased that the protection Cooler Master chose was efficient and kept everything inside safe, even if it was as simple as Styrofoam padding.
After removing the plastic and Styrofoam around the enclosure, the first thing I noticed was that the entire front bezel was made of brushed aluminum. This makes it look classier; also it has an advantage over most other cases in this price range that have plastic bezels. The Cooler Master Centurion 534 also has five external 5.25" bays, having an advantage over most others that normally consist of four. I was surprised that it had only one 3.5" bay included, but since floppy drives are becoming obsolete, I prefer having an extra 5.25" bay over another 3.5". Due to the black paint job on the case, I noticed that fingerprints are very easily seen. This could be a downside if you display your case on top of your desk or another similar location.
Taking a look at the underside of the case, it contains 4 white plastic feet. I did notice that they don't prevent sliding very well. This could be good if you place this case on something like carpet, making it a lot easier to slide around, but if it is placed on a smoother surface, this could be a bit of a problem. Looking at the front bezel again, the Cooler Master Centurion logo and name is engraved in the single 3.5" bay cover. The aluminum bezel is surrounded to the left and right by black mesh, its purpose is to increase airflow and supply fresh air for the 120mm intake fan. Another important reason for its placement is aesthetics. It makes the whole front look a lot more interesting.
Once finished with examining the outside, I was eager to take a look at the inside. The side panels were secured with thumbscrews, and after these were removed, the panels simply slid out. Inside I found the manual and accessories which were packed in a plain brown box. Cooler Master included all the required screws, brass stand-offs and plastic rails to mount the hard drives. The instructions were well written and included detailed images to make life easier. The left side panel had a duct built in to increase airflow to the CPU heatsink and fan. This is a nice touch; fresh air is always good when dealing with today's high end components that can get very hot. In the front, a 120mm blue LED intake fan is included. The fan itself is fairly quiet, and moves a decent amount of air, not to mention it adds to the overall looks of the enclosure when powered on.
Removing the other side panel, the back of the motherboard tray is visible. There is space behind the motherboard tray, although barley enough to hide wires in. This area of the chassis is accessible by removing the right side panel. The sideways hard drive cage makes it possible to hide a lot of cables that would otherwise get in the way. In the end it all comes down to personal preference between sideways mounted and straight hard drive cages.
I also removed the entire front bezel to see how the front was laid out. Behind it are switches and front ports, still attached to the chasis, and tiny square openings which allow fresh air inside the case towards the bottom of the bezel. There are square openings where the fan would go to allow fresh air inside the case towards the bottom of the bezel.
The front access panel includes two USB 2.0 ports, one IEEE 1394, and two audio (one input, one output). Cooler Master made a good choice on the plugs that would be placed here, since they fit my needs perfectly. The audio ports come especially handy since it would make it a whole lot easier to switch headphones and such. Just above this, the power and reset switches can be found. They are made of plastic, and painted the same silver color as the rest of the face plate. I like the fact that they are big and easily accessible. In between them, the power LED and HDD activity LED are placed, giving off a blue glow when active.
Silver / Black
L480 x W202 x H435 mm
Aluminum & Mesh bezel, SECC chassis
ATX , m-ATX
1 (Exposed); 4 (Hidden)
One 120x120x25mm front Blue LED fan(Intake); One 120x120x25mm rear fan (Exhaust) (Option)
USB2.0 x 2; MIC x 1; SPK x 1; IEEE1394 x 1 ( Support Intel HD Audio)
Standard ATX PS2 (option)
The first thing I wanted to see is exactly how "tool less" the installation of components would be, since Cooler Master advertised it to be simple and effortless. I proceeded to remove a 5.25" bay cover to fit the CD-Rom drive. The downside to their retention system for the bay covers is that I had to reach in the back and bend a clip outwards to remove it. The CD-Rom drive was pushed in from the front, and when the screw holes aligned, all that had to be done was slide the plastic mechanism forward and then move a smaller piece downward to lock it in place. Simple? I sure thought so.
Installing the motherboard and power supply obviously required screws and standoffs. Once it was all secured in, I proceeded to install a PCI card. Doing this was just as easy as installing the hard drive; all that needed to be done was release the clip, push it down into the motherboard slot and then lock the clip back in place.
Once I attached all the required cables, it was time to boot the PC up. Once it was powered on, the fan emitted a bright blue glow, and started moving a decent amount of air across the hard drive. The front power LED turned on, also glowing blue. The HDD light flashed on and off, also of the same blue light. Combined with the case's brushed aluminum front, it provided a pleasing overall look.
Modern computer parts give out heat, and lots of it. This is the number one killer of components. When dealing with this subject, Cooler Master has a good reputation for cooling solutions. I compared the temperatures between a generic ATX mid tower case and the Cooler Master Centurion 534 enclosure. Each case tested was fitted with one 120mm intake fan. The hardware used was as follows:
- Motherboard: Asus CUSL2-C
- Processor: Intel Pentium III 866MHZ
- RAM: 256MB generic RAM
- Graphics Card: NVIDIA Riva TNT2
- Power: 350W generic PSU
The results showed that Cooler Master did in fact make a thermally efficient case as they claimed to have, overall providing a few degrees drop in temperature.
The Cooler Master Centurion 534 proved itself a good case, both in looks and performance. It has some flaws, but the build quality, features and aesthetics more than make up for it. Most other cases at this price range provide a lot less features and quality, but gladly Cooler Master did not follow the same road. If you want an inexpensive, hassle free case that is extremely easy to work with, you might want to give the Centurion 534 a try.
- tool-less hardware installation
- excellent cooling performance
- CPU duct in side panel for better cooling
- quality construction
- provides decent room
- aluminum front bezel and pleasing aesthetics
- front access panel provides all necessary ports
- comes with one blue 120mm LED fan
- good and detailed instructions
- not enough space behind the motherboard tray as I would have preferred
- plastic feet tend to be a bit slippery
- fingerprints leave marks easily
- non-removable drive cages
- difficult to remove drive bay covers