Cooler Master CM 690 II Advanced Case Reviewjlqrb - January 6, 2010
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Once unpacked, you can see that the CM 690 II has kept the overall look of the original case intact, but they have definitely made some refinements that help the case have a more modern and sleek look. The front bezel is a combination of plastic and steel mesh that has two chrome strips on each side that extend all the way throughout the front of the case and continue along top. The steel mesh design of the case, though pleasing to the eyes, is also an important part of the case's ventilation. The open nature of the mesh allows air to travel through it, creating better passageway for air entering and exiting the case. On the side panels of the CM 690 II there are ventilation holes that can fit additional case fans, but like its predecessor some, fans are included with the case. The side panel opposite of the motherboard tray has room for two case fans and can accommodate either 80, 92, 120 or 140mm fans. The other side panel has a much smaller fan opening which will fit a single 80mm case fan. All in all, the CM 690 II can support up to ten case fans throughout the chassis, with five of the areas having support for 140mm fans. The rear panel on the 690 II has been redone and now has a 7+1 expansion area, two top water cooling outlets that support 5/8" ID tubing and is black in color to match the rest of the case. Moving to the back of the the CM 690 II, you see, like most well designed cases, it has a bottom mounted power supply to reduce heat transfer between the CPU and PSU - which improves cooling in both areas. Also, on the back there is a rear 120mm exhaust fan above the expansion area with the motherboard I/O area next to the fan.
The control panel on the CM 690 II is located on the top bezel and it situated near the front. This is a big change from the original which had the I/O on the top, but the power and reset switches were on the side of the front bezel. The panel includes a fan LED on/off switch, e-SATA, audio jacks, USB 2.0, a reset switch, and a power switch. Behind the panel is a protective cover for a feature that is another exclusive to the Advanced model and one that we will take a look at in the next segment. Behind the protective cover the mesh design continues and extends all the way to the top portion of the back of the case. The whole top mesh panel can be easily removed to allow access to the chassis below it. Here you can choose to install either dual exhaust fans or a water cooling set-up. The top of the chassis can support either a 280mm or 240mm radiator and has enough room for the fans on a 240mm radiator to be installed on the top of the chassis. The open design of the exhaust holes (which was developed from end-user feedback) lowers air restriction and reduce turbulence, which will allow air to travel more freely at lower noise levels. The cables coming from the control panel on the top bezel run through the rectangular opening near the front and extend down into the case.
Removing the cover that I mentioned in the segment before gives you access to an external HDD dock, which is one of the neater features of the CM 690 II Advanced case. This dock complies with SATA standards and is able to fit both 3.5" and 2.5" SATA drives. To install the drive into the bay, you simply angle your HDD and slide it into the SATA power and data connectors. The power and data for the dock is supplied from cables inside the case that are plug into the motherboard and a Molex power connector. It is extremely easy to set-up and it actually looked really cool when the drive was in place. This feature could come in handy for those that switch hard drives often, need fast data transfer and will really come in handy for my next hard drive review! You can also use the dock to run your Operating system or as hot swap. In order for it to properly be used, you will need to set the particular SATA port and hard drive in a certain mode. When you are not using the dock, you can slide the protective cover back over the opening which will protect the area from dust or accidental damage.
The front bezel on the chassis comes off quite easily and since there are no LEDs or power buttons on the front, there are no cables attached to the panel. There are four removable mesh covers that are placed in front of each ODD drive bay; these covers need to be removed before installing optical drives into place. The mesh covers over the drive bays have a thin inner screen that will help prevent dust from entering the case. The front of the chassis, like the top, employs an open air design and houses a single 140mm LED case fan that brings air in though the front and moves it over the hard drive area. This fan can be adjusted and moved either up or down depending on the cooling needs of the user.
The bottom of the case is well ventilated and, as you can see, Cooler Master has kept the large rubber feet design introduced with the CM 690 - there are also rubber pads under the front feet. The rubber feet and pads, like those on the original, give the 690 II a rugged look, but also keep the case very sturdy and reduce vibration throughout. The bottom of the chassis is well elevated and sits 0.5" from the ground. This should allow for ample airflow to the power supply to aid in cooling.