Cooler Master Storm Enforcer Reviewairman - April 12, 2011
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Removing the side panels of the case is achieved by removing the two thumb screws on the left panel and the two regular screws on the right panel. Once inside, you will find a fully painted interior, a large CPU mounting bracket access hole, and four cutouts on the motherboard tray for wire management. Overall, the interior is very standard. The backside of the motherboard tray has many loops shaped into the metal for holding wires in place with the included zip ties. Zip tying wires to the motherboard cleans up the wire management very much. Even though it's not visible, it keeps the wires and cables in place and stays exactly where the user originally intended them to.
Generally speaking, the Scout Enforcer has a typical interior layout to many other mid tower cases. It features a bottom mount power supply housing with a filtered intake vent beneath it, seven expansion slots, room for six hard drives, a 120mm rear exhaust fan, aggressive venting on the top — I could go on. Above the 120mm rear exhaust fan, the three water cooling grommets can be seen along with the very large motherboard tray cutout. More recently, I have been seeing larger cut-outs that don't cause any clearance issues, and I am starting to believe that case manufacturers are hearing my cries for a larger cut-out! Found bundled up in the 5.25" bays is the group of cables and wires that power the front I/O ports and buttons. Merely a non-critical observation, but the power/reset buttons and LEDs are routed through a hole in the motherboard tray, while the I/O cables for the audio and USB come straight down from the inside of the 5.25" bay. Underneath the 5.25" bay are the hard drive cages, which have plastic tabs sticking out above each one making it seem that they could be removable. I will be checking this out soon.
After removing the right side panel, I noticed a large amount of clearance between the motherboard tray and the side panel itself. This will make it easy to route large bundles of wires, specifically the 24pin ATX connector that can be quite a bear to locate behind the motherboard tray for wire management's sake. You can also see where the interface/signal LED wires are routed. The reset button actually comes from even another location from the other sets of wires. I will most likely choose to route these wires through the lowest and closest cut-out to the bottom of the motherboard to minimize the visible lengths of the wires.
As I always do, I give a detailed description of the headers that can be used on this case. In general, we always have USB, power and reset buttons, power and HDD activity LEDs, and audio — which the Storm Enforcer has. We will also see Firewire and eSATA on occasion, but that is not available in this case. Something new that I have been asking for (more or less) in my other reviews is an internal header for USB 3.0, which Cooler Master has provided. This relieves the requirement for the "quick fix" that was done in the past, which was a standard USB 3.0 cable routed through the case and out of the rear through a water cooling port. Unfortunately for some, I don't know if every USB3.0 motherboard has an internal header yet. However, this will undoubtedly clean up the interior of future systems. I did also observe that the available length of the cables varied, depending on where they were originally routed. That makes the I/O headers longest, followed by the power button and LED headers, leaving the reset button to be the shortest. This seems to have been something that happened in haste, though it won't affect 99% of users.
One of the features more unique to this case and the other Storm/Scout cases is the Storm Guard, which essentially acts as a cable lock for USB devices. This is perfect for the security-conscious user who may attend LAN parties or other public events where mice, keyboards, or other peripherals could be quickly snatched. The cover in place out of the box can be switched out with the Storm Guard plate by removing the thumbscrew on top of it. I did notice, and had a thought about this, since the thumbscrew is on the outside of the case, it would only deter a potential thief by about ten extra seconds to undo this thumbscrew. Moving this screw to the inside would make it much more difficult.
The hard drive cages are capable of housing six 3.5" hard drives, and secures the hard drives tool-lessly with the included hard drive rails. The 5.25" bays are also tool-less and easier than ever. They lock and unlock at the flip of a lever, just as the labeling on the mechanisms imply. If the user prefers, he or she can remove these mechanisms and fasten 5.25" devices in the bay with the old school screw and screwdriver approach. I've been spoiled by these tool-less mechanisms, but I wouldn't mind having to put a couple of extra screws here and there if there was no "easy" hold down method in place. It does offer extra security, but the tool-less methods are almost as good anyway.
The larger hard drive cage of the two is removable, as I said earlier during my observations. I found them difficult to see on my own, but there are four black screws holding it in place. The black on black made them difficult to see! Once these screws are removed, the cage can be removed by squeezing the two plastic tabs that protrude from the top and the bottom and sliding it forwards. It is a simple, but robust mechanism that I wouldn't expect to fail even after many uses. A neat feature of this hard drive cage is that it is not only removable, but can be rotated as well. If the user prefers to have the hard drives oriented from front to back rather than side to side, this can be accomplished in several simple steps. This will reduce the effective acceptable length of the video card, and the 6970 is a very close fit to begin with.
The case came together well and I didn't have any hiccups. Occasionally I will find cases that make me think, "Hmm, I wonder why they did that - it'd be much simpler another way." Luckily, I did not run into this scenario with the Storm Enforcer. Installation is simple and the wire management is very accommodating. It even fits a huge Noctua NH-D14 and the massive HD 6970. However, there isn't a whole lot of room, though, it still fits! The red glow from the front 200mm fan adds a nice effect that doesn't overpower the rest of the case, and feeling the flow around it makes me expect a low hard drive temperature.