Cooler Master Storm Enforcer Review

airman - 2011-03-24 20:33:25 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: airman   
Reviewed on: April 12, 2011
Price: $89.99

Introduction:

It almost seems that since the dawn of high-end custom gaming machines, Cooler Master has been there to support the never-ending market of keeping our systems cool. Recently seen in the news, pictures have been speckled about the Internet regarding the Cooler Master Storm Enforcer. Back in 2009, we reviewed an original Storm Scout from Cooler Master. It performed well for its price and offered a sleek, stealthy look along with a comprehensive list of features. This Storm series could easily follow in the footsteps of the prolific HAF line of cases, which offers great performance, quiet operation, and loads of room to house the latest components — including the giant video cards of today's market.

Personally, I hadn't seen much or heard much about the Storm Enforcer, but I do know what to expect in regards to the Storm/Scout line of computer cases. This automatically assumes a sleek, mid tower case with probably a door on the front panel, tool less features, and easy wire management. After reviewing quite a few Cooler Master cases, I have been, for lack of a better expression, "turned on" to Cooler Master's ongoing improvement of their designs and continually improve its high-end cases. It seems with every Cooler Master case that I evaluate, I like each successive one more. In this review, I will provide a complete evaluation of the Cooler Master Storm Enforcer, from un-boxing, sharing my thoughts about the exterior and interior, to an intense testing session to evaluate the overall performance of the case.

 

Closer Look:

As we can expect from a manufacturer of "gaming" cases, the graphics and finish on the packaging is of high quality, which is a common trait with Cooler Master. The front of the box features a low-angle, quarter-view of the case with the front red LED fan powered on, sitting in front of of some armored, 'cyborg' type creature wearing the same "storm" logo on its chest that appears in the upper-left side of the package and on the case itself. The right side of the case features a similar picture of the case, but more of the right side and looks from above. The most content appears on the rear of the box, as usual. It explains useful features that the case offers as well as other specifications and offerings from the Cooler Master team. Finally, the left side of the box lists a complete table of specifications from the case's dimensions, weight, form factor, etc. It also has an option selection table, where a green dot will identify the power supply that arrives with the case. These options range from 400W to 850W.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking open the tape that seals the top flaps will reveal the case sandwiched between two pieces of rigid Styrofoam, wrapped in a plastic bag, with the user's manual on top. The user's manual contains more information about the features and specifications that the Storm Enforcer offers. Through the plastic bag, the front of the case is slightly visible. You can make out the front fan grille and vents as well as the stealth front drive bay door.

 

 

The case itself is a small mid tower with a side panel window that takes up about half of the side panel itself. There are only two fans provided from the factory, and that is one 200mm front intake and one 120mm rear exhaust. There is room for two 120mm fans up top or a single 200mm up top. Included in a cardboard box within the case is six pairs of hard drive rails, a 5.25" to 3.5" device adapter kit, a 2.5"/1.8" to 3.5" hard drive adapter, various screws, twist ties, and Cooler Master's "Storm Guard", which I will explain later.

 

 

With everything out of the box, it's now time to take a closer look at the exterior of the case and its features.

Closer Look:

The front of the case is very sleek and stylish with the "CM Storm" and logo text at the top of the door. At the bottom, there are four meshed sections in front of the front, red 200mm fan. The left side of the case has a window that takes up about half of the panel, allowing others to view the inside of the case. According to the user manual, there is another side panel available that does not have a window and can mount a 120mm side fan. This panel is held on by two black thumbscrews, on the rear. The rear of the case shows the shortness and stoutness of the case, as it is what I will call "stumpy." This gives the case a low center of gravity and a unique look. There are three, 0.5" water cooling grommets at the top of the case above the 120mm exhaust fan. There are seven expansion slots which are located next to another similar vertical slot with a cover held in with a thumb screw. This is the "Storm Guard" slot, which I will show later. The right side of the case shows the uniform, matte black finish that covers all surfaces of the case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The top of the case features a similar platform towards the front bezel that can be used to retain objects such as keys, thumb drives, or whatever else the user may choose to put there. Other cases from Cooler Master such as the HAF 932 have this feature, which is useful for the desktops set on the floor or on a desk. The top is capable of housing two 120mm fans as well as a 200mm fan. This offers the user an extra choice and shows that Cooler Master has each practical need in mind. The bottom of the case has a standard fan filter beneath the power supply, which allows a bottom-mounted power supply to "breathe" and also filters the majority of dust from entering the power supply unit.

 

 

The front door is hinged on the right side and is held shut buy what I'll call a mystery mechanism. I don't see any magnets, but that's what it feels like. There are four 5.25" device covers, and the bottom one has a pop-out for a 3.5" floppy drive - which is installed with the included 5.25" to 3.5" adapter rails. Removing the front bezel is achieved by unfastening the six plastic expansion fittings, which is very simple and common to many other cases. Behind the front 200mm fan is a mounting configuration that's capable of housing two 120mm fans as well, just like the top of the case.

 

 

This concludes the exterior evaluation of the case. Continuing on the next page will be a close up look at the interior of the Storm Enforcer and the features that it offers.

Closer Look:

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.

 

Specifications:

Available Color
All Black
I/O
USB 3.0 x 2(internal)
USB2.0 x 2
Mic x 1
Audio x 1
Material
Case body: steel; Front bezel: mesh and plastic
Dimension (W x D x D)
229 x 484.5 x 523.5 mm / 9.0 x 19.0 x 20.6 inch
Net weight
8.9 kg / 19.5 lb
M/B Type
Micro ATX / ATX
5.25” Drive Bay
4 Exposed (one converts to 3.5” bay)
2.5” Drive Bay
4 Hidden (two convert from 3.5” bay)
Expansion Slot
7+1
Maximum Compatibility
CPU cooler height: 175mm
VGA card length: 270mm (with HDD cage)
390mm (without HDD cage)
Cooling System
Top: 200mm black fan x 1 (optional)
Front: 200mm Red LED fan x 1, 1000 RPM, 19 dBA
Rear: 120mm black fan x 1, 1200 RPM, 17 dBA
Side: 120mm fan x 1 (optional with SGC-1000-KKN1 panel)
Power Supply
Standard ATX PS2 / EPS 12V (PSU max length: 190mm)

 

Features:

Testing:

To test the Cooler Master Scout Enforcer, temperatures will be recorded for the CPU, GPU, chipset, hard drives, and the overall system temperature during load and idle phases. Load will be simulated by Prime95 small FFTs and HD Tune for one hour, with maximum temperatures recorded by RealTemp. The GPU load will be the maximum value recorded by Catalyst Control Center after five loops of 3DMark06’s Canyon Flight test. For the idle temperature readings, I allowed each setup to remain idle of for one hour. Each case is tested as is from the factory, including the fan configuration. The fan configuration for the Storm series Scout Enforcer is left in its default configuration of a front 200mm intake, and one 120mm rear exhaust.

Testing Setup:

Comparison Cases:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The HDD test results produced by the Storm Enforcer were the lowest out of the comparison cases. The cool air entering the front and blowing over the hard drive through the open cage does a good job at removing the heat from the hard drive. The rest of the results fell, for the most part, right in the middle of the ranges.

Conclusion:

I have always been spoiled by large, gigantic full-tower cases loaded up with fans and even castors, though I have come to like these recent mid tower cases that come out onto the market. Cooler Master has always been a good name to myself along with many others, and I am sure they will stay that way for a long time. To wrap up this review, I want to point out the things that I like about this case. First off, I like the stealth door that really ties the front of the case together. I have always like cases with doors, and at one point I was taking the 5.25" bay covers and modifying them to fit over my DVD-ROM drives for the stealthy look. Even though I cannot use it, the internal USB 3.0 header seems to be an answer to one of my regular gripes about many of the recent cases where a tacky, bright blue male USB cable has to be run out through the back of the case, taking up one of the water cooling grommets. Hopefully I will start seeing this more. I also always appreciate wire management accommodations, as I am very conscious about the way that my cables are routed and that they don't case any rat nests.

Though I won't have a particular need for it, the removable and rotating hard drive cage is a neat feature that I'm sure would suit many people. On a similar note, I didn't find the Storm Guard to be useful myself, though I see the need for that as well. I don't, however, see why the screw securing it in place is a thumbscrew, easily accessible on the outside of the case. Removing that screw would require no tools, and a criminal could still walk away with your peripherals, assuming that they have an extra ten seconds to spare. Nevertheless, I was impressed to see a mid tower on the smaller size still capable of housing up to a 340mm graphics card, fully tool-less operation aside from the expansion slots, room for large power supplies, and excellent wire management accommodations. Again, Cooler Master has pleased me with its engineering and design, with the customer and unique needs perfectly implemented.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: