Cooler Master Centurion 531 (RC 531) Case Review
Reviewed by: Admin
Reviewed on: July 21, 2005
: Cooler Master
: Cooler Master
Price: $ 60
Coolermaster has always been known for its high quality cases, but quality is burdened with many expenses that not many can afford. In response to this dilemma, Coolermaster introduced the Centurion line, affordable cases with quality in mind.
About Cooler Master
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.
Cooler Master�s current business encompasses a comprehensive lineup of thermal solutions for a full range of applications. Its products range from heat sinks and fans to component housing, chassis, and ducting for computers, industrial machinery, telecommunications equipment, and many other devices.
A critical component of Cooler Master�s ability to successfully pursue its mission is an unstinting commitment to quality, as demonstrated by the ISO 9001 certification granted to its main manufacturing plant in Taiwan. It has also enforced ISO guidelines and is in the process of applying for ISO 9002 certification at its second and third plants, located in China. Cooler Master has also implemented a number of analytical and testing protocols to ensure top quality, including at subcontractors, to further ensure thorough quality control. Moreover, Cooler Master�s dedication to quality extends beyond manufacturing to every aspect of its operation, including service.
|Dimensions||L485 x W208 x H442 mm|
|Material||Aluminum bezel, SECC chassis|
|M/B Type ATX||12� x 9.6� (30.5cm x 24.5 cm),m-ATX|
|5.25 inch||5 (Exposed)|
|3.5 inch||1 (Exposed); 4 (Hidden)|
|Cooling System||One 120x120x25mm front fan ( Intake); One 120x120x25mm rear fan (Exhaust )(Option)|
|I/O Panel||USB2.0 x 2; MIC x 1; SPK x 1; IEEE1394 x 1|
|Power Supply||Standard ATX PS2, 380W (Option)|
When looking at the exterior of a case a good looking bezel is very important. The Centurion 531 has a rather unique bezel design and no case on the market today has a design even similar to this � yet. It seems that Coolermaster has gone with a more modern/ futuristic look with this case and I must say it looks very good! The exterior of the bezel is composed of 2 finishes: brushed aluminum and flat aluminum. Personally, I would much rather a completely brushed aluminum bezel, but that�s personal taste. The Centurion 531 supports five external 5.25� drives which should be plenty for the everyday user and one 3.5� drive bay. The bezel design allows for great intake, but is restricted by the filter and mesh which will be discussed in more detail later on when we look at the internals.
Moving onto the top of the case we find two USB ports, an IEEE 1394 (firewire) port, audio input and output. It would have been better if Coolermaster built an enclosure for these ports to prevent small objects such as staples from falling in, and causing a short circuit.
In order to remove the drive covers, one must bend the tabs holding it in place. The problem with this is that the tabs are made of aluminum and eventually with time and use, the tabs will snap off, leaving the drive bay cover useless.
On the left side panel we find two mesh grills, one for the duct and one as a vent. Also, there is an indent on the left and right panels to allow for easy removal.
In the rear, there are seven expansion slots, an 80/120mm fan grill, motherboard shield, vents and a hole for the power supply.
Usually, the bottom of a case is not important, but the bottom of the Centurion 531 is different from other cases. One would expect to find rubber/non slide feet to prevent sliding (this is especially important for those who put their computers on top of tables. However, on the Centurion 531 there are hard plastic feet which allow the case to slide quite easily, a rather scary thought.
In-depth Look: Interior
The exterior of cases have obviously changed throughout the years, from beige boxes to� enough designs to leave you lost in a whirlwind of choices. Despite this, the majority of case interiors have not faced major modifications. Yes, it is true that removable motherboard trays, toolless designs, removable drive bays, etc have been introduced, but typically these features will not be found in an affordable case. The Centurion 531, an affordable case, is almost completely toolless, and has a removable drive bay. These high end features in such an affordable case is defiantly a plus.
Airflow is another very important aspect of a case�s interior. Ideally, the air drawn from the intake rises as it warms up, thus cooling off the components. Eventually, the air exits through the upper rear end of the case. To further enhance airflow, there are several newer variables, such as wind tunnels, air ducts (which are present within this case) and blowholes.
A major problem I noticed was the hard drive rack placement which significantly reduces airflow. Unlike a standard hard drive rack (which is rotated 90 degrees) the air pushed by the intake has to be squeezed through the holes in the side and because the majority of the hard drive rack is covered a lot of airflow is disrupted.
The adjustable air duct on the left side panel is a great addition to this case �if your CPU heatsink is positioned in front of it. Whether the fan on your heatsink is pushing air or pulling air, the duct will reduce the amount of hot air that is recycled through the case. If the duct is not in position of being used, it can be removed by loosening the four screws holding it in place.
The Centurion 531 allows for a 120mm intake (which is supplied) and a 120mm exhaust, but the provided 120mm LED fan used for the intake is extremely weak. Also high performance fans such as a Vantec Tornado or Delta will not fit in the small gap provided for the intake. Now, enough about cooling, how about the rest of the case?
In-depth Look: Interior
The toolless design of the Centurion 531 immediately caught my eye. All drives: 5.25�, 3.5�, including hard drives can be installed without ever needing to pick up a screw driver or a screw. Now those of you who have worked with toolless cases may be thinking that toolless installations are not very secure, but Coolermaster have implemented a flawless system. I have tried shaking, pulling and pushing the drives to no avail and have concluded that this toolless system is truly remarkable. For the 5.25� and floppy drive bays securing a drive is as simple as pushing the rail forward and pushing down a lock. Furthermore, in the hard drive bay, the hard drive will need to be secured with two drive rails (which is easily pushed into place) and sliding it into the drive bay!
To further the convenience, the explanation card clip is used and allows for easy and fast installation of expansion cards. Despite the great idea, there were a few problems with Coolermaster�s design. When the lock is �secured� there is still space between the PCI bracket and the clip. Moreover, the clip does not securely hold the card in place and even adding a screw would be a good idea.
Coolermaster has also included four thumb screws for easy removal of the side panels, nothing special here, but a nice addition.
The hard drive rack is also removable, there are four screws securing the hard drive rack, two beside the motherboard tray and two on the bottom of the case. After these have been loosened, the hard drive rack can slide out of the case.
Overall the Centurion 531 is a good case, but not comparable to higher-end Coolermaster cases such as the Wavemaster, but for the price one can not go wrong. The Centurion 531 does come with plenty of good features such as the toolless drive installation, an air duct, left and right removable side panels and is relatively cheap but there are a few problems which will keep some buyers away. The drive bay cover, sideways hard drive rack, ineffective expansion card clip, slippery feet and no cover for the top I/O panel are some of the major ones. All in all, the Coolermaster has done a great job on the Centurion 531.
- Toolless drive rails
- Air duct
- Long wires (from front panel and I/O panel)
- Right side panel removable (for wire management ease)
- Sleek design
- Removable hard drive rack
- Drive bay covers (need to bend tabs to remove)
- Sideways hard drive rack
- Some sharp edges
- Stamped grill
- Sleeve bearing fans
- No removable motherboard tray
- No cover for I/O panel
- Ineffective expansion card clip
- Slippery bottom feet