Cooler Master N200 Review

red454 - 2013-05-01 20:09:33 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: red454   
Reviewed on: June 6, 2013
Price: $49.99

Cooler Master N200 Introduction:

It is hard to find a manufacturer with a wider range of cases than Cooler Master. From the HAF and COSMOS series monster cases down to the LAN box, Cooler Master has you covered. Today Cooler Master is back with its latest addition to its arsenal of N series cases, the N200. This mini tower packs some big features including support for a front radiator - that's right, a radiator up front. And not just a 120mm radiator, this little case can handle a full 240mm radiator. Now this is something really unheard of in a case this size, and for that matter, you really don't see it much on larger cases. So it is going to be interesting to see how Cooler Master manages to incorporate a big boy radiator up front. And fans - where will the fans go? Are we limited to either a push or pull configuration? Certainly there isn't room for both - or is there? 

There are provisions to mount up to four SSDs too. The typical SSD (Solid State Drive) is rather small compared to a standard hard drive, but it will be interesting to see where Cooler Master finds the real estate for four of them. While Mini ITX form factor motherboards are nothing new, they seem to be making a comeback and manufacturers are releasing new motherboard models packed with the latest goodies.  So you might expect case manufacturers to keep the smaller cases up-to-date with the latest features and Cooler Master is on top of it.

Cooler Master N200 Closer Look:

First, let's look at the box. Nothing fancy here - plain box with black text and a nice graphic on the front and back side.  A little shipping damage on the bottom, but the contents are just fine. What we see on the panels are some profile shots of the Cooler Master N200 to get an idea just what's inside the box. As we look at the front side of the box, we see some of the features highlighted. We get a luxurious minimalist design with a full mesh front panel that supports a 240mm radiator in the front, long graphics cards up to 355mm / 14 inch, high CPU coolers up to 160mm /6.3 inch, as well as offering SuperSpeed USB 3.0 support.  Now I am really ready to get it out of the box...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here we go - out of the box. Heavy end caps keep everything perfect. And the plastic bag does its job and protects the case on the journey to your door.

 

Now that we have all the packing off, let's get down to business and see what makes this case tick!

Coolermaster N200 Closer Look:

When I pulled the case out of the box, I realized just how small it is. And being accustomed to larger cases, I was a bit surprised by just how small. I'm not saying that is a bad thing, just that it surprised me a bit. As I looked it over, the first thing that came to mind is that it's rather conservative. No wild architecture. No multicolored plastic inserts, LED fans, or flaming skulls. Regardless, it has a clean, refined look.

The case measures 7.95" wide x 14.9" tall x 17.5" deep (202mm x 378mm x 445mm). The feet space the case about 7/8" (17mm) off of the floor for air flow. The entire front is a metal mesh for air flow. There is a plastic rib that runs vertically on the right and contains the mounting for all of the front I/O along with the Cooler Master logo. Looking at the front of the case, we have a single bay for an optical drive and one small bay for a floppy or fan controller. And from the bottom up, you have one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, a microphone jack, a headphone jack, HDD activity light, power button, and finally the reset button.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flip the case around to the rear and you can see that the PSU is mounted at the bottom. Above the PSU are four expansion slots and two knock-outs (no rubber grommets) for external water coolling access. And of course, the rear 120mm cooling fan.

 

The sides of the case are fairly standard. Both have a shallow protrusion for cable management (which I am a little concerned about with such a small case), and there is a vent with mounting holes for a 120mm side fan (not included). Both side panels use removable thumb screws for retention. 

 

 

The top of the case has one vent that has mounting holes for a single 120mm fan (not included). There is a plastic mesh filter that is secured with four rubber fasteners, although if you mount a fan for exhausting heat from inside the case, I am not sure what good the filter would be other than an unnecessary restriction. The bottom has four rubber feet and a removable mesh intake air filter for the PSU.

 

 

You can remove the filter without turning the case over, and it is easy to slide back in.

Cooler Master N200 Closer Look: Working Components:

I removed both side panels and noticed the nice cut out in the motherboard tray that provides easy access for your CPU cooler installation. I had to add some standoffs for the motherboard installation and this was easy to do since Cooler Master included a little installation tool. You use a small Phillips screwdriver with the tool, which has a hex socket to drive the standoffs in securely. Things don't seem so tight now, but I haven't put any components in there just yet. And I am curious as to the air flow in such a small case. Now this case says it supports a front mounted radiator, up to 240mm, and indeed there appears to be room up front for a radiator. Two case fans are included with the N200: one at the rear and one up front. Both are 3-pin 120mm fans. You can see the rear fan and the place for the top fan, although it looks like it will be awfully close to the top of the motherboard.  I like the way there seems to be a pocket of space next to where the PSU mounts. I think this space will come in handy for stashing cables. I removed the front panel when I took the picture of the back of the motherboard tray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both of the included case fans come with a Molex adapter if you want to power them directly from the PSU. The adapters are easily removed if you want to plug the fans into your motherboard fan headers. The hard drive cage holds two standard spindle hard drives and one SSD can be mounted to the top.  The hard drive cage can be removed, if you like, by removing the four thumbscrews from below and two on the top that secure it to the bottom edge of the motherboard tray. If you want to mount a front radiator with fans in a pull configuration, you will need to shift the hard drive cage over. There are mounting holes just for this purpose, which you will see a little further down in this review. In addition to the top mount for the SSD, there are actually three other places to mount an SSD, and we will go over those too.

 

 

At first glance the picture on the left may look like the rear of the case, but it is acutally the front with the front fascia removed. Cooler Master left the front mesh wide open for plenty of air flow. You can see the front case fan mounted just to the left of the USB ports. If you mount a 240mm radiator like the Corsair H100, you will need to relocate this fan. There is room for mounting two 120mm fans on the outside face of the case. The picture on the right is the inside of the front fascia, and you can see that there is enough room for front mounted fans. So if you were to mount your radiator with a push / pull fan configuration (four fans), there is room to do it.  And the front fascia has no wires attached, which makes removal for cleaning the attached dust filter easy.

 

 

In order to get the 240mm radiator into position, you have to remove the upper fan and the upper hard drive cage. The upper hard drive cage can hold a single standard hard drive inside and one SSD mounted from the bottom. The picture on the right shows the upper hard drive cage flipped over so you can see the mounting tabs for an SSD. The front upper fan will be relocated to the top case vent. And since I am using the fans in a pull configuration, I need some more room. The lower hard drive cage can be easily shifted over. Recapping the SSD mounting options: you have one on top of the lower hard drive cage, one that can hang from the bottom of the upper hard drive cage, and two can mount flat against the back plane. However, if you install a larger front radiator, the upper hard drive cage has to be removed, so you lose one SSD mount location.

 

 

 

The usual hardware pack is supplied: screws, standoffs, rubber islolators for the hard drives, cable ties, and a speaker. There is also a nice installation tool for the standoffs. The cable  group consists of a USB 2.0 plug, front panel power, reset and activity light plugs, audio plugs, and a USB 3.0 plug.

 

The instruction set is not bad. Easy to follow.

 

I decided to do a test fit of the ASUS Maxumus IV Gene-Z motherboard. No problems there. To the right of the motherboard, there are provisions (holes) for mounting two SSDs flat against the back plane, although getting them in or out after you mount a radiator and fans might be a bit challenging. After I removed the upper hard drive cage, I removed the front fan. I still have my antistatic wrist strap on from the motherboard install.  You do have a wrist strap, right?

 

After the Corsair H100 radiator and fans are installed, there is about 5/8" of clearance between the lower fan and the hard drive cage. A little tight, but air can flow. As I mentioned above, it is important to note that there is room on the front of the case to install two 120mm fans if you choose, for a push configuration. The front fascia has room for the fans.

 

 

There is plenty of room above the radiator, just below the optical drive bay. Flip the case around and you can see the back side. After I installed the PSU, I noticed that there is a nice pocket along the bottom for stashing cables, and being such a small case, this surprised me.

 

 

On the left we have the video card, two hard drives, one SSD, and the radiator / fans all installed. Very snug, but it all fits. And on the right, the finished product.

 

Cooler Master N200 Specifications:

 

Available Color:
Black
Materials:
Plastic bezel with mesh, steel case body
Dimensions:
202(W) x 378(H) x 445(D) mm (7.95(W) x 14.9(H) x 17.52(D) inch)  (D) inch
Net Weight:
4.3kg / 9.5lb
M/B Type:
Micro-ATX, Mini-iTX
5.25" Drive Bays:
1 (The max. length of 5.25" device is 170mm / 6.7 inch)
3.5" Drive Bays:
3 (one cage that holds 2 at the bottom of the case, one cage mounted below the upper optical drive bay)
2.5" Drive Bays:
4
I/O Panel:
USB 3.0 x 2, Audio In and Out
Expansion Slots:
4
Cooling System:
Front 120mm x 2 (1 included), Rear - 120mm fan (included), Side & Top - 120mm each (not included)
Power Supply:
ATX PS2 (Max. length: 180mm / 7.1 inch)
Maximum Compatibility:
 
CPU Cooler:  without 120mm x 25mm side fan: 160mm / 6.3 inch
CPU Cooler:  with 120mm x 25mm side fan: 140mm / 6.3 inch
Water cooling: 240mm radiator (front), 120mm radiator (front or rear)
GPU: 355mm / 14 inch

 

 

Cooler Master N200 Features:

 

 

Information provided by: Cooler Master

Cooler Master N200 Testing:

Testing involved recording temperatures for the CPU, GPU, and motherboard during idle and load phases. The load was simulated by running Prime95’s small FFTs and 3Dmark Vantage for one hour. The maximum temperatures were recorded using HW Monitor 1.21.0. Please note that each case is tested from its factory setup, including location of fans, unless otherwise noted.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Case:

 

 

 

What this shows is that the radiator in front on the N200 has an advantage under load  by being up front and drawing in ambient air. The smaller case though did not fare as well with the GPU. The N200 has a side vent, but no fan installed and for testing I did not install a fan at first. That GPU was rather toasty. The side fan on the 500R clearly helps the GPU get a fresh supply of cool air. And the warm air coming from the H100 directly into the case doesn't help the GPU on the N200 either. So I installed a Corsair SP120mm side fan and reran the GPU stress test.

 

Better results, but still on the warm side. So a side fan should be on the menu to benefit the cooling of your graphics card. But a smaller case often does not have the airflow that a larger case has, so things tend to run a bit warmer. Newer GPUs tend to run a bit cooler too, so that will also help to keep the temps down.

As for the fan sound, at idle things are nice and quiet. When the fans ramp up under a load, it is not bad at all. Of course, a small case typically has fewer fans, so that keeps the noise down. I have to say the GPU fan made the most noise under load. And when I added the side fan, there was some more fan noise, again when the system was under a load.

Cooler Master N200 Conclusion:

The Cooler Master N200 looks unassuming and innocent - quietly waiting in the shadows. But this little case has some big features. The one that really stands out is the support for a front mounted radiator. This allows the case to retain its small size, but pack a punch in the cooling department. Surprisingly, there is enough space for a full 240mm radiator in a push / pull fan configuration - and this is something that some full size tower cases have a hard time pulling off. For maximum airflow I recommend adding a side fan even if you don't go with a water cooled system. A discrete GPU would benefit from some cool fresh air from a side fan. As SSDs become more popular, case manufacturers are getting creative and making room for them. And with a front USB 3.0 port, plus four SSD mounting locations, this little case can run with larger cases.

Another thing that impressed me was that despite the small size, the PSU cables (which usually get in the way) could be easily tucked away in the pocket below the motherboard tray. This allows for a less cluttered build, especially if your PSU has a lot of extras cables to hide. The PSU filter and the front fascia panel are also easy to remove for quick cleaning. That covers the pros - as for the cons, well, the only thing for me is that I am used to larger cases with more room to work. Of course it is no surprise that in a small case, things are tighter and you may have to plan your build a little more carefully so you don't "build" yourself into a corner.

Pricing is comparable to other cases with similar features and is currently available at Newegg for $49.99. If you are planning on building a system based on an ITX or Mini ATX motherboard, then you won't be disappointed with the N200 - especially if you want to live on the wild side and go with a water cooling system.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: