Cooler Master CSX Stacker 830 Red Flame Edition Review

ccokeman - 2009-02-18 22:12:05 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: March 18, 2009
Price: $599


Buying a case can be a trying experience for some, while others will just slap their components in the most inexpensive case they can find - regardless of looks or functionality. Then there's the other side of the fence that really wants to have something more along the lines of good looking and functional. This category can go from the best stock looking and functional case, all the way up to a custom painted, custom built PC that costs somewhere along the lines of your left leg and right arm for a system - even though you could build it thousands less. It just does not sit right with me, but some folks have more money than sense. There is another alternative - you can customize your PC case and come up with a wonderful, well executed theme and paint job. Or, you could look into the offerings that Cooler Master's CSX division. Cooler Master and Smooth Creations have teamed up to provide custom painted cases for those one-off buildups. Each series is a limited run, so why not put your top of the line components in a top of the line case - one that instantly delivers on that "WOW!" factor?

The Cooler Master CSX Stacker 830 Red Flame Edition case is custom painted and built upon the Cooler Master Stacker 830 chassis. The case is truly custom painted - it takes over 12 hours just to do the airbrushing work alone. The finish is reminiscent of a fine custom painted car, with the clear coating and fine polish work. Let's take a look and see just how beautiful this case is, and how it performs in comparison to some of the other cases in its class.












Closer Look:

The CSX Red Flame Edition chassis comes shipped in black box with the Cooler Master logo, and - CSX underneath just to let you know that this case is a little something special. The little sticker on the top of the case lets you know just what resides in the package. The side panels mirror the look of the front and rear, offering the CSX and Cooler Master logos. Black boxes usually contain nice surprises, so let's see if that holds true.



Opening the box shows just how well the chassis is protected from the rigors of shipping, with foam blocks holding the chassis tightly in place. The chassis is wrapped in plastic, as well as a cloth bag under that, providing yet another level of protection. Included in the box is a Cooler Master CSX designed shirt - just so you can show your colors. Inside the shirt is the certificate of authenticity; this verifies that your chassis is indeed part of a limited run.




The cloth enclosure surrounding the Stacker Red Flame Edition is a little special in its own right - not only is it for protection. You can use it to cover the case at the end of that all night frag fest, so that little paws don't play havoc with the artwork. Instead of just a silk screened logo on the front of the cover, CSX has embroidered its logo on the cloth, for that extra touch.



Let's take a look and see what this piece of artwork really looks like.


Closer Look:

The first thing that stands out on this case are the beautiful graphics, that really have to be seen in person to get a grip on just how nice they really are. Pictures alone do not do it justice; the paintwork is smooth and flawless on top of the Cooler Master chassis. The artwork does not just cover one side and the front, but the theme wraps around the whole case - including the top sides and front. The front side shows the flaming skull the case is named for, along with the CSX logo and unit number - 56 - of this case in the series of 400. The rear is much like that of the stock RC 830 chassis. A single 120mm fan and the power supply are the only means for exhausting air out of the chassis.



















The left hand side of the chassis features an acrylic window that allows a view into the Red Flame Edition. Behind the acrylic window is the fan panel that is used to ventilate the RC 830 Stacker chassis. This panel kind of takes away some of the custom look to the case, but is part of the package nonetheless. The right hand side features the majority of the artwork, with several grinning skulls, one looking at the other. The artwork wraps around the lower chassis extension to complete the look. If you look closely, you can see the artwork runs right up under the acrylic side panel to the edge of the opening.



The flame work runs up over the top of the chassis including, the fan vent in the top center of the case. The paint work is not choppy here as you would expect. The bottom of the chassis is as Cooler Master intended, with no artwork here to speak of. The wheels included with the accessories bolt on towards the front and rear of the rubber feet. It is vented to allow airflow either in or out, and seems to be an area that a radiator for a water cooling system could be located.



The top front of the Red Flame Edition has not one, but two, I/O panels. There is one on the front panel and one on the top; each includes additional functionality and USB ports. The top panel has the power switch, reset switch, power LED and two USB 2.0 ports. The front, on the other hand, has two USB 2.0 ports, the microphone, headset and IEEE 1394 FireWire port. Plenty of connections are available out front, but they might just get in the way though if you open the door frequently.



The rear of the chassis has a few items of note that require discussion. The side panels are not held in by screws like many conventional cases, but are held on by latches that lock into position, holding the side panel in place. You can see that the top of the chassis vents not only to the top vent hole, but out the back of the case. This is for two reasons, as an intake if the power supply is mounted to pull in cool air, or as a means of getting rid of hot air out the top via a series of fans. The motherboard tray is held in place with a series of latches that lock and slide to secure the removable motherboard tray. The panels slide back about 1 to 1.25 inches before they can be pulled off and set to the side.




The front door swings open, and can be converted to swing either left or right depending on which direction you want the door to open. The method of conversion revolves around moving the door pins from one side of the chassis to the other with the already available mounts.



Last, but not least, on the outside are the drive bay covers. These snap into place and are held in by the small aluminum side doors that fold across them. There are small filters attached to the rear of the covers to help alleviate any dust problems - or at least keep the majority of dust of your chassis.



We have seen what the outside of this gem looks, so like let's see if the innards can compare - although I think that is a battle already lost!





Closer Look:

When you pull the side panel off, the first thing you see is the fan panel located over the motherboard area. The motherboard tray conveniently pulls straight out the back of the chassis. The drive rails are only partially tool less on this chassis, and take up the top six drive bays. The bottom three bays are used for the removable hard drive cage, giving you a total of nine possible drive bays. The fan panel rotates on two pivots and locks into place via two plastic clips molded into the panel. You open the fan panel by depressing the locking clips and the door slides open. This panel is removable by releasing the locking pins on the left side of the door; this is done by rotating the lever and pushing it downward to release the tension on the locating pin, then the pin slides out. Panel removal complete!




















The fan panel will hold four 120mm fans, and has provisions to be able to handle a rotary style fan assembly that may available from Cooler Master. If this option is available, it does say not to use it in a case with video cards 12 inches in length. When installed, the fan panel is definitely not designed for those of us who use tower style coolers for cooling our CPUs. Once my motherboard was installed, I ran into clearance issues with the Noctua heatsink that was used on this build. The panel would not close, so it was removed altogether.



Once inside the chassis, there is a box that holds one part of the accessories while the other is held in the HDD drive carriage. The motherboard tray includes a single 120mm fan configured to pull air out of the chassis. Along the top of the chassis there are plenty of ventilation holes to allow heat to rise and escape, or allow cold air intake if you mount the PSU so that it pulls outside air into the chassis to cool it off. There is a single fan holder attached at the top right under the main vent hole in the outer casing. The front panel wiring comes directly out of the shared I/O front panels. All of the connectivity comes from a single assembly.




The front panel connections include four USB 2.0, one IEEE1394 FireWire, The sound and microphone headers can be configured for both analog and HD configurations. Also included are the normal assortment that includes the Power and Reset switches and Power LED. The leads were long enough to reach all but the onboard sound connection without going over the motherboard. With an aftermarket sound card this would not be an issue. The tool less mounting system for the 5.25" bays was very simple to operate - just slide the drive into place and push the mechanism forward to lock the drive into place.



The hard drive cage is secured in the bottom three bays of the Stacker 830 by screws, instead of employing any tool less methods. The sides screw to the drive rails which in turn connect via studs to the main cage assembly. These studs are inserted into silicone grommets to dampen vibration and reduce noise from the hard drives. Cooling of the hard drives, as well as driving cool air into the Stacker 830, is a single fan attached to the drive cage. The fan is held in place with a tool less mounting method that employs a push pin to lock the fan on to the drive cage. The airflow through the cage is highly restrictive, but the area can be opened up substantially by removing the slats for a straight shot through the bay assembly.




The fan used in the front and rear are low noise/CFM fans meant to move air and not create any noise. The part number on the rear of the LED front fan A12025-12CB-5BN-L1 shows this fan to be rated at 1200 RPM, and pushing roughly 43CFM at 22db-a. The only real drawback to this fan is that it looks so out of place on the bright red chassis.



The removable motherboard tray is a big plus on this chassis. When pulling it, out I noticed the rails were not just stamped aluminum, but were covered with an additional plastic rail to help get rid of the "beer can" sound so familiar with aluminum chassis. The tray has an insert so you know where to mount your motherboard standoffs if you need help with this. The rear of the tray uses a 120mm fan to exhaust air out the rear of the chassis. There are seven expansion slots, each with a thumb screw for easy installation. The tray locks into place with two clips and a latch. The rear has two insulating strips to again reduce vibration.




Another feature of this chassis is the door swing, which can be easily modified just by swapping the door pins from one side of the door to the other. The top pin is spring loaded to keep the door pins in their sockets. Just slide the pins out by releasing the catch, swap, and you are done. Both sides have magnets installed to keep the door closed - so no extra work or tools are needed to do this.



For accessories, Cooler Master includes pretty much all the things you will need to accommodate your build. The two accessory boxes contain an air duct, additional fan holder, brackets, screw kit, LEDs, floppy drive or flash card drive bay inserts, wheels and more.





With all the parts broken down, installing the hardware into the Cooler Master CSX Red Flame Edition RC 830 chassis was a breeze. Mounting the motherboard to the tray was done with some worry, because of the many stories you hear about tall heatsinks not being able to squeeze through the rear opening. Fully loaded, the MSI X58 Platinum and Noctua NH-U12P SE 1366 slid right in with room to spare. Strap in the rest of the goodies and you are ready to show off this work of art.



What else could you say about a last look all built up but to show the money shot!




Available Colors

 9.84in (W) x 21.10in (H) x 25.11in (D)

M/B Type
3.5" Drive Bay
4 (Hidden) from 1 x 4-in-3 Device Module included; 1 x 3.5
5.25" Drive Bay
9 (Exposed)
Cooling System

Up to 9 x 120mm fans (optional) ; Front x 3,Top x 1, Rear x 1, Side x 4 (side fan bracket is also for 140mm x 4 or 120mm x 4 or 92mm x 4 or 80mm x 4 or 60mm x 4, or 300mm Cross Flow Fan x1 or MIX)

Expansion Slots
I/O Panel

Dual I/O Panel in the front and top USB 2.0 x 4, IEEE 1394 x 1, MIC x 1, SPK x 1

Power Supply
Standard ATX PS2 / EPS 12V (optional)

**Cross Flow Fan will NOT work with the Nvidia 8800 Series or the ATI R600 Cards**
**Cross Flow Fan will NOT work with any video Cards longer than 12

Front Ports
USB, Audio, IEEE 1394
29 lbs.

1 x 120mm front fan
1 x 120mm rear fan

BTX Air duct




All information courtesy of Cooler Master and CSX @


In order to figure out just where the Cooler Master CSX Stacker 830 stacks up in cooling efficiency, we must test it in "as delivered" condition. To do this, I will run a series of programs to stress test the components installed in the chassis while using temperature monitoring programs to measure the maximum temperatures reached by each component. To load the CPU and memory controller, I will use Prime 95 25.8 with a run time of 1 hour, and will average the highest temperatures recorded in Real Temp version 3.0. To stress test the video card, I will loop 3dMark06 and use Riva Tuner 2.24 as my tool to monitor the temperatures delivered. For the board components, I will use the utility supplied with the board - MSI's Overclocking utility - to measure the system and IOH temperatures, taking the highest values for each. To load the hard drive, I will run a disk defrag and monitor the temperatures with HD Tune.



Testing Setup:


Comparison Cases:









The configuration of the RC 830 chassis with only two 120mm, 43 CFM fans, shows what the lack of massive airflow brings to the temperature equation when the other cases are gifted with large fans. The Stacker case offers airflow potential, but does not deliver as expected. Temperatures are close across the board with the exception of the chipset temperatures. In this configuration, though, the Cooler Master CSX Red Flame Edition RC 830 chassis is dead silent - a big plus when I am done with the hardcore noise makers in my test area.



Cooler Master and Smooth Creations have produced a masterpiece - this is one of the cases I have drooled over for the past year and a half, ever since I saw one similar to it at the AMD Spider Platform launch in November of 2007. The chassis used on this case is the venerable Cooler Master Stacker 830. Cooler Master and Smooth Creations have created a limited amount of these cases based on the Stacker 830 Evolution series case. Being a Limited Edition piece of artwork means that the $200 initial price of the vanilla Stacker 830 Evolution case is lifted to the $600 range for this particular case - but you get what you pay for. The artwork on each of these cases is done by hand, so while you may have a 1 in 400 Limited Edition piece, each one will be slightly different due to the hand painted variances. This means in all reality that no one else will have one just like yours. That alone is worth the price of admission into the club of CSX ownership, complete with a certificate of authenticity to boot. If you are building that special rig why house it in a case that is not indicative of the quality of the rest of your components? Once you get past the artwork, you are left with the chassis itself. The Cooler Master Stacker 830 Evolution series are tried and true performers. The chassis is a combination of aluminum and plastic. With the stock configuration, it was dead silent and offered plenty of fan options to increase airflow. From the fan panel that will house four 120 mm fans to the roof top that can handle a couple more, plus the addition of additional HDD cages for another fan up front, you can get the chassis to flow pretty darn well. You would think all of these options would be covered at some point on a case of this stature, but they sadly were not. Only two fans came with this beautiful case from Cooler Master and CSX, and one was blue - a total faux pas if you ask me. The chassis uses several means to keep from having the beer can rattles you get from some cases that will go unnamed at this point. The removable motherboard tray has plastic rails that keep noise to minimum as well as insulating foam strips and locking connectors on the back side of the tray where it contacts the chassis, again reducing noise and vibration. The nice thing here about the removable motherboard tray is that you can install your large heatsink on the motherboard and have it slide in just as it was meant to - sweet! The Stacker 830 only has tool less functionality on the 5.25" bay devices. Not that it is a deal breaker, because most - if not all - of the tool less expansion slot brackets fail to work with dual slot video cards. On the flip side, the fan panel that mounts on the side of the chassis does not fit with tall tower type heatsinks, and the optional blower fan will not work with video cards longer than 12".

The temperatures delivered by the chassis in stock condition were not stellar, but were far from being what I would consider dangerous. For those running a stock system, this really presents no challenges to you. But, if you work on the jagged edge of the fence, the airflow will need some improvement via the addition of more fans or a water cooling setup - something the chassis will accept without too much work, and can be customized to suit your ultimate needs. Awesome artwork and an excellent chassis make this case a high-end purchase, but well worth it for those of us that like something a bit unique! Cooler Master and CSX offer up additional designs so this is not just a one trick pony, so choose the one you like and make a one-off piece for yourself.