Date: March 17th, 2010
Article by: Joe Anderson (Hardware Reviewer)
Edited By: Nathan Glentworth (Owner / Head Editor)
Product was submitted by: Cooler Master
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PRODUCT PICTORIAL AND WALKTHROUGH
Around back, what at first glance seems to be a rather conventional layout holds a few surprises. First of all there are two grommetted tubing holes, just above the 120mm exhaust fan. This is just the first of several features that liquid cooling enthusiasts will find handy. Just to the right of the seven expansion bays is another slot for an expansion bay device that doesn't require a direct connection to a motherboard expansion slot, like a fan speed controller or USB/FireWire adapter. The PSU mounts at the bottom of the chassis, the side panels are secured with thumbscrews and the rear panel has the same black finish as the rest of the case.
Inside, the CM 690 II Advanced has some very nice features. First of all, the interior is painted black to match the rest of the chassis, an unusual but very welcome extra considering there is no side panel window. Notice the cutouts and loops surrounding the motherboard area? These will make cable management much easier, allowing the user to have a clean build with minimal bother. The large cutout in the tray will make CPU cooler changes much easier as well, and the tool-free features of the 3.5- and 5.25-inch bays in the front of the chassis should make drive installs/swaps a breeze. A blue LED intake fan will keep the hard drives cool, but will likely impede airflow to the graphics cards. Fortunately, there are fan placements in the side panel to allow the user to mitigate this potential pitfall.
The bottom four HDD bays are in a removable cage that, when out of the case, leaves room for a dual 120mm watercooling radiator and fans on the floor of the case. There is also a place engineered on the top of the chassis for an identical setup, allowing liquid cooling enthusiasts to install a very capable system into the chassis without any modification to the chassis. Longer power supplies may interfere with the radiator here, but Cooler Master provides guidelines in the manual (available for download on their website) to keep the user out of trouble.
Cooler Master designers eschew any fancy tool-free features and use thumbscrews to secure the graphics and other expansion cards. They also include a metal retention bracket, supporting triple card graphics, to further secure the graphics cards. The 690 II is very roomy in this area and will support most modern cards not exceeding 12 inches in length. While something like the ATI HD 5970 may not fit with all the internal bits installed, virtually all other cards will easily go into the case.