- Category: PC Cases
- Published: Friday, 15 April 2011 05:10
- Written by garfi3ld
One of the cases that Cooler Master showed off this year at CES was its upcoming Storm Enforcer Mid-Tower case. A while back we received a sample and today we finally are posting our experience with their newest addition to the Storm gaming lineup (a few days late). With a tank like appearance it’s easy to figure out where they came up with the name, but will it have what it takes to stand up against todays cases? Let’s find out.
Product Name: Cooler Master Storm Enforcer
Review Sample Provided by: Cooler Master
Pictures by: Wes
(W) 229 x (H) 484.5 x (D) 523.5 mm
(W) 9.0” x (H) 18.0” x (D) 20.6”
8.9 kg / 19.5 lb
Steel body, ABS plastic, Mesh bezel
5.25” Drive Bay
4 Exposed (one could be converted to 3.5” bay)
3.5” Drive Bay
1 Exposed (converted from 5.25” bay) / 6 Hidden
2.5” Drive Bay
4 Hidden (two converted from 3.5”bay)
USB3.0 x 2 (internal), USB2.0 x 2, Mic x 1, Audio x1
Front: 200mm Red LED fan x1, 1000 RPM, 19 dBA
Rear: 120mm black fan x 1, 1200 RPM, 17 dBA
Top: 200mm black fan x 1 (optional)
Side: 120mm fan x 1 (optional) for SGC-1000-KKN1
CPU cooler height: 175mm
VGA card length: 270mm (with HDD cage)
390mm (without HDD cage)
Standard ATX PS2/EPS 12V(optional)
With a black exterior with red and white trim the case screams Cooler Master Storm. The storm line’s packaging is a far cry from white and purple that we see on most Cooler Master Products. Along with a photo of the case itself they have a drawing of their idea of the “Enforcer”, something like Cyclops meets Crysis. Around back I love how they have pictures of the inside, front and back of the case with each of the Enforcers features highlighted with a line and a description. Along the bottom on the back they have four more pictures of features they couldn’t see it the other photos. Around to the side they even have a full specification listing, giving you the exact case dimensions and even VGA clearance. Perfect to help you decide if the Enforcer is going to fit your needs before taking it home.
Cooler Master Faithful’s may be quick to realize that the Enforcer's chassis is very, very similar to the recently released HAF 912. The top features a concave tray that's comes in handy for a number of uses, especially USB devices that connect to the neighboring I/O panel. The remaining ceiling of the case is a fan grill identical to that of the 912, with the capacity for a 200mm fan or two 120mm fans. Should you decide to water cool your system, this is also were you'll be mounting the radiator on the outside of the case.
The front of the case is topped with the previously mentioned I/O, which features four USB ports, audio/mic line in, and power/reset buttons. The first and last USB ports are 3.0, which connect to an actual motherboard header; much friendlier than running a cable from the inside out as we've seen before.
The facade of the Enforcer looks like Michael Keaton's Batmobile Cocoon, protecting the four external 5.25" expansion bays. Plastic bars line the front mesh bezel that houses an included 200mm red LED to help cool the internal drive bays.
The rear of the case features a 120mm exhaust fan, lined with three grommet holes for the water tubes running to the radiator. Below the motherboard I/O cutout, seven PCI slots are occupied with steel placeholders. Cooler Master has also included a slot for Storm Guard, which uses a unique slot cover to bind USB peripherals, securing them internally. This is a nice option for those who travel to LANs with expensive equipment, but Cooler Master didn't include the actual 'Storm Guard' piece. The PSU cutout finishes out the rear.
Looking at the case from the side, it's easy to see where the steel ends and the plastic begins. Plastic isn't always a bad thing; after all, it's light and affordable. However, in this case, the material feels a bit cheap, especially on the front door that covers that expansion bays. It does match the rest of the case well, and allows for the crafting of a unique design that doesn't add a weight toll.
Inside, the Enforcer again resembles the 912, but we noticed a huge difference right away: no dull, factory gray walls. Cooler Master corrected one of our complaints about the HAF and finished the entire interior in black. Also upgraded are the external expansion bay mounts, which now all feature a tool-less installation. These switches bow out a bit to pull back the rods that secure into the mounting holes on the drive when switched back to the right.
Cooler Master has aimed to make the interior of the Enforcer modular, with a hard drive cage that is not only rotatable up to 90 degrees, but also removable. This allows you to reposition the smaller 2.5" bay (handy for SSD's) to the top of the 3.5" cage that is fixed to the bottom of the chassis. Doing so not only gives you more breathing room for the PSU and cable management, but also leaves room for longer video cards. With all cages equipped, that Enforcer can house six internal 3.5" drives and two 2.5" drives.
The power supply area features four raised notches in which the unit rests, and a mesh grill underneath, allowing for the PSU to be mounted fan-down to exhaust its heat through the bottom of the chassis. Above the power supply we were disappointed to see an absence of tool-less PCI slots, though Cooler Master opted to include a single thumb screw for the Storm Guard slot.
They included an extra large access panel for easy heatsink installation. This thing is literally the size of a Mini ITX board!
Cooler Master has put in the effort to help make you're installation go smooth, especially in the area of cable management. The motherboard tray features routing holes outside the expansion bays for cords to be directed behind the tray and out of sight, as well as a top cutout and a smaller rectangle in the upper left-hand corner perfect for 8-pin CPU power. The CPU cut out is larger than your typical tray, allowing plenty of room to work and ensuring maximum compatibility with coolers.
The side panel and top, however, may create some restrictions. Larger heatsinks are not going to leave much clearance between it and the top fan, especially if a bulkier 200mm fan is used. In our set-up, the CoGage True Spirit's heat pipes come dangerously close to the rim of the chassis. Cooler Master did plan ahead and protrude the windowed portion of the side panel, allowing the cooler more than enough room to clear.
Mounting the motherboard isn't much of a chore, but sometimes the threading of the risers can fight you. The small nature of the hexagonal mounts are a pain to try to tighten or loosen by hand, and so Cooler Master has included a socket to fit over the riser that creates a Phillips head, allowing you to take a screwdriver to the battle. In our case, however, the screw threading’s were of high enough quality that tightening by hand is no issue.
The Enforcer has a unique look, inspired by that of a futuristic solider. The front of the chassis definitely reminds me of a Spartan helmet, and it took a few Google searches and Wes' extensive Star Wars knowledge to prove to me it wasn't a reminiscent of a Trooper. Especially with the red LED, CM has achieved their vision.
The smallest fan incorporated with the cooling system is 120mm, combined with two 200mm fans, you get great airflow at a low noise cost. The LED gives it a great appearance the compliments the structure of the case, and with a windowed-panel, you have a lot of potential to get the Enforcer that enthusiast look.
Crafting with plastic isn't anything new for Cooler Master, and in the past they have incorporated it well, such as in the Storm Scout. The ABS plastic molding on the front of the chassis, including to door, just seems a little too light and flimsy for my comfort level.
Though I'm not a wild fan of a bit of the exterior material of the Storm Enforcer, inside the mid-tower is rich with quality. Including native USB 3.0 headers is a great feature of this case, showing support for the recently launched P67 and H67 Sandy Bridge motherboards. The MSRP of the Enforcer does seem to over shoot much of its competition, save the Antec Nine Hundred Two V3 that breaks the hundred dollar mark. You would expect to pay a little more than the excellent value of the HAF 912, but at $89.99, I would've like to see the top 200mm fan included, or at least the actual Storm Guard bracket. However, if you can find the Enforcer in the seventy dollar range, it would score a little higher for this reviewer.