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Written by Olin Coles   
Wednesday, 06 January 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
Cooler Master CM690-II Advanced RC-692-KKN2
Closer Look: CM690-II Exterior
Detailed Exterior Features
Closer Look: CM690-II Interior
Detailed Interior Features
Computer Chassis Final Thoughts
CM690-II Advanced Conclusion

Computer Chassis Final Thoughts

Initially I had no plan of creating a stand-alone page for my final thoughts, but then I began to dwell on a few trends that seem to be circling the computer chassis industry without relent. For each and every year that I have been professionally involved with computers (which officially began for me around 1998), the same collective trends have repeated themselves over and over. Originally, beige computer cases were the de facto standard for enthusiasts wanting to construct their own IBM clone personal computer. The focus seemingly revolved around strength and capacity (usually for fans) while fashion and creature comforts were often neglected. CM690-II-Advanced_Logo_BmR.jpg

I thought this trend was going to phase itself out around the turn of the century, but there was still a dominant demand for large full-tower cases. Beige was still the only color you'd expect and nearly everything was built of steel. The most you could really expect out of higher-end computer cases around the Y2K era was a vast collection of colorful (usually purple) cages for smaller 60mm cooling fans (92mm in rare occasions). Case strength was still a marketing buzz word used in ads to show how much lumpy geek-weight could be supported by their case. Even though most of these products were anchored down to the floor due to their excessive weight, the marketing hype seemed to hypnotize the masses. This is all slowly bringing me to my point: which is that the more things change the more they seem to remain the same.

Personal Computers evolved out of the beige-syndrome condition sometime around 2002, when aftermarket chassis manufacturers began selling aluminum versions of their cases and tier-one OEM's began shipping systems with a black contoured plastic shell. It would take a little while to catch on, but not much later we began to see colored plastic bezels and see-through side-panel windows available on just about everything that could hold a motherboard. With the exception of a few minor tweaks here and there, computer cases remained the same at their core.

By this point (early 2010), the computer industry has changed so much that the landscape could look entirely different from when I began breathing bytes over a decade ago. But something tells me that with all the change, we'll inadvertently keep a few things the same out of habit. One of which, the one trend I've been harping on most about, is the rugged durability of computer cases that seem to have evolved above and beyond what any normal consumer would actually require.

Since Benchmark Reviews first launched back in March of 2007, I have personally reviewed many dozens of computer cases. I sometimes think that I've seen it all, but then I browse the a company website to discover a computer case shaped like a snail shell. It's a bizarre world for sure, but what can we leave behind as we evolve away from our ancient computing roots? Not all that long ago everyone seemed to want a full-tower computer with ten drive bays, and just a few years later they reduced their demands to almost half that amount. Begining a new calendar decade, I have to wonder what it is we'll really need from our computer cases into the future.

The future of computer cases

Back in the day, having two (or more) optical drives was almost a requirement for anyone who wanted to work with optical CD- and DVD-ROM formats. Now you can have one drive that reads and writes to CD, DVD, and Blu-ray Disc (or HD-DVD is you're a sore loser). This makes anything more than two 5.25" external drive bays unnecessary, three if you add-in an aftermarket fan-controller. Next is the 2.5" external drive bay, which was used exclusively for floppy disk drives (once upon a time in the Ronald Regan era). Since your average CD/DVD or USB flash drive has replaced removable magnetic media for pennies on the dollar, I don't expect the 2.5" drive bay to get much attention anymore. Although a few people might still be using multimedia expansion bays (outfitted for a 5.25" expansion bay), I think that manufacturers have done an excellent job making I/O ports readily available on the front, top, and side of most cases we see produced. So far, there hasn't been real reason to have more than two or three external drive bays total, so there's obviously some fat to be trimmed from modern designs.

The last hold-out is the hard drive cage, which has historically (if not traditionally) held between four and six hard disk drives. This made sense back around the turn of the century, when capacities were on the level of 8 GB, but we live in a world of affordable multi-Terabyte sized hard drives. So do we need all of these drive bays? I don't think so, and it would be nice if more manufacturers updated their drive cage to include 2.5" bays for Solid State Drive storage devices.

It seems that enthusiasts are also making a slow shift towards compact computing. Small Form Factor (SFF) cases have been getting more and more popular over the past few years, and now they make up a noticeable segment of the consumer after-market. Let's recount our basic needs: two external 5.25 drive bays and possibly two more internal 5.25" drive bays. With an open mind, you could even begin to see how a MicroATX motherboard might also make good sense for most of us since PCI slots are really a necessity of the past (for modems, sound cards, and network interface cards); devices that all come integrated and packaged as on-board hardware.

Which brings me into my final thoughts: are we really clinging to the past when we accept a new design? I don't know what each of you need out of a computer case, but I can begin to imagine that none of you will be using your PC chassis to support your body weight while you change a light bulb. Full tower cases, while still in demand for a tiny slice of enthusiasts, are about as necessary for home users as Cadillac Escalades are for grocery-getters. Mid-tower computer cases are a different story, and without some major change to power supply unit dimensions in a future ATX standard we will be seeing them for a long time to come. I think it's great that we can have all of this extra space, but personally I think we need manufacturers to begin to think outside the box and come up with product designs more in-line with our evolved hardware needs.



 

Comments 

 
# RE: Cooler Master CM690-II Advanced RC-692-KKN2Reader 2010-02-18 17:10
You sold me. Time to downsize my '01 Chieftec Full size tower in favor of this 'lil beauty. Cheers.
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# RE: Cooler Master CM690-II Advanced RC-692-KKN2raysheri 2010-06-07 12:23
i bought this case and was disappointed with the wc options. you cannot use a 240 rad top or bottom at all. there just is not enough room. the 80mm side fan behind the cpu socket requires a 15mm depth - good luck finding one. the paint job is weak and comes off with the smallest scratch. The included fans are junk and don't push any air at all. quite a cheap feel to the whole case. Nevertheless, good features for the rest but it's just not tall or long enough. I'm a coolermaster fan and love my haf 932 and will definitely look at new Hafx as well
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# Coolermaster CM690-II AdvancedDavid 2010-07-13 05:27
Raysheri, I can only assume you are a troll. It is clearly stated that this case will take a 220 radiator not a 240. If you were buying a case with the intention of fitting a 240 radiator you would check the specs before purchase if you knew anything about building a PC. The paint job is excellent. The fans do the job required of them but there are lots of spaces for more fans if you need them. Finally, the case does not have a cheap feel to it. You have obviously not bought this case, in fact from your comment I can only assume you have never even seen this case in the flesh. Just another pointless troll out to cause people problems in their case choice. Very immature. Now go away.
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# RE: Coolermaster CM690-II AdvancedOlin Coles 2010-08-26 18:38
According to raysheri: "you can't install fans above the chassis as the top will then not fit on, and if you have them pushing through a top mounted rad, the fans would almost be above the cpu and you'd have to remove them and the rad to swap out a processor."

Your remark presumes that a fan cannot be separated from the radiator, and have one part on top and the other below. It also presume that every motherboard positions the CPU in the same location, which they don't. The next time you insult someone, do your homework so you don't end up looking the fool in a public forum.
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# Excellent caseAlan 2011-04-26 08:22
I have to support the other guys here. The case is excellent. Setting up my SandyBridge computer inside this was a breeze. Very convenient portals to hide away those messy cables that origin from everywhere. The fans do their job properly, and I have added just one (in the bottom) apart from those initially mounted. I have mounted the PSU upside down so it draws air from the bottom and pushes it out at the back. The fans are not noisy either. I got plenty of room to fit my 570 GTX videocard. The top mounted area with different connections is just superior, wish everybody could design their cases like that. But who wants an other case than this? - not me!
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# VERY nice caseDale 2011-06-02 10:45
I had a 4 yr old Thermaltake case that I thought was the cat's meow, but having just received and built with this case, I can see that things have really changed. Wow,quality and features throughout. I must say I am impressed. My very first Coolermaster case, but it definitely won't be my last.....trying to convince a friend to let me build him a system just so I can order another one! This case will not disappoint you....and great value.
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# Sir.defyreality 2011-12-23 16:59
i've had one of these for almost 2 years and i love it. my initial build in it was fast and simple. all cables well hidden and tied up. everything neat and tidy with lots of space. then i dropped a h50 cooler on my cpu. rad and fan all in the case off the back 120mm port. still no problems.
some time this week i will be slapping a pair of bfg 8800gtx with dual top/bottom 240mm rads bay res, big bad d5 pump and all that hose to cool these monsters. i've seen the dual rads done with not much effort, and zero case modding. best case i've ever owned. i'll be getting a second one when i finally upgrade to the new sandy bridge's.
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# Great review.Imprezzakc 2012-06-07 16:49
Thank you for the excellent review and inspiring Final Thoughts. I have my current build in an Antec 1200 and am considering a new case to accommodate my change over to water cooling. After reading your conclusion I have decided a Cooler Master HAF 912 mid tower would fit the bill. Thanks for helping save some money space.
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