|CM Storm Scout 2 Gaming PC Case|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cases|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Monday, 01 October 2012|
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Closer Look: Exterior
If someone shows me a new PC case, the first thing I look at is the front panel. Depending on how it's sitting in your room, it may be the only thing you see on a regular basis. The Scout 2 presents a fairly monolithic face to the world, mostly steel mesh and a black plastic frame around the perimeter. The CM Storm logo is fairly discrete, being decked out in just silver and black. There is a clear plastic lens, inset at the top that channels light from an internal Red LED to indicate power-on. Red is the color of the day, as the rear fan is also illuminated in Red. The fan LEDs are controlled by a switch on the top panel, and one additional connector is controlled by the switch, so you can control any two fans of your choosing from the switch. Two 120mm fans can be installed behind the front panel, below the 5.25" drive bay area, and there is a very thin layer of reticulated foam behind the steel mesh to trap dust before it enters the chassis. It's not removable, as far as I can see, so vacuuming from the outside is the easy way to keep things clean.
The left hand side panel is where the interesting parts are. The original Scout had two fan mounting locations arrayed vertically, and molded right into the smoked plastic window. The Scout 2 has a smaller window, and the two 120mm fan locations are formed into the steel portion of the panel. They are both located towards the bottom of the panel, which allows more cool air to be directed at the video card cooling solution and lessens the likelihood that one of the side fans will interfere with the CPU cooler. In today's gaming PC, there is a lot more heat being generated by the Graphics card than the CPU. The panel is stiff enough to prevent an oilcan resonance being excited by the case fan, which was a potential issue with the original design. The side panels are both held in place with thumbscrew on the rear panel, all dressed up in basic black. The plastic window is lightly tinted, with a smoke color that doesn't prevent you from seeing clearly inside. Both inner and outer surfaces of the plastic were protected with transparent film, as shipped from the factory.
Around on the right hand side of the case there are no cooling vents, or windows, but the basic raised pattern is still present in the steel surface. While you can pass this off as a mere styling exercise, don't forget that the normal cable routing path behind the motherboard is right in this area, and that thick ATX power supply cable bundle has to go somewhere. This is a good opportunity to look at the finish quality of the metal parts, as a panel like this leaves no place to hide, if the powder coating process is a little gooey that day. Cooler Master has no reason to hide anything, based on the quality of this finish, it's essentially perfect. You also get a chance to look at the visual matchup between the metal panels and the various plastic components. With all the faceted surfaces in the design, there are lots of different lighting and shading patterns visible, and it's hard to pin down exactly what shade of grey/black things are. That's just a bonus of the angular design theme, and it helps prevent the kind of visual mismatches you tend to see on cases with more classic, austere design themes.
The rear view of the case has several things of interest that pop right out. First is the support for liquid cooling plumbing along the top edge. The two 120mm fan locations on the top panel can alternately serve as a radiator mounting location, and the in/out hoses can be routed out the rear to an external pump and/or reservoir. I'm hardly an expert on liquid cooling installations, so I'm not going to offer any opinions on what radiators will or won't fit in the space supplied. The rear fan mounts on embossed pads and the ventilation area is pressed out the other direction, providing a good amount of clearance between the fan blades and the mesh pattern. It's a subtle noise reduction technique that doesn't get a lot of marketing fanfare, but it's there for you, anyway. The Storm GuardTM peripheral retention (anti-theft) device is there again, but this time it's mounted off to the side, so it doesn't take up one of the seven expansion slots. That's a feature the CM Storm Sniper had, from the first go-around. The mounting holes for the bottom-mounted PSU allow the power supply to be flipped 180 degrees, depending on where you want the PSU intake fan to end up. Most people will take advantage of the filtered air inlet on the bottom panel, but you never know...
The bottom of the CM Storm Scout 2 is a very functional place. Towards the rear is an air inlet for the PSU, complete with a removable filter assembly on the exterior. Just forward of that is another mounting site that accepts standard 120mm case fans. This spot work very well for providing cool air to medium-sized graphics cards with squirrel cage blower wheels. It's also outfitted with mounting tabs for an external filter, but it's not supplied as a standard component. One minor complaint from me is the fact that the center filter requires you to tip over the case to get it in or out. All they had to do was turn the mounting tabs 90 degrees and you could have had access from the side, similar to how the filter frame in the rear is arranged. Somewhere a designer is hoping he gets to do a Scout 3... Larger power supplies will impinge on this area, so almost everyone with a kW PSU won't be able to use this option. At the very front of the case is the back-up air vent for the front, just in case the filters in the front panel get completely clogged. The feet are sturdy enough, with a hard rubber compound on the bottom, and are screwed into place - nothing to worry about there.
The top of the CM Storm Scout 2 is a work of art. As groundbreaking as the original Scout was, the Scout 2 really improves on the design, I think. I'm a big fan of the larger, rubber-covered handle in the center. The steel support structure that's embedded inside is very stout, like the original; there was little or no flex at all when moving the chassis around. The removable panel over the fan exhausts is much easier to manage than before. The control panel is much more modern, with integrated buttons for Power, Reset, and Lighting. I also like the sliding access door for the front panel jacks; it looks good whether it's open or closed. Like the folks who designed the New Beetle, Cooler master had a scary job, updating a classic like the CM Storm Scout, but I think they pulled it off.
We've seen all the major design features, now let's focus in on a few of the exterior details in the next section.