|CM Storm Scout 2 Gaming PC Case|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cases|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Monday, 01 October 2012|
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Detailed Exterior Features
Looking at the top panel again, this shot of the front shows the controls and connectors up close. The integrated buttons are well marked and are all push-push controls, so they sit flush to the surface at all times. The markings for the front panel connecters are all molded in the fascia, and are a decent balance between being easy to read and being obnoxious. The USB 3.0 jacks are bright blue on the inside, just the way I like 'em, and there are two each of USB 2.0 and 3.0. The audio jacks have slightly clearer markings, which is good, because one 2.5mm stereo jack looks just like every other 2.5mm stereo jack. Shame they can't be color coded with standard colors, like they are on the back of every motherboard. You can see how the design of the sliding access door for the connectors is well integrated, even when it's in the open position. I would tend to leave mine open, so that's important to me.
Here's another view of the new, beefier handle and you can sort of see that the bottom surface is rounded, which makes it that much more comfortable. It's not immediately obvious, just by looking at it that's made from an elastomeric material. Cooler Master did a really good job matching the color and texture of the surrounding hard plastic surfaces. The only real giveaway is the seam at the ends; if it was all plastic, you wouldn't really need that gap there. You can also see the surface quality of the plastic molded parts in this view, as well. The surfaces are smooth, the edges are clean and the color is very consistent. As much as I love aluminum cases, I have to say that Cooler Master is doing a stellar job of designing and manufacturing with plastic and steel here.
This close-up of the external filter that is supplied to keep dirt and dust out of the power supply has a few items of interest in it, as well. Notice how flat the filter frame is, and how it's held that way on all four sides. The inside of your PSU is one place you're not going to be able to clean very effectively, so it's very important to keep the dust out. The other thing to notice is how you can remove and replace the filter from the rear of the chassis with the hand little handle. There are few things that bug me more than having to give a heavy PC case the old heave-ho, in a cramped space that they typically sit in, just to clean a filter. That's why I wish they had turned the pattern 90 degrees for the filter in the middle of the chassis. Near the four corners of the PSU filter frame are the tails of four little rubber bumpers that the PSU sits on, inside the case. There's also a clear view of the feet, with their large rubber surface on the bottoms, and sheet metal screws holding them in place, through the centers.
All the way around to the top of the case are the mounting points for the optional top exhaust fans. The mesh frames has no filter material in it, because you don't want to keep the dust IN the chassis, you want to push it out! Removal of the panel requires access to the inside of the chassis, where at least some of the hooked tabs must be released by hand. For normal air-cooled operation, the 120mm case fans mount below the metal framework and blow air up through the installed panel. For liquid-cooled projects, a lot depends on the dimensions of the radiator and the clearances required inside the chassis vis-a-vis the motherboard. If you just want to use liquid cooling for the video cards, it gets a lot tougher, as the CPU cooler gets in the way, big time. One thing's for certain, if you leave the panel off, there's room for just about anything up top, and it'll look like the DY job that it is. The little oval hole in the back corner lets you route the fan wires however you want, under the metal panel, or over the top.
Nothing worse than having your sick gaming keyboard or your customized mouse "disappear" on you at a LAN party. All CM Storm gaming cases have had the proprietary Storm GuardTM retainer included as a standard feature, since the beginning of the brand rollout. The original Scout had it positioned in one of the seven standard expansion slot locations, which is not an issue for most people, but there are some of us who have a tendency to fill up those slots with functional hardware. Whether it's Tri-SLI, or a souped-up Gaming NIC and a RAID controller and a high-end Sound Card, Parkinson's law dictates that over time, all available expansion slots will be occupied. The Scout 2 positions the Storm GuardTM above the slots in a "blank" area, leaving all seven slots available for use. My only complaint is that it's located some ways away from the motherboard I/O panel, where the devices are likely to be plugged in. That means the cables have to travel down and across the back panel before they can make their way to the desktop. If you have the case placed on top of the desk that's no problem, but if it's on the floor, you may run out of cable.
The optional side panel fans mount on two sets of dimples along the bottom of the pushed-out section of the left-hand panel. The possibilities for designing the airflow pattern inside this case are almost too numerous to count, with eight available fan locations. These two and the bottom fan position are aimed specifically at getting cool air to the graphics card, but the two front-mounted fans can also do a credible job of getting air into this zone, as well. This may be the time to observe that the Scout 2 comes with only one fan included, in the standard rear panel spot, whereas the original Scout had two additional 140mm fans included as standard equipment. Maybe it's cost cutting, but I'm OK with it, as I have very specific ideas about what fans to use, and where they should go. When you look at a case like the CM Storm Sniper with its three 200mm fans, you already have the airflow pretty much determined for you. Obviously that's a cooling solution that works just fine, right out of the box, but sometimes I appreciate the opportunity to design and build it myself. The new Scout 2 offers the opportunity to make the airflow exactly what you want it to be. With a fan controller installed, you would have even more versatility.
I think we've covered the exterior pretty well, let's rip off the side panels and dive right into the guts of the CM Storm Scout 2. Whoa, it's pretty dark in there.....