If you're the sort of chap who likes to pack up his pots and pans and head on over to a nice quiet LAN party for a long weekends peace and relaxation, then you'll be familiar with the hideous chore of lugging your beloved PC from the car to the venue. Too big to tuck under an arm, too heavy to carry in front of you, and like a slippery polished cube just waiting for a moments inattention before it propels itself from your grip like a bar of wet itinerant soap. It was a fair few years ago now that Cooler Master, with it's ear to the LAN party car park took heed and released a case with a handle on the top. And behold we had the CM Storm Scout. Simple enough to make it, but harder to make it look good. Never one to rest on their laurels CM refreshed the line with the Scout 2 and have now released the Advanced edition along with the Gun Metal edition we have on test here today. Staying true to the LAN Party origins, the Scout 2 Advanced retains the large carry handle and although it's lineage can be clearly seen quite a lot has changed both on the outside and under the hood.
|Colours||Gun Metal or Black|
|Motherboard support||ATX, Micro ATX|
|2.5"||2 (converted from 3.5")|
|Front I/O||2xUSB3 2xUSB2 Mic, Audio|
Front 2x120mm included, 1x140 optional
Rear 1x120mm included
Top 2x120mm optional
Base 1x120mm optional
Side 2x120mm optional
HDD case 1x120mm optional
|Max GPU Length|
287mm with HDD rack
399mm without HDD rack
|Max CPU Cooler Height||162mm|
Up Close: Exterior Overview and Roof
The CM Storm Scout 2 Advanced keeps much of the styling cues of the original Scout model and of course the most recent Scout 2, with the appearance of the case being dominated by the large top handle. The Scout 2 Advanced has been available in Black for a little while now but here we're taking a look at the bang up to date Gun Metal version. The colour match between the metal and plastic sections is good with the overall quality of the coating being as we would expect from Cooler Master.
The front of the case is defined by a large expanse of black mesh split into two sections delineating the 5.25" bays and the cooling intake areas. Each of the side panels sport distinctive power bulges, with the left hand panel split between an irregular shaped window and mesh areas for 2x120mm fans, should you feel the need to lavish more air on the GPU area of the motherboard.
The front I/O is hidden under a sliding flap, and while not perhaps the smooooothest motion in the world the flap is neither flimsy or stiff. Underneath we discover the usual audio headers as well as a pair each of USB2 and USB3. Between the front I/O and the roof mesh area lies a row of switches, these control power, reset, and also toggle the LED function of attached compatible fans.
The carry handle is sturdy in the extreme, with an examination under the covers detailing that a steel support strut is bolted to the chassis itself. Under the handle and nestled between the ventral strakes is a large roof ventilation area with Gun Metal hex pattern plastic picking out black mesh underneath.
This mesh panel is removable in its entirety revealing the mounting holes for 120mm fans. If you look real close you'll see the holes are actually slightly oval. Bad manufacturing perhaps but we think may in fact be a design element enabling easier seating of screws.
Up Close: Front, Rear and Base
Although the Scout 2 Advanced has a quite aggressive overall look, the front of the case is actually quite understated. Both the 3 upper 5.25" bays and the lower air intake area have a fine mesh covering layered over a broader honeycomb style hex mesh, giving the whole thing a bit of a "Crysis" look to it
The rear of the case is finished as you would expect in a case of this calibre in the same Gun metal colouring. Large grommeted water tubing holes sit atop the rear fan extract. Further down there are 7 un vented PCI covers and to the right of them Cooler Master have included their Storm Guard device. Weaving the cables of your peripherals though the Storm Guard greatly reduces the chances of them being stolen should you be a LAN event and be lured away from your beloved's side. And finally at the bottom of the case sits the PSU cut out.
Oft forgotten by other lesser review sites, the unsexy underside of the case as always gets the OC3D once over. Four large rubber feet lift the case from the deck allowing air to the PSU and base case fan intakes, both of which have easily removable filters
The front of the case pulls of easily, and as the front I/O and power circuitry lives further up the case in it's own area there's no need to worry about attached cables. Two clear Perspex red LED 120mm fans are included in this position which are wired into the front I/O button allowing the LEDs to be turned off should you wish. It's the addition of these fans which represents the major difference between the Scout 2 and the Advanced model, as it was often felt that for a case of this calibre the absence of front fans of any sort was a huge oversight on behalf of Cooler Master. Like the rest of the case the front panel is sturdy and well made. The mesh filters are held in place by tabs so are a bit of a fag to get out for a real good clean. Flipping it over as below should let you gel at it with a vacuum though. The 5.25" bay covers release by pushing back on barbed retaining clips. They're hard to get out and even harder to get back in.
Up Close: Interior Overview
Unlike the Gun Metal Exterior the inter of the Scout 2 Advanced is finished in satin black. We don't feel this detracts from the looks, in fact the two tone nature is actually more appealing to us than had the interior had the gun metal treatment. The Scout 2 Advanced has a good sized CPU cut out, and although the rubber grommeted cable management holes are also quite large there are only 3 of them and they do not appear to be as well placed as they could be. We guess we'll see when we get to the build. The 3x5.25" drive bays are of course tool-less. If you're planning to air cool this case then coolers with a maximum height of no greater than 162mm will fit just fine.
The HDD rack is located beneath the 5.25" bay. The rack is able to house 7x3.5" drives with a pair of 2.5" drives being mounted via one of the 3,5" bays, again, another upgrade from the original Scout 2. The rack comes in 2 sections, the upper most 4 drive section has mounting points for a 120mm fan on it's inner surface with the whole section detaching via the removal of 6 screws. Removing the upper section ups the available GPU card length from 287mm to 399mm. The lower 3 drive section is riveted to the base of the case so if you want it out you'd best get busy with that drill. If you really wanted to you could mod a 240mm rad to fit into this area however this would also mean chopping out the bottom of the lower 5.25" bay to allow clearance for the rad end tank.
The base of the case sports two large meshed ventilation areas. Closest to the HDD rack there's a mount for a 120mm fan while posterior to that lies the intake area for the PSU. Small foam topped steel nipples provide mounts of the PSU while a large grommetted cut out should make it simple to guide your cables out round the back of the case even with longer PSUs installed. In a case that's designed to be carried around it's unusual that CM have chosen not to install a PSU strap. Mounting the rear of the case we pass the 7 unvented PCI slot covers and a 120mm fan positioned as extract as you would expect.
As we saw from the outside the roof of the case is dominated by a large meshed ventilation area. No fans are included in this position but should you wish you could fit in 2x120mm fans. Sadly though there's not enough room to squeeze a rad up here as well as fans.
Last but by no means least the rear of Motherboard area. Plain and simple, with a good 25mm of space and ample cable tie points (10 to be exact) anyone should be able to make a decent fist of a tidy job back here. Our only concern is the pacing of those management holes. we'll have to wait and see how things pan out when we get to the build.
Not the best instructions in the world to be honest. In fact if we're even more honest if you're going to have to resort to looking at them aside from having your manhood questioned, as they're not a booklet but actually a strategically folded single sheet which resembles something put together by Ordinance survey, you're also going to look like you're out orienteering. You're either going to look like you're reading a map, or reading instructions, either way you'd better hand over your "Man Card". Accessories wise things are a little better, with all the usual screws, 10 cable ties and a set of HDD rack mount rails along with a buzzer to round things off.
With the PSU in we're able to see that even a much longer unit would still not obscure the bottom management hole. The rubber grommets themselves are strong and despite our ham fisted stuffing of cables resisted our efforts to dislodge them. Round the back we know we're going to have space but still have concerns about only having two, albeit large management holes back here to work with.
With the motherboard in we look to the roof of the case. Just 30mm of room up here means there's plenty for a pair of standard 25mm thick 120mm fans, but as we suspected, there's no way you're getting a rad and a set of fans into this gap. If you were absolutely insistent, and didn't give a flying flip about what your case looked like you could with a bit of modding mount the fans outside the case. But please don't.
Dropping in our usual Havik 120 Cooler as a basis for comparison, there's plenty of room to be had around the edges and clearance against the side panel. Although the side panel does have a power bulge in it not all of the area lies of the CPU cooler zone and as such can't be taken into account when calculating cooler height.
Having said we were a little concerned over the amount and placing of the management holes it's perhaps worthwhile taking a close up look to explain why. With the 24 pin ATX power connection positioned as it is on this board (as it is on many others, but granted not every) there's no hole immediately adjacent to the socket. What this means is quite a stretch in either direction from the hole to the socket. Not exactly a disaster but had the upper hole been slightly lower and the lower hole a fraction higher the issue would have dissipated entirely.
Believe it or not the image below left shows the Scout 2 loomed up and ready to go. In all we only needed to use 4 of the cable ties that CM supplied. The wiring job is made possible by a well thought out spacing of cable tie points and a nice fat space along the sides and base to tuck away unwanted cables. Thing is, we actually think it looks neater round the back than it does at the front.
When reviewing, one of the first things we look at, or rather get a feel for is the quality of a product. There are certain manufacturers who stand that little bit taller than the others in this field and Cooler Master is one of them. From the top of their range, right down to the very bottom there is an inherent feeling of pride of workmanship. OK, so pride of workmanship is perhaps over romanticising an item that is mass produced in a factory, but then "Pride of adherence to Quality standards" doesn't have quite the same ring to it does it.
The aesthetics of the case have an unquestionable lean towards the balls out gamer who has a desire to cart both his arse and his beloved (no not the GF) off to a mates house or a full blown LAN party. The large and reassuringly secure rubber coated carry handle at the top of the case of course makes this all the more easier and a darn sight safer than risking it slip from your grasp. What it doesn't do however is make it any lighter. With the case weighing in at 8.3 kg you can expect to add at least another 4kg once you've filled with kit. which ever way you look at it, you're going to arrive safe, but with one arm significantly longer than the other.
With the addition of 2x120mm red LED fans included in the front of the Advanced edition CM have mitigated any lacking in cooling ability that may have previously been levelled at the Scout 2. Should you wish to add more then there's certainly scope to do so with the Advanced edition able to provide accommodation for no less than 9 fans in total. What you're not going to be doing is fitting water cooling in here, other than single AIO 120mm rads in the rear extract position. It's fair to say that the single 120mm rad/fan combo in the rear extract position isn't exactly our favourite cooling solution here at OC3D towers, but given the reduction in stresses and strains the comparatively lightweight contact plate paces on the CPU area of the motherboard when compared to a conventional tower cooler there is perhaps something to be said for this option given that the case and therefor its internals are going to be subjected to forces that could potentially cause a heavy tower cooler to damage to the motherboard.
Building into the Scout is easy enough, with 30mm of space behind the motherboard and plenty of well distributed cable tie points to work with. A small criticism though is the placement of the vertical motherboard edge cable management holes. We'd rather of had 3 smaller holes or the two that are provided being better distributed. this is however but a niggle.
Hardware wise with the Scout 2 Advanced you're going to be able to cram in GPUs up to 287mm in length. If you're willing and able to sacrifice 4 of the 7 HDD bays then whip out part of the rack and you can happily wedge in GPUs up to 399mm. Even though you're not going to be able to plant a monster air cooler atop that hot CPU you're still going to be able to paste in place anything up to 162mm in height, which if you look back at our air cooler charts, both present and past, should provide you with plenty of high performance air cooler delight, and as we mentioned above, if it's likely that you're going to be lugging, then there's always the AIO solution.
Even if the Scout 2 is destined never to be toted across a rainy car park somewhere on the outskirts of Telford it still makes for a pretty decent desk top case in its own right. Ample cooling, good looks, high quality and decent feature count mean this is a case to be reckoned with.
So what of the competition, well there are plenty of cases in the £80 region, but few if any that offer the portability that the Scout 2 advanced offers. In fact if you really want portability and have to have Mid tower and ATX then the only other real contenders are the other Scout models and the much larger Trooper line of cases.
Following on from the progenitor of the line, and the more recent Scout 2, the CM Storm Scout 2 Advanced has a hard act to follow. However, with the revisions that have been made to the styling, functionality and not to mention the rather attractive Gun Metal finish Cooler Master are likely to have another winner on their hands.
Thanks to CM Storm for the Scout 2 on review here today, you can discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.