CoolerMaster CM 690 III Review
Published: 16th September 2013 | Source: CoolerMaster | Price: £85 |
In the introduction we talked about the phrase "Iconic" and how putting its true meaning to one side, it has become somewhat overused in recent years. The reason for us discussing this is that CoolerMaster themselves have referred to the CM 690 II as an "Icon re-defined" A bold statement by any means and a trifle egotistical especially if the latest iteration of the 690 line turns out to be a Lemon.
Well, we're pleased to say it's no Lemon, that's not to say it's perfect in every way but it's not far off by our reckoning. Let’s start with the battle ship like build quality shall we, there are few cases out there built as sturdily as this, you get the distinct feeling that a fat lad could sit on it and there'd be no ill effects. The quality of the finish is also as you would expect from CoolerMaster, with no marks or blemishes to be found anywhere, and with looks that have clear 690 lineage, defining class and elegance as they do, we think you'd be hard pushed not to find it attractive.
With SSDs becoming ever more affordable case manufacturers have had to meet the ever increasing need for them to be accommodated within their cases. In the beginning, which let’s face it, was only a year or so ago we were content with the odd 3.5" bay adapter on the off chance that we could afford one of the new and esoteric pieces of kit. Since then we've seen many weird and wonderful ways of providing a home for the slim SSDs, the main problem being that if you simply screw them into a 3.5" bay tray you're wasting quite a lot of space. With the CM 690 III CoolerMaster have tackled the problem head on and have come up with quite an innovative solution in the form of a drive rack that can be re configured according to the size of the dives you wish to house, which in the case of the SSD in turn enlarges the amount of GPU space available from 260mm up to 310mm. If you've got an old school beast of a GPU to house then have no fear the cages can be totally removed in no time at all. This modular design has been teamed with the "combo tray", in essence a HDD tray that can be expanded or contracted to house either 2.5" or 3.5" drives. Not only that, but CoolerMaster have also found little hiding places within the case for 3 additional 2.5" drives, bring the grand total to 10 SSDs or 7 HDDs
Although the 690 III is only a fraction bigger than the 690 II, the feeling of space on the inside is greatly enhanced. We've already talked about how re configuring drive cages, what we didn't mention was that by moving the lower rack posteriorly 60mm of space can be created, meaning we can get a rad in here and not lose too much storage space. It also means thicker rads and a potential push pull set up can be used, utilising either a custom set up or any of the 240mm based AIOs on the market, not least of which is CoolerMaster's own Seidon 240 or Corsairs competing H100i. Removing the drive bays completely does of course mean that the world is your oyster with regards to rad thickness, appreciating that this will impact on max GPU length, and that you will have a bit of careful wiggling to do to get it in place.
The front of the case is not the only place that rads can be mounted though. Aside from the ubiquitous 120mm mount in the rear fan location, which we tend to largely ignore these days, it's also feasible to get a 240mm rad up in the roof. There are a few limitations in that if using conventional 25mm thick fans the rad can be no thicker than 40mm, and that owing to the size of the 28mm deep rebate the rad sits in it can't be any longer than 280mm, but that's about it, and although these factors may slightly affect your choice of custom rad they're not going to impact at all on the choice of AIO.
If water cooling's not your thing then all is not lost, the 690 III is able to accept traditional tower coolers up to 171mm in height, with the large CPU cut out in the mobo tray ensuring that fitting is as stress free as can be. This combined with a potential 10 fan locations and an included 200mm unit up front there should be no excuses for poor through case air flow.
Round the back of the motherboard things continue to impress. What at first seems a miserly 19mm of space is enlarged to 27mm by a contoured bulging side panel. Thirteen well distributed cable tie points make for an easy and neat loom with plenty of space in the floor gutter to stash unused lengths.
So far so good then, but here at OC3D we are a bit picky, well very picky if we're honest. But even when we try really hard the only thing we can fault the 690 II on is the lack of rubber grommets on the slightly smaller than usual cable management holes. And believe us when we say we really being picky here as the case we have for review doesn't even have a window, so it's not like the cabling will never be seen. Fortunately for us the case is also available with a window (SKU CMS-693-KWN1) so you will be able to show off all your expensive kit inside whilst hoping that nobody comments on your £85 case not having rubber grommets. Unlikely we know but it could happen.
We scratched our heads and tried to find fault but at the end of the day the CM 690 III offers battleship build quality, extensive native water-cooling support, as well as room for tall tower coolers and long GPUs, configurable drive bays, plenty of room behind the motherboard with great cable management.
It's not until you look at the price and realise what else the £85 charged for 690 III can get you that you might start to think again. That's not to say that the CM 690 isn't worth every penny of that £85, because it is, it's just that it's right in the middle of the most competitive sector of the market, and as such is up against the Nanoxia DS1 and DS2, the Phantom 410 and last but probably most worryingly the Fractal design R4 and arc Midi V2. All of these cases are good, and all are worth the money charged for them so whichever you go for will largely depend on the small differences between them.