Coolermaster CM690 II Advance Mid Tower

Posted by on Sunday, February 21, 2010 - 5:41pm

CM690 II AdvanceI remember when I tested the Coolermaster CM690. It was one of the best budget cases around. It was so great of a case that many people looking to pay $150 plus for a case were buying the CM690 which cost a mere $80 or so. Even though it was not the first case to offer the now trendy mesh front face, it did help a lot to make it as popular as it is. The CM690 was feature rich for the dollar and is still popular today. But keeping intact with the scenario above Coolermaster has revamped the CM690 into what we will be reviewing today, the CM 690 Advance II. Even more feature rich the Advance II and will undoubtedly make history again.

 

Introduction to the Coolermaster CM690 II Advance

How many times have we seen this scenario. You go out to a movie and you love it. And just as much as you loved it many other people loved it just as much. So many people that it becomes the best selling movie that year or even decade. And you would think to yourself a sequel can not top this. There is no way you can make the second one better than the first. Sounds familiar?

Well, the same scenario can be had with PC cases. There are times where you will see a new case, go out and buy. You begin your build and you realize that you made the best decision ever. Everything goes together without issue. Cable management is great, cooling is good and the overall look of your work was well worth your time.

I remember when I tested the Coolermaster CM690. It was one of the best budget cases around. It was so great of a case that many people looking to pay $150 plus for a case were buying the CM690 which cost a mere $80 or so. Even though it was not the first case to offer the now trendy mesh front face, it did help a lot to make it as popular as it is. The CM690 was feature rich for the dollar and is still popular today. But keeping intact with the scenario above Coolermaster has revamped the CM690 into what we will be reviewing today, the CM 690 Advance II. Even more feature rich the Advance II and will undoubtedly make history again.

Coolermaster take on the CM690 II Advance

CM 690 II Advanced raises the bar again with practical improvements over the top-selling CM 690. The spacious mid-tower will keep enthusiasts happy with room for up to 3 VGA cards, high-end CPU coolers, top or bottom mount water cooling radiator and 1.8"/2.5" drive adapter. It also features much improved airflow with over-sized mesh and enough space for up to 10 fans. Maintenance will be a breeze with the tool-free drive bays, new cable management and CPU cooler retention hole.


Specifications

Available Color Black
 
Material Steel body / Plastic + Mesh bezel
 
Dimension (W / H / D) 214.5 x 511.8 x 528.8 mm / 8.4 x 20.1 x 20.8 inch
 
Weight Net Weight: 9.56 kg / 21.08 lbs
Gross Weight: 11.56 kg / 25.49 lbs
 
M/B Type Micro - ATX / ATX / Mini-ITX(supports)
 
5.25" Drive Bay 4 (without the use of exposed 3.5”drive bay)
 
3.5" Drive Bay 6 Hidden
1 Exposed (converted from one 5.25” drive bay)
 
I/O Panel USB 2.0 x 2 , eSATA x 1 , MIC x 1 , Audio x 1 (supports HD / AC97 audio)
 
Expansion Slots 7 + 1
 
Cooling System Front: 140 x 25 mm Blue LED fan x 1 / 1200 RPM / 19 dBA
Rear: 120 mm fan x 1 / 1200 RPM / 17 dBA
Top: 140 x 25 mm fan x 1 / 1200 RPM / 19 dBA (supports 120 / 140 mm fan x 2)
Bottom: 120 mm fan x 2 (optional)
Right side: 120 / 140 mm fan x 2 (optional)
Left side: 80 x 15 mm x 1 (optional)
HDD cage: 120 mm fan x 1 (optional)
VGA holder: 80 x 15 mm fan x 1 (optional)
 
Power Supply Standard ATX PS2 / EPS 12V (optional)

Features

  • Oversized front and top mesh design for superb ventilation
  • Accommodates 120 x 240 mm radiator inside the top or bottom
  • Dust-control filters for all meshed areas
  • Air cooling support for up to 10 fans (with support for up to 5 x 140mm fans)
  • External SATA X-dock
  • Front blue LED fan on/off switch
  • Rear retaining holes for water cooling kit
  • Includes 1.8" & 2.5" HDD and SSD adapter
  • Cable managment and CPU retaining hole for easy maintainence
  • Includes VGA card bracket (supports triple GPU card)

Closer look at the exterior

From the front the Advance looks very similar to that of the older model. What remains the same is the mixture of metal mesh and plastic. Engulfed in total black just like the older brethren. Even the silver lining that runs from the top of the case to the bottom even remains. The real visually different is the lack of one less 5.25" bay in the new model. We will talk about that later.

The new Advance stands a inch taller than the older model even with the substitution of drive bay. Making it just over twenty inches in height. At 21 pounds without the addition of any components puts it in the case of a almost manageable LAN going PC but many will decide to go for a shorter, smaller and lighter Coolermaster case for that purpose.

The Advance II has a total of four available 5.25" drive bays which are all covered with mesh panels. Below the bays is the located where a single 140mm fan sits being guard by the classic Coolermaster logo.

Each of the side panels only consist of nothing by air ventilation ports. the left side has two sets while the right has one. If you are looking for a windowed side panel here, you would be out of luck. We hope CM decides to make it an option in the near future.

If you have not seen any of the other many reviews on the Advance II, the rear of the case will let you know that you will be dealing with a case that has a black interior. But more on that later. The rear is is completely black in color. And has the typical seven expansion slots. A single 120mm black fan is hold up at the top of the case. Just above that you have two water-tube inlets for those external water-cooling kits. The Advance is a bottom mounted power supply enclosure.

What is unique about the Advance II not only from the older model but also all other cases on the market is the hard drive dock located at the top of the case. I use my HDD dock all the time so something like this is great. The dock will support the standard SATA drives: 2.5 and 3.5. Besides the dock for inputs the Advance II has an eSATA, USB and audio jacks. The power and reset buttons are to the right of the second USB port. Sitting behind the dock is more metal mesh that is protecting a 140mm fan.


Closer look at the interior

Opening up the case will open up a whole new world it seems, well compared to the older model. The first thing you will notice and if you don't you must be seeing impaired is the black interior. Seeing the entire inside pure black made me see what the attraction to this was. After the shock of the blackness you will notice the openings in the motherboard tray. There is a single large one that should line up right behind the motherboard socket. There are several others to the right and also near the power supply.

Up front is the location for all the storage drives you would need in a build. Starting at the top is the four bay optical drive bays. Optical drives are secured into place using these plastic slides. Hard drives are secured into small trays and inserted back in a cage. More on this later. The bottom half of the cage can be removed to allow for fans or for a water-cooling radiator. Blowing over the top of the half of the cage is a 140mm cooling fan. Covering the lower half is a 120mm cooling fan. This small tray is one is what will allow you to place all your needed hard drives in the case. But this is the only one with that has the 3.5" to 2.5" adapter for an SSD. If you need to convert one of the larger 5.25" bays into a small 3.5" one adapters are included to do just that.

The bottom of the case is where the power supply would be stored. Depending on the length of the PSU being used two 120/140mm cooling cases can aid in air circulating. The adventurous type may place a radiator for water-cooling here. I see a future main rig build here. May be time to get back in the liquid cooling hobby.

For the most part the rear of case there isn't much to explain. Besides the 120mm cooling fan and the expansion PCI slot for expansion there isn't much more. Honestly, how exciting could the rear of a case be.

Coolermaster at of late has been concentrating a lot on their motherboard trays. And the result is there is no company that produces a case with better cable management possibilities. There are plenty of cut-outs in the tray to make the routing of cable painless and less time consuming. There is even an enlarged cut-out for accessible to the back of the motherboard to change out coolers. And if you want you can even place a thin 80mm fan behind the board.

You really can't get more into Advance case. The bottom even has several opening for fan placement and ventilation. The placement to the far left is for the power supply's fan exhaust. While two other positions have been laid out for fan usage or even a water-cooling rad can be integrated into the case without modification. Coolermaster thought of everything while developing this case. Here we removed the dust cover from the bottom of the case. Each fan location has one of these except for the back rear fan.

Here we removed the top of the case to show you just what you are working with. The Advance II is one of the few cases that will not cost you an arm and a leg that can house dual radiators from a water-cooling setup.

One of the last things included in with the CM 690 Advance II is a VGA bracket that allow you to better secure your graphic cards in place. Ideal if you plan on using a card like the Radeon HD 5970 or Nvidia GTX 295. The bracket will even hold a 80mm fan for extra cooling.


Conclusion

Do I like the Coolermaster CM 690 Advance II PC tower? Most definitely. It is one of the most complete cases on the market. The feature list of this case revival many that will cost twice its price. At $100 MSRP you get easy drive mounting, dual placement for water-cooling radiators without modding, great cable management and a black interior. When I first saw this case in person I was thinking it would retail for as much as $150 or more due to the options it has. Coolermaster has came out with some outstanding cases that I also like but I think it will be hard to top this one.

One of the strengths of the Advance is its sturdiness. This case is really built solid and strong. You can see this by looking at the pictures we have shown. But picking it up and handling it you will be surprised how much quality was placed in this $100 case. And when it comes to ventilation is there is any real competition in the same price range? Honestly, I don't think so. This case can support up to ten case fans with three being included. Coolermaster left the decision for the rest up to the consumer as they have have other ideas for their new case. Like maybe placing a couple of water-cooling rads.

We can do all day talking about the many features of the this but I will hit you with a few more. The black interior is what many of us are looking for in a case. The days of the gray inside is fast coming to an end. Many companies are seeing this. I am currently reviewing a case that cost $40 and it had a black interior. And with the black motherboards becoming a trend as well color coordinating your new rig is simpler.

The ease it takes to assemble a like this is awesome. The tool-less options are plentiful. A lot this has to do with the plastic mechanisms that are used to secure all the drives in place. Every company has their way of integrating drives into their cases. But Coolermaster has one of the fastest and simplest ways of doing so. One thing is there is no vibration features in place.

I was hard pressed to find any real faults with the CM 690 II Advance. So I came up with this one. A window. The case has no window to allow the builder to show off their handy work. We hope that CM offer this in the future as an option or offer a windowed model.

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