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Cooler Master CM 690

It’s dark in here

Inside the case, the clean and simple design carries on and, yes, I was right about my reasoning for why the case is lifted off the floor – the PSU is mounted in the bottom.

The fact that the PSU is positioned in the base of the case is beneficial for a number of reasons. First, it means that the hot air produced can be vented directly out of the case thanks to a grille in the bottom of the case which sits right where most PSU fans should be.

Secondly, and of slightly less importance, it means that all the weight for the PSU isn’t resting on just a few screws or a tiny metal shelf. The power supply has something sturdy to support it (in the industry, we call it The Ground) if the metal buckles or the screws snap.

Why would the metal buckle, I hear you ask? Because the build quality of the 690 is one of the areas which has been reined back in order to keep the price low, that’s why. That’s how one of the side panels got warped slightly when I first took it off, yanking it a bit hard and accidentally knocking it on my arm with what I’d describe medium force.

Cooler Master CM 690 Inside Cooler Master CM 690 Inside
Click to enlarge

Mercifully, I was OK, but the case had a ding in it. You can’t see it in the photos, but it does make getting that side panel back a bit more of a chore than it should be. It also illustrates how easy it is to damage the case, I’d advise handling it with kid gloves if I were you.

Looking inside the case, we can get a better look at the extensive cooling options in the 690. There’s a front mounted 120mm fan, which runs at 1200RPM and has a blue LED in it for starters, which means the recessed part of the front panel makes more sense as it lets air be bought over the internal drives more easily. There’s also a back mounted 120mm fan which runs at the same speed but lacks the LED.

In the top of the case there’s room for two more 120mm fans. You can also put another 120mm fan in the bottom of the case, positioned right next to the PSU, and add another 120mm fan to the already present 120mmer in the left-hand panel. The right-hand panel can have a 80mm fan if you want some behind the motherboard cooling.

Or, in other words: This thing has the potential to be colder than an Eskimo’s ice cube tray.

Looking at the rest of the case, we can see that there’s a lot to like with the 690, especially in the tool-less design. The five 5.25” drives at the front can all be mounted and removed with a completely tool-less set of switches. The same is true for the drive bays in the back of the case.

Cooler Master CM 690 Inside Cooler Master CM 690 Inside
Click to enlarge

The hard drive cage in the front-bottom of the case also has a tool-less tray system for mounting drives in, but this one is a little different. There are no switches to toggle or buttons to press, it’s a case of pinching together the clasps at the front of the tray and then pulling it out. Pinching the clasps compacts the tray in such a way that it can be removed.

The tray, which is incredibly easy to use and very nifty even if it doesn’t look or feel particularly stable or sturdy, also has pads in it that are intended to absorb and dampen any vibrations or noise which may occur.

For cable tidying, the case comes with a simple screw-in clash which can be fitted into any free screw hole and through which cables can be routed. It doesn’t feel especially sturdy, but it’s there and that wins it a point or two in my books. Thankfully, there's a whole array of large plastic cable clips along one side of the motherboard panel which are a lot more sturdy and which can be seen clamping the cables to one side in these pictures.

Unfortunately, the case also lacks in terms of extras. The case we reviewed came with a manual, a single extra cable tie and a baggie of plastic stand-offs. That’s fair does – most motherboards come with right mounting screws and stands anyway, but the majority of other cases come with a few other bits and bobs.

Extra screws (Update: It turns out that the case does have extra screws, but they are actually screwed in along the 5.25" drive bays. Thanks Zepper!), tools for putting stand-offs in without shredding your fingers – that the 690 doesn’t have any of these won’t really influence anybody's purchase, but is just a tiny bit disappointing.