Manufacturer:Cooler Master UK Price (as reviewed): £120 MSRP (inc. VAT) US Price (as reviewed): $180 MSRP (ex. Tax)
Cooler Master had an excellent 2008 by all accounts, tweaking modders favourite: the Cosmos, to produce the Cosmos S. Later it followed up with the excellent (but slightly flawed and very ugly) HAF 932, finally capping the year with the release of our Case of the Year 2008, the superb ATCS 840.
It’s certainly refreshing to see so many new and for the most part high quality chassis from a single manufacturer, especially when other companies opted to simply tweak existing designs rather than risk producing entirely new products.
It doesn’t look like Cooler Master has any intention of stopping this trend of new releases either, with today’s chassis, the Sniper, set to be the first in Cooler Master’s ongoing “CM:Storm” range and a smaller version of the ATCS 840 also on the way.
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With the CM:Storm range aimed squarely at the lucrative “PC gamer” market, Cooler Master has gone to a lot of trouble to include some unique features to elevate it above the competition, working in co-operation with professional gaming teams to include the features they’d find the most beneficial. There certainly seem to have been some interesting additions that we’ve not seen before, so let’s take a closer look.
1000 Yard Stare
Design wise, not a lot has changed since we first had a sneaky peak at the Sniper back in its prototype state back last August, with the same black industrial exterior styled around real world weapons and heavy use of metal meshing both makes up the left side panel and entire front fascia in various guises. While plenty of our readers certainly prefer the gorgeous smooth styling of the ATCS 840, it’s certainly an improvement over the confused looks of the HAF 932 and while it won’t be to everyone one’s tastes, will undoubtedly appeal to some after something more than a boring black box.
However, in a change for Cooler Master, the Sniper makes significant rather than minor use of plastic panelling to clad the core chassis, with the case’s base, roof and front fascias all made of black plastic in conjunction with generous use of the aforementioned metal mesh. Thankfully though there’s absolutely none of the grief we’ve seen in the past when cases have tried to combine plastic and steel parts, with the panelling all fitting together perfectly and securely with plenty of fixing points. We did find removing the plastic fascia panels can be tricky without a trip to read Mr. Manual though.
The core chassis itself, along with the side panels, is steel, and the side panelling in particular is a real highlight. Cooler Master has chosen to powder coat the exterior of both side panels, resulting in an extremely high quality finish that puts other steel cases to shame, while still providing the strength inherent in steel construction.
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The left hand side panel also plays host to an absolutely enormous meshed section, complete with one hundred percent dust filter coverage, facilitating a passive flow of air into the case. This meshed section also includes internal mounting points for either a single 240mm fan or two 120mm fans, although sadly neither is included with the retail box.
While bolts are included to easily add your own, or move the provided fans about, this is a real let down, especially as a our past case testing has seen that side panel intake fans have the most direct impact on core hardware temperatures. The choice not to include one is a bit baffling, especially since it’s designed to be fitted with plenty of graphics hardware and even photos of the case on the box show a third blue LED lit 240mm fitted in there!