Looking to those distinctive top and bottom meshed fascias starts to reveal some of the unique gamer targeted features. The Sniper’s base comes pre fitted with four excellent and very sturdy case feet which are able to rotate to make the chassis, despite being fairly tall, extremely stable. They also help by lifting the floor of the case a good few inches off of the ground, improving airflow to the twin air intakes on the underside of the case, one of which serves the PSU and the other an optional internal 140mm/120mm fan mount.
It’s the top fascia panel that really impresses us though, with the front and back openings hiding two very sturdy powder coated steel case handles which are strongly riveted to the Sniper’s core chassis. This makes the case an absolute doddle to lift and move around with confidence – perfect for that most hallowed of gamer gatherings, the LAN party, where hauling your system a few hundred meters from car to desk (if you’re lucky enough to drive/get a lift) or from the station a walk away, isn’t unheard of.
The top fascia and its mesh section also hide the case’s main exhaust fan and popping it off reveals mounting points for either a single 240mm fan or two 120mm fans, including support for a 2x120mm watercooling radiator. While the case comes pre-fitted with two blue LED lit 240mm fans (one in the top exhaust mount and another in the front fascia’s intake mount), it’s still good to see Cooler Master continuing to support enthusiast's custom cooling efforts.
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The top panel also holds the rather impressive front connectivity, which is phenomenally well featured. As well as the four USB 2, FireWire 400, eSATA, microphone and headphone ports, there’s also a chunky dial controller used to manually adjust the speed of the case’s two 240mm cooling fans between 12v and 5v. Fitted into the middle of the fan control dial is a nifty button which toggles the fan’s LED lighting on or off, a perfect feature for those who sleep with their PC left on in the same room and who don’t want a light show all night long.
For such a simple feature it’s a wonder that it’s never been used before, and while the button isn’t that satisfying in pressing, failing the Martin test, it works perfectly. Perhaps to top it off though, it would have been nice if the button itself had been gently backlit into the bargain. To be honest, Cooler Master needs to take a leaf out of a bit-tech case from our roots in 2001: Macro Case, by Macroman. The dials on one of the first baybus’ there still to this day yield an innovative and fantastic style.
The same is true of the extra large power button too alongside it too, which also misses out on a backlight and a satisfying click. Rounding off this front panel is the tiniest reset button in existence which is agonisingly small and tricky to push for anyone with adult sized hands.
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Looking to the Sniper’s front fascia finds even more steel meshing – in fact it covers almost the entire front of the case in the form of all five 5.25” drive bay bezels and the large intake fan grill. With such a large amount of the case open to airflow, it’s just as well Cooler Master has seen fit to furnish all the bezels and the fan grill with removable dust filters. Unfortunately “removable” is used rather loosely here, as everyone of Sniper’s dust filters are secured using just stubs of the meshed grill bent inwards.
This makes actually removing them for cleaning a real chore, involving, in the case of the large meshed side panel’s filter, the bending of a few dozen mesh stubs to free the dust filter. Naturally you can’t do this too often as the metal will fatigue and eventually break overtime.
It’s very frustrating to be honest, especially as the removable dust filters on the ATCS 840 were such a joy to use because they were so easily removed and replaced. Here the task is such a chore you might as well not bother with and while the inclusion of dust filters of some description is better than no filter at all, there’s a lot of room for improvement.