I am the sort of person that replaces the components of his computer from time to time, just to keep everything working smooth, up to date, or tweaked a little just to perform a little bit better. Therefore I had to open the case a lot of times. Now you would expect me to have some high-tech computer case to help me with that, but no, my case was some old crappy thing that I got for free when buying my first PC years back. Until now…Introducing the Cooler Master 690 II!
Cooler Master CM 690 II
I finally decided to go ahead and invest a little bit of money in a new case. Mainly because my old one wasn’t able to close anymore, and because my CPU and graphics card were getting dangerously hot. This was mainly because of my Bitcoin mining operation, but still, it shouldn’t be able to shut down my PC. I decided to do some research about cases and finally my eyes rested on the Cooler Master CM 690 II. The first version of this case is a well known case by tweakers, and now they finally released the mark II.
So let’s look at the case a little bit closer. The front and top of the case are almost completely made of a steel mesh which does not only look great, but is also very important for your airflow. The open nature of the mesh allows air to travel through it, creating better passageway for air entering and exiting the case. On the left side of the CM 690 II there are several ventilation slots where you can mount two more case fans. These fan slots can house 80, 92, 120 or 140mm fans. The panel at the side of the motherboard tray has a much smaller fan opening which will fit a single 80mm case fan. The rear panel on the 690 II features a 7+1 expansion area and two holes with rubbers to allow for water cooling that support 5/8″ ID tubing. At the back of the case you will also notice that this case features a bottom mounted power supply. This is also done to create a better airflow within the case. You will also find a rear 120mm exhaust next to the motherboard I/O area just above the expansion area.
The control panel on the CM 690 II is located on top of the case in the front. The panel includes a fan LED-light on/off switch, a power button, a reset button, one e-SATA port, audio jacks and two USB 2.0 ports. Behind the control panel is a small area where the advanced version of the case has a hot swappable bay for a hard drive disk. The normal version just has a place to rest your USB sticks. The whole top panel can be easily removed to allow access to the chassis below it. Here you can choose to install either dual exhaust fans or a water cooling set-up. The top of the case can support either a 280mm or 240mm radiator and has enough room for the fans on a 240mm radiator to be installed on the top of the chassis. You can also fit two normal fans here if you so desire. An exhaust fan or two would do great here.
The front panel is removed with great ease as well. Here you see that there are four removable parts of the steel mesh to allow for DVD-players and what not. You will also see that behind each mesh part is a dust filter in place. This is true for the entire case. Every opening you find, especially for the fans features a dust filter. You will also find the front fan here, featuring icy blue LED-lights. These can be turned off by a touch of the button on top of the case. The fan takes in air and forces it right over your hard disks. You can even adjust the fan up or down, or even replace it with two smaller fans if you wish.
The bottom of the case is well ventilated and, as you can see, Cooler Master has kept the large rubber feet design introduced with the CM 690. The rubber feet not only look very nice, but also elevate the case from the floor to allow for a better intake of air, reduction of dust intake and for less vibration.
The inside of the case
When you strip the case of its side panels you can see that the interior is painted black just like the exterior. You will also notices big holes to allow for great cable management. Not only is there a lot of room between the motherboard tray and the side panel, but there are also a lot of anchors in place to secure zip-ties to in order to keep those pesky cables in place. You will also notice that this case has lots of room. You will not be able to fit the largest cards, for example the HD5970, but most of the high end cards should be just fine.
Inside the case you will also find that the CM 690 II supports up to four 5.25″ optical bays. There is a tool-less system in place to easily install these. You just have to slide you bay into the tray, align the screw holes with the system and flip a switch. Easy as that.
Hard drives are also extremely easy to install. The CM 690 II supports up to six internally and these are located just behind the front intake fan. Again, you just have to slide your HDD into the tray, and close it. Your HDD is now in place and secured. It just that simple. You will have to insert some pins onto the disk’s screw holes, but that is also done within seconds. There is also the option to remove the bottom half of the drive-cage to allow for better airflow, a bottom radiator or extra case fans.
In the back of the case you will find the expansion slots. Seven of them are fitted horizontally with black thumb-screws for easy installation. One of the slots is fitted vertically. You can use this one for a fan controller or just for extra USB slots.
The motherboard tray features a wide variety of holes for screws, to fit as many motherboards as possible. My motherboard was installed very easily. There is also a big hole in the plate to install CPU coolers with back plates with ease.
Cooler Master included two fans. One is installed in the front as an intake and features the blue LEDs; the other is installed in the back as an exhaust. If you get the CM 690 II advanced you will get an additional case fan.
During the installation of my hardware into this case, it was surprising how easy everything was. I was used to some cheap old case that featured nothing like tool-less designs or cable management. When I was finished it was shocking to see how many screws I had left. Also the case was extremely clean with all the cables running through the cable management system. I also had a lot of room left over for a bigger graphics card, which is always good to know.
The airflow increased tremendously. My system dropped a solid 20 degrees in temperature. I am now running my setup on a slight overclock, something I wouldn’t dare to dream of in my previous case. I also have the option to add EIGHT more case fans, which could work wonders as well. I am considering buying at least two more.
The case looks great, and even the LEDs do not annoy me when they are turned on. The CM 690 II is also very silent. Even though I have two more fans then my old case, it is actually a lot quieter.
I would certainly recommend this case. If you are missing an external drive bay, or an SSD bracket, or an extra fan, you can always buy the advanced version.
All in all, this case made my setup much better with just a little investment.