My case is 10 years old, moderately ugly, and somewhat cheap, but with my current mods: it still sucks for cooling. I'm tired of polishing this turd, and I still have a long way to go yet to get even a dull shine. I draw the line at the obscene amount of work it will take to mod the very stylized front to house a fan AND make it look good in the process. I would try it, but this rickety case ain't worth it. So, I'm debating.
My big issue with the 690 so far is airflow blockage by that silly (IMO) HDD cage. Lian Li likes to do that crap too, but theirs are removable. I assume the CM 690's is riveted in, right? Are there any edges folded around others and crimped, welded, glued etc? How hard do you folks think it would be to rip it and flip it?
I run a Gigabyte P35, gtx 260, only two HDD, two ODD, PCI NIC, PCI sound card, and a Corsair vx550 (with an intake fan on the bottom). I have an Ipod. I use USB drives increasingly often.
Preferences (some are pretty much a given or at least very easy): + I need at least 1 front fan, at least 120mm (2x 140mm front fans: MUCH better, 2x80mm: no). + Open design in front of that fan (so, take the Antec P18x series for example...it doesn't look like air can easily be pulled through the front) + Big priority: a high quality power button. I don't care where it is, what it looks like, but it must be high quality. + At least 2 USB ports on the front or top (top or top front is better). I currently only use USB and audio. My M-Audio Delta 66 break-out-box and 2x 1/4 inch male to single 1/8 inch female adapter takes care of the connection I want for headphones, but it would still be nice to have good audio jacks on it. These are apparently problematic on some cases. + Very good airflow or at least potential for good air flow. Not just lots of places for fans, but a good path and intelligently placed vents and fan mounts. + No rattling. + Keeps the GPU cool. + My GPU can get air. + My stupid-long GPU doesn't block airflow to the rest of the case from the front fan(s) (this probably gives an advantage to cases with two fans, one on top of the other, in the front, so long as I don't have to put drives in the middle). + Durablity. + Using screws to secure drives and cards must be an option. + Classy looks (I don't care for the looks of the Antec 900 or 902, and as awesome as the HAF's are, I will not buy one. Call me shallow if you will, however I love Lian Li's aesthetics -mostly- but I don't think I want one of those either). + I'd also like the option to fit at least one deep fan like the Ultra Kaze in the front, and one on the back or top.
- Paying $125: too much. - Lights: meh. - Fans: I'll probably replace them. - Cable management: I know it's important for air flow, but think creativity is sufficient here, and... - Side window: wasted on me but I don't hate them or anything. - Screw-less installation: It would be nice, only if well done, but it's one of those things I have no qualms sacrificing. - eSATA would be nice, but this is a place I will probably definitely have to sacrifice. - Aluminum: expensive, not as durable. I hear they rattle more, and more annoyingly. I don't lug my system around much, either.
So, what do you all think? Any suggestions? I mean, I'm not worried about the lack of cable management on the 300, or lack of screw-less stuff. These seem to be major complaints about it. Are the 590 and 690 more soundly constructed? Which case has the higher quality of IT'S OWN features. i.e. the 300 could have a really good screw system (admittidly, this isn't hard, but also not a given), but the 590 could have a mediocre or poor screw-less system (I hear it does). Some may say the 590 or 690 is higher quality because it at least has some attempt at it. I disagree with this logic. I'm also lightly considering the CM Storm Scout, but it's more than I would like to pay ($100 at newegg), and I have read bad things about GPU cooling in it, compared to other cases.
I have built computer for friends, neighbors, and girlfriends using the Coolermaster Centurion 590 case. It is a good general purpose case. Ventilation, airflow, and cooling is very good. The Coolermaster 690 is the 590's big brother and even better.
Lian Li which is known for aluminum cases has a subsidiary called LanCool which offers lower priced cases. I accidently found a LanCool Dragonlord series of cases that appear to have great potential. The interior of the cases have Lian Li innovative features normally only found in the high end aluminum cases. Here are links to the two models available in the USA:
Both models have a lower drive cage that is secured with screws and can be rotated 90 degrees. I like the model without the window on the side panel. Technical reviews have been very favorable. The guys at mnpctech.com did an excellent video review with lots of close-up views that can be viewed at youtube.com:
That "Metal Boned K7" is very interesting. I missed that one. It's a little pricier than I prefer, but not out of the question. I'll have to hit up Google for some more info. I wonder how sturdy the shell is. So maybe that and the Scout are my "high end" considerations, and the 300 and 590 my "low end" right now.
Im using an Antec Three Hundred (never seen/used the others in question so they might just be better but ill write what i do know about the Antec) - cannot complain about anything what so ever!
I sealed the panel fan hole off with some clear acrylic and mounted the 2 front 12cm slots with green fans so ALL the intake air through the case was filtered from dust to make the ultimate server for me - i fkn love the case, best case i have ever owned - prolly buy another one for my main pc.
So, I realized that the only way to choose was to go check some of these cases out in person. And the winner is...Cooler Master 590 for $56 at Micro Center. The 690 was more expensive but lacked anything I wanted that justified spending the extra. As a bonus, the 590 looks nicer, more "polished", classy, and the metal front fascia doesn't look as cheap as the 690's plastic one. I also hate the HDD cage orientation of the 690. The 590 is much roomier than the 300. The Antec 300 felt like junk in comparison. It was thin, rickety and the tabs holding the front on seemed prone to breakage (one was ALREADY broken). I came seriously close to ordering the K7, though. It looks really nice, but in the end I couldn't resist the value, build quality, and flexibility of the 590. I now agree with everyone who says Cooler Master can't be beat in terms of value(except that lackluster HDD screwless system. The one for PCI cards isn't as bad as some say. Not so good with a big GPU card, I bet, but it's OK otherwise).