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Cooler Master ATCS 840 Full Tower Case Review

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AkG

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Cooler Master ATCS 840 Case Review



Manufacture Product Page: ATCS 840 - Cooler Master
Model Number: RC-840-SSN1-GP (silver version)
TechWiki Info: RC-840-SSN1-GP
Weight: 29.21 lbs
Availability: now
Price: Click Here To Compare Prices
Warranty: 2 years



Very recently we reviewed what arguably could be considered one of the very best water cooling AND air cooling cases to come along in a long time. Of course we are referring to the Cooler Master HAF 932. The only complaint that we had with that award winning case is the fact that its exterior styling may rub some people the wrong way.

It seems that Cooler Master has listened to this common complaint and has reinvigorated the ATCS line. The ATCS line or the Active Thermal Convection System is all about classic conservative styling. Some may call it boring but the shear engineering that goes into these cases has made them a favorite of many an long time DIY’er.

While the ATCS is known for its classic good looks what it is best known for (and thus the moniker ATCS) is high performance cooling with as many strategically placed fans as they can cram into a case. In this case Cooler Master has fit in not one, not two, but THREE of those 230x200mm monsters and they have done it without resorting to sticking one on the side panel. Lots of fans is all well and fine but where the strategy comes into play (and thus giving the engineering wizards at CM the ability to call it a “system”) is the fact that these fans are placed where they will do the most good. Whether that means pushing hot air out of the case with the least effort and noise, or pulling cool air in where its needed most this is what ATCS line is know for.

The other big difference besides the styling and the whole ATC system which helps separate this case from the HAF is the fact it is made from light weight aluminum. Trust us, it makes a heck of a big difference weight-wise between this case and the HAF 932. Heck this case is down right svelte for something this big!

This of course is only the Coles notes version of what makes a ATCS case a ATCS case. Over the next dozen or so pages we will take this case apart and go over all its nooks and crannies (with photos!) to see if this is the case for everyone who wants a HAF 932 but is turned off by either the weight or even just the looks. To this end we will be doing a lot of comparing and contrasting with the HAF 932 and will actually being using this as our measuring stick so to speak. Is this totally fair? Yes and no; comparing anything to HAF 932 is certainly a job in and of itself for any case but this is not your ordinary everyday product. This is the ATCS`s premier case, and as such people already have high expectations for it!

This case is becoming widely available from e-tailers and retailers nation wide and goes for a princely sum of $300. This is actually a heck of a lot more than the HAF 932 fetches but is it worth the premium? Buying a case is a highly personal and subjective endeavor and we hope that by the end of this review you will have a clear idea whether or not this is the right product for you. With that being said we are itching to rip open the cardboard box and peek inside so let the fun begin!


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AkG

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Specifications

Specifications



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AkG

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Packaging and Accessories

Packaging and Accessories


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Cooler Master is certainly making a statement with this simple, yet very elegant box design. Unlike the HAF 932 which comes in a box as busy as we have ever seen, this box is all about simplicity and understatement.

In many ways this box reminds us a lot of the Olde Tyme Tin posters from that bye gone era. The funny thing is a good friend of ours said it looked like something Miami Ink would have dreamed up! In either case, it is beautiful even if it is “only” a black and white piece of art work.

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While Cooler Master may be willing to limit the exterior shipping box design philosophy, they are not willing to extend this to messing with the interior protective scheme. The ATCS 840 (just like the HAF 932) comes nestled in between two full length Styrofoam end pieces and is wrapped in a plastic anti-scratch bag. This is a very good packaging scheme and just like old Stevie Jobs says “It just works”.

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As good as the packaging is, and as different from the HAF 932 as it is, we were really hoping that the accessory list would be at least as full (if not fuller!) than that cheaper case; boy were we not disappointed! Cooler Master has gone for the full meal deal accessory list. In a nut shell you get just about everything you would with the HAF 932 (screws, a very good manual & cable warps) except for the caster feet.

Instead of the those sweet casters you get an air duct which attaches over the peripheral slots, PSU reinforcing bracket (for top mounting the PSU) and even a 120mm fan adapter to swap out the top 230mm monsters.
 
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AkG

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Exterior Impressions

Exterior Impressions


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When we actually took the ATCS 840 out of the loving embrace of its shipping box we instantly understood how down right perfect and fitting the exterior B&W art work was. Honestly, this really is the mirror image of the HAF 932, for as cutting edge and aggressive as that case is, this case is all about classic clean looks and lines which are designed to blend into darn near any environment.

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As we said, this case is all about smooth lines and the top of the case is the very epitome of clean lines. However, don’t let that clean look fool you, as this case does share the same design philosophy as that of the HAF: the top of it is segmented into two distinctive zones. The back (approximate) three quarters is dominated by exhaust ports for two massive 230x200mm fans, this may be up from the one found on the HAF but does share a striking resemblance to that case's top exhaust section. As an added bonus, the metal mesh top can easily be removed by unscrewing the topmost two screws on the back and then sliding the whole works to the rear. This gives you easy access to the fans for cleaning and more importantly will make removing them (if you want) and swapping in three 120mm fans easy. We will see if this makes installing our triple fan radiator easier as well later in the WC’ing section.

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Also unlike the HAF 932’s top, the front quarter of this aluminum monster appears unadorned. However, with a simple downward push of your finger, a hidden connector panel rises up allowing you access to the ATCS’s “front panel”. This panel has (from right to left) four USB ports in two groups of two, a headphone jack, MIC jack, Firewire port (400 not 800 style) and e-SATA port.

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In front of the hidden ports (though hidden may be to strong a word as the panel does have a large “push” word) is your typical large power button, HDD activity LED, Power LED and small reset button. These in and off themselves are nothing remarkable, but what is worthy of mention is the fact the power and reset buttons are also made from aluminum and blend in seamlessly with the rest of the case. The fact they are made out of aluminum (while a nice bonus) is not the reason we mention them, the reason they are so noteworthy is because this little touch highlights what the design philosophy of this case really is. The ATCS 840 really is all about blending in and not drawing attention to itself; even if doing so takes away from the functionality of the case.

We are not fond lovers of power buttons which are not countersunk nor in anyway easily distinguishable by touch alone. It may be a case of form over function but we are willing to give it a pass as it does keep the lines and overall beauty of this case from being marred; but Cooler Master how about making the buttons out of textured or brushed aluminum next time? Then at least it would feel different than the rest of the case and reduce the curse worthy times the button is accidentally pushed while blindly groping for a USB port (or thumb drive plugged into a USB port) at night.

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Moving onto the front of the case you can see that it (just like the HAF 932) is a door-less design. However, unlike the HAF the front of this case has no mesh for air movement; to be more precise the 5.25 bay covers are solid aluminum. This may seem like form following function (something which this reviewer hates with a passion) but in reality this not only makes the case extremely stylish in an old school sort of way, it controls internal air flow; and when properly done (which this case is as we shall show you in a few moments) reduces dust accumulation inside the case and can actually lower internal temperatures.

Lowering internal case temps with less air movement sounds illogical, but in reality its more specific to say: less unpredictable / uncontrollable air movement can reduce case temps. The reason the HAF case is able to make the relatively open air concept work is via brute force; this is in keeping with the aggressive styling of that case but it certainly would not be a good fit for a Air Thermal Chassis System. This case has monster fans and is every bit as effective as the HAF 932 but it does it with simplicity and elegance. By engineering the points of entry and exit of the air flow, Cooler Master’s engineers are able to “reuse” this air to cool multiple components. This is something which you cannot plan and design for if the front of your case is full of little air holes! As we said its elegant and simple in concept but oh so effective in its execution…and perfectly in tune with the philosophies behind this case.

Overall you have six 5.25 bays which, in this day of multi-format optical drives, should please everyone and allow for more than enough room for future expansion. Honestly, if you need more than 6 bay drives you really need a Stacker 830.

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Directly below the optical bay drives is the large shield with CM sigil embossed into it which hides the internal air dam intake.

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When you do remove this air dam (by simply pushing it to the left and then prying out the right side) you can see how Cooler Master is able to keep dust to a minimum in this case. This is one area where this case not only matches but easily exceeds the HAF 932. In the HAF 932 review we bemoaned the fact the case had only faux dust filters and thus it may become a dust bunny heaven if not cleaned regularly. Well Cooler Master certainly did not go for fake anything with this case. Between the air dam and the fan itself is a full sized air filter which is easily removed for cleaning. By including this nifty little plastic part Cooler Master has taken this case to a whole new level; a feat which we are surprised has happen so quickly given the height which the HAF 932 has set the bar.
 
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AkG

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Exterior Impressions Con’t

Exterior Impressions Con’t



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Cooler Master certainly didn’t miss a trick with this case; while having a large air filter is all well and fine, filters do get clogged up and air (and dust) does have a way of finding ways around these devices. In order to minimize dust infiltration further, the bottom front of the case (the area located between the fan and the filter) has a separate filter of its own. This one-two combination should for all intents and purposes eliminate dust from being sucked into the case by the front fan. Before we move on we would like to point out that in keeping with subtle and understated theme of the 840, the front fan does not glow or emit any light whatsoever; its only task is to move copious amounts of air and do so with as little noise as possible.

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Just as the design of the front of the case takes an understated approach to styling, so too do the sides. With jewelry or fine (and uber expensive) watches the more expensive the item is the less garish it becomes. Accents, filigrees, stickers and aggressive styling is for the “lower classes” and the more you are worth the less you need to flaunt it; the same goes for cases apparently. The sides of the ATCS 840 are completely unadorned and in fact at first blush appear to be nothing more than flats slabs of aluminum. It is only when you take a closer look does the sophisticated styling become apparent. Cooler Master has gone for, in our opinion, the classy low profile extruded finish. This in and of itself is noteworthy as we prefer the natural look to shiny / reflective aluminum; but what is more important than its finish is the subtle styling and fit to these side doors.

These doors are probably some of the easiest doors to slide into and out of place that we have seen; and the lock up of them is as rattle free as you could wish. Unlike some other design philosophies there is no lock, levers or anything else which would break the ultra clean lines of the door; rather they have small and gentle flairs on the back to give your fingers a grip for removing them and adding a touch Stacker nostalgia to the look.

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In keeping with the ease and elegance of the case the side panels are secured with thumb screws which unfortunately are not the captured style. This is one area where Cooler Master could have easily taken the classy and sophisticated design they are so obviously striving for to the next level. As it is, its still a very nice touch, just one which had the potential for a lot more. As stated earlier these doors are made from solid extruded aluminum and while they are "flimsy" in comparison to the HAF's, they are still strong enough to not feel like some cheap "tin" door!

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On first blush, the back of the case appears to be a darn near clone of the HAF 932. You get the innovative dual zone PSU options, a 120mm exhaust and your typical peripheral slots. When you take a closer look a few things do stand out: namely its “only” a 120mm fan capable and not 140mm.

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The one saving grace, and yet also the biggest negative (in our opinion) is the peripheral slots can be covered by the included optional black plastic air duct & fan housing. In a nutshell, this box can accept a 120mm fan (on the side of the box) and attached directly over all the peripheral slots. At the back of the box are two large openings with flexible rubber flaps to allow you to stick your video (and any other cables) through the box and attach them to your boards.

This is certainly a unique way of increasing air flow for your GPU and other hot running daughter boards, BUT it does come at a very steep cost. The cost is not in monetary value but in the added, ungainly, length it adds to this case's already long attributes. Even worse than this is the fact you now have a black box sticking off the back of your case like a big old pimple; and just like a pimple can ruin the looks of a beauty queen faster than their meth addiction, so too is the overall grace and beauty of this case ruined by this god awful box.

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On the positive side, the bottom of this case is a slick piece of engineering. Just as with the HAF 932, Cooler Master has elected to use nice and large A/V style feet. We wish they had included optional wheels like they did for the HAF but if you are “stuck” with feet, these bad boys are the ones you want. Also nicely done is the optional internally bottom mounted fan’s intake port since it has an easy to remove filter over it.
 
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AkG

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Interior Impressions

Interior Impressions


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When you take off the side panel ,the cavernous interior becomes readily apparent. This of course was not a surprise as this case is frickin’ huge (and probably big enough to eat smaller cases); but the scary thing is that it is actually wider than a HAF 932 and that is saying a lot! To be precise, this case is 243mm wide x 580mm high x 630 long; or to continue with our main theme this case is officially 13mm wider, 35mm taller and 55mm longer than a HAF 932. Any way you slice it, this is not a small case and what really drives home the shear enormity of this case is not its measurements but its weight. That ATCS 840 may be made entirely out of lightweight aluminum but it still weighs in at a gross weight of 34.72 lbs!

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Once you get over the size of it (and listening to your own echo’ed “helllooooo” coming from inside) the next interesting factoid is this bad boy has a internal brace bar running from the front to the back on both sides. It appears that Cooler Master feared this case may twist or torque if they didn’t include two stiffening rods. This is partially true since the removable motherboard tray will cause the case to bend and flex once it is removed.

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Actually, saying the motherboard tray is removable is a little bit disingenuous as a majority of the side and most of the back of this case comes with the motherboard tray when you remove it. The motherboard tray is held in place with four small, flush mounted screws and once they are removed you can tug on the rear handle and easily slide the works out the back. In all honesty this motherboard tray setup is easily the best one we have seen, with the absolutely smoothest removal and insertion we have had the privilege of witnessing.

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The secret to this smooth running removal is the genius engineers over at Cooler Master have once again raised the bar even higher and left the competition in their dust. What those wizards have done to remove most of the friction usually encountered in sliding two pieces of metal across each other by incorporated two rows of ball bearings in the motherboard tray’s track. Bloody brilliant!!

While we are talking about the motherboard tray, we would be remiss in not mentioning that this case also incorporates that ground breaking CPU backplate cutout. This may only be the second case Cooler Master has on the market which includes it but it certainly is nice to see this technology “trickle up” from their mid-range line to their high end kit.

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As with the HAF 932, Cooler Master has once again gone for their patented one click tool-less locking mechanism for the six 5.25 bays. The only thing better than their intuitive user friendliness is the speed at which you can lock down any 5.25 device with one of these bad boys. Of course, if you want you can opt out of this tool free mechanism and use the old fashioned screw based mounting system. Please note, as with the HAF 932, this tool-free mechanism is only on one side so if you are looking for a decent compromise between the two extremes you can always use the tool-free method for the left side and then screw in the device on the right.

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Moving unto the drive cage we instantly noticed Cooler Master has upped the internal 3.5” count from five to six. As with the HAF 932, this drive cage is mounted perpendicular to the 5.25 bays and while we are not a fan of this setup (as it does cause airflow dead zones and makes the front fan work that much harder to properly set up air flow) it does have it benefits. The biggest of these is that it makes installation of your hard drive a snap. When you add in a removable drive caddy for each of the 5 hard drive slots you end up with a very fast and easy installation method. All in all, it appears that Cooler Master basically took the HAF 932 drive cage and added in an extra drive caddy. This is certainly not a bad thing as we found the HAFs drive system to be a very good compromise.
 
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AkG

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Interior Impressions Con’t

Interior Impressions Con’t


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Besides improving the shear number of drives the ATCS 840 can hold over the HAF, Cooler Master has also addressed our main concern with dead air zones. Unlike the HAF this drive cage also boasts the ability to mount two 120mm fans on its side. This in a nut shell would make the two fans mounted here suck any and all hot air away from the hard drives, push it towards the motherboard area where it could then be reused to cool other parts (as hard drives don’t exactly run hot these days) and then be expelled out the top of the case. It’s a simple and elegant solution which we were delighted to see.

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If there is one area in the whole interior of the ATCS 840 which we are disappointed with it has to be how the 7 peripheral slots are handled. Unlike the wondrous tool-free design used in the HAF this case goes old school. Not only do you need to use screws to secure your daughter cards in place but you also need to stick them outside the case to do it. As we mentioned in a previous section, we are not impressed with this setup and feel this is the Achilles heel of the 840. It really is puzzling why Cooler Master’s engineers felt the need to mess with a system which is already pretty darn good. Messing with and improving a system is one thing, but those self same brilliant engineers broke not just one Cardinal rule of engineering but two: "If ain’t broke don’t fix it" and “If you do fix it, make sure it ends up better than the original one”.

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Taking a close look at the fans and reporting on them is extremely easy as there really is only two fans in this case. The first fan is a 120mm fan used in the 840 as the lone rear exhaust fan. This 7 bladed, 120 x 120 x 25 mm sleeve bearing fan (model A12025-12CB-3BN-F1) rotates at a nominal speed of 1200rpm while moving about 44CFM of air. When compared to the HAF’s 140mm fan (which also rotates at 1200rpm) this fan is a bit on the anemic side, moving 13CFM air less.

On the positive side, it is fairly quiet and is fairly vibration free. It is certainly not in the same league as a Noctua NF-P12-1300 or Scythe S-Flex E or D but it is not bad by any stretch of the imagination either. It does exhibit about the same amount of slop as its larger 140mm brethren found in the HAF 932, but it certainly is not the worst fan we have handled either. All in all, it is decent fan which is quiet enough for most people; however, if you are a silent PC enthusiast it will be one of the first things you remove.

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The other fan, which just happens to be used THREE times in this case is the CM A23030-10CB-3DN-L1. These 9 bladed, 200 x 230 x 30mm fans are rated at 700rpm. While Cooler Master still has not released any information on these, we are still inclined to believe the 75CFM estimate bandied about on various forums on the net. We are also inclined to believe this fan is a sleeved bearing fan; we believe this is the case as Cooler Master fans with "CB" in model number usually mean sleeved bearing.

On the whole, all three fans are very well mannered and produce very little felt vibrations when running full speed. All three also exhibited very little shaft slop and even though they are a long bladed fan they have surprisingly little off axis slop as well. They may not be as tight as some 120mm fans but pressing down on one of those long blades does product a heck of a lot more torque than doing so on a 120mm fan, so allowances have to be made.

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Continuing onto the bottom of this case we come to one of the two mounting locations for the Power Supply Unit (PSU). Technically you can have a dual PSU setup, but just like the HAF 932, this case does NOT come with necessary power adapter to allow powering up secondary PSU when you turn on the computer. For all intents and purposes this is a bottom mounted PSU case which can house the power supply at the top if you are willing to sacrifice cooling to do so.

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The area below where your PSU shelf is a filtered intake port to allow your power supply's fan easy access to fresh clean air. This in a nut shell removes the PSU from your cooling equation, but it does mean the fan in the PSU should run slower as it will have a steady supply of ambient temperature fresh air. Everything in life is a trade off but we think this is a darn good one, and actually prefer this design to a more normal “suck the hot air out the back of the case via the PSU fan” method of case cooling.

The only real difference between the ATCS 840’s PSU shelf and the one found in the HAF 932 is this shelf is not adjustable. This may be an issue if your have an overly large PSU but for most owners you certainly will not notice the difference as a regular “full size” PSU is dwarfed by the size of this shelf. As with the HAF 932, there is room in front of the PSU (assuming a normal length PSU is used) to allow mounting a 120mm intake fan. As previously noted, and as with all the other intake fan locations in this case, this one is also filtered so adding a fan here will not result in a large increase of dust accumulation inside the case.

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For all you eagle eyed readers out there, the answer is YES, this case has an even bigger cut out for your PSU cables. Actually, calling it a cut out belies the fact that the whole entire length from the back of the case to the motherboard tray’s vertical stop bar is completely open. Please don’t misunderstand us, the motherboard tray area which comes out is above the PSU zone so you do not have to worry about yanking all your cables before you can remove that tray.

The easiest way to think about the PSU zone is that the motherboard tray slides over an empty area where you can stuff your cables; rather than thinking of these holes as some add on or cutout. This idea is further reinforced when you turn the case around and remove the other panel. You can see that Cooler Master has once again taken the time to really think about and then engineer a great cable management system for this case.
 
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AkG

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Installation

Installation


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As with the HAF, the first thing we are going to do is install the PSU. Since this is mainly a bottom mounted PSU case we are going to go with the default location. Just be aware that if you are willing to give up a boat load of the cooling potential of your ATCS 840 you could install either a second PSU in the “normal” top location or leave the bottom area open. One thing worth mentioning is that this case requires a PSU stiffener bracket (which is included in the accessories bag of goodies) if you do go for the top location. So be careful and don’t throw anything away.

Actually, installing the PSU is as simple as can be. You take off the side panel and slide in your PSU. You need not worry about flipping the power supply or anything like that and should in fact install it in its normal orientation with its fan pointed down (this assumes you have a PSU with a bottom mounted fan, if it is a power supply with back mounted fan please ignore this). Underneath the PSU shelf is a large fan cutout so it should be able to suck in more than enough air. In this instance we have gone with our tried and true Seasonic S12 600W which is a standard-length ATX power supply.

This case’s installation procedure for your hard drive is exactly like the HAF, with the only difference being you can cram 6 hard drives in this drive cage instead of just 5. As with that case, we recommend removing any drive caddy you plan on leaving empty. This will help with case air flow, but be careful and put the unused caddy somewhere which is not only safe but also memorable.

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To install a hard drive, the first thing you have to do is release a caddy from the cage by opening the front door of it and pulling it out. Once this is done you then mount the removable drive caddy onto your drive. This too is a tool-less installation process in that the mounting pins which secure the caddy to the drive are locked into position and then you bend the flexible caddy around the drive and lever the pins into position. This may sound complicated but if you start with one side of the drive locked into position and then bend the caddy over the other side it becomes extremely easy to accomplish. In what is becoming a reoccurring theme, you can further lock the drive in place with screws but this really is overkill.

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When this is accomplished you simply slide the drive caddy into one of the 6 positions and swing its door closed to lock the caddy in place. The only caveat to this installation process is the same one we raised with the HAF: this process is quick and easy but if you are using older nosier drives (or Raptors) this setup has no noise dampening features so you may want to take this into account and plan accordingly. Though in all honesty, with the solid side panels this is much less of a concern than it is with the more open air design of the HAF 932.

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It might be old fashioned of us but the next thing we like to install is our optical drives. As with the HAF this means first uninstalling one of the six 5.25 aluminum cover panels; though this is not complicated and you do not need to remove the front face of this case. All you have to do is remove one of the side panels, reach into the bay area and push one of those bad boys out the front. When this is done all you need to do is push the drive most of the way in, push the button on the appropriate one click tool-less fastening system and then slide the drive in further until you here a click and you can’t move the drive anymore.

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With all the non motherboard related items installed we then move unto the motherboard area. Unlike the HAF this means removing the motherboard tray from the case. To do this you unscrew four screws and slide the tray out the back by holding onto the included handle. As mentioned earlier this is as slick as greased lightening so be careful you don’t need to use much force and flinging the motherboard tray across the room would be….ill advised.
 
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AkG

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Installation Con’t

Installation Con’t


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As with the HAF, Cooler Master has not marked the motherboard area but rather has opted for including a handy chart which has all the information you need to help you install the standoffs in the right locations for your particular motherboard. All you need to do is line the chart up and lay it in place and install the proper standoffs. It doesn’t get much easier than this….unless you lose that chart that is; this to would be ill advised to say the least.

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Once the standoffs are in place you then install the I/O panel which came with your motherboard. Once this is done you can install your motherboard as you would with any case. As with the HAF you don’t need to install any aftermarket CPU cooler backplate first, as this case also comes with that amazingly simple, yet elegant cutout for CPU cooler backplate installation.

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Once the motherboard is in place and you have followed your CPU and CPU cooling solution’s manufacture's instructions, the only big thing left to do is install your video card. This is not a tool-less installation and you will need to first remove one of the mesh peripheral panels but this of course is par for the course. After you have done this and installed you GPU you can then reinstall the motherboard tray. This right here is where the ball bearings pay dividends as the lack of vibrations from sliding metal on metal will keep you from accidentally damaging your CPU or CPU cooler.

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When the tray is in place, you can screw in all the four screws and go onto routing your cables. We will not go into routing the cables as it really is up to you how fancy (or plain) you wish to get with your cable routing. We would like to point out that there is less room behind the motherboard tray in this case than the HAF 932. The difference is not much but it is a bit of a tighter fit.

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Overall this is certainly an easy installation procedure and is in many ways even more painless than the HAF 932’s.
 
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Water Cooling Installation

Water Cooling Installation


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When it comes to water cooling, the ATCS 840 is no slouch but unlike the HAF it is not what you would call single rad friendly. This is because you can not place one in the most logical location by removing the 120mm exhaust fan and sticking it there since the motherboard tray’s reinforcing bracket gets in the way.

Overall, you are left with not exactly great options. You can technically install a rad in the bottom of the case in front of the PSU; but that means it will be the lowest point in your loop. You could place one in the motherboard side of the drive caddy, but then you are blowing hot air inside the case. You can also swap out the fans and stick one on the top of the case but that would be a waste as well

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Dual fan radiators are also in a similar boat in that you could possible mount one on the motherboard side of the drive caddy, but as with the single rad the tubes would be on the bottom of the case (assuming it will fit in the first place, you may need to do some modding to fit one here) and all that hot air would still be stuck in your case. You could also put one on the top of the case, but in all honesty this case is a “whole hog” kind of case and it cries out for a triple rad setup. This is a good thing as the singles and dual may make for a decent loop, but a triple fan rad will almost always be better. To this end we are going to explore this option in more detail.

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As with the HAF 932, installing a triple bay radiator in the top of the case means first removing the monster 230x200 fans. This may sound daunting but in fact is an easy proposition since unlike the HAF 932, the mesh grill covering the fans is easily removable. To do this you unscrew the two thumb screws at the top of the case and slide the mesh assembly out the back. With this done you then have easy access to the fans. Eight screws is all that separates these two fans from freedom.

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Once these fans are removed you can not just stick the triple bay and three fans in place as they need an adapter. Luckily, this adapter is included with the ATCS 840 and in all honesty it makes installing the triple bay with 3 fans soooo much easier. As you can see in the above picture, you simply lay the fans on top of the radiator, line up one of the four plastic adapters and screw it all together. Rinse and repeat three times and presto change-o you have an easier to maneuver water cooling sub assembly.

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While it may be easier, it still is a wee bit of a tight fit getting the whole works into position. We recommend removing the motherboard tray and both side panels to give you all the room you can get. Trust us when we say this sub assembly maneuvers like a pregnant yak! Once it is in place you then reuse those eight fan screws to secure it to the case. You then can replace the mesh top and start in with the rest of the WC’ing setup.

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There are quite a few benefits to this setup; the first and foremost being that all three fans are not occluded and should have heck of an easier time exhausting the air out the top. All in all this is should mean lower static pressure working against the three fans. The brilliance in this setup means that you only lose the top most 5.25 bay and you could even use it in a pinch if it was really necessary and you had the patience to work around the water cooling components. Also, since the 840 is even longer than the HAF, the radiator doesn’t stick into the optical bay. It may seem like a small thing but it does make installing your barbs and tube a heck of a lot easier.

As an added bonus, this case does inherit all the extra space that the HAF has so using an extra thick radiator and / or six 38mm fans in a push-pull setup is not only doable but is down right easy to accomplish. Let me tell you; there are very few cases which can boast not only being able to handle a internally mounted triple radiator but also the ability to handle double fans and double thickness rads! For all you hardcore water cooling aficionados, if that last sentence doesn’t make you “sit up and bark”… I don’t know what would.

Does all this improved (and easier) installation make up for the fact that you are basically limited to a lone radiator setup? Yes and no since the HAF certainly offers more options but for most people a single triple bay radiator should be enough. If you need more than that, the HAF may actually make a better option, but for everyone else, the shear user-friendliness coupled with even lower static pressure does make for one heck of an argument in the ATCS 840’s favor.
 
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