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Cooler Master Storm Scout Mid-Tower Case Review

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lemonlime

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Cooler Master Storm Scout Mid-Tower Case Review



Manufacture Product Page: Scout - Cooler Master
Model Number: SGC-2000-KKN1-GP
TechWiki Info: Cooler Master Storm Scout - TechWiki
Net Weight: 8.7 kg / 19.23 lbs
Price: Click here to compare prices
Warranty: 1 year


The PC enclosure market has been booming like never before and the days of the old “beige box” are most certainly gone. Today, we’re seeing bigger, better, feature rich and innovative enclosures hitting the market in record numbers. We have had the pleasure of reviewing many of these trend setting new cases this year and one such case was the Cooler Master Storm Sniper. Released only two months ago, it was the first case in Cooler Master’s new “CM Storm” series. Although Cooler Master has a whopping thirty four different cases available at the moment, the “CM Storm” series is a very different animal. As we most definitely confirmed in our Sniper review, Cooler Master listened very carefully to what was most important to LAN gamers when it came to an enclosure. The result was an extremely solid and practical case that not only looked the part, but performed very well. One aspect of the Storm Sniper that potential buyers would either love or hate is its size. It is by no means a compact case, measuring twenty two inches tall and deep while weighing in at almost 24 pounds. Not everyone needs such a large case, and Cooler Master was all too happy to provide those individuals with an alternative and thus was born their latest creation: the Storm Scout.

As you have no doubt already guessed, the Scout is a more compact case in the “CM Storm” line-up. Definitely not a micro model by any means, it is over two inches shorter in height and depth, and about an inch and a half narrower than the Storm Sniper. Its weight is also reduced by about four pounds, making it even more appealing to on the go LAN gamers. Although Cooler Master kept the case at a reasonable “mid-tower” size, the Storm Scout is still packed with a healthy array of features including oversize 140mm fans and steel reinforced carrying handles. Like the Sniper, the Scout also enjoys a top mounted fan/LED control panel as well as Cooler Master’s innovative “StormGuard” system that helps to prevent the theft of USB peripherals at public LAN events. Aside from many of the features we loved in the Sniper, the Scout also brings some new cosmetic touches to the table like a tinted side window and a black painted interior.

After having the bar set so high by the Storm Sniper, we must say that we have very high expectations of the Storm Scout and hope that it can live up to its bigger brother’s reputation in our labs. Without further ado, let’s take a closer look.


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lemonlime

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Features and Specifications

Features and Specifications

The following features and specifications were taken directly from the Storm Scout product page.

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lemonlime

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Packaging and Accessories

Packaging and Accessories

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The Storm Scout ships in a moderately sized box measuring 22x22x11 inches and weighs in at a little over 23 pounds. We were actually surprised to see it ship in a box of this size as many enclosures come in absolutely massive boxes by comparison. On a positive note, the smaller size will inevitably equate to cheaper shipping costs.

The packaging is nice and colourful with a large front-on view of the case as well as a listing of the Scout’s features on the other side. Some of the marketing phrases included on the packaging are pretty off the wall, like “Fierce exterior design inspired by military weapons” and “..will keep your most vital gear fortified and well tuned at all times”. On the other hand though, some quotes from the gaming communities that worked with Cooler Master hints to the amount of collaborative effort put into the development of the “Storm” line. Mouse Sports says “With CM Storm’s expertise in producing top notch hardware and our knowledge about the gamers’ needs, we are sure that this partnership will finally result in some of the finest gaming gear”.

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On the sides of the packaging, Cooler Master has thoughtfully placed a full list of pertinent specifications for prospective buyers.

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Although we’re a big fan of reducing wasteful packaging material, we couldn’t help but feel that there wasn't sufficient space between the walls of the box and the case itself. The Styrofoam provides some spacing, but not quite enough in our opinion. Thankfully, our Storm Scout sample arrived in perfect condition. The entire case is wrapped in plastic to keep dust out during shipping and warehousing.

As we have mentioned in previous case reviews, it is important to remember that online vendors almost never place an enclosure box within another box filled with protective packaging like they would with smaller items. What comes from the case manufacturer is what gets tossed around by the courier company.

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The Scout comes with a pretty decent spread of accessories. The list includes hard drive mounting brackets, a dozen or so cable zip-ties, screws and stand-offs, a 5.25 inch to 3.5 inch external drive bay cover and even a small PC-Speaker. Including a mini PC-Speaker on a short lead was a nice touch as it lets the buyer decide if they want to bother with one. Keeping the PC speaker out of the case means fewer header leads to hide away in the case. Many case manufacturers don’t even bother with PC-Speakers any more as many motherboards include them “on-board”.

Another nice touch is the 3.5 to 2.5/1.8 inch hard drive adaptor. Since solid state drives are gaining popularity, it is nice to be able to mount a 2.5 inch drive without the need to purchase an adapter or to have to resort to “ghetto mounting it” with duct tape or Velcro. It would have been even better had Cooler Master provided another set, as buyers with dual drive SSD raid arrays are out of luck.

We’d also like to make special mention of the screws included with the Scout. All of them are black; even the self-tapping fan screws. Although this may seem seemingly insignificant, we were pleased to see the “dark” theme of the case continued to this level of detail.

Cooler Master includes a pretty decent manual to walk a buyer through the installation process. There isn’t much in the way of wording, but pictures are often worth a thousand words and there are plenty of them in the Storm Scout manual. The manual can also be downloaded on-line at Cooler Master’s Storm Scout product page.
 
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lemonlime

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Exterior Impressions

Exterior Impressions

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From an overall aesthetic perspective, the CM Scout is a somewhat aggressive looking enclosure; much like the Storm Sniper. It’s dark powder-coat finish, angled side window and – straight from Cooler Master’s marketing – “military design” set it apart from your average ‘classic style’ mid-tower. This case definitely would not look at home in an office cubicle, but certainly wouldn’t have any trouble fitting in at a LAN party.

Measuring a relatively modest 19.5 inches tall and 19.2 inches deep, it is quite a bit more compact than many of the case’s we’ve had pass through our labs as of late. Its overall dimensions make it roughly the same size as the popular Antec 900, and quite significantly smaller than the Storm Sniper.

When it comes to materials, the Storm Scout is constructed almost entirely out of thick-grade steel save for its front panel and top, which are made of thick ABS plastic. Despite its sturdy steel construction, it weighs in at a somewhat reasonable 19 pounds.

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A gamers’ case wouldn’t be a gamers’ case without providing a window to keep an eye on – or show off – your hardware. After all, what good is a $400 video card if you can’t show it to everyone at the next LAN party? The Storm Scout’s acrylic window is not your average case window either. It is constructed of thick acrylic with an “automotive” tint applied to it. You’ll also notice that there are ventilation strips cut out so that two 120mm fans can be mounted onto the side panel for extra CPU and GPU cooling. Cooler Master does not include fans for this purpose, but just about any 25mm thick model should fit without issue. We’ll be testing the case with and without these optional fans to see what kind of performance role they play.

The other side of the case has a solid panel, but you’ll notice that the centre portion of the panel begins to protrude as you move from the front of the case to the back. We’ll get into why this is important later on.

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Unlike the Storm Sniper, you’ll notice that the rear of the Scout is painted black. This is a nice touch that many enthusiasts will appreciate. As you’ll see shortly in the “Interior Impressions” section, Cooler Master didn’t stop there either.

Like most enthusiast cases these days, the Storm Scout employs a “bottom mounted” PSU and a fairly standard layout with a single 120mm exhaust fan. The fan grille is a simple ‘honeycomb’ stamped variety with mounting holes for not only 120mm fans, but also 92 and 80mm models. Most buyers won’t be interested in downgrading to these sizes, but its options are never a bad thing.

Further down, a ventilation opening is provided directly beside the expansion slot covers, but unfortunately, the Scout does not include vented expansion slot brackets. Keeping the rear of the case breathing, especially the expansion slot area is very important as toasty video cards do not always exhaust air directly out of the case very well. We’ll see how the Scout is able to keep a pair of HD3850 cards cool in the “Performance Testing” section.

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Bottom mounted PSUs are becoming ever more popular these days. There are some thermal advantages to having the PSU at the bottom of the case, but some cable management challenges usually go along with them. Thankfully, case manufacturers are starting to implement some innovative ways to manage cabling in this sort of orientation, and PSU makers are providing longer power leads to ensure they’ll reach the extra distance required. Thankfully, the Storm Scout is not a very tall case, so just about any modern PSU will have long enough leads to reach all areas of the motherboard and case.

The mounting holes exist to allow the PSU to be mounted right-side-up or upside-down. Some PSUs with a 120mm or larger fan at the bottom of the casing may benefit from an upside down orientation as they can draw in air with less restriction from the case. On the flip side, mounting it right side up allows the PSU to draw in cooler air from underneath the case. If the air temperature within the case is high, this orientation may be preferred. At any rate, it’s good to be able to choose between the two mounting possibilities.

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Moving back up the case a little, we see that Cooler Master included the “Storm Guard” system that we were fond of in the Storm Sniper. This incredibly simple contraption allows LAN gamers to wrap their USB peripherals through the openings to “securely” fasten them to the case. With this, an unsavoury character at a LAN party won’t be able to walk away with your precious keyboard or gaming mouse while you are on a bathroom break. Although this is definitely not the “be-all-end-all” of peripheral security, it is an excellent deterrent, and we are happy that Cooler Master continued to include this with the Storm Scout. Since the Storm Scout – like the Storm Sniper – is targeted at the LAN gaming community, this is a great feature that really sets the Storm series cases apart; you won’t find from other manufacturers.

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About the only negative aspect of Cooler Master’s implementation of “Storm Guard” in the Storm Scout is that it occupies an expansion slot. In the Storm Sniper, the “Storm Guard” bracket mounts away from and independent of the slot openings. Although not as ideal as the Sniper, the bracket can still be moved to any vacant expansion slot, which won’t be an issue for most.
 
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lemonlime

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Exterior Impressions pg.2

Exterior Impressions pg.2

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From the front, you’ll notice that the Storm Scout’s removable front panel is 100% metal mesh from top to bottom. Behind the mesh is a foam filter intended to reduce the amount of dust pulled into the case due to its overall negative internal pressure. We’ll take a closer look at the removable front panel later in the “Internal Impressions” section when we start to tear down the case.

A total of five 5.25 inch expansion bays can be found at the front of the Storm Scout. One of these five can be converted into a 3.5 inch external bay for devices such as floppy drives and card readers. A mesh bezel and internal bracket is included with the accessories for this purpose. The bottom third of the case is a single piece of mesh protecting the large 140mm intake fan that we’ll take a closer look at shortly.

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When Cooler Master spoke to gamers about what was most important in a LAN gaming enclosure, portability was at the top of the list. Like the Storm Sniper, the Storm Scout’s top is dominated by a large carrying handle. Although it appears to be constructed of plastic, there is actually thick steel beneath that is securely fastened to the chassis. The handle has a very sturdy feel to it and we’re very confident that even a fully decked out rig can be safely carried by it. This is one of the key features the Scout brings to the LAN gaming crowd, and we’re very pleased with their implementation of it.

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Continuing at the top of the Scout, we find a fully featured front I/O panel with no fewer than four USB headers, the essential audio jacks and an eSATA port. Although there are plenty of headers, we would have preferred to see internal wiring clutter reduced by ditching the eSATA port. Even four USB ports is a bit excessive. Most modern motherboards include a rear eSATA connector on the board itself, and if so desired, a break-out expansion panel can also be used. A Firewire port is not included on the Scout’s front panel, but considering how few individuals actually need one, this is definitely a forgivable omission.

The large square button is the system power switch, and the smaller circular one is the reset switch. The reset switch is small and recessed so that it cannot be pressed accidentally. You’ll have to press it with a pencil or very intentionally with your finger to actually trip it. The circular button just above the audio connectors is actually the LED on/off switch. Pressing this button toggles the red LEDs on and off of the front intake and rear exhaust fans. This is a handy feature as not everyone is crazy about LED fans.

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Farther toward the rear of the case, we find a round 140mm exhaust grille for the internal top mounted fan. You’ll notice that Cooler Master included mounting holes for both 120mm and 140mm exhaust fans. This is a perfect feature as there is a very limited selection of 140mm fans on the market today and it gives buyers the option of swapping it out for a higher-flow 120mm without having to modify anything is a nice touch.

We should mention that although there are screws holding on the top plastic panel, it isn’t easy to remove. The plastic top snaps into place with clips, and we didn’t want to risk breaking them. Thankfully, buyers have almost no reason to want to remove the top panel since Cooler Master included fan mounting holes that are 100% accessible with the top cover in place.

Internal watercooling options at the top of the Scout are a ‘no-go’ unfortunately. Although a 120mm radiator should be able to mount, there is very little clearance above the motherboard as you’ll see shortly. In contrast, the Storm Sniper could accommodate a full-sized double radiator at the top of the case.

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At the bottom of the case, we find a square shaped honey-comb intake grille for PSUs with 120mm or 140mm fans. Unfortunately, the grille is not very long and does not extend very far toward the front of the case so some longer PSUs may not have their fans line up to this grille once installed in the Scout. Honestly, we’re not quite sure why Cooler Master didn’t extend this a little farther to ensure that higher end PSUs breathe easy. As mentioned earlier, any PSU can be mounted upside-down if this is an issue, but will intake warmer air from within the case.

One feature that we miss in the Scout is retractable feet. Although they are not really necessary with a shorter case like the Scout, they do provide a bit of extra stability and improve the appearance of the case.

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The windowed side-panel of the Scout is very solidly constructed. Numerous removable plastic rivets hold the acrylic window to the case, which is ideal if someone were interested in replacing the acrylic. The optional 120mm fans mount to the window using simple self-tapping fan screws. Since the fan screws tap into the fan and not the window, there is no risk of cracking or damaging the window by installing and removing fans multiple times.

As far as the tint is concerned, it is not very dark, and does not appear to be a film that can be scratched or removed. It appears that the acrylic itself was made with that level of tint in the plastic.

About the only negative thing we can say about the side window is that the fan grille does impede the view of internal components; even for those who don’t plan to install a fan in this location.
 
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lemonlime

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Interior Impressions

Interior Impressions

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Perhaps one of the Storm Sniper’s most touted features is its massive 200mm fans. It seems that case manufacturers are pushing the envelope more and more with oversize fans these days. Standard 120mm fans are positively dwarfed in comparison.

Once we cracked open the Scout, we were greeted with a relatively compact interior which means there isn’t a lot of “extra” real-estate in the Scout. Aside from the bottom area of the case, the main compartment is quite literally not much wider than a standard ATX motherboard. This obviously raises some concerns about video card length compatibility. We can say with confidence that slightly longer than ATX motherboard cards to a maximum of 10.5 inches will fit (like a GTX 285 for example) but extra long cards like the Sapphire 4850X2 will not. Unfortunately, the hard drive cage is riveted in place, so it cannot be removed to find any extra length either. We’ll see how the Scout fairs once we get it filled with hardware shortly.

Video card length concerns aside, we were very pleased to find the entire interior of the Scout painted in a nice powder coat black finish. Black case interiors are becoming standard fare in premium quality cases, so we’re pleased that Cooler Master followed suit; especially in this price range. Interestingly, this feature was not included in the Scout’s big brother; the Storm Sniper.

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A nice feature - that was included with the Sniper as well - is the paper template over the motherboard tray which is included so buyers no longer need to guess the mounting hole locations for their motherboard. Simply screw stand-offs into the prescribed labelled openings and away you go. The template is held on by a few small pieces of tape and can be easily removed without tearing it.

As mentioned earlier, the bottom-most expansion bracket contains the “Storm Guard” device. From the inside we can see small metal ‘hooks’ that act as guides for the thin cabling. Based on the openings visible, a maximum of three devices can be protected simultaneously.

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Moving toward the front of the case, we find a large sideways mounted hard drive cage that allows a maximum of five 3.5 inch drives to be installed. You’ll notice that Cooler Master does not include removable caddies like they did with the Sniper. Drive caddies tend to look a little cleaner, but in actuality, they just block airflow to the drive’s metal casing. On the flip side, having caddies populating all of the drive bays provides an excellent location to hide away PSU leads and unwanted cabling. We’ll discuss cable management in the “Installation” sections.

Even farther toward the front of the case, we find a 140mm clear LED fan. This fan provides intake airflow through the drive cages and ultimately the main compartment of the case. There is very little space between the fan and the drive cage, which means that a great deal of airflow will reach the hard drives. Unfortunately – or fortunately if accessibility is important to you – the cage is oriented in such a way as to be restrictive to the overall airflow in the system. Based on the space constraints in the case, this hard drive mounting direction is understandable and we can definitely understand Cooler Master’s decision. Mounting hard drives in a front-to-back orientation would only steal more valuable video card real-estate.

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Cooler Master included tool-free 5.25 inch bay locks, like they did with the Sniper and many of their other cases. Unlike the push-button locks of the Sniper, the Scout employs little rails that push down and then forward to lock in place. We’ll take a closer look at these in the Installation section, but we can definitely say that we prefer the feel of the mechanism used in the Scout as it locks into place nice and securely.

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A nice rat’s nest of header cables can be found peeking through a handy opening at the bottom of the case. All of the headers are long enough for just about any motherboard, but it would have been nice to see Cooler Master keep the dark theme going and either sleeve them or opt for black insulation. It just seems a little off to have this wonderful black case with a slew of rainbow colour cables within.

We were also a little disappointed to see just a small piece of filter mesh held in place by four removable plastic rivets on the PSU fan grille. It isn’t held in place very firmly yet can’t be removed easily for cleaning. Not only do you need to remove the PSU, but you’ll need to pop the rivets from the bottom of the case.

Frankly, we’d suggest removing this prior to installing your PSU if it has a fan in this orientation. Not only will you get much improved airflow – especially if the filter gets clogged up – but it’s much easier to use some compressed air to dust our your PSU once in a while than to go through the trouble of dealing with this filter. A better solution would have been to have a small plastic framed filter mounted below the case on rails that can be easily removed for cleaning.

We should also mention that the PSU fan grille is only sized for a standard ATX size PSU. Long models, like the Corsair HX1000 for example won’t have their fan line-up with this opening properly. If you have a PSU like this, we would recommend mounting it upside-down to ensure it received adequate airflow under high-load conditions.
 
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lemonlime

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Interior Impressions pg.2

Interior Impressions pg.2

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And the dark theme continues! Even the rear of the motherboard tray is painted in black powder-coat. Good show, Cooler Master. As you can see, quite a few cables run from the top of the case to the PSU opening at the bottom and Cooler Master has them bundled up all nice and tidy using zip-ties. There are actually about a dozen hooks that can be found at the rear of the motherboard tray for cable management.

Unfortunately, the PSU lead opening is not terribly large, and the header cables stuff it pretty well out of the box.

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The inside roof of the Scout is dominated by a second non-LED 140mm fan that we’ll take a closer look at shortly. The fan is secured using self-taping fan screws from the top panel and can be swapped out for a 120mm model without modification.

All of the front I/O panel leads run just above the top-most 5.25 inch drive bay and through a small opening near the top right corner of the motherboard tray. Buyers will need to be careful when installing their motherboard as these cables do tend to creep into the ATX footprint a little.

The front, top and rear fans all connect using 4-pin molex connectors, although the top panel fan can be converted to a 3-pin by undoing Cooler Master’s zip-tie job at the rear of the case and removing the molex adapter installed on it. Due to the small amount of space between the hard drive cage and the fan, only 25mm thick replacement fans can be mounted in this location.

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The front panel of the Scout is nice and easy to remove. A little bit of pulling pressure simply snaps it out of place. Although the panel is constructed entirely out of plastic, it has a nice and sturdy feel to it.

Behind the front panel, we find a stamped ‘honeycomb’ style grille for the front intake fan. It mounts using simple self-taping fan screws and mounting holes are present to swap out this oversize 140mm fan with standard 120x25mm fans if so desired.

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At the rear of the front panel, individual pieces of dust-filtering foam are held into each 5.25 inch drive bay cover, and in front of the fan. The foam is a little on the thick side, and will definitely restrict airflow to some degree but will be very effective at keeping dust out of the case. Those more interested in maximum cooling performance can very easily pull it out and keep it in a drawer for future use.

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The front 140mm fan bears the label “A14025-10CB-4MN-F1” and a quick Google search turned up very little information on this fan. Cooler Master does not provide any revealing information on these fans, aside from the fact that they are 140mm in diameter and 25mm thick. Not even CFM values or noise ratings are provided for some odd reason. Usually, marketing departments are eager to show off these values for comparison purposes. Although we are not 100% certain, we do believe this is a sleeve bearing model.

The fan motor receives power via a 4-pin molex connector and LED power via a 2-pin proprietary connector. The two-pin LED power connector mates to the Scout’s LED controller switch to toggle the light on and off.

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The 140x25mm fan located at the top of the case is a non-LED model with a simple 3-pin fan connector. Those interested in monitoring the RPM of this fan should remove the 3-pin to 4-pin adapter that Cooler Master installs and use the native 3-pin connector.
The model number “A14025-10CB-3BN-F1” is very similar to the aforementioned LED model. They both draw 0.14 amps at 12V, so we can likely assume that these fans are almost identical in their motors, dimensions and airflow characteristics.

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The rear 120mm exhaust fan turned up a little more information as this particular model is used in other Cooler Master cases. The black, non-LED variety of this fan is actually used in the Storm Sniper. It appears to be a sleeve bearing fan rated for 0.16A at 12V and 44CFM at a full rotational speed of 1200RPM. At 44CFM and only 1200RPM, this model was definitely chosen for its low-noise characteristics.

Like the other 140mm LED fan, this model also employs a 4-pin molex power connector for the motor, and a proprietary 2-pin LED power connector for the Scout’s LED switch.

Although we wish we could have provided some more detailed information about the fans used in the Scout, we’ll be giving its overall cooling configuration a run for its money in our “Cooling Performance” section.
 
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lemonlime

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Installation

Installation

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We started by installing the PSU, which went without a hitch. The opening at the bottom of the motherboard tray allows PSU leads to run behind the motherboard tray and into the hard drive cage without cluttering the main chamber of the case. Unfortunately, the opening will get quite cramped if you plan to pull numerous PSU leads and the header leads through at the same time.

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As far as cable management is concerned, the Scout is challenging to say the least. Bottom mounted PSUs always make hiding away cables a chore, but thankfully Cooler Master does arm you with some features to help you along. All along the rear of the motherboard tray are simple notches that you can use to thread zip-ties through or twist-ties.

Our first attempt – pictured above – looked great until we fruitlessly tried to reattach the side panel. As mentioned earlier, the side panels to protrude at the center by almost an inch, but only toward the rear of the case. To effectively hide cabling at the rear of motherboard tray, it must be bundled closer to the rear of the case and kept as flattened out as possible. After a few attempts, we were able to get most of the unwanted cabling hidden away in this location, along with some of the fan power and PSU leads.

If you don’t mind seeing a few PSU leads in the open and didn’t deck-out your Scout with five hard drives, they can very easily be left at the bottom of the hard drive cage.

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Moving on to hard drive installation, we must say that we were pleased with the simplicity and ease of installation that the Scout’s rail system provides. Not even a screw driver is required for the rails as they snap into place with minimal effort. Since the fasteners are not threaded, you’ll obviously not want to carry the drive around by the rail, but it is secure enough not to fall off. Although drive caddies look a little cleaner and “higher end”, we can’t argue with the practicality of this simple rail system.

The hard drive can be mounted in two orientations, but we prefer to keep all of the cabling hidden toward the non-windowed side of the case. Those who frequently swap out hard drives can leave the connectors facing the window for ease of removal.

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Cooler Master includes one set of adapters to install a small 1.8 inch or 2.5 inch hard drive into the Scout. To use these adapters, they are simply screwed onto the hard drive and then subsequently used with the included 3.5 inch rails just like a normal hard drive. It would have been nice if Cooler Master included a pair of these for those looking to run a SSD raid array, but given the price of the case, we definitely won’t hold this against them. In fact, we’d consider this a generous bonus feature.
 
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lemonlime

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Installation pg.2

Installation pg.2

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One great feature that we loved in the Sniper was incorporated in the Scout as well: the back-plate cut-out. A decently sized piece of the motherboard tray is intentionally left open so that buyers can swap out higher end heatsinks without removing the motherboard from the case. Even our AM2 board’s backplate managed to remain squarely within the opening.

It is unlikely that every single board will have its backplate 100% accessible in this opening, but we’re fairly confident that the vast majority – especially LGA 775 boards—will.

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Once we got the motherboard installed – which was a piece of cake – we noticed that the top 140mm fan comes very close to the top of our Noctua NH-C12P cooler. Thankfully, there is still a millimeter or two between the fan clips on the Noctua and the fan above. So long as your cooler doesn’t protrude beyond the boundaries of an ATX motherboard, there shouldn’t be any clearance issues experienced.

It should also be mentioned that although the Scout is not a very wide case, it can accommodate larger 120mm tower heatsinks, such as the Thermalright Ultra eXtreme so long as the side panel fan is not used directly above the CPU socket.

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Installing the optical drive into the Scout was a little bit of a pain, unfortunately. We were almost convinced that there was something wrong with our sample as we were not able to shoehorn three different optical drives into the case. In order to get them to fit, we had to snap off all of the break-out panels in front of the 5.25 inch bays to allow the frame to bend that tiny fraction of a millimeter that we needed to slide the drive in place. Needless to say, after everything was said and done, the drive was held in place very tightly.

Securing the drive using the tool-free locking system was a piece of cake. We simply pushed down the latch and pulled it forward. Once that was locked in place, the drive was very securely fastened and no case screws were required.

cm_scout_inst11_sm.jpg

We had no issues getting our two Radeon HD3850s installed into the Scout. There was enough front to back space, and the power connectors had plenty of space to snake to the end of the cards. We should also mention that the plastic tool-free expansion slot locks are much improved over those used in the Storm Sniper. They don’t look very different, but they are much easier to snap in place. Those concerned with security over ease of installation and removal can remove the clips and utilize simple case screws.

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When all was said and done, we had a very nice looking build that we’d be proud to cart out to a LAN party. Although the final product proved to be a ‘snug’ fit with all of the hardware installed, Cooler Master definitely gave the layout a lot of thought and we didn’t run into any show-stopping issues.

Acoustic and Initial Running Impressions

Upon starting up the Storm Scout, we immediately noticed that it is a very quiet case. Both the 140mm and 120mm fans emit little more than a light “hum” that cannot be heard above the video cards and hard drive. I had to install a passively cooled PCI video card to really hear the case fans. Those interested in running a fairly quiet system will not be disappointed with Cooler Master’s choice of fans. From a raw airflow perspective, there is definitely a noise versus performance trade-off at work here. Although the fans do flow a decent amount of air, they do spin relatively slowly compared to higher performance fans on the market today.

cm_scout_LEDs_sm.jpg

From an aesthetic perspective, the Scout strikes a nice balance with the LED lighting. It is not overly bright, and remains tasteful. For those who are not keen on LED lighting, a quick press of the toggle switch on the front panel shuts them off. Another nice aesthetic touch is that both the power and HDD LEDs are red. This may sound seemingly insignificant to most people, but it is yet another small attention to detail that keeps the dark and red theme going.
 
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lemonlime

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Location
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Testing Methodology

Testing Methodology

System Used:
Processor: AMD Phenom X3 8750 @ Default Frequency of 2.4Ghz (Vcore increased to 1.4V to increase thermal output)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix 2x 1GB PC2-8500 (Single sided models @ 2.0V and 5-5-5-15-2T timings)
Motherboard: ASUS M3A78-T (790GX/SB750 Chipset)
Video Cards: 2x ATI Radeon 3850s in Crossfire (Reference Design @ Default 668/828MHz)
Optical Disk Drive: Pioneer DVD Writer
Hard Drive: Seagate 80GB 7200RPM SATA
Heatsink: Noctua NH-C12P with NF-P12 1300RPM fan
Power Supply: Antec Signature Series 650W​

cm_scout_banner.jpg


  • All testing was conducted with an ambient temperature of 21°C and not permitted to deviate beyond +/- 0.5°C.
  • Full system load was achieved using a combination of Prime95 v25 and Furmark for 100% CPU and GPU load. Temperature readings were taken after about 30 minutes of full-load testing and stabilization of temperatures. Idle temperature readings were taken after about 30 minutes of inactivity at the Windows desktop.
  • AMD Cool’N’Quiet technology was disabled in the BIOS.
  • GPU fan speed was fixed at 75% using RivaTuner on both cards for testing to ensure that fan profiling does not throw off results. CPU fan speed was also fixed at 1300RPM.
  • CPU, Motherboard and HDD temperature readings were taken from Speedfan 4.37 as it provided the most realistic values compared to what is being reported by CoreTemp, AOD and PC Probe II with this particular board/CPU combination.
  • GPU Temperature readings were taken from each individual GPU core using RivaTuner.
  • PSU Exhaust temperature was measured using an external probe attached to the PSU exhaust fan grille.

To provide some comparison, we conducted testing in accordance with the above methodology on the recently reviewed Thermaltake Spedo, Cooler Master Storm Sniper, as well as a case-less configuration on a “HighspeedPC Tech Station”. The fans were left in their default configuration on the Storm Sniper, but the 120mm fan was disconnected from the Tech Station to show a truly ambient environment where only the CPU fan, PSU fan and GPU fans are providing cooling to the system.

As you’ll see shortly, we conducted several tests with the Scout to see how it performs with and without the optional side-panel fans. Both CPU and GPU cooling performance will be measured with these optional fans in place. We ran tests with both fans in an intake and exhaust orientation, as well as a ‘mixed’ configuration with the top fan acting as an intake and the bottom fan acting as an exhaust. Noctua NF-P12 fans (1300RPM at 12V) were used for all of the side panel fan tests.
 
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