Review: The new king of the middle
CoolerMaster is no newbie in the field of computer cases and the company didn't miss out on a chance to start churning out new models in the new year. Today, our guest is the CM 690 II Advanced, a refreshed and touched up version of the quite popular CM 690 PURE model. The pricing on Advance case is just as attractive as on the older, PURE model, and you can find it priced at €79 here.
Like some much more expensive cases, the CM 690 Advanced comes painted black, both inside and out. The motherboard tray features plenty of holes, which will make cable management and CPU cooling mounting easy. Furthermore, the CM 690 Advanced will easily accommodate plenty of storage disks and optical devices, allow for adding a two-fan radiator on two places (top and bottom), allow for quick connecting of HDD/SSD devices via the docking station on the I/O panel, and much more.
CoolerMaster CM 690 Advanced comes in a nice black box with plenty of pics and info. The box isn't too large and can be carried with ease. The case weighs 9.56kg and our model is called RC-692-KKN2.
As you can see, the packaging has pictures and some flagship features of the case.
You'll find specs on the side of the box, as you can see on the picture below.
In order to safeguard the case during transport, CoolerMaster used Styrofoam and firmly secured the case within the box. In addition, the case is wrapped in plastic so the case will arrive at your doorstep in mint condition.
With the case you'll get different screws, plastic zip ties, 3.5'' bracket, 5.25'' to 3.5'' bracket, four plastic pins (revit) for one fan, a small speaker for MB warnings (buzzer), VGA bracket, wire mesh grill for dust and the installation manual.
VGA bracket is a welcome addition for SLI and/or CrossFire owners in order to share some weight if you want to make sure that a heavy graphics setup won’t damage the motherboard. Naturally, this is not a must but will come in handy when transporting the entire rig. The graphics card bracket is fastened to the rear panel with two screws and will take many different graphics cards. An optional 80mm can also be used to provide your graphics with additional cooling.
Cooler Master 690 Advanced is not the case that will draw attention with futuristic looks and alien-like masks, but the case features modern design and sleek lines which will surely make it a favorite with many. CoolerMaster used metal and plastic as well as wire mesh grill, which keeps the dust out. The case is painted black with chrome contours. As you’ll soon see, the inside of the case is black as well, meaning that the CM 690 Advanced follows the latest trends.
The metal isn’t brushed but rather matte and although the case is already sturdy enough, the finishing touches reinforce the impression of the case being as tough as they get. The CM 690 Advanced is 49.5cm tall and the rubber feet will make sure that the case is stable that there is no noise due to vibrations. The front and top panels are made of plastic, but will require some serious beating to get damaged.
The front panel is made of two layers of mesh grill which, naturally, filter the incoming air. The inner layer is a finer mesh with tiny holes which can be detached and cleaned.
The upper part of the front panel is reserved for four 5.25’’ optical drives, whereas the lower CoolerMaster branded part hides a 140mm Blue LED fan (1200RPM 19dBA), which cools the disks. One 5.25’’ optical drive bay can be made into a 3.5’’ drive bay via the provided metal bracket.
Compared to the CM 690 PURE, the On/Off and reset keys have been relocated to the upper panel with accessibility in mind. The upper panel holds 2 x USB, eSATA, Mic and headphone jacks as well as front fan’s LED control key (on and off).
Cooler master had to equip the 690 Advanced with new features so the I/O panel not only features the standard connectors, but the company included an HDD/SSD docking station. We salute this move as it will surely be a welcome addition to users, especially the more (CM) advanced ones.
Many of you have a few hard disks that they don’t use every day (we know we do), but which hold plenty of valuable data. In such scenarios, the docking station will be a godsend as there’s no need to tear the case open and mess with cables. The docking station is easily accessible, and it only takes a few seconds to get your disk up and running.
The following photo shows the docking station from another perspective, where you’ll see SATA power and data connectors for 3.5’’ or 2.55 HDD or SSD devices.
The rest of the upper panel is made of aforementioned double grill, underneath of which you can place two 120mm or 140mm fans. The upper panel can be taken off via the latches but only after you take the sides off. CoolerMaster equipped the upper panel with one 140mm fan (1200RPM, 19dBA).
The width of the case at the widest point on the upper panel is 21.2cm and the CPU will take a cooling solution up to 17.7cm high.
The right side can be equipped with two 120/140/92mm fans, as you can see from the picture below.
About 0.7mm thick sides can be taken off by removing two screws and pulling the panels back. Note that CoolerMaster also offers windowed right side panels.
The CM 690 Advanced version without the side window, which is our today’s sample, comes with three preinstalled fans, but the case can hold up to 11 fans.
The left side has room for one of the optional fans. In this case, we're talking about an 80x15mm fan.
The rear side of the case (bottom) holds the PSU, a preinstalled 120mm fan on the top (1200RPM, 17dBA) and two holes for external water cooling.
The case is some 2cm above the floor so airflow and/or air intake/outtake will not be an issue. You can equip the right side with additional two 140mm fans or, if you choose so, a water cooling radiator.
The wire mesh grill is here to prevent dust from entering the case. It’s removable so you can easily take it off and clean it.
There’s no wire mesh below the PSU, but we found one in the box. It is advised to mount it before mounting the PSU.
CM 690 Advanced is black inside and out, which makes it pretty cool especially if you purchase the version with the side panel window. As you can see from the picture below, the case is roomy enough. In fact, the case will take any graphics card except for the HD 5970, which is over 310mm long. Good thing about the case is that the HDD trays can be removed from the front, so you won’t need to take out the graphics card if you change disks. The case supports microATX and ATX motherboards.
The motherboard tray features plenty of holes, with the largest one for the CPU cooling. This will make sure that large and heavy cooling solutions, like those requiring a backplate, can be mounted without taking the motherboard out of the case. The rest of the holes are for cable management.
HDD trays won’t get in the way of other components, but you’ll probably have to remove the side panel when connecting or disconnecting the HDD. If you only have one or two HDDs, you can pull the tray out and then disconnect the cables, but if more disks use the same cable, you’ll have to access them from behind the right the side panel. The CM 690 Advance will take up to 3.5’’ HDDs, provided that one is placed in the 5.25’’ bay using the provided bracket.
In order to mount a 2.5’’ HDD/SSD, a special HDD tray can be used, but only one tray supports it and you can use it to mount two 2.5’’ fans. You can see it on the picture above.
You can mount up to four optical drives all without reaching for tools, as the case uses lock/open system on the picture below. We must admit that the locking system is much better than the system used on our recently tested and by the way much pricier Obsidian 800D case.
The CM 690 Advanced comes with three fans – two 140mm fans ( A14025-10CB-3BN-F1 : 1200 RPM, 19 dBA) are located on top and front of the case, and the front panel features a blue LED that can be turned on or off via the I/O panel. The rear panel features a small 120mm fan ( A12025-12CB-3BN-F1 : 1200 RPM, 17dBA). It’s worth noting that the top panel can house one more 120/140mm fan, and as we said before, the CM 690 Advanced will take up to 11 fans.
The CM 690 Advanced uses thumb screws, so you won’t be needing tools. CoolerMaster thought of the inexperienced ones as well and marked the holes with letters, which will help you mount the motherboard the right way, whether it’s ATX or mATX.
The front fan is almost invisible as it’s hidden behind HDD trays, but if you choose so, you can turn on its LED lamp so the fan will give off a nice blue glow visible through the grill.
The front panel can be removed in order to mount/change a fan or optical drive, and the procedure is as simple as a slight pull on the bottom of the front panel. We must admit it’s much easier than on the previous version, and you can see the case without the front panel on the picture below.
One of the four 5.25’’ bays can be turned into a 3.5’’ bay via a bracket, which will come in handy for those looking to add a floppy disk, card reader or some other smaller device. As you can see on the picture below, CoolerMaster includes a neat 5.25’’ mesh lid with an opening for a 3.5’’ device.
The top part of the case can be removed, in case you want to replace an existing fan or simply add another. In order to do this, you’ll have to remove the sides of the case and use the latches to release the top part.
You’ll notice that the docking station uses SATA connectors, which is pretty nice as some cheaper cases come with much slower USB connection.
The PSU is mounted on the bottom of the case, and CoolerMaster used rubber feet in order to minimize vibration and thus minimize noise. If you look below the case you’ll notice that it features a large air inlet.
Removing the side panels will require a slightly stronger tug but when in place, they are very stable and won’t vibrate and make noise. The sides are held in place by thumb screws, so again - no tools required. As you can see from the picture below, Cooler Master 690 Advanced can take ATX or micro ATX motherboards.
You’ll get three quiet fans with the case, where each of them features a 3-pin native connector as well as an additional connector allowing for direct connection to the 4-pin molex connector from the PSU. If you want to monitor the fans’ RPM you can connect them to the motherboard using three pin connectors, but we used our Scythe Kaze Master Ace controller.
We used CoolerMaster’s GX750W and the photo below will paint paint a picture of just how important cable management can be.
CoolerMaster’s GX 750W is the latest PSU from CoolerMaster and it comes with one hefty +12V rail with up to 60A. SLI or CrossFire setups will require up to four 8-pin PCIe power connectors, and while this PSU will provide, it’s still a mini forest of cables that you won’t need when using slower graphics cards. The rest of the cables can be kept elsewhere in order not to hinder in-case airflow.
On the back of the case you’ll find that there is about 15mm of free space between the side panel and the case, and you can use this space either to route cables or to keep those you don’t need. We didn’t do much of a tidy job here, so we’ll leave that to you. As you can see, the CPU cooler can be mounted with ease, as the tray comes with a large hole behind the CPU. The CM 690 Advanced does not come with a removable motherboard tray, but the case is roomy enough so that should not be an issue.
All the 5.25’’ slots come with a toolless system that will definitely make your life easier. All you need to do is to put the handle in “open” position, place your drive into the slot and move the handle back to “lock”.
Mounting HDDs won’t take up much of your time, but you’ll have to connect the cables from the back. One of the HDD bays will allow for mounting two 2.5’’ HDD or SSD devices.
If you want to mount a water cooling radiator you can do so on the bottom of the case, after you take the bottom four HDD bays out, or on the top of the case, which is probably a wiser solution.
The case will take any CPU cooler up to 177mm long, and we almost matched that height with CoolerMaster’s Hyper Z600 (160mm tall). For our testing we used Radeon HD 5870, and it fit like a glove, but note that the case will take cards up to 304mm long.
Motherboard: MSI P45D3 Platinum,
Processor: Intel Core 2 QX9770 Extreme Edition at 3.6GHz,
Memory: Corsair Dominator 12800 7-7-7-24,
Storage: WD VelociRaptor 300G 10,000RPM,
Fan controller: Scythe Kaze Master Ace.
Although our test cooler is passive, the case’s airflow allowed for stable operation of our CPU. After half an hour of Prime 95 testing, the temperature hit 51°C, which is pretty nice for a passive cooler. The fans were set at maximum RPM during our CPU testing, but they weren’t too loud.
We used Scythe’s Kaze Master ACE controller to regulate the RPM and it read 1200RPM, which coincides with what the case specs say. As we already said, the case features three fans – two 140mm ( A14025-10CB-3BN-F1 : 1200 RPM, 19 dBA) are placed on top and front, whereas the remaining 120mm fan (A12025-12CB-3BN-F1 : 1200 RPM, 17dBA) is located on the back panel. Note that the front 140mm fan comes with a nice blue LED lamp which can be turned off or on via the I/O panel key.
As you can see from the picture below, there are 7 horizontal expansion slots on the case with an additional vertical one, which we used to put Firewire and additional USB connectors.
CoolerMaster did a great job with the 690 Advanced, and the case has proven that it has what it takes to take on some much pricier competitors. Furthermore, the 690 Advanced has nicely built on the success of its predecessor – the 690 PURE.
With its 690 Advanced, CoolerMaster continued the tradition of making excellent cases, and with the 690 Advanced priced at about €80, here, they surely can’t go wrong. In a nutshell, the CM 690 Advanced is a newer and improved version of the CM 690 case that was launched a few years back. Although this is a mid-tower case, you’ll find that the space has been utilized to the max, and the case will take up to three graphics cards, tall high-end CPU coolers and two radiators for water cooling. It comes with three preinstalled fans which will quietly take care of the airflow, but if that’s not enough for you, you can add up to seven more. All the fan-reserved spots have wire mesh grills, which will prevent dust from entering the case.
CM 690 Advanced is a newly launched case and currently the only CoolerMaster’s case with an external Sata X-dock, which is a great touch as it allows for quick and hassle-free connection of 3.5’’ or 2.5’’ HDD or SSD devices. Note that many docking station solutions use much USB connections, but CoolerMaster wisely opted on using the much faster SATA connection.
We were pretty impressed by the looks and the amount of features the CM 690 Advanced brings and such a low price-point really makes this case more than a bargain. In fact, we could easily find some more expensive cases that would stand in awe in front of what the CM 690 Advanced boasts, and all that at around €80. While we’re tempted to dare anyone to find a better case at this pricepoint, we’ll still have to stop here, but not before we dub our today’s test sample a Fudzilla Recommended case.