Cooler Master's CM Storm gaming department unleashed it's newest mid-tower case, the Enforcer. Cooler Master is known for their high-end feature-rich cases, so let's see how this one fits in with their already impressive line of CM Storm gaming cases. Read on for the details.....
Door or no door? That will be the eternal case question. I've never been a huge fan of doors, as most I've seen don't blend well and seem to be in the way. Let's see how this case (and it's door) measure up.
The Case came shipped in a glossy full-color box full of specs and photos. This side of the box has a large colorful graphic of the case.
The backside of the box shows the case from various angles and points out some of the key features.
One end showcases your standard specifications chart....
While the other end has another image of the case as well as a few small features.
Once out of the box, the case is encased in the standard styrofoam endcaps and wrapped in a plastic bag to prevent scratches.
|Material||Steel Body, ABS Plastic, Mesh Bezel|
|Dimensions||(W) 229 x (H) 484.5 x (D) 523.5 mm|
|(W) 9.0 x (H) 19.0 x (D) 20.6 inches|
|Net Weight||8.9 KG / 19.5 lb|
|Motherboard Type||ATX, Micro-ATX|
|5.25" Drive Bay||4 Exposed (one could be converted to 3.5" bay)|
|3.5" Drive Bay||1 Exposed (converted from 5.25" bay)|
|2.5" Drive Bay||4 Hidden (two converted from 3.5" bay)|
|Cooling System||Front: 200mm red LED fan x 1, 1000 RPM, 19 dBA|
|Rear: 120mm black fan x 1, 1200 RPM, 17 dBA|
|Top: 200mm black fan x 1, (optional; can be swapped for 2 x 120mm fans)|
|Expansion Slots||7 + 1|
|I/O Panel||USB 3.0 (internal), USB 2.0 x 2, Mic x 1, Audio x 1|
|Power Supply||Standard ATX PS2 / EPS 12V (optional)|
|CPU Cooler height: 175mm|
|VGA card length: 270mm (wil HDD cage)|
|390mm (without HDD cage)|
Once out of the packaging, you can really get the feel for the styling of the case. The side panel window also comes with a piece of sticky plastic on each side to help prevent scratches during transport.
The left hand side of the case is your standard flat steel panel.
The rear of the case features a bottom-mount PSU that's able to be installed with the fan up or down, depending on user preference or needs. It also sports a 7+1 slot arrangement, with the +1 being to the right of the standard slots (more on that later on). All slots feature vented covers for added ventilation. Also you can see the included 120mm fan and 3 water cooling grommets. One thing I noticed is that the left hand side panel is held on with standard screws, rather than thumbscrews like the right hand side panel is. For a case in this price range, thumbscrews should be standard.
Here is a shot of the front of the case with the door open. The door is just a single piece of plastic with two hinges, and does an admirable job of hiding your 5.25" bay devices. There isn't any kind of retention to keep it shut other than a slight interference fit. I didn't have any issues with it not staying closed, so it seems to be OK. It is also easily removed, but the case looks funny without it.
With the right hand panel removed you get the standard brown box-o-goodies wire-tied to the front drive cage. All of the internal wiring is wire-tied as well to keep it tidy.
The goody box contains all of your tool-less HDD rails, zip ties, a case speaker, a 3.5" to 2.5" bay adapter, a bag of screws and standoffs, and a pair of brackets for turning a 5.25" bay into a 3.5" bay.
The best feature of this case is the center drive bay section that is customizable to your liking or needs. It came pre-installed standard as shown top left, but can be rotated 90º or removed altogether for longer VGA cards. The 2.5" drive mount can be removed from in front of the PSU and placed on top of the lower 3.5" cage if you like as well.
One thing I LOVE from Cooler Master is their inclusion of this nifty little standoff installer socket. No need to find a socket or driver to install the standoffs. Simply install them with this socket and your standard #2 Phillips screwdriver! More manufacturers need to take note of this.
Here's a closeup of the HDD rails showing the rubber-mounted pegs for vibration absorption.
The front of the top panel features 2 USB 2.0 ports, 2 USB 3.0 ports (with the now-standard internal motherboard connector), a headphone and mic jack, the power button, HDD LED and power LED. The reset button is hidden beneath the door to prevent accidental use, which is a nice feature.
The bottom of the case features 4 large rubber feet, and an intake filter for the PSU. Sadly this filter is not removable for cleaning, which is a feature that comes standard on most similarly priced cases such as the BUC I reviewed.
Looking inside the case you'll notice a LARGE CPU cooler backplate cutout, several large cable management holes and lots of tabs to zip-tire your wires to on the back of the motherboard tray. The cable management holes don't have rubber grommets, but they're all well rounded over, so you don't need to worry about any kind of nicks or cuts from this case. The top panel has mounting holes drilled for either a 200mm fan or a pair of 120mm fans (or a 2x120mm radiator).
The 4 5.25" drive bays feature a simple and effective tool-free mechanism. You flip the lever to open, slide in your device, and flip it back to lock. It's simple and very secure.
The front panel is removed by unclipping it from the front with 3 tabs on each side. The side panels both need to be removed to remove the front panel. The only wire attached to the front panel is the HDD LED lead. The front 200mm fan has red LEDs that are always on and features a filter that's also not removable for cleaning.
Another nice feature is this removable side panel lock tab to keep your hardware secure.
System installation was straightforward and easy. All of the needed standoff locations are clearly printed on the motherboard tray, and all the cables were easily routed through the provided holes.
The cables were easily managed on the backside of the case. There's more than enough room here to run what you need to run and then some.
You can see just how much space there is behind the tray. I was easily able to push this unneeded 4-pin CPU power connector between the tray and edge of the case.
Here you can see that with the 5850 and it's rear-facing power connectors I was still able to install the center drive cage with just some slight interference. Anything larger than this 5850 and you can forget having that center cage installed, but this is a gaming case, not a home server case, so it's an easy to deal with trade-off.
The tray sports a large rectangle hole above the motherboard for running varies wires through, and also a dedicated hole for the CPU power connector. I'm also happy to report that you can run the CPU power connector WITH the board installed.
Here you can see the nice large hole to run all of the PSU cables through to the rear of the motherboard tray, and where the 2.5" drive case was mounted. With a supply this large, the 2.5 cage would not fit in. Although, if using a PSU this large you'll probably have a large video card, so you can either mount the 2.5" cage to the top of the bottom 3.5" cage, or use the provided 2.5" to 3.5" adapter. Either way, they've got you covered.
The +1 slot that we looked at earlier has this notched insert called the Storm Guard that you route your keyboard, mouse, headset etc. cables through and provides a simple way to secure them to the case. Now all someone at a LAN party has to do it pop out the screw that holds that plate in (as it's accessible from the outside) and make off with your stuff. But it does add a few more steps for them and would be a good deterrent. This Storm Guard insert doesn't have to go into the +1 slot and will fit into any of the 7 standard slots. It's nice to see they included the extra slot just in case you are using all of the standard 7 available and still want to use the Storm Guard feature.
With the power on, the power LED on top has a nice glow but it not overpowering.
The front fan provides a nice (and thankfully) red glow that's bright enough to be seen but not so bright it's overwhelming. Unfortunately there's no way to turn these LEDs off if you don't like them other than to replace the fan.
All in all the CM Storm Enforcer is a solid and well built case. It can be found at the Egg for $89.99 at the time of this writing.
A few things to keep in mind are the non-removable fan filters. For a case pushing $100 I feel that those should be standard. The front door isn't for everyone, but it fits into the overall styling of the case very well. The now-standard internal USB 3.0 connector finally alleviates the problem of running the ugly blue cable out the back of the case. The front fan LEDs, while not overpowering, are always on. Again, this will only be a problem for some people. The omission of thumbscrews on the left side panel surprises me, as most cases out today come with them standard. The peripheral cable lock isn't 100% secure, but it will add an extra step for would-be LAN party thieves to have to deal with.
This case gets a solid 8/10 from me, and only a few small additions would bring it right up to a 10/10. This case should definitely be on your list if you are in the market for a mid tower with LOTS of internal space.
This product was provided free of charge by its manufacturer for the purpose of review.