Cooler Master has been pushing out some seriously nice cases recently, from the ATCS-840 to the HAF-932 to the cosmos series. They are all well thought out and built. But Cooler Master was not happy with just those under its belt. At the beginning of the year they launched a new series; the CMStorm series. This added a whole new level of design and quality to an already impressive lineup. We have gotten a hold of the Cooler Master CMStorm Sniper gamers chassis and are putting it through our ringer to see if it can live up to our standards and if it is worth your hard earned money.
The box that the Sniper ships in is of the usual black and sexy type. It has the stock half faded images of the case and includes the image of a Swat Sniper holding a Barrett Light .50 Sniper Rifle in case you did not get the reference.
The box contains enough print to get you informed on what the CMStorm Sniper has to offer and enough images to give you the overall looks of the case. The packaging also has enough protection to keep the Sniper safe from drop and tip damage. I dropped the case from its usual height and when it came to the “kick” part the box did not move but the cardboard did push in a little and tear. I would be concerned more about puncture damage than drop damage with this one; although that really applies to any case packaging.
On the green side - The Styrofoam and plastic wrapper are not biodegradable but can be recycled if taken to the proper facilities. The cardboard box is not really reusable as the shape does not lend to packing common items.
Construction and Features:
The CMStorm Sniper is a nice looking and well thought out case. The outer shell is a combination of plastic and metal. The coating on the metal gives it a non-glare “military” look. Not industrial but certainly military. The front has a mesh grill similar to the HAF-932 but with a few differences. It is as wide as the HAF-932 and has external openings for five 5-1/4-inch bays [one of which can be used for a 3-1/2-inch drive] and a 200mm fan that pulls cool air into the case and over the HDDs.
The front panel is both attractive and functional; you have everything you would generally need and more. Cooler Master has thrown in an extra control a speed dial for the fans and a button to kill the lights from the built in LED fans.
The top of the CMStorm Sniper is interesting; there is a raised portion that is reminiscent of the Battle Star Galactica ships. In reality it serves as a handle for easily picking up the Sniper. Under this area is another of those monster 200mm fans.
Moving down to the sides we notice that the CMStorm Sniper has flared sides; this is a great idea in terms of keeping the insides of your case clean. It allows for more cables and Molex plugs to be hidden behind the mainboard mounting tray. On the left side it allows for an extra 200mm case fan to be mounted [or multiple smaller fans] to increase the airflow through the Sniper.
The back of the Sniper is not really all that special; PSU mounts on the bottom, there are openings for external water cooling at the top and bottom, and there is the usual number of expansion slots. But there is one item that a little different. That is the addition of an extra expansion port on the side that allows you to have those add-in features (like eternal e-Sata, audio out, etc) without using up a normal expansion slot.
Internally you have a tool-less design, the HDDs mount into slide out trays and the CD-ROMs slide in and are locked into place by press release buttons. All of your expansion cards are held in place by sturdy plastic clips. The mainboard mounting tray features and easy to read diagram making installation a snap. There is also a large rectangular cut out to allow for the installation of a water block or large third-party HSF [heatsink and fan] without having to remove the mainboard. Cooler master has also provided a spot for an extra fan to pull cool air in from under the case.
In all the CMStorm is a well built and designed case.
Aesthetics [that means looks]:
Looks are always going to be subjective, I could give you just my opinion and you might not agree with it. So to be fair I used my usual method for scoring the appearance of cases. I asked multiple people what they thought and asked them to score the CM Sniper based on overall looks and “coolness” this latter category is described as “An ability to grab your attention and hold it” something does not have to look good to be cool. Additionally I asked for a one word description of the case.
As you can see many liked the looks of the case but not everyone thought it was cool. For the most par the first impression was that it looked familiar or it was very military in appearance.
My personal feeling is that it looks like a piece of military hardware. I am not sure exactly what it reminds me of [other than my BattleStar Galactica reference above] but it certainly gives an impression of police or military gear.
I used this case to build an i7 920 system complete with a CoolerMaster V10 cooler. It was very easy to work with. There is plenty of room inside for you to route cables. I did find that the opening for a fan was covered by extra cabling when I used a non-modular PSU. The beveled out area of the side panels made it very easy for me to route cables behind the mainboard tray [out of sight out of mind]. One problem that I did have was with the use of double height cards. The plastic tabs do not like them at all. You really have to force the middle tab down while moving the card to ensure a snug fit. Leaving the middle tab open is not an option as the card feels loose if it is not in place.
The CM Storm Sniper retails for around $160 but there are a few places that have rebates so you might be able to get it at a lower price. At $160 this is a fair price for what you are getting; I cannot say enough about the build quality. I was very impresses with how scratch resistant the sides were. The air flow is great [I would still recommend adding in the 220mm fan in the side] while the noise level is low for the number of fans present. The option to turn the fans up or down and the lights off is a nice touch as well.
The CMStorm Sniper has an industry standard one-year warranty. Cooler Master has an e-RMA form that you can access directly from their website. Cooler Master also gives you options for call in RMA as well as forum support for questions.
I have been impressed with Cooler Master cases since the Cosmos came out. Before that I really cannot say much for them; however they have really made strides in ramping up their quality and style with their new designs. The CM Storm Sniper shows they are looking to mature even more in terms of functionality and form. I would like to see the retention clips for add-in boards made more sturdy and including filters for all of the fan openings is a must for future models. The price is good for the quality and in line with other high end gaming cases.
In all I think that Cooler Master has a winner on their hands with the Sniper. If you are in the market for a case with style, and room that is not a giant piece of unattractive metal you will definitely want to take a look at the CM Storm Sniper.