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The last time I reviewed a tower case, I was disappointed that the aluminium used for its attractive front fascia wasn’t then also used for the rest of the chassis. Thankfully that’s not the case (excuse the pun) with the Praetorian 731 – one of the latest boxes from the PC builder’s favourite, Cooler Master.
Yes that’s correct. The entire shell is either machined or pressed from aluminium, a metal with properties that seem ideal for a PC case. Not only is it light, but in terms of thermal conductivity it’s some three to four times higher than that of steel. Obviously, this is an assessment of aluminium’s conductivity depending on the temperature gradient that exists across a certain thickness of aluminium and of course the quantity of heat that is transmitted.
Although the suggestion here is that an aluminium case has three times the thermal conductivity of a steel one, the Praetorian 731’s variable surface areas and differing temperature gradients would make its thermal conductivity irregular, and probably not hugely different to that of a steel case. Remember it’s not a block of aluminium tested under controlled, steady state conditions.
Another thing that should be considered is that the case itself is not in direct contact with all the hot components that make up a PC. The heat will only be passed to the inner surfaces by the air inside, and we all know that air is a poor thermal conductor. That’s why some fanless aluminium cases, such as Zalman’s TNN 500A use heat pipes that are actually coupled to the case itself, in order to dissipate the heat.
There is another strong argument for the use of aluminium – it looks good and when it’s finished in the way the Praetorian has been it looks doubly good. That brushed anodised surface gives it a real air of quality. However, as a fan of the company’s WaveMaster design, I’m not too sure about the almost gothic-like fluted frontage but taste is a very subjective matter, and I’m sure that many modders will dig it. And for those of you not fully versed in Roman history the name printed on one of the 3.5in bay covers refers to the elite legion of Roman troops known as the Praetorian Guard. The analogy? Their job was to protect the Emperor, and Colour Master likes to think this case will protect your components…
Moving on to the Praetorian's features, one of its strengths has to be the removable motherboard tray. The tray, also made from aluminium, includes the expansion card frame allowing the majority of the build to be executed outside of the case chassis. In other words it’s an ideal solution for unhindered fitting of the motherboard, processor, heatsink, memory, and the expansion cards. Once everything is in place the tray can be slid back in and secured with four thumbscrews.
These thoughtful construction details conitue. For instance, the side panel has an integrated duct for channelling (hopefully) cooler external air to the fan and heatsink. Be warned that it may not sit directly over your processor socket depending on your motherboard’s layout, and for some monster heatsink and fan assemblies the duct may simply get in the way. If that’s the case it can be always be removed. I’m also not keen on the external, aquamarine coloured Perspex fitting that surrounds the duct’s vent. It could just be me, but it brings a certain tackiness to what is otherwise a professionally finished case.