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So far we have little to no complaint with the CM 690 II Advanced, and the only area where it's inferior to cases we have looked at in the past is its lack of external controls for adjusting individual fan speed, as found on Antec's gaming cases. Does the inside hold up as well?
For starters, the same matte black finish adorning the case's outside has been used on the inside. It doesn't have too much of an impact on our review sample case, as there's little opportunity to see inside the PC, but a version of the CM 690 II Advanced with side window is available. It looks very attractive and there's not a sharp edge or corner to be found either.
Like its predecessor, the CM 690 II sports a completely tool-free design, so the only time you should need a screwdriver is when installing the motherboard. The quick-release mechanisms for the drives all work very well, although those for the 5.25in drives do feel slightly flimsy.
However, in the unlikely event that one snaps off you can always replace it with one from a spare bay or revert to screw mounting. Installing a drive is again as easy as pie: remove the front and slide the drive in, and the mechanism even locks automatically. If we're being particularly picky there's just the smallest hint of movement on installed drives and there are no grommets to dampen vibration, but that's nitpicking of the highest degree.
Six 3.5in drive bays are rotated 90 degrees for easy access. They have removable caddies, of which one is designed to hold two 2.5in drives, an important inclusion with the steady migration towards SSDs in high-performance systems. Both drive mounts are incorporated into a 'floating' tray that rests on screws with rubber grommets to reduce vibration when using laptop drives. Likewise the standard 3.5in drive caddies also sport rubber grommets, and hard drive installation is very simple.
The power supply mounting area at the case's base also has rubber mounting nubs to dampen vibration, though if your PSU is particularly short (like the 500W Blue Storm II we tested the case with), it won't reach the front ones. This is not a big deal, though it's something CoolerMaster may wish to revise on a future model. Obviously, given the case's roominess, you can fit even extended power supplies.
When it comes to card retention, CoolerMaster has dropped the plastic clip system employed on the CM 690 for a much more reliable set of thumbscrews. However, these were so difficult to remove initially that we needed some pliers to undo them, kind of defeating the whole tool-free philosophy. Mind you, once loosened they're easy to work with.
A clever touch with the CM 690 II is that above these horizontal slots there is another vertical slot, similarly secured with a thumb-screw. This innovation is ideal for all kinds of purposes, such as for those backplate expansion holders for extra USB ports from motherboard headers, which otherwise obscure a valuable slot on your motherboard. Genius!