For the most part the motherboard mounting area is easy to work in, despite the lack of a removable motherboard tray. There are plenty of holes in the base for routing cables through with around 2cm of clearance between the side panel. There's also a hole behind the CPU so you can install coolers that require a back plate without removing the whole motherboard. However, we do have a couple of issues with the 690 II.
The first and potentially most off-putting (for gamers, anyway) is that the CM 690 II Advanced simply won't fit an AMD/ATI Radeon HD 5970, as the maximum card length is 304mm. This is even more frustrating as the issue could have been remedied by making the top part of the drive cage assembly removable as the bottom one is. Unfortunately it's riveted, so good luck getting it out of the way. On the plus side, for users of other large and heavy graphics cards, there's an ingenious adjustable graphics card support bracket that should prevent your graphics card coming dislodged when in transit and also acts as a cage to house an additional 80mm fan for even more cooling if required.
The second issue with the case is less serious. If you're using a large CPU cooler it can be very difficult to attach the with the board installed as the back and top fans butt right up to the edge of the motherboard. It's not a deal breaker but it caused us a bit of frustration.
Luckily there's no issue with height as the case can handle CPU coolers of up to 177mm, and these problems aside, installation in the CM 690 II Advanced is a dream. Plenty of black screws and cable-tidies are provided, and though the manual lacks instructions in how to mount and place a few bits and bobs, to be honest it's all very self-explanatory.
Best of all, the two 140mm case fans run whisper-quiet at stock speed while providing excellent airflow, though the 120mm fan was noisier. Overall, the case produced between 40 and 45 dB (side/front and top at about at around 20cm distance), while keeping our test CPU at 39 degrees idle and 66 degrees under load. This could be much reduced by using your motherboard's fan control on the 120mm rear fan.
As long as the system you plan to build avoids the two pitfalls mentioned above and you don't mind its weight, there's little to dislike about CoolerMaster's latest enthusiast mid-tower. It's well-built, looks good, offers a plethora of features (most of which are genuinely useful) and a very flexible, quiet cooling setup (with the 120mm fan running below its maximum). Best of all, the CM 690 II Advanced is good value at just under £90. Though there's no shortage of competition at this price point, CoolerMaster does offer a few unique features and we reckon it's well worth the £30 premium over the original CM 690.
Despite a few issues, CoolerMaster's CM 690 II Advanced is a worthy successor to its popular predecessor, offering a great combination of features, looks and build quality for the price.