Thankfully the days of PCs being boring beige boxes are far behind us, but now the overwhelming variety of case options out there can be a bit daunting. It's important to make the right decision here as, just like a set of decent speakers or a good monitor, a case is something that you can keep through many cycles of PC component upgrades.
The best cases are often evolutions of preceding models, and the CoolerMaster CM 690 II Advanced is – if you'll forgive the pun – a case in point. Unsurprisingly, it's the successor to 2007's highly successful CM 690. However, it comes in at a higher price point, so join us as we see whether it's worthy of housing your next build.
The first thing most customers should decide is what size of case they want to buy. If you need something small and light the CM 690 II Advanced is not for you, as this mid-tower stands at nearly half a metre tall and weighs a not inconsiderable 9.8kg (21lb). On the other hand, if you require a case that's roomy, offers excellent cooling and boatloads of flexibility, the CM 690 II might be right up your alley.
In terms of looks we certainly like it. As is frequently the case with high-end chassis primarily aimed at the gaming and enthusiast market, CoolerMaster's latest consists of a steel body with moulded plastic edges clad in matte black. Though the steel does result in that heavy weight, this combination makes for a blend of unique if subtle styling and excellent build quality while keeping the price at a very affordable £86.
One of the things that sets the CM 690 II apart from most other cases is CoolerMaster's signature mesh front and top, complemented by chrome strips that run all the way to the back. The mesh sections not only help it to stand out visually, but also allows for good ventilation.
Build quality is excellent with only slight (and expected) flex in the side panels and mesh sections. The only minor exceptions are those chrome strips, which feel just a tad looser than we would ideally have liked, but then they're protected from harm by the raised plastic side-ridges.
Mostly, the exterior remains very consistent with the original CM 690's look. There are now only four 5.25in drive bays at the front instead of five, but honestly we can't see most enthusiasts even using that many. A 5.25 to 3.5in mesh bay adapter and twin bracket rails are provided for installing a memory card reader, (shudder) floppy disk drive or other 3.5in device.