All the Praetorian’s edges are either rounded or folded over to prevent injury. A welcomed touch, especially when I count my numerous scars, each one of them painful reminders of the PCs I’ve built using cases with sharp, poorly cut panels and struts. In addition, the threaded nuts at each screw hole are made from steel and either countersunk and/or bonded to the aluminium frame. Steel is preferable to aluminium as it’s less likely to cross thread.
While it’s certainly a fine case, there’s some room for improvement. First of all it comes with four blue-lit 80mm fans, two at the front and two at the rear. In operation, they are surprisingly quiet, but I’d still prefer two slower-spinning 120mm fans, one at each end, for even more peace. Furthermore, you’ll need four fan headers on your motherboard from which to power each fan (and to control their speeds if the motherboard supports that). However, many motherboards have three headers, so a split power lead like the one below will be needed to power the fourth fan.
There’s also the option to add a fifth fan. If you don’t need the I/O function panel with its press-open sprung lid, two USB2.0 ports, mic and headphone jacks, and one FireWire port, you can replace it with the supplied case fan. I’ve opted to leave the I/O panel in place as I want the extra ports, but I have to say I’m not too happy with its position. There’s nothing wrong with having it on top of the case, but for ease of access especially when it’s under my desk, I’d prefer to see it mounted toward the front of the chassis where I can actually see the ports.
So what is it like to build? Well, there were some issues but overall it was a pleasant experience. The removable motherboard tray made fitting the main components easy, but the central positioning of the I/O panel meant that routing the cables to the headers on my motherboard was a little awkward. The Praetorian ships without a PSU, but fitting this is a doddle – attach the PSU backplate with four screws, slide it into its bay and then secure it with another four screws.
Installing the optical drives proved to be a little trickier. The topmost drive bay will only allow let you put screws in the lower holes on a drive. This is a bit odd, but it shouldn’t really make the drive any less secure. All the other drive bays give you access to all four screw holes on either side of the drive, but bear in mind that there are no supports when you initially slide the drives in. You would have noticed I mentioned screws. Sadly there are no quick release drive rails.
As for the final touches like routing the various cables, I found that I could actually tuck some of them down the right side behind the motherboard tray and the drive bay cages. With all the connections in place, I fired it up and was treated to the now ubiquitous blue glow eminating from the fans at both ends. The Praetorian is a tad noisy but I found that adequate temperatures were maintained with just one 80mm fan in operation at the front and back.
Overall, I’m impressed with the Praetorian 731’s build quality and finish – it may not be as curvaceous as its Wave Master stable mate but they both share the same popular layout. At £84.60 it’s not that cheap, but if you want an easy-to-build case that looks a little different then it’s certainly not a bad buy.
It’s quite pricey and there’s room for some small improvements, but on the whole the Cooler Master Praetorian 731 is a well made aluminium case that uses a tried and tested internal design.
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