Every month, it seems like a new boy band is formed, another MP has come out, England puts in another poor performance on the football pitch, I’m the butt of another joke in Gordon’s news stories and CoolerMaster releases another case.
CoolerMaster releasing cases is never a bad thing, as it has some of the most sought after designs around – so I’m always keen to see what’s new. This month, CoolerMaster brings us the iTower 930.
From the front, this case slightly resembles the popular Wavemaster chassis, with a similar wavey aluminium door. However, unlike the wavemaster, the whole front fascia of the case is a door. On the right hand side, part of the door is cut away, to allow the front panel to show through. Here we have the power and reset switches, as well as FireWire, four USB ports, a headphone socket and microphone input.
On this large door, is yet another door – the second smaller door is grilled to allow air flow to the removable hard drive bays behind it. The main door uses magnets to keep it shut, but it does so quite badly. On a flat surface it will stay in place, but there is so little strength in the magnets that on a slight slope, or in a slight breeze, you’ll probably find it falling open. As the front bezel is made of plastic, CoolerMaster has put a thin metal plate behind the plastic, so the magnet has to go through the plastic to get to it. If they had just put the metal plates on the outside of the plastic, not only would it keep the door closed, but you’d have the satisfying “click” of metal on metal.
There are four removable hard drive caddys, all SATA. Fitting these requires four screws, but the mounting mechanism doesn’t cover the connections at the rear, so you can use it as an external SATA device on another machine. Once the hard drive is fixed to the cage, installation is as easy as sliding it into the front of the case and locking it in to place.
Inside the chassis itself, there is a PCB that all the drives connect to. At the very top are four corresponding SATA connectors for connecting to the motherboard. There are two molex plugs to supply power to the drives. There are also four three pin fan headers on the PCB, so you can plug fans straight into it. This is quite convenient and useful if your motherboard only has a few headers.
There is a 92mm fan included, with a shroud that clips straight onto the back of this SATA PCB. This is supposed to help cool the hard drives. However, there are only three three small holes in the PCB for air to travel through. The shroud itself is on the large side and is in an unfortunate position – it was not possible to fit a 7900 GTX or X1950 XT-X. Although the cards themselves just fit, there wasn’t enough room to plug in the external power. The smaller 7900 GT board was however fine, and the shroud is completely removable to facilitate the larger graphics cards, but this is still an annoyance.
Above the SATA cage, is room for three 5.25in drives, and another three below. One of the drive cages has an adapter allowing for another 3.5in device to be fitted. This is useful for floppy drives, or tape drives, which wouldn’t fit into the SATA cage. All of these bays are completely screwless, so fitting a drive takes a matter of seconds.
At the very rear of the case, we have a 120mm fan exhausting air from the case. This is complemented by the CPU cooler duct.
The device in the picture above has two functions. One is to clamp down on the graphics card to stop it moving around and keep vibrations to a minimum. But the other is to funnel fresh air directly to the CPU. Both sides of the duct are spring loaded – this means you’ll get a better mate with the CPU cooler and there will be less chance of vibration. The whole panel is adjustable left and right by a considerable amount and the duct can be moved up and down as well. This helps line it up with your motherboard, as there is no standard position for the CPU to be. The duct is quite deep though and will certainly get in the way with more sophisticated CPU coolers.
Going along with the screwless design, putting in a new expansion card requires no tools. Instead there are plastic clips that hold the cards in place. Unlike some designs, these are all independent of each other and if one does happen to break – you can still screw them in to place.
This is a really stylish case with some real thought put in to its design. It would be well suited towards a small server or workstation user. For the kind of person that wants to build their own, the clash between ducting and graphics card power and the limited number of CPU coolers available to work with its ducting system, it starts to fall on its face. On top of this, the pricing seems a little on the high side. However, this is only an RRP and the actual street price may turn out to be a lot lower.
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