I would like to thank Cooler Master
for providing the CM Storm Stryker review sample.
Cooler Master is a predominant gaming case manufacturer known by many computer enthusiasts. They have started their CM Storm brand aimed purely at the gaming enthusiast some time ago. Now, their latest chassis is aiming to provide all the features sought after by the playing community along with providing new and unique aspects as well. Enter stage left: CM Storm Stryker, which is a slightly updated, white version of the black CM Storm Trooper.
|CM Storm Stryker
||External: 3x 5.25 inch bays, with 1x 5,25>3,5 inch converter included
Internal: 8x 3.5/2.5 inch HDD trays (2x 4-in-3 cages) & 5x 2.5 inch bays
||Micro-ATX, ATX, XL-ATX
||Front: 120 mm LED fan x2 (1200 RPM, 17dBA)
Top: 200 mm fan x 1 (1000 RPM, 23 dBA)
Rear: 140 mm fan x1 (1200 RPM, 19 dBA) (converted to 120 mm fan)
Bottom: 120 mm fan x 2 (optional)
Side: 120 mm fan x 2 (optional)
||(W) 250 x (H) 605.6 x (D) 578.5 mm
(W) 9.8 x (H) 23.8 x (D) 22.8 inch
|| 13.7 KG / 30.2 lbs
||Power / Reset, LED, Fan speed +/-
||USB 3.0 x 2 (internal), USB 2.0 x 2, Audio In and Out ( Supports HD audio)
Cooler Master ships the CM Storm chassis in a full color package. While this is great, it seems like the image of the case is outdated. As we will see later on, the side main side panel has a large mesh grill as is on the package itself. In the rear you will get an insight about the interior of the Stryker enclosure. Both sides hold some additional information along with an image of the chassis, this time from another angle.
Cooler Master has placed the the Syrofoam spacers in the front and rear of the chassis. This choice keeps the overall dimensions of the package to a minimum, allowing to stuff more of these cases into a container and thus save on shipping costs. Both spacers were in pieces, but the chassis was perfectly fine.
You will receive a brown box filled with eight plastic hard drive trays. Most manufacturers install these within the chassis instead. A bag with an 8-pin power cable extension, all the screws and 3.5 inch rails is also part of the case. These are actually hidden somewhere within the case itself as we will see later on.
A Closer Look - Outside
Cooler Master has always been great at creating themed enclosures with a great level of detail. The HAF series is a good example and the new CM Storm Stryker is probably one of the most detailed ones to date. Cooler Master has really managed to create a damn cool looking case upon first inspection.
The entire front is lined with a total of nine drive bay covers. Even though you could use all of these for 5.25 inch devices if you wish, only the top three are free right off the bat. In the rear we can see a bottom mounted PSU and a total of 9+1 expansion slots - plenty even for quad-SLI or CrossFire. Both side panels feature an identical extruded part, but Cooler Master has decided to extend the metal mesh part on the main side to allow for more air flow within the chassis. Unlike the CM Storm Trooper, the Stryker ships with a window side panel, with a different design. To keep the look of the chassis, the other side panel has also been changed accordingly.
Taking a closer look at the front, the bottom holds a larger cover with the CM Storm logo above which is a 3.5 to 5.25 inch cover. Each of these covers is easily removable without having to pull off the entire front of the Stryker case. In the very top you will find a 2.5 inch hot-swap bay sandwiched between the very top drive bay and the ceiling of the chassis.
I mentioned before, that the extras of the CM Storm Stryker are actually hidden. Cooler Master has placed them in the bottom compartment which allows you to transport small parts along to the next LAN party. A metal ring also allows you to lock this compartment down, so that nobody can steal its contents in your absence - pretty cool!
In the rear you will find the bottom mounted PSU bay, which can hold such units with the fan facing up or downward. Above that are nine mainboard expansion bays, allowing you to install four dual-height graphics cards with a single slot remaining free for other items like USB or Firewire brackets. There is a tenth one with the CM Storm signature anti-theft bracket installed. Simply route your mouse and keyboard cables through here and screw it down. Thiefs would then have to cut the cord or enter the chassis to gain access to your valuable peripherals. In the very top there is a 140 mm exhaust fan, pushing air out the back of the case.
The detail of the overall design is clearly focused on the top panel of the CM Storm Stryker. An elaborate I/O panel has been placed here. Along with the large power button, and complete I/O consisting of USB 2.0, 3.0, eSATA and audio connectivity, you will also find controls for the fan speed and internal lighting of the chassis. Behind that, a bit toward the front of the chassis, there is a large and actually quite comfortable handle. It is enforced with steel and bolted to the frame of the chassis. This is a necessity considering that the CM Storm Stryker weighs in at over 14 kg without hardware installed. Last but not least, a removable dust filter in the ceiling protects the ceiling fan from outside dirt.
The same goes for all openings on the underside of the chassis, so you can rest assured that the PSU won't suck up all the dust in your carpet over time.
A Closer Look - Inside
Cooler Master has not only created a unique outer shell, but also a very functional interior. The overall quality feels very good and there is a large opening in the mainboard tray to give you clear access to the underside of the mainboard. Interestingly enough, the metal mesh parts are double layered. This is the first time I have seen this, but this is intended to keep as much dust out of the chassis as possible.
A little contraption on the floor of the chassis allows you to install four 2.5 inch hard drives regardless of the actual hard drive bays. These utilize normal screws to hold such units in place as we will see later on.
At first sight the 3.5 inch bays look like side cooled ones with the drives behind the fans, with their side to the front of the chassis. These are actually two 4-in-3 cages, and can hold up to eight hard drives in total. Due to an extremely clever design, you may rotate the entire trio of 5.25 inch bays, so that these face the front of the chassis. Doing so requires some work, as you have to remove the respective cage, then the panels and reinstall everything in reverse order, turned 90 degrees.
Even so you may still use the 4-in-3 cage by simply sliding it in the front of the chassis. There is enough space to replace the front cover. You may repeat this entire procedure with the lower set & cage as well. This means that the CM Storm Stryker is extremely versatile offering both internal layouts without any limitations - a first for a chassis. Above the hard drive bays are three fixed 5.25" variants. These face the front and are quite basic, but should get the job done.
Turning our focus to the rear of the chassis, things are mostly traditional. A PSU is mounted on the bottom of the Stryker, with nine expansion slots above this bay. This is enough space even for XL-ATX mainboards. On top of that there is a tenth slot, to the left of these with the special cover allowing you to route cables through it, keeping your mouse and keyboard save from thieves in your absence. All the way on top, there is a 140 mm fan to pull hot air out of chassis.
Cooler Master has designed the chassis with roughly 20 mm of space behind the mainboard tray. this should be enough to route all the cables here and some tough love when closing things up. There is also a fourth fan in the ceiling of the chassis. This one is 200 mm in size and also pulls air out of the chassis.
Before we dive into the assembly process, let us take a look at the cables. All of them are black or sleeved in the color of the chassis, so you can go for a clean and nice look right off the bat. The connectivity for the I/O and the case is of the standard variety, but Cooler Master has also included the functionality to toggle the fan LED by using special connectivity. The fan controller itself is powered by a single Molex connector and feeds a total of four cooling units.
Installing the mainboard is a standard fare. There is plenty of space around the CPU area for even the largest ones.
The little bay for 2.5 inch drives is simple but functional. Simply use the included screws to secure the device. You may install it in such a way that the connectors aim either towards the mainboard tray or the main side panel.
Installing a 3.5 inch drive is quite simple as well. Just place the drive unto the plastic tray and slide it into the bay until it snaps into place. This entire process is completely tool-less. The connectors face away from the fan or towards the interior of the chassis, depending on the setup of the drive bay.
Inserting 5.25 inch drives is equally simple. Due to the construction of the front, the covers can easily be removed without having to pry off the entire panel. Once free, just slide in the device and screw it down properly. While there are plenty of capable screw-less or tool-less systems on the market today, the use of such traditional means is quite alright. The only thing I would have liked to see would have been thumb screws instead of normal ones.
Last but not least, the PSU installation is just as you would expect. Place it in the proper location, screw it down and call it a day.
Once all the parts are in place, the interior of the chassis looks squeaky clean thanks to the excellent cable management possibilities. As you can see, the mess is hidden nicely behind the mainboard tray.
Overall, the CM Storm Stryker makes an excellent impression when closed up and turned on. Both fans are equipped with red LEDs, which may be toggled on or off by a button in the top part of the chassis.
The 2.5 inch hot swap bay is quite simple but works as advertised. There is no eject functionality so you just have to pull it out when no longer needed. There is enough of the drive sticking out that you should be able to do so easily.
Even with the optical drive installed, it does not really disturb the overall looks of the chassis, as there are so many other elements that draw your focus. In the rear all areas are free and reachable, while the side shows a bit of the red LEDs from one of the fans shining through.
On top of the chassis, the CM Storm logo acts as a power LED while the multi-stage fan controller utilizes separate LEDs to display the current setting. This entire setup actually works quite well and looks damn spiffy.
Value and Conclusion
- The CM Storm Stryker should set you back around 160 Euros incl. taxes or 200 USD excluding taxes. This makes the chassis 10 Euro more expensive than the CM Storm Trooper at launch. The Trooper costs 120 Euro now, so you currently have to pay 40 Euro extra for the Stryker.
- Very detailed & cool looks
- Very good quality of metal and plastic used
- Cool looking window panel included
- 2.5 inch hot-Swap bay in the front
- Unique drive bays for hard drive bays
- Two 4-in-3 hard drive cages included
- Four fans part of the chassis
- Excellent cable routing possibilities
- Surprisingly comfortable and sturdy handle
- Separate bays for 2.5 inch drives
- Easily removable front covers
- Multi-stage fan controller included
- 9+1 expansion slots for quad-SLI setups
- XL-ATX compatibility
- Anti-Theft cover in the rear
- Hidden compartment with lock
- Dual-Layer metal mesh on side panels
- Dust filters on top and bottom
- Enough space behind tray for cable routing
- Screw-less 3.5" hard drive installation
- Hefty price premium over the black version
- Case only level when front is filled with hard drives and optical drives to weigh it down
- Heavy even empty
- No thumb screws for 5.25" bays
- No eSATA port unlike in the CM Storm Trooper
- No real dust filter on side mesh panels
Cooler Master has created a big line-up of cases over the years. From time to time there are some which stick out and tend to become big milestones. Such cases are the Cosmos or the HAF series, which still tend to turn heads long after release - proof that such cases can withstand the fast paced industry successfully.
The CM Storm Stryker may well be such a chassis. It offers an incredible set of features, executed to near perfection. I tried finding things wrong with the chassis, but as you can see in the short list above, the positives far outweigh any of the small shortcomings. While the general chassis is just like the CM Strom Trooper, Cooler Master has updated the design of the Stryker with the help of new side panels.
The CM Storm Stryker does not only look menacing in the best sense, but is surprisingly good to work with, spacious clean and even really comfortable to carry around. If you are a LAN party gamer, there is simply no way around the CM Strom Stryker - if you are willing to shell out the price premium to the black CM Storm Trooper. Either way, both the cases are damn cool.