It's been four years since Cooler Master unveiled its "CM Storm" sub-brand, which is now home to a strong lineup of enthusiast-oriented products including keyboards, mice, mouse pads, headsets and, of course, cases. Currently, the CM Storm chassis family includes the Sniper, Scout, Stryker, Enforcer and Trooper -- the last two of which we've found to be a tremendous value, especially the $80 Enforcer.
Updating one of its existing designs, Cooler Master recently launched yet another enthusiast-friendly CM Storm chassis, the Scout 2, which is priced at just $90 -- slightly less than the venerable HAF 922. Despite its relatively low price, the Scout 2 has plenty to offer, including ergonomic steel-reinforced carrying handles, USB 3.0 support and room for up to two SSDs, nine fans and any graphics card around.
Although we reviewed several Cooler Master enclosures in 2012, it's been a year since we laid hands on a new CM Storm-branded case. Even so, that was the CM Storm Trooper, which is a full tower chassis that runs about twice the price of the mid-tower Scout 2 we'll be looking at today, so it'll be interesting to see how Cooler Master's latest offering holds up in the increasingly competitive sub-$100 territory.
Cooler Master is shipping two $90 versions of the CM Storm Scout 2: a standard black one and another that's gunmetal grey -- we have the latter in house. The case is constructed from a combination of steel, plastic and mesh, and features an interior paint job along with a case window to enjoy it.
We're not sure how to describe the Scout 2's design. It's clean yet aggressive, much like other CM Storm cases we've reviewed. We can also say that despite using different materials, it all comes together in a cohesive design, which is something Cooler Master has been good about doing in the past.
Cooler Master has managed to blend the steel and plastic together as car manufacturers do, so that you can't really tell what's what. Compared to the original Scout, Cooler Master says the Scout 2 follows a more "round futuristic theme" and we agree with that perspective for the most part.
It's worth noting that we didn't really care for the looks of the original Scout, possibly because it seemed cheap -- and to be fair, at $80, it was pretty cheap in the grand scheme of enthusiast chassis. Thankfully, its predecessor looks more lavish than its $90 price tag would have you believe.
Being a mid-tower, the Scout 2 measures 9.1” wide, 20.2” tall and 20.5” long (230 x 513 x 517.5mm), making it slightly bigger than the original, yet it's a bit lighter at a manageable 18.3lb (8.3kg). We're not sure how Cooler Master pulled that off, but the case still feels plenty sturdy, so no worries there.
From the front perspective, the Scout 2's façade is unique. It hints at the original design, though in our opinion, it's greatly improved. Whereas the original looked rather boxy with an exposed I/O panel at the top, the Scout 2 has a curvier, cleaner appearance that seems to have required more thought.
The I/O panel is on top of the case again, but this time it's covered by a door that can be slid backward to expose four USB ports (two USB 3.0) and a pair of audio jacks. Notably missing is eSATA, which was present on the original, while the power, reset and LED buttons have been molded into the top of the case behind the I/O panel and the power light is just below the I/O panel on the front of the case.
Looking at the top of the Scout 2 also reveals a well-integrated handle system that features reinforced steel with a rubber coating for easy transportation of rigs weighing up to 66.1lbs (30kg).
Under the center handle is a large dual honeycomb grill (a grill with large holes on top of a grill with small holes) and it makes for a cool visual effect. The dual honeycomb grill is removable and doing so will let you install a pair of top-mounted 120mm fans.
The left door has soft curves used to create a large raised section with a tinted case window and room for a pair of 120mm fans, which would sit behind two honeycomb grills. The opposite side door is virtually identical with the obvious exception of the window and fan grills.
Around back, we find that the power supply is to be mounted in the bottom. There is a 7 + 1 expansion card configuration and we like that Cooler Master has provided that extra slot for I/O expansion brackets.
Above the expansion slots is another 120mm fan grill and this one comes with a pre-installed 120mm exhaust fan. Up higher are two one-inch water-cooling holes with rubber grommets.
Throwing the Scout 2 on its side reveals four fairly standard case feet along with a pair of 120mm fan grills. Although it is possible to install dual 120mm fans here, as the necessary mounting holes are provided, gamers will only ever install a fan in the center as the grill to the left is designed as an intake for the power supply.
The Scout 2's internal design is fairly basic, but it's well laid out. We really like that the gunmetal grey version has a black interior as it provides a nice contrast.
Expansion support includes three exposed 5.25" bays, seven hidden 3.5" bays, two 2.5" bays (converted from one 3.5" drive bay), seven standard expansion slots and an eighth vertically-aligned slot for I/O brackets.
Cooling is managed by a single rear 120mm fan that features red LEDs that can be turned off. That is the extent of the pre-installed fans, which is one of the weakest packages we have seen in recent times, though considering the quality of this case and its $90 asking price, we understand certain sacrifices had to be made.
Having less cooling gear out of the box isn't necessarily a bad thing as you have more options for what fans will be installed and where. There is plenty of flexibility here as a pair of 120mm top fans can be installed along with a pair of front 120mm fans, two 120mm side fans, a bottom 120mm fan and finally a 120mm hard drive cage fan.
Other internal features include tool-less 5.25" drive bays that make it simple to install optical devices. Likewise, 3.5" drives can also be mounted using special tool-free brackets.
The seven 3.5" bays are separated into two cages: the bottom one supporting three drives and the top one supporting four. You'll have to sacrifice the larger top cage if you want to install graphics cards over 11.3" (287mm), but if it comes to that, the Scout 2 has you covered as it supports cards up to 15.7" (399mm) long.
Unsurprisingly, the motherboard tray has a hole below the CPU socket for simplified heatsink installations, and there's a ton of space to conceal your unsightly cables. It should also be easy to feed your liquid-cooling tubes into the case courtesy of the two inch-wide holes in the top rear.
The Scout 2 can handle heatsinks up to 6.4" (162mm) tall. We expected a little more headroom from a case that measures 9.1" (230mm) wide, but the Scout 2 will still accommodate most high-end air coolers.
There isn't much else to talk about inside the Scout 2. It may not be the most luxurious chassis around, but it's a solid package for $90 and we can't really fault it for lacking features such as a fan controller.
We installed our standard hardware configuration for mid-sized cases, including an OCZ ZX PSU, an Asrock 890FX Deluxe4 motherboard, 8GB (2x4GB) of Kingston RAM, an AMD Phenom II X6 1100T CPU with the Prolimatech Megahalems and an Inno3D GeForce GTX 580 OC GPU. We also crammed in half a dozen Western Digital Scorpio Blue 500GB HDDs and a Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 1TB.
We began by installing the heatsink's CPU bracket to the back of the Asrock 890FX Deluxe4. Given the massive hole in the motherboard tray, forgetting this step wouldn't be a big deal. The motherboard slotted into place without any fuss and connecting everything else was as easy as can be.
The DVD-RW slipped in effortlessly thanks to the Scout 2's tool-less design. Installing the 500GB hard drives was just as easy. There are no hot-swappable bays in the Scout 2, though this functionality isn't expected in a $90 case.
As usual, Cooler Master has done an excellent job with the cable management setup, which provides plenty of space behind the motherboard tray for excess wires. The large bulge in the right door also helps with this and we had no trouble getting the panel back on despite the mass of wires behind it.
Securing the OCZ ZX 1000w PSU in its bottom mounted position was easy and there is a ton of extra space to accommodate a bigger power supply, such as the Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w. Extra-long graphics cards will fit with ease once the hard drive cage is removed. As shown in the photo, there is plenty of room behind the GTX 580 to work with power and data cables.