CM Storm Stryker Review
Although numerous Cooler Master and CM Storm cases have been seen here at pcGameware, this will be the first to be officially reviewed. Today I will be taking a look at the CM Storm Stryker; CM Storm being Cooler Master’s sub-brand representing the companies Gaming division. The Stryker comes in two colours Black (known as a Trooper) and this the Stryker in white; once also know as a CM Storm Trooper, but I believe the guys over at Lucusarts were not so keen on that name so it became the Stryker!
The Stryker is a full tower gaming case made predominately from steel with plastic fascias with a mesh front. The case features motherboard support for USB 3.0 and support for SSDs, as can be seen from the rather poorly orientated sticker on the box! The case supports Micro-ATX, ATX, XL-ATX form factor motherboards and features x9 5.25″ Drive Bays, x8 3.5″ Drive Bays (via conversion) and x13 2.5″ Drive Bays (via conversion). Cooling is provided by x2 front/side (please read on for more detail) 120mm fans, x1 rear 140mm fan and a single 200mm fan in the roof as standard, x2 additional 120mm fans can be added to the bottom of the case should you wish, this allows the CM Storm Stryker to support x2 240mm radiators.
The CM Storm Stryker came well packaged in a smart black box with a picture of the white Stryker on the front and that somewhat rather wonky looking USB 3.0 sticker…
The back of the box features a breakdown of the case covering the front, back and the internals. In addition to this it lists the following:
- Innovative design: two removable and 90 degree rotatable 5.25″ / 3.5″ Combo Cages
- Designed for gamers – Ultra-strong carry handle and toolbox
- Up to 13 SSD-ready hard drive trays and one external 2.5″ Hotswap X-Dock for great expandability
- Supports up to XL-ATX and 4-Way SLI and CrossFireX
- Fan speed controller with LED indicators
With the top of the box open you can see the large carry handle, making the un-boxing easy at least. Once out of the box it was evident that many parts of the case were also covered and thus protected by a plastic film.
Inside the box you will also find a User manual in a variety of languages covering both the Trooper and the Stryker and a box containing 8 tool-free hard drive caddies. Hidden away within the case is also a toolbox containing much more, but more on this later…
At the time of writing the CM Storm Stryker is retailing for approximately £120 and comes with a 2 year limited warranty.
courtesy of CM Storm
|Available Color||Black and White|
|Materials||Appearance: Synthetic, Mesh front bezel; Case body: Steel|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||250.0 x 605.6 x 578.5 mm / 9.8 x 23.8 x 22.8 inch|
|Net Weight||13.7 kg / 30.2 lb|
|Motherboard Type||Micro-ATX, ATX, XL-ATX|
|5.25″ Drive Bays||9|
|3.5″ Driver Bays||8 (converted from 5.25" bays by 5.25"/3.5" Combo Cages)|
|2.5″ Drive Bays||13 (converted from 5.25" bays by 5.25"/3.5" Combo Cages)|
|I/O Panel||USB 3.0 x 2 (internal), USB 2.0 x 2, Audio In and Out (supports HD Audio)|
|Cooling System||Front: 120mm LED fan x 2, 1200 RPM, 17 dBA
Top: 200mm fan x 1, 1000 RPM, 23 dBA (converted to 120/140mm fan x 2)
Rear: 140mm fan x 1, 1200 RPM, 19 dBA (converted to 120mm fan x 1)
Bottom: 120mm fan x 2 (optional)
|Power Supply Type||ATX PS2 / EPS 12V|
|Maximum Compatibility||VGA card length: 322.0 mm / 12.7 inch
CPU cooler height: 186.0 mm / 7.3 inch
First impressions of the CM Storm Stryker are that it’s big (but not too big!) quite heavy (it’s made primarily from steel) and looks awesome. I guess the styling might put some people off, but I really like this case out of the box, it looks really purposeful and looks like a Gamers case to boot. Let’s take a tour around the case before we start the installation…
The front of the case features x9 5.25″ drive bays, eight of which can be converted to a 3.5″ drive bay by way of an adapter. Above the drive bays is a small 2.5″ slot or Hotswap X-Dock, this slot supports external SATA 2.5″ devices, such as an SSD.
At the very top of the CM Storm Stryker you will find a large array of controls and connections. At the very front of the case you will find x2 USB 3.0 ports and x2 USB 2.0 ports. Above this to the left are the Audio ports (Headphone, Mic) and the power and HDD/SSD indicator LEDs. On the right side you find the reset switch and a blanking plate covering what used to be an e-SATA port, I guess this has now been replaced by the aforementioned Hotswap X-Dock! Taking centre stage is the main CM Storm Stryker control panel, this features the main power button with CM Storm logo (illuminates when on, nice!) and also allows for both control of 3 of the 4 fans fitted and the fan’s illumination (white). The fans can be controlled over 6 different speeds using the + and – buttons either side of the illumination button. Beneath these buttons are three additional LED strips these indicate the current fan speed by way of illuminating either via a dim light or solid light.
At the very base of the front of the case is a Silver panel with a smart CM Storm logo, pinching either side of this panel allows access to the toolbox hidden within. The only downside is that the toolbox is secured with screws! Now while sensible for LAN parties etc, it would have been nice if the toolbox could be clipped in and and out…
Inside the toolbox you will find a raft of screws, an 8-pin power cable extension, FDD tracks, Buzzer and some cable ties among other things. All really useful stuff, but one of the best things hidden away in that bag of screws is Cooler Master’s Stand-Off Socket a really useful little device allowing for easy insertion (or extraction) of stand-offs using only a screwdriver!
The back of the CM Storm Stryker is a relatively standard affair with x3 water cooling grommets at the top above the 140mm exhaust fan. To the left of this is the motherboard I/O shield cut-out and below this you will find the 9 expansion card slots allowing the Stryker to support Quad SLI/CrossFireX. To the right of the expansion slots is Cooler Master’s StormGuard security bracket. Below this you can see the standard Power Supply cut-out.
Looking at the base of the case you can see that there are two dust filters; one for the Power Supply (smaller) and another larger filter covering the base of the case. Here you can fit another x2 120mm fans should you wish. Both these filters are removable and are held tightly in position when fitted, unlike some more recent filters that fell out when you moved the case, Corsair!
The left side of the case features a large clear window that extends out beyond the natural side of the case showing off the internals of your case really rather nicely. The mesh near the front is where by default Cooler Master have fitted the x2 120mm fans these blow air across the drives from one side of the case to the other. Rather cleverly this can be rotated by 90 degrees so that, more conventionally the air flows into the case from the front. I would have liked to have seen this as the default setup as I feel for Gamers it would be more important to cool your Graphics Card than your drives!?
The opposite side of the case also features an extended section allowing for better cable management and here you can also see the vent allowing the air to move from the left to the right for the default cooling setup.
The top of the case features a large carry handle which sports a soft rubberized grip, this is most welcome as the case is a little heavy. The top of the case is equipped with a 200mm exhaust fan that can be replaced with either x2 120mm or x2 140mm fans or, maybe more importantly, a 240mm radiator. The fans have a dust filter also that can be easily removed from the rear of the case.
With the side panels removed, 2 thumbscrews per side, you get to see the internals of the CM Storm Stryker for the first time, there’s certainly plenty of room inside of there. There’s a large CPU cut-out which is always nice to see and you can now see the default orientation of the x2 120mm intake fans more easily. There are also rubber mounts for the Power Supply and also a smaller drive bay for 2.5″ drives such as SSDs at the bottom of the case. If you remove the 2.5″ drive cage then x2 120mm fans can also be mounted in the base of the case should you wish.
Delving deeper into the case you can see the 200mm top mounted exhaust fan. This area also supports both 120mm/140mm fans and a 240mm radiator, so my Corsair H100 should fit, we shall see.
In addition to this we can also take a look at the Hotswap X-Dock back-plate that’s tucked up inside the internals near the front of the case. As you can see this requires you to wire up a molex power connector and a single SATA cable to bring the front e-SATA slot to life.
Overall the CM Storm Stryker has a lot to offer and should make for an easy build, especially as there’s plenty of room. The cooling potential seems good, but the first job is to turn those drive bays by 90 degrees to get some cool air coming into the case…
Installation of the components from My Test Rig was relatively straightforward, but the first job was to change the orientation of those x2 120mm front fans, to ensure that they were going to suck air into the case and not across the drives. This was done as this Rig is for gaming (obviously!) and for me it’s far more important to keep my GPU cool than anything else…
The first task was to remove the two front drive cages, I have to say that the instructions supplied in the User Manual, although of the picture variety are actually very good, with a picture for almost every step.
After removing all of the front drive bay covers (they just clip into position), four screws need to be removed; two at the front of the case and two at the rear. With the screws removed the two drive cages can be pulled out.
The next step was to remove the eight inner screws (4 at the front and 4 at the rear) within the bay to allow the inner brackets/slides to be removed. Once this was done two further screws, supporting a metal tie rod (bar) in position, were also removed. This allowed the tie rod itself to be removed also. Once all of this is done reassembly can be started…
The next step is to re-install the four drive brackets/slides, these are now slid into position from the front of the case as opposed to the side and secured with the same eight screws, four in the front and four in the sides.
Once the drive brackets are in position the two hard drive cages can be slid back into position and secured with the four screws.
That’s wasn’t so hard was it? Well the whole process took about an hour, but having now done it once, I think I could do it in half the time in the future. I just so wish that the default configuration was not side to side but instead the move conventional front to back, as I’m sure that’s what most people would want. The fact that you can change it though is kind of cool…
The next step it to prepare the top of the case for the installation of my Corsair H100 CPU Cooler. This will require that the top 200mm fan be removed. First the top panel is removed by way of six clips that can be accessed from within the case. Then it’s just a simple case of removing the four screws holding it in place.
With the panel removed you can see both the control panel circuit-board and the 200mm fan more easily.
With the case now ready for the installation of My Test Rig’s components it was time to start the build, for real. Although it’s worth noting it has taken a fair amount of time to get to this point…
First the Corsair AX1200 Power Supply was fitted and even though this is a large unit (150mm(W) x 86mm(H) x 200mm(L)) there was plenty of space for it to fit (even with the 2.5″ drive bay in place, although this was also later removed). It was also nice to see that the PSU sat atop rubber mounts, helping keep noise/vibration to a minimum. After the appropiate number of motherboard stand-offs were fitted using the handy CM Stand-Off Socket (10 required, 2 fitted by default), the ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional motherboard assembly (MB, CPU & RAM) was then transferred to the Stryker.
With the motherboard assembly in place the Corsair H100 CPU Cooler could now be installed. This was really simple and the H100 fitted a treat, the problem was that with the four cap head screws in place the fitment of the top dust filter was now impeded by the head’s of the screws (if only a little!). The choice of screws is important here and the use of some smaller countersunk screws should resolve the problem.
The next task was to fit the SSD and the HDD (note to self to update rig page as I now have an additional 1TB HDD ). The first task was to use two of the eight supplied hard drive caddies and fit them, this was done in a matter of minutes and the caddies were then slid into position in the lower of the two cages. It’s worth noting that the default hard drive orientation places the wires at the back of the case (i.e where they should be!) but with the cages now rotated (to pull cool air into the case) the wires are now in the main case compartment and no longer hidden, which is a bit of a shame!
Finally the monstrous HIS 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition was fitted (297mm long) and the CM Storm Stryker had room to spare, there certainly won’t be any issues with long Graphics Cards with this case.
All that was left to do was the somewhat boring task of wiring, no issues were encountered during this phase and the manual was found to be more than adequate during this time. It would have been nice to have had the wires labelled, but that’s a minor gripe!
I will be using Prime95 and Core Temp to evaluate CPU temperatures and I will be using MSI Afterburner to evaluate the GPU temperatures. To help generate some heat in the case I will also be utilising the following benchmarks:
CPU performance testing was carried out using Prime95 to stress the CPU. Each run was timed at 30 mins and the max temperature reading for each core was noted. Testing was carried out at both 3.5GHz and at 4.386GHz.
GPU performance testing was carried out by running Unigine Heaven for 15 minutes and then recording the maximum GPU temperature recorded.
From a performance point of view the main area that we want to focus on is cooling. Let’s take a look at the thermals for the CM Storm Stryker.
|CPU Speed||CPU Voltage||Ambient Temperature||CPU Temp (avg cores)||Delta Temperature|
|4.386GHz (BClk 102MHz)||1.120||19.50||63.00||43.50|
* All case fans set to high
- Unigine Heaven GPU Cooling Results – HIS 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition (Core: 1000MHz / Boost: 1200MHz / Memory: 6400MHz)
|Case Fans Speed Setting||Ambient Temperature||GPU Max Temperature||Delta Temperature|
Overall the thermal performance of the CM Storm Stryker is very good, with the fans blowing cool air in through the front of the case. If you were to use the default setup (not recommended), where the x2 120mm front fans blow air form one side to the other, I really think that the performance would not be as good. With the ability to fit a further two fans the cooling could of course be improved. Fitting one or two fans in the base of the case should allow for even more cool air to enter the case, and that’s always a good thing…
CPU cooling is very good but not stellar and of course don’t forget that we are using one of the best coolers on the market today, the liquid cooling Corsair H100. If you were to use an air cooler then the position and size (140mm) of the rear exhaust fan should help keep those temperatures down. The CM Storm Stryker can support CPU Coolers with a height up to 186mm, therefore there’s certainly plenty of room for some of today’s large coolers.
Using the front to rear air-flow setup GPU cooling is particularly strong, always a good thing for a Gaming orientated case; keeping the temperatures of the heavily overclocked HIS 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition down below 63 degrees is a very good result. As you can see from the results above increasing the fan speeds from Low to Medium yields no thermal benefits, only increasing the fan speeds to High (6) sees the temperatures fall, then only by 1 degree. Although there is a small increase in noise, I would tend to leave the fans at high all of the time.
The acoustic performance of the CM Storm Trooper is excellent; while gaming the fans within both my H100 (set at any speed!) and the Graphics Card were more audible than the case fans, even with the case fans set to High! Of course if you wanted less noise reducing the speed of the fans does reduce the noise levels, but not by much.
I have to admit to really enjoying my time with the CM Storm Stryker; the case came well packaged in a smart box and there was a good degree of extras included. From the small internal hidden toolbox to the inclusion of an 8-Pin power extension and the really useful Cooler Master Stand-Off Socket, all adding to the level of quality and value.
The case looks great and its design really lends itself to the Gamer community. The side window is nice and large allowing you to easily show off the internals of your case. The Styker is also large enough to house four graphics cards, should your budget stretch that far! The case also has support for up to two 240mm radiators should you want to liquid cool any of your components, the Corsair H100 fitted perfectly well. Of course the downside of such a large case is that it’s heavy and although the handle of course helps when it comes to shifting it around, it’s definitely not what I would consider to be a LAN Party case.
Both the thermal and the acoustic performance of the case (once you turn the fans around, of course!) is very good with the GPU cooling being a highlight. Of course more fans can also be added if you so wish, with the best option probably being an additional 120mm fan in the floor.
My only gripe is that the case’s default fan configuration is setup to cool the drive cages from side to side, but I feel that most Gamers are going to want to cool their GPUs and will be less concerned about their drives. Of course the clever thing here is that the fan setup can be rotated 90 degrees, which of course is great, but it is a fair amount of work, involving quite a lot screws. I would have liked to have seen the case shipped with the more conventional front to back cooling setup as this would require less initial work and I think would please more people, especially Gamers.
But that’s my only real gripe, once this case is on your floor or desk I’m sure that you’ll love it! Looking at it now while I type this review, I’m thinking that I might just have to keep hold of this one. With an online price of around £120, at the time of writing, the CM Storm Stryker also represents pretty good value for money too…