The Cooler Master “Storm” product line has added a new member to the family recently, the full tower Stryker chassis. From all appearances this seems to be a design much like that of the previously released Storm Trooper, albeit with some new wrinkles added, most notably a left side window as well as the white and black color scheme.
The CM Storm Stryker is only available in this white and black colored scheme from what I can tell. White seems to be a color that has become very popular amongst the enthusiast crowd recently; and many component manufacturers are beginning to offer white as a color choice across most of their product lines.
So, let’s dive into this latest chassis offering from Cooler Master to find out if it’s a worthy addition to the Storm family.
Features and Specifications
The Company Line
Here is the CM Storm Stryker description as quoted from Cooler Master’s web site:
Features: Courtesy of Cooler Master
- Stylish black and white design with mesh front panel provides constant cooling
- Top ultra-strong carrying handle with rubber coating
- The unique 90 degree rotatable 5.25″/3.5″ Combo Cages offer flexibility for installation
- Rich I/O support with two USB 3.0 super speed ports (int.) and 9+1 expansion slots for great expandability
- The fan speed can be adjusted by top control panel
- The internal tool box and Storm Guard secure gamers’ peripherals
- Supports the latest long graphics cards, including AMD Radeon HD 7970 and NVIDIA GTX 690
Specifications: Courtesy of Cooler Master
|Color||Black and White|
|Material||Appearance: Synthetic, Mesh front bezel; Case body: Steel|
|Dimension||250.0 x 605.6 x 578.5 mm / 9.8 x 23.8 x 22.8 inch|
|Weight||13.7 kg / 30.2 lb|
|M/B Type||Micro-ATX, ATX, XL-ATX|
|5.25″ Drive Bay||9|
|3.5″ Drive Bay||8 (converted from 5.25″ bays by 5.25″/3.5″ Combo Cages)|
|2.5″ Drive Bay||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||ATX PS2 / EPS 12V|
|Maximum Compatibility||VGA card length: 322.0 mm / 12.7 inch|
CPU cooler height: 186.0 mm / 7.3 inch
After looking at the features and specifications above, the first thing that struck me was the sheer amount of available internal configurations. By using adapters or even removing some internal pieces altogether, the storage arrangements are almost endless. The weight of the Storm Stryker (empty) is a little over 30 pounds, so it’s a good thing they have included an “ultra-strong” carrying handle. You’ll need it!
The box is outfitted with a nice picture of the CM Storm Stryker on the front. Also found on the front of the box are a transparent image of a battle tank and reference to the USB 3.0 and SSD support. The back of the box has a front, back, and side view of some of the major features included in the CM Storm Stryker. The two box sides have additional branding and a list of specifications (same as listed above).
Once the box is opened, we find the CM Storm Stryker packaged in the typical manner used by most manufacturers with two Styrofoam blocks and a plastic bag around the case. Cooler Master did a nice job of protecting the side window and all the front panel buttons with a peel off plastic film. In fact, the side window had the film applied to both the outside and inside, which was nice to see.
All and all, a typical but effective packaging job!
Beginning with the left side panel, the obvious big feature here is the large, clear plexiglass window. The mesh area to the right of the window is kind of unique in that it’s actually a double layer mesh. While the double layer mesh design will certainly help keep the dust entering the case to a minimum, it still won’t work as well as a filter would have. The fans you see behind the mesh are attached to the 3.5″ drive bays, but we’ll talk more about these later on.
The right side panel has the same double layer mesh area as the left side. This is nice to see because it provides an escape route for the air flow generated by the drive bay fans should you decide to leave the drive bays in their stock position (again, more on this later). There is a large bulged out area stamped into the right side panel to give additional room for cable management; nice touch there!
The back of the CM Stryker shows us that a bottom-mount PSU design has been incorporated. There is also an easily removable slide out filter at the very bottom, which will help to keep dust out of the PSU. Moving upward we see the nine ventilated expansion slots and the “Storm Guard” security bracket. The security bracket can be used for securing the mouse and keyboard cables or as an additional expansion slot. Hence, the 9+1 name for the expansion slot capacity. The upper area has the place for a motherboard’s I/O shield, three rubber grommet holes for a water cooling system’s tubes to pass through, and the mesh area to accommodate the 140 MM exhaust fan.
The bottom of the CM Storm Stryker features four feet with rubber inserts and two removable slide out filters. The use of the rubber inserts is always nice to see because of the anti vibration and surface protection qualities they provide. In order to remove the filters, you simply need to push down the tab and slide them out; super easy to keep clean!
We’ll finish up the exterior tour with a look at the busiest areas of the Storm Stryker: the front and top panels. The front panel has nine removable 5.25″ drive bay covers, six of which have the dual 3.5″ hard drive bays directly behind them. Unless you remove one or both of the 3.5″ drive bays located directly behind the bottom six covers, you will be limited to a maximum of three usable 5.25″ bays. Even so, that should be more than adequate for most system builds.
If you remove the very bottom cover that has the “CM Storm” logo, there is a nifty tool box behind it. You can access the tool box by removing two screws and then sliding it forward. This is a great place to store items such as USB thumb drives, SD cards, or even a snack or two to get you through those long nights of gaming!
The top panel features probably the most sturdy handle I have ever come across. The handle is rubber coated all the way around, and handles the weight of the chassis effortlessly. Under the handle is a large open space, which coupled with the other meshed areas of the top panel, will provide a great amount of unrestricted air flow. To round out the top panel, there is yet another slide out filter.
The I/O area features a very sleek looking X-Dock 2.5″ hot swap drive bay. Just make sure the SATA controller on your motherboard supports the hot swap feature before giving this a try. If you find that your motherboard does not support the hot swap feature, all is not lost. This just means you would have to turn the computer off before sliding a drive in.
Above the X-Dock and at the front edge of the top panel is where the two USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, and headphone and MIC jacks are all located. The reset button, power LED, and HDD activity LED surround the fan controller and power button area. The button with the Cooler Master logo is the power switch, and below that is the fan LED on/off button. On each side of the LED on/off switch is another set of buttons, one marked with a “-” and the other with a “+”. These two buttons act as the fan speed control, which in turn activates the fan speed indicator LEDs just above them. I know it sounds a little confusing, but the below pictures should give you a good idea of how it works.
We’ll look closer at each area of the interior as we progress, but here are a few pictures taken after the left side panel was removed. Both side panels are secured in place with two black thumb screws. At first glance it looks like we are in store for some good cable management opportunities!
Starting off at the bottom area, we find a unique SSD drive cage, which will facilitate installation of up to four 2.5″ SSDs. There are provisions to install up to two additional 120 MM fans in this location, but not without sacrifices. Installing two fans here would obviously require removing the SSD cage, but a single 120 MM fan can be installed forward of the cage and under the 3.5″ drive bay. If a fan was to be mounted in the forward section, and assuming the air flow would be upward, then the tool box should be removed or it will block any air headed to the 3.5″ HDD cage.
The bottom-rear portion of the Storm Stryker is where the power supply will rest once installed. In order to keep the PSU properly elevated, there are two raised areas stamped into the metal with rubber strips attached. The two rubber strips will minimize any vibration caused by the PSU. Your eyes are not playing tricks on you; the two rubber strips were poorly installed and nowhere near straight or centered. Luckily, they peeled off easily and I was able to reattach them in a more appropriate manner.
Moving over to the interior-rear of the case we get a good look at the 9+1 PCI expansion slot area. All of the ventilated covers are secured using black thumb screws, which makes installing cards a tool-less operation. The design of the Storm Guard security bracket is evident from this view, with the idea of looping a mouse or keyboard cable through the bracket. The overall design of the Storm Guard feature is a little puzzling to me because the security bracket is held in place by a thumb screw located outside of the case. All a potential thief would have to do is remove the thumb screw, push the security bracket inward, and remove the cables. I’ve seen similar designs on other cases, but the thumb screw that holds the bracket has always been inside the case making it inaccessible, unless the side panel is removed. About the only real advantage of the Storm Guard security bracket is to protect against accidentally pulling too hard on the mouse or keyboard cables and causing damage to the motherboard.
Above the expansion covers is an included white 140 MM exhaust fan. The fan is rated for 1200 RPM at 19 dBA and does not have LED lighting. This fan can be removed in favor of a 120 MM option, if desired.
The top is pretty much dominated by the massive 200 MM white fan. This fan is rated for 1000 RPM at 23 dBA, and does not have LED lighting. This fan can be removed, and in its place a dual 120 MM or 140 MM fan setup can be used. You’re probably wondering about the feasibility of installing a radiator here, right? Either a 240 MM or 280 MM radiator can be installed, and I measured 2-3/8 inches (roughly 60 MM) between the top deck and the edge of the motherboard. This isn’t a huge amount of room, but it should accommodate one of the many thinner radiator options along with 25 MM thick fans.
Heading over to the front drive bay area, the I/O-Fan Control panel is visible, even though its actually built into the top panel. As you can see it uses a 4-pin Molex connection to provide power. I’m not to excited about having to use a Molex power connector clear up there when more than likely a SATA powered ROM drive will be installed right below it. I think it would make much more sense to have a SATA power connector here.
Moving down to the dual 3.5″ hard drive cages, it is important to note that these can be rotated 90 degrees allowing the fans to be at the very front of the case. Speaking of the fans, they are both 120 MM in size and are rated at 1200 RPM at 17 dBA. Both of these fans have blue LED lighting, which can be turned on or off using the fan controller. In order to rotate the 3.5″ drive bays, you will need to remove the bottom six bay covers and the four thumb screws that hold the cages to the mounting plates. Once that is done, simply slide them out. Then it’s just a matter of removing several thumb screws to relieve retention plates. After the plates are out, you install them in the opposite direction as before, replace the thumb screws, and slide the cages back into place.
There are six clips that you press on to remove the top panel, giving us a look at what is underneath. Now I completely understand why the handle is so sturdy; it’s riveted to the main frame using a hefty bracket on each side…. Awesome!
With the top panel removed, we get a good look at the fan controller circuit board, the LEDs, and all the other goodies that make up the top panel control module.
Along with a top panel control unit of this caliber comes the abundance of wiring that accompanies it. There isn’t a whole lot to talk about here that you haven’t seen many times over. You get the standard fare USB, audio, HDD/power LED, and power/reset leads. There is a Y cable that can be used to bring power to the top and rear fan, which originates from the fan controller. Finally, there is a 4-pin Molex connector that brings power to the control unit’s LEDs, and an additional fan LED control cable for use with an optional LED fan.
To finish up the interior tour of the CM Storm Stryker, we’ll have a look at the motherboard tray area and the different cable management opportunities this case offers. When you take a full-view look at the motherboard tray area, the first thing that hits you is the massive cut out for accessing the back of a CPU cooler’s mounting hardware. I’d be hard pressed to think of a motherboard and cooler combination this won’t work with; the hole is huge!
There are three large cable management pass-through holes that are protected by a rubber insert. The horizontal one at the bottom and just in front of the PSU mounting area is larger than most and should provide ample room for all the cables coming out of your power supply. The two vertical holes are ample in size and well positioned to bring the different cables to their intended targets. There is a smaller hole just above the power supply that does not have a rubber grommet. I typically use this hole for fans that might get connected to the bottom area of the motherboard. This might also be a good spot to bring an auxiliary PCI-e power lead, if your motherboard supports that.
Stamped on the face of the motherboard tray is a guide explaining what holes are to be used with what form factor motherboard being installed. And lest we forget, “Designed by Cooler Master” is stamped here as well.
One of the most frustrating things to try and work around while putting a system together is the lack of room between the backside of the motherboard tray and the right side panel. Cooler Master has allowed more than ample room here, which will allow for good cable management. I was almost able to get my entire hand in this area; and that’s larger than any power supply cable I can think of! I measured just under 3/4 inch of clearance between the back side of the motherboard tray and the shallowest part of the side panel. When you included the added room the bulged area of the side panel provides, you end up with about an inch or more of clearance.
A closer look at the back side of the motherboard tray reveals no less than 18 loops to use for attaching cable ties; I think that should suffice. There are two holes at the very top that are perfect for routing the 8-pin CPU AUX power lead through.
The eight included drive bay trays are packaged in a brown box, which is tied inside of the 5.25″ drive bay area. All the other accessories are shipped in the previously mentioned tool box and include the following items:
- 8-pin CPU AUX power extension cable
- 10 cable ties
- 5.25″ to 3.5″ adapter plates
- Bag of screws and other misc hardware
Putting it all Together
Here is a list of all the components I plan to install in the CM Storm Stryker; we’ll see how good it looks when completed!
- ASRock Z77 Extreme4 Motherboard (Overclockers Approved!)
- Intel i5 3570K Processor
- G.Skill 2×4 Gb F3-14900CL9D-8GBXL Memory Kit
- Kingston SSDNow V200 128 Gb
- Sapphire Vapor-X HD7770 Video Card (Overclockers Approved!)
- LG DVD Burner
- Thermaltake Water 2.0 Pro CPU Cooler
- Corsair HX750 Power Supply
The plastic HDD trays are flexible enough to allow for tool-less installation of a 3.5″ HDD. There are four pins in the tray that must be lined up with the holes on the HDD, then simply slide the sides of the tray up until they lock into the HDD mounting holes. As far as SSD installation goes, the trays have four holes in the base that are used to attach the SSD with screws. Once your drive is secured, choose the location that works best for you and slide it in to the HDD cage. Alternatively, you could use the 2.5″ drive cage for installing a SSD, but for this build I decided to use one of the 3.5″ bays.
Installing a 5.25″ optical drive only requires removing one of the bay covers, sliding the drive in place, and securing it with screws. There is no fancy tool-less locking mechanism; the old school method of screwing the drive in place works well enough! Once a 5.25″ device is secured in place, the face of the drive does not come out far enough to be flush with the drive bay covers. In my opinion this slightly detracts from the otherwise great looking front panel of the case.
With the memory pre-installed on the motherboard, it’s time to mount it in the case…. easy enough to accomplish.
You probably noticed by the above component list that a Thermaltake Water 2.0 Pro is going to be installed. This required removal of the 140 MM exhaust fan in order to mount the radiator in this location. Once the cooler was installed, I went ahead and did some of the pre-wiring for the fan controller and various switches.
The dual slot video card was next to be installed, which only require removing two expansion slot covers and securing the card with the thumb screws. As long as we are on the subject of video cards, the Storm Stryker has enough clearance for any length video card, even the latest HD 7970 or GTX 690. If you look at the pictures below, the available room for a video card absolutely dwarfs the HD 7770 I installed.
For this particular build, I chose to use a PSU that was not modular in design. I did this because it’s a great way to test the cable management features and there will be lots of leftover cables that need tucked away and hidden from view. So, with the power supply in hand I went to work!
Before I show you the inside area, I thought you might get a kick out of the the backside of the case after I was done. To call it a bird’s nest wouldn’t do it justice, but it all tied down nicely and the side panel easily fit back on.
The rest is history as they say, enjoy the pictorial of the finished product!
Newegg Currently has the CM Storm Stryker available for $159.99, but it also has a hefty $24.99 shipping cost added to that price. However, even with the shipping added to the cost it still offers a heck of a lot for the price. In fact it’s the same price as the HAF 932 and it’s brother, the Storm Trooper.
There certainly is no shortage of HDD capacity in the Storm Stryker with it’s dual 3.5″ HDD cages and the dedicated 2.5″ SSD cage. Depending on what setup you choose, up to eight 3.5″ HDDs can be installed or a whopping 13 SSDs. The cable management is superbly done and made putting a great looking system together extremely easy. As most of you know, I am a stickler when it comes to cable management and the Storm Stryker did not disappoint in this area. There are plenty of options to route cables beyond what the three obvious rubber grommet holes provide. It seemed like every time I needed to route a wire, there was an easily accessible place to do it.
Installing HDDs was a painless operation and the ability to install either a 3.5″ or 2.5″ drive in the trays is an added bonus. I really liked the option to rotate the 3.5″ cages 90 degrees, which allows for a more traditional air flow of front to back. The included 2.5″ SSD rack gives you even more options as you assemble a system in the Storm Stryker. Options, options, options… We love options!
It’s great to see Cooler Master toss a bunch of slide out filters in the design of the Storm Stryker. After all, the case is white and the less dust, the better!
As I usually say, looks are subject to one’s particular tastes, but there is no denying this case has a certain sleek and classy look to it. I’ve personally never been big on white as a case color, but this one sports a lot of black accents which make the white… well… not so white. Toss in the large side window, and yea, this is a white case I like very much!
There are only a few minor issues I came across. The first being the Storm Guard security bracket; the thumb screw that retains the bracket really needs to be relocated to the inside of the case in order to work as intended. As it stands right now, the bracket doesn’t really provide much in the way security for any cables you route through it. Secondly, I would prefer if installed optical drives protruded out far enough to align with the drive bay covers. This, of course, is just my take on the way it looks; some of you might actually prefer the appearance of the slightly recessed optical drive. Lastly, I’d really like to see the the 4-pin Molex connector on the back of the fan control unit changed to a SATA power connection.
As you can tell, there isn’t a whole lot to complain about here. Another solid effort by Cooler Master.
Click the Approved stamp for an explanation of what it means
– Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote)