Aluminium cases are rapidly becoming the must-have item for the ultimate computer setup. With the increase in demand the prices for these types of cases is dropping rapidly. No longer is it a luxury item which only the rich can have. The Coolermaster ATCS 201 is one of the most popular models along side the ATCS 200. They are very similar in design choosing between them can be very hard to do.
What are the specs of the case?
- 5.25' Bays (exposed) x 4
The joy of getting a new case is always a good thing. As usual with a coolermaster you get an excellently packaged case in its box. I've received many of these in the past and sent them and have yet to have one damaged. With the kind of parcel service you get here in the UK that says the packaging is more than adequate. Removing the case from the box is like Christmas all over again. This case is a site to behold, the sides immediately caught my attention but more on that later. A quick press of all the switched and USB ports and the initial reaction is more than favourable.
Differences between the 200 and 201
These two cases in the coolermaster series are very similar, they are both available at identical prices and often people have to choose between the two. The main differences are that the 201 has the front USB ports, an extra 5.25 drive bay , the light brown sides and the aluminium front in all silver. Other than these parts the cases are almost identical.
The sides and top panels
As you can immediately see from the pictures, the sides of the ATCS 201 are not brushed aluminium as found on many aluminium cases but painted aluminium. The colour is difficult to describe and photograph. I think it can be best described as light brown, although I've heard it described as champagne and pink in the past. Its a odd choice by coolermaster , I didn't like the colour and I know many people feel the same. It has put many an owner off in the past from purchasing the case. That said in the flesh its not as bad as it looks in the pictures, its quite bearable and the shiny finish its coated in is pleasing to the eye's. If only the colour was different it would be much improved in terms of first impressions
The front of the case
Perhaps the biggest difference between the two similarly designed cases the 200 and 201 is found at the front. On this case there is an added bonus of a front slot that holds two USB ports This is great for quickly hooking up a digital camera or external drive. When the slots are not needed they are hidden by a little aluminium cover that slides into place. The USB ports are connected to the motherboard via a cable with a standard connector, unfortunately this won't work on all motherboards as some have the USB jumper/connector laid out in a different way to others. Included with the case is a sheet of paper with a clear diagram of the layout of the cable so it is relatively easy to rewire if your motherboard requires it. The power and reset buttons are amazing, both are made out of aluminium and are a joy to press , the action on the switches is firm you won't smack them by mistake but you won't have to struggle to press them either. The LED's for power and the hard disc are green and orange respectively, I would have preferred to see blue or white as this looks much nicer.
Round the back
Round the back of the case are where some of the changes from the first
version have been made, the rear blowhole is now a cut-out with no inbuilt
grill. This improves the airflow as there is less to obstruct the airflow.
To protect your fingers from the fans, a silver fan grill is provided. This
is the type you find on most fans nowadays. Also changed and improved at the
back is the ATX cut-outs for mouse/keyboard etc. This is now covered with a
plastic colour coded sheet to make it clear which port is which. This is a
nice touch but with more and more motherboards having custom layouts this
will have to replaced with one provided by the one supplied with the
motherboard, this is really easy to do and requires no tools.
The point of buying as case of this price bracket is that you get much more improved cooling on a generic ATX case, this is certainly true of the ATCS 201. There are two intake fans at the front of the case, 1 blowhole at the rear (exhaust) and 1 blowhole at the top (exhaust). This first of all balances inflow of air with the exfill of the air. Air coming in has to leave somehow so it is always best that you match the air coming in with the fans pushing the air out. The fans are all YS-Tech's as generally found on coolermaster cases. They provide good airflow without being overly noisy. There are quieter fans and ones pushing more air but these provide a happy medium. At the front of the case there is a filter in the front grill, you will notice an improvement in airflow if you remove this, the only problem is that you get all the dust coming into your case and will need to do a spring clean more regularly. The two front fans air directly in front of the hard drive bays so cooling of the drives is excellent. The problem being with all hard drive bays filled the airflow into the case is impeded.
The top blowhole is square in design with a grill/fan holder that is screwed into the top panel. The only problem with this is that the imprints of the attaching nuts in the top panel can clearly be seen. If you look in the picture to the right you can see four faint circles around the grill. I've not seen this before on a coolermaster with this kind of top grill arrangement so it could be a one off on just this case. The top grill has a filter on the inside which slightly confusing as it holds an exhaust fan so its not required. I removed it to improve the airflow in the case. The overall cooling of the case is excellent, there is a great deal of thought gone into how the fans are positioned for maximum effect. With a twin or triple fan PSU the cooling will be ideal for anyone wishing to overclock their processor and/or graphics card.
As with all coolermaster cases this is a breeze to get into , and has been made even easier with the new version. The side panels now have handles at the rear to help you pull them off quickly and without being forced to push the actual panel itself like on other cases. The side panels are now held in place by an extra thumbscrew to make it three in total. This holds the side panel in super tight to stop any vibration or air leaking. The thumbscrews have normal screw heads in the centre to allow you to use a screwdriver if you wish to. I tend to use a screwdriver on just the motherboard tray thumbscrews to stop them from ever coming loose. As with all the coolermaster cases the motherboard tray is removable , this again is held in with thumbscrews so its really simple to remove. The new motherboard design on this model is much better, gone are the square cut-outs into which you had to press the motherboard mounts into. These could easily bend if you weren't careful. In their place are screw in motherboard mounts which are much better and I feel more secure in using them. As usual the PCI cards are held in with the same thumbscrews as used on the side panels and motherboard tray , this makes it very easy to change or add a new PCI or AGP card. Working inside this case is a breeze and will make you frustrated if you ever have to go back and use a generic cheap case.
The fitting method of the PSU in the case follows the same path as on the ATCS 200 and 210 models. You first remove a aluminium plate from the rear. Then slide in the PSU and cables . You then screw the plate back in place, followed by the PSU to the plate itself. I would have liked the plate to be held in by thumbscrews to make the fitment tool free. Instead its the normal little screws that you use to attach hard drives etc. Its a small annoyance though as you don't tend to change a PSU all that often.
Hiper 520TS PSU
You may be asking why I have mentioned the power supply in this review , well Coolermaster now recommend Hiper psu's for use in their cases. This model is an interesting ATX PSU in that its a 520w model, that in itself isn't extraordinary , the triple fan design on the other hand is. Its the first time I've ever seen a PSU with 3 80mm fans inside. Now most peoples reactions to three fans would be "Must be great cooling , what about the noise?" Well in order to over come any negative aspects of having the triple fan design , Hiper have included an "Adjustable fan speed-Silent function". This allows the user to alter the speed of the fans from a sliding switch at the rear of the power supply. The PSU also has a simple on/off switch at the rear which I find useful
What are the specs of the PSU?
- Active PFC (power factor correction)
- Double Ball-Bearing Fan
- Triple Fan
- Gold Plated Connectors and fan grill
- Adjustable fan speed-Silent function
- Complies with AMD's K7 specifications
- 3 pin speed detection connector included
Input/Output Short circuit and overload protection design
The PSU is a good quality item , the main ATX motherboard connector is nicely tied together with mesh coating. The noise levels are still quite high even on the lowest setting. I think this is mainly due to the fact I'm used to a almost silent PSU so any noise is more than noticeable. It is not noisy enough to be that distracting and the extra cooling of the three fans dropped my systems temperatures by a couple of degree's. Its main rival is going to be the Enermax 550w model and it under cuts the price of that PSU by around £40 pounds so its definitely great value.
- Colour of sides
- LED's not blue
- Front grill change is love or hate
- Using fan filters on the top exhaust fan is a bit pointless
This case is an excellent bargain for those of you looking for a new aluminium case with great looks and excellent cooling. With the price as cheap as they are at the moment you would be silly not to go for it. The only let down are the colour of the sides and top they will not be liked by all.