vacancies advertise contact news tip The Vault
facebook rss twitter

Review: Coolermaster 111C-SX1

by James Morris on 26 October 2002, 00:00

Tags: Cooler Master

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qans

Add to My Vault: x

Coolermaster 111C-SX1

Coolermaster have been on the aluminium case scene for some time now. They have rapidly developed a reputation for high quality/great looking cases. They have been leading the field for some time, but not a company to rest on its laurels, they are constantly increasing and changing their product line. Today we have a look at one of their new cases the ATCS-111C-SX1. This is a ATX mid-tower case made out of aluminium. First impressions show a more than passing similarity with the ATCS-110

What are the specs of the case?

  • 5.25" Bays (Exposed) x 4
  • 3.5" Bays (Exposed) x 2
  • 3.5" Bays (Shadow) x 4
  • Form Factor: - ATX Mid-Tower
  • Material: - Aluminium
  • Case :7.0 Kg
  • Dimensions(WxHxD): 196 x 452 x 500 mm
  • Dual 80 mm x 8 mm x 25 mm Fan attached front panel.(in)
  • One 80 mm x 80 mm x 25 mm Fan attached back panel.(out)
  • One 80 mm x 80 mm x 25 mm Fan attached top panel.(out)
  • Removable Motherboard tray
  • Blue LED's

First Impressions

Waiting for this case to arrive I was actually really keen to get my grubby mitts on it, as I was intrigued to see what this case looked like as the only pictures I had seen of it were clearly the ATCS-110. As usual it came in the normal manner that Coolermaster pack all their cases; In a sturdy cardboard box with custom little foam supports and the case itself in a thick plastic wrapping. I have sent and received many a Coolermaster case and have never had one damaged in transit despite several couriers best attempts. So it is clear that the packaging is more than man enough for the job.
Opening up the box at first I thought that Coolermaster had made a mistake and sent me a ATCS 110 as the front view of the case is so similar. Looking around a bit more I started to notice the quite major differences between the cases, In fact I would say the case shows more similarities between the ATCS 200 and ATCS-201 cases than the ATCS-110.
The format of the case is the usual Coolermaster all aluminium design, this case is an ATX mid-tower in design. There are plenty of bays with 4 large drive bays and 2 small drive bays externally with a further 4 internally. So this case as more than enough expansion options for most people. The internal hard discs are mounted directly behind the two front fans so your hard disks will be nice a cool.

Lets open the door

Opening the door on the front of this case gives access to all 6 of the external drive bays. The door is held on by two small brass spindles on the right hand side. The door opens from left to right as with the ATCS-110 visual the door and the front are identical in design even down to the black Coolermaster logo. The differences appear when you open the door, with the ATCS 110 there were two magnets on the case front and two on the rear of the door which meet up at two points on the left hand side of the case. With this case however there are just two magnets of the rear of the door at its base. These are lined up with two screws which are used to hold on the case facia. For me this design wasn't as secure when you are closing it there is no firm pull from the magnet as you close. The door still holds fine but I would be wary when transporting the case.
As with all Coolermaster case there are aluminium bay plates covering the external drive bays. This case uses ones similar in design to the ATCS-200 and 201 which are much more substantial and provide more support when lining up drives above the bay plate. Note unlike usual the top one is supplied with the case, this isn't the normal Coolermaster practice. Myself and other owners have been mentioning this for some time hopefully this will be the situation with all cases from now on. There are 4 x 5.25 bays, this is the right amount for nearly everyone. The ATCS 101 has one more but 4 is fine for me. There are also 2x 3 1/4 bays. I don't have a floppy disk personally as I think it should be confined to the history books, but there are still those of you requiring one. The only problem I can see with door is that clearance is going to be tight, normal drives will fit fine, those of you with a SBlive platinum or similar will run into problems as there simply isn't the room Rheobus's and baybus's will also be a no unless the switches/knobs are recess slightly..

Getting inside

Removing the side panels of this case reveal the similarities with other cases in the Coolermaster range. The side panels are identical to those found on the 200/201 but without the paint. These are aluminium in finish and look stunning. They are held in place with 3 thumbscrews each which are easy to remove, they also have small handles built into the rear of the panel to aid removal. One of the side panels was quite stiff to remove and needed a much firmer pull than the other but was still relatively easy to remove. Once they are removed you can see the case in all its glory, its layout is identical to that of the ATCS-201's Its well laid out and a breeze to work in due to the removable motherboard tray which is held in by 4 thumbscrews and slides out easily. The case includes a case speaker which is firmly held in place by two screws. Personally I never use them so tend to take them out of the case as they block the ideal placement of cold cathodes. There is no removable drive bays but I find that the access to them is more than good enough to overcome this.

Fitting the Power Supply

Again as with the other Coolermaster cases the PSU is attached by first removing four screws from an aluminium plate then taking off the plate. After this there is plenty of room to slide in the PSU and cables. Then you replace the plate and screws and attach the PSU to the plate with four screws. It would be nice for the screws holding the plate in place was held in by thumbscrews, but I wouldn't be certain that they could be tightened sufficiently to hold a PSU which can be quite heavy in place, so normal screws do make sense. The bay the PSU is held in has plenty of room for PSU's with fans such as the Hiper 520TS PSU triple fan power supply. There are plenty of spaces around the PSU area to route and store cables so that the airflow through to the top blowhole is disturbed as little as possible.



Cooling

With the current line of processors and graphics cards heat inside a computer case is very much an important factor in stability of a system. This case has a very well thought out cooling system almost identical to the ATCS 200/201 and 110. With four 80mm fans in total laid out in the tried and tested format of two intake fans in the front (also used to cool the hard disc bays), one exhaust fan at the rear of the case and finally one fan at the top of the case. There are two different fan units in use the rear blow hole is a Coolermaster 3pin fan (26DbA), the other three fans are four pin YS Tech (26DbA). Together these fans provide a good amount of airflow without being too noisy.
The overall cooling effect of this case is excellent, one of the best air cooled case setups equivalent to other similar ATCS cases such as the 201/200/110. The only problem with cooling is the top blowhole. It is attached to the case with four special connectors this is clearly visible from the top of the case and doesn't look very nice at all. The picture below shows the problem more clearly. Its not a major problem but a minor annoyance.

LED's and Switches

I think Coolermaster have been listening to my none to subtle hints about blue LED's in past reviews as this case I was pleasantly surprised to see had them for the Hard disc and power LEDs. Blue and silver go so well , particularly with this case as the blue light fills the trough diffusing outwards. The LEDs are both marked with small black etches which maybe useful if you forget which way round they are, but I can't see why it is necessary I would have preferred no markings so as not to spoil the clean lines. The switches are both very good also with a solid feel, they a nice to press and won't be pressed by accident.

Where does the case fit in.

The problem with this case is where it would fit into the Coolermaster series of cases. Coolermaster now do 18 different designs of case with several colour variations on top of those. It is a mid tower case of which there 12 in range. So instantly you have a large selection of cases for you to choose from. It is almost identical in layout and size to the ATCS 201 but with the looks of the most expensive tower cases the ATCS 110. At the price Coolermaster are aiming for it will be very attractive to those wanting the looks of the ATCS 110 without the high cost of the case. I personally love the case it combines great value with good looks and features. I can see them being very popular indeed.

Gallery





Pro's

  • PRICE!
  • Build Quality very good
  • Door hides beige drives
  • Blue LED's
  • Very light
  • Cooling
  • Removable drive tray
  • Thumbscrews all round
  • Space for lots of drives
  • Silver colour looks very pretty
  • Drive plates are all there
Con's
  • Door doesn't feel as sturdy as the one on the ATCS-110
  • Slightly stiff side panels
  • Mounting points for top fan spoil the clean lines
  • Clearance for drives maybe an issue for some

Conclusion

I have only good things to say about this case, it should be excellent value, with great cooling and amazing looks. The messy way the top fan is attached is my only real complaint, another method that doesn't have the nasty holes would have been preferred. If you dreamed about owning the ATCS 110 but couldn't afford it or you are after a high quality aluminium case this case should be high up your list of choices.