Great style and build quality, but where's the love for long cards?
The Cooler Master 690 II Advanced is the ambitious sequel to the 690, the popular mid-tower chassis of a few years ago. If you’ve seen a Cooler Master mid-tower lately, much of the 690 II’s internals will be familiar to you. The exterior of the case is all black steel and plastic trim, with black mesh running from the bottom of the front panel to the back of the top panel. It’s classic Cooler Master, from the 14cm front LED fan (with top-panel LED on/off switch), 14cm top fan, and 12cm rear fan, to the drive bays and filtered intake fans.
Good looks, but not enough fans. Compromise turns this great case into a merely good one.
Unlike the original CM 690, the 8.4x20.1x20.8-inch sequel has a fully painted interior, with a CPU cutout and cable-routing holes and tie-downs on the motherboard tray. The case has four toolless optical drive clamps, but of a simpler design than CM’s previous push-button mechanisms. The 690 II’s six hard drive trays are familiar from every CM case of the past two years, though a two-SSD bracket included in the topmost tray is a new feature. And in addition to a top-panel eSATA port, the CM 690 II has a unique and ingenious “X-Data” port—full SATA power and data connectors at the top of the chassis. The port’s cover won’t fit over even a 2.5-inch drive, though, so it’s more for quick data recovery than permanent storage. But it’s innovative and we love it.
Plenty of room for two dual-fan radiators, if water-cooling's your thing, but not for a 5970.
There’s room for a dual radiator between the top of the chassis frame and the plastic top panel, and another at the bottom of the case if you remove the lower four hard drive bays. But one thing there isn’t room for is a 12-inch videocard—not without compromises, that is. If you are content running your videocard in a lower PCI-E slot and you remove the lower four hard drive bays, you can fit an ATI Radeon HD 5970, but otherwise you’re out of luck.
The top "X-Data" port is genius. Who needs eSATA when you can have real SATA?
For folks with standard-size videocards, installation is easy, with plenty of cable-routing options and room for scads of fans. CM touts room for up to seven more fans than it ships with—there’s even an 8cm fan mount on the right side panel behind the CPU cooler cutout. We wish the 690 II shipped with more fans, actually. Would a side fan have killed you, guys?