Provided by: Cooler Master
No compensation was received for review of this product.
Price: $99.99 USD
With a price point of $99.99 USD, the Cooler Master 690 II Advanced Black & White Edition is in the mainstream category of computer cases.
Change is good, but change for the sake of change is not always wise. Improving incrementally and changing features which are necessary is important. Let's look at the development that has occurred in the last 2 or 3 years that would warrant change. SSDs have become much more affordable, so 2.5" drive mounting capability is essential. Self-contained liquid cooling systems have also risen in popularity and cases that can accommodate higher-end self-contained LCS heatsinks are sought after. Fortunately, the Cooler Master 690 II Advanced already could accommodate all of these when it was first introduced; the only necessary addition was the USB 3.0 front panel functionality. Cooler Master has also increased the perforations on the front bays so that cooling performance would also improve. The demand for side windows to show off the internal components has also risen and Cooler Master has provided this optional side panel available for users who bought the original 690 II case through their online store, but the CM 690 II Black & White USB 3.0 edition comes with that particular side panel out of the box.
Mid-towers are not often ideal for running 240mm radiators, as the clearance above the motherboard is very tight for maneuvering and installing items, such as plugging in the 8-pin CPU power or installing a fan. While it is possible to mount a 240mm water-cooling radiator at the top and at the bottom, it requires some compromise in the part of the user. Even with a thin 25mm radiator with a 25mm fan installed on top, a motherboard that has an 8-pin power connector that sits at the top edge of board is not compatible. The fan has to be mounted outside and operated with the top grill removed. Slimmer fans can be placed inside but it also depends on the motherboard model. Mounting the 240mm radiator at the bottom is more ideal, although some fully-modular power supplies, such as the CM Silent Pro Hybrid 1050W PSU, can cause clearance issues with the radiator because of the 24-pin cable header positioning blocking the edge of the radiator.
The tool-less HDD mounting options are easy to use, although the 2.5” and 1.8” SSD mounting capability is limited to only a single drive. The HDD caddies themselves could be modified slightly to have mounting options by drilling holes for mounting SSDs and I wished Cooler Master had done this cost-effective measure. Also, the bottom plate of the top HDD cage compartment blocks the second HDD installed from using a 90 degree SATA cable. Mounting 5.25” drives is also equally easy and mounting a half-length 5.25” device, like a fan controller, is also possible with aid of a regular screw on the right side. Thumbscrews are used for mounting the PCI devices, as well as securing the side panels. Even though the front bezel’s perforations have been expanded for airflow, the PCI slot covers chosen for the CM 690 II Advanced B&W Edition are without perforations. This is a puzzling move, as heat from the video cards can get trapped in that area. High-airflow PCI brackets would have been a better choice. A simple solution, however, is for users to just remove the PCI slot covers entirely. Although this invites a lot more dust internally, the GPU temperatures should improve drastically, especially if you have a video card that blows air inside the case.
The Cooler Master 690 II Black and White edition is priced competitively at a very busy market segment but manages to be very attractive even when compared to newer designs. Space behind the motherboard tray measures 1.5cm and is sufficient for storing extra cables and cable management routing. There is also sufficient clearance for tall CPU heatsinks, up to 177mm, and is not obstructed, even if you mount an optional fan on the left side-panel. There are plenty of features to be happy about with the CM 690 II Advanced Black and White USB 3.0 Edition, first and foremost of which is the gorgeous white glossy finish and the high-quality build which makes the minor issues very easy to overlook.