Coolermaster Centurion 5 mid-tower case

Cases|Damping
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ASSEMBLY AND TESTING

The assembly process went smoothly, with nary a hiccup. It is a simple matter of screwing the standoffs into their respective spots, installing the mainboard and sliding the drives in. If for some reason you did get stuck, the manual could walk you though the entire process step by step.

The small opening through the mainboard tray at the PSU shelf provides just enough space to tuck extraneous wires into, hiding them between the tray and the right side of case. Combine that with the openings between the tray and the drive racks at the front of the case, and with a little creativity you can really take cable-gami to the extreme. (EDITOR'S NOTE: For those new to the concept, try a search for cablegami in the SPCR Forum -- or go directly to the SPCR cablegami sensei's definitive forum post.)

With the apparently unending growth trend in the size of CPU heatsink / fans, the distance between the mainboard and the PSU is often critical. With that in mind, a measurement was taken from the edge of the installed mainboard to the underside of the PSU. It measured a fairly healthy 18mm. That information, plus the relevant dimensions from your mainboard and heatsink should head off any “will X mainboard plus Y heatsink fit?” questions.

For complete system testing the following hardware configuration was used:

  • Gigabyte GA-7VM400M M-ATX Socket A mainboard w/ onboard video
  • AMD XP 1900+ Processor
  • Scythe Samurai HSF, set to minimum speed
  • 512Mb RAM
  • 200Gb Seagate 7200.7 hard drive, in standard mounting rails.
  • Whatever CD drive happened to be lying on the workbench.
  • Coolermaster Real Power RS-350-AMSR PSU
  • Stock 120mm exhaust and 80mm intake fans.

TESTING

Conditions and setup:

  • Ambient temperature was 21°
  • CPU/Case Load temperatures were achieved by running CPUBurn
  • HDD idle temperatures were recorded simultaneous with the CPU max temps, while the HDD load temps were generated by 30 minutes of file transfers between partitions.

CONFIG 1: Both fans at 12V

From a cooling perspective, this configuration turns in impressive results. Full load CPU temps of 12° above ambient, and HDD temps at or below 30° are nothing to be scoffed at. The downside is, of course, the noise. As expected, the front 80mm fan is the worst noise offender of the entire system. Its worst qualities seem to be amplified by its rigid mounting to the case. The intake fan's volume is so out of proportion to the rest of the components that determining which of the remaining sound belongs to who is virtually impossible. Even non-SPCR readers would likely consider this setup to be annoyingly loud.

CONFIG 2: 80mm intake removed, 120mm exhaust at 12v

Acoustically, eliminating the front fan makes a huge, instantaneous improvement. As expected, the hard drive temperature increases, but 34°C after 30 minutes of intense use is still excellent. Anything under 40°C is barely lukewarm for a hard drive.

Without the intake fan, the individual remaining noise sources can be clearly identified. From the front, the Seagate hard drive is now clearly audible. Its distinctive whine can be heard clearly through the open bezel, and the seek noises telegraph crisply through the rigid mounting. Careful listening allows you to pick out each of the remaining fans, with the PSU fan contributing the lion share of the noise. A "typical" user would probably consider this machine to be fairly quiet.

The double edged sword of an open bezel is becoming clear: It lets the air in, and it lets the noise out.

CONFIG 3: 80mm intake removed, 120mm exhaust at 5V

This is the configuration that most SPCR readers would be most likely to use. The temps rise by another few degrees across the board, but none of them are anywhere close to uncomfortable levels.

The noise level has dropped another notch, with an obviously larger portion of the remaining noise coming from the PSU. No further improvements in acoustic performance would be achievable without first dealing with the PSU. Stopping the PSU fan temporarily results in a blissful near-silence, with the 120mm exhaust fan and 80mm heatsink fan purring away at a low level. From a dead-on front listening position the Seagate is very present, but shifting as little at 30° off axis greatly reduces its noise, a further indication of acoustic openness of the bezel

FINAL THOUGHTS

The above examples are only three of the endless combinations of fans and components that a user might assemble. Althought the thermal demands of the test rig are modest compared to that of a more current-edge system, it's clear that there is plenty of thermal headroom for this case to handle much hotter components. One obvious alternative is a quieter 80mm fan to act as an intake.

The marriage of aluminum for cosmetics and steel for inexpensive sturdiness works well. It's a combination that is perfect for offering the advantages of the two metals with little of the drawbacks.

The interior design offers no dramatic advances, nor does it exhibit obvious flaws. A SPCR diehard would consider the unremoveable 3.5" drive cage that goes down to the floor a no-no because of the challenge this poses to easy HDD suspension. But that same diehard would cheerfully overcome this challenge with one of the many DIY options outlined in SPCR's storage sections in the main site or in the forums.

The Coolermaster Centurion 5 can be summed up succinctly: It is an excellent case for keeping already quiet components cool, but perhaps not the best choice for trying to contain the sound from noisier components.

Pro

  • The bezel, the bezel, the bezel
  • Solid steel case + sexy aluminum trim
  • Good accessories bundle
  • Relatively high efficiency PSU
  • Nice attention to detail on interior design
  • Good price/design-quality ratio
  • Excellent cooling
  • One very nice case fan

Con

  • Design innovation from the bezel doesn't carry through to rest case
  • Noisy stock PSU
  • Free flowing bezel lets noise leak out
  • One very bad case fan.

Our thanks to Coolermaster for providing the Centurion 5 sample.

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Discuss this article in the SPCR Forum.



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