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Review: Cooler Master CM Stacker 810

Cooler Master’s CM Stacker 810 workgroup server/workstation case is all about space — it’s a big floor-standing tower unit standing 536mm tall. With a depth of 584mm and 227mm width, the CM Stacker has plenty of room inside even for Extended ATX server motherboards. It will also take smaller Micro ATX and standard ATX form-factor boards, but not the newer (and rarer) BTX format — Cooler Master makes the CM Stacker 820 for those types of boards.

The case itself is made from 1mm SECC steel with brushed and black aluminium bezels and side panels. Taste is subjective of course, but the case looks smarter than your usual beige plastic job so there’s no need to hide it in a server closet.

As the case is big and heavy (10kg empty) and not very movable, it’s good that Cooler Master put six USB and one IEEE-1394 Firewire connector at the front, plus AC97 standard audio jacks.

The Taiwanese company named the case “Stacker” for a reason: you can mount no fewer than 11 5.25” drives in the case. Hard drives can be mounted either with 5.25” rails, or by using the supplied 3.5” cage. The latter fits up to four drives, and there’s space for three cages inside the case. All the drives can be mounted without tools.

Filling up the case with drives and today’s hot-running electronics requires good heat dissipation. For that purpose, Cooler Master put in two silent 120mm fans at the rear, and another one in front of the drive cage; if need be, you can also mount 120mm fans behind the mesh front panels to keep things cool. An 80mm fan at the top is also included, and the left sidepanel has mounting for a further 80mm blower which should provide ample ventilation even in non-airconditioned offices.

Cooler Master decided to put the mounting for the power supply at the bottom of the case instead of the top as usual. This has the advantage of making the case more stable as the weight is at the bottom, and you can fit longer, redundant PSUs as well.

However, the heat rising from the power supply will warm up the interior of the case. Many power supplies come with fans that suck out hot air from the case and expel it at the back, something that’s clearly not going to work with the CM Stacker 810.

Thanks to all the space, it was easy to work with it but the bottom-mounted power supply presented a problem: there’s a meshed grill which I had to invert in order to make the power supply fit in. Also, there is no removable motherboard tray and no holes or anchor points for routing and tying up cabling for tidy assembly. Cooler Master says the CM Stacker 810 provides tool-free installation but that’s not quite true: you need a Philips screwdriver for putting in video and expansion cards.

A slight design miss is seen in the meshed front panels, which can be pushed in to the case too easily. There’s no way to secure them, unfortunately. They are however filtered, which should help keep the dust bunnies from devouring your expensive electronics inside the case.

In use, I expected the case to sound like a jet-engine at take-off thanks to all fans inside it. However, the case fans ventilate without much noise, so combined with silent CPU, video card and PSU fans, the CM Stacker 810 isn’t going to be heard in a normal office. I would have liked thermostat controlled fans in the case however, to further reduce the noise when the case is cool; for that, you have to buy a separate fan controller however.

I put in a Gigabyte 955X Royal motherboard that had a Pentium 4 840 dual-core CPU onboard and a Gigabyte XL800 video card with passive cooling and loaded the lot up with our benchmark testing suite to see well how the case would handle “hot stuff”. With an ambient temperature varying between 19 to 25 degrees, the system sensors reported temps between 37 and 43 degrees centigrade.

The CM Stacker 810 looks and goes well. The New Zealand pricing is a bit high as the case doesn’t include a power supply.

Cooler Master CM Stacker 810

full tower server case

Price: $300 plus GST

Rating: 7/10

Pros: lots of space for motherboards and drives; easy to work with; plenty of ventilation provides excellent thermals; quiet.

Cons: somewhat pricey; few design misses; case fans not thermostat controlled.

Distributor: iWay

09 622 0099

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