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Cooler Master ATC-220B VX1: Based on one of their most popular models, the ATC-210B, the case has been further refined with a, um, funky "magic light reflection". Read on to see how we feel about one of Cooler Master's premium cases.

Date: February 17, 2003
Written By:

Until a few years ago, computers were always beige boxes with components shoved inside them, messy cables and all, placed somewhere inconspicuous - that was, until apple started creating their iMacs. After the iMac explosion, the computer industry, as well as the modding community really started to make their cases look attractive. Today I will be reviewing a case which is intended to be aesthetically pleasing and also provide good cooling - the Cooler Master ATC-220B-VX1, a midsize aluminum case. I personally have never used an aluminum case, this will be the first time I've put a computer into a non-steel case - let's see if ruckus people have been making about the superior cooling due to aluminum heat transfer is actually beneficial.

First, the specifications and features:

Dimensions (WxHxD): 196 x 454 x 550 mm
Weight: 7 kg (15.4 lbs)
Material: Aluminum Alloy and Acrylic
USB Ports: Dual USB Ports front-side
I/O Bracket: ATX
Motherboard Type: Standard ATX
Expansion Slots: 7
5.25" Drive Bays: 4 (All exposed)
3.5" Drive Bays: 6 total - 2 exposed, 4 shadow
Cooling: One 80mm fan attached to the back panel, one 80mm fan attached to the top (blowhole)


"Magic light reflection" at front bezel (cold cathode with etching)
One 80mm fan on top of the case
Drawer-Style motherboard tray
Tool-less assembly/disassembly
Dual USB ports at the front of the case
Excellent ventilation for the motherboard and HDD Drive

Click to Enlarge

The ATC-220B-VX1 is shipped in the same manner as the ATC-201A, which also has been reviewed here at Viper's Lair. Upon receiving the case, it is wrapped in plastic and taped off, and then secured to the outside of the box via cardboard holders with foam inserts. I received the case via UPS-ground without a dent or scratch.

Although one doesn't expect a 100-page user manual, I was surprised to find that Cooler Master only included a small page on how to install an ATX PSU or a redundant PSU, and how the front USB port connectors are supposed to connect to a motherboard. On the other hand, it wasn't very hard to figure out how the case works.


External Features

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Weighing in at 15.4 lbs, the case is definitely a lightweight. I've dealt with steel cases that weight up to 30 lbs. Take into account that I've gone to many LAN parties, losing the extra 10 lbs or so is nice.

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The back of the case is scattered with thumbscrews - ten of them, each of which happen to be just the right size. Unfortunately Cooler Master did not send extra thumb screws, which could be useful since some people can misplace the ones they got.

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The thumbscrews feature a shiny finish and also have a Philips-head indentation so that the thumbscrews can be secured tightly if need be. I didn't have to use a screwdriver to secure the thumbscrews. Must be my he-muscles.

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The extra thumbscrews would have been nice, but they did send more than enough screws for the motherboard mounts and drive installation.

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The panels have three screw-points for the rear, as well as a small handle to pull the panel backwards. The three thumbscrews held the panel in place securely. For installation, the panels have bottom tabs which hold the bottom of the case in-between the tabs and the actual side-panel. Then top tabs lock into place as the side panel is slid towards the front of the case. I have repeatedly removed and replaced the side without a hitch. My previous case, the Fong-Kai 320B, had what looked like a great panel design, which actually turned out to be horrible. Cooler Master on the other hand has designed this side panel perfectly - and not once did I have problems removing or installing the door whatsoever.

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The panel on the left side (which is used for access to components) has a green colored acrylic window that is beveled and has been screwed into the panel. The acrylic didn't make the panel particularly heavy, although I was careful not to put too much pressure on it, as it seemed like it would bend the rest of the panel. As far as I can tell, the window is airtight, and acrylic is just as good as glass as an insulator.

There are six total 3.5" bays, two of which are exposed. I dare say that two exposed 3.5" bays is more than necessary - but some people have been known to put fanbuses and the like in their 3.5" bays.

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There are four 5.25" bays, all of which are exposed. The top bay does not come with a faceplate, as Cooler Master expects that one of the drive bays will be used for a CD/DVD drive. Considering this case is meant for use as a desktop computer as opposed to server, leaving out that first faceplate was probably a good idea - one would be hard pressed to find a case nowadays without some sort of removable media device in a 5.25" bay.


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