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Cooler Master ATC 310 Server Case Review

Manufacturer: CoolerMaster

Fit And Finish

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By simply referencing the dimensions, does no justice to the actual size of this behemoth. The actual dimension of this would be closely matched to that of a small refrigerator or file cabinet. As mentioned beforehand, since there are very few distributors offering the ATC line and a manufactured suggested price including shipping of almost one grand, make this a very expensive box. Upon receiving The ATC-310, the packaging was excellent. Installation was easy due to the removal of the motherboard tray and side panels. The ATC-310 includes four YS Tech 80mm fans attached to the back-side of the enclosure. Also, there are two huge stacked 120mm fans attached on the side of the drive cage. These 120mm fans totally eliminate the need for hard drive coolers. Unfortunately, these also generate a reasonable level of noise.

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Interior view of the ATC-310 enclosure. Take a look that the hard drive enclosure. You have room for five hard drives. Moreover, to the left of the four Seagate X15’s, you have the two stacked 120MM YS Tech fans chilling those hot 15K RPM drives. What kind of system would this be without Enermax’s flagship 531-watt power supply running this rig? Also, look at the rounded IDE, LVD, and Ultra SCSI, cables with lighted terminators. No, they are not Christmas lights! Courtesy of Cable Makers out of California.

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Front view of the ATC-310G enclosure. Actually, there are a few different color schemes with which to choose. The one showcased is the “GunMetal” version. There are five open bays to accommodate your devices. As you can see, I was unable to fit the floppy into the floppy bay. Therefore, I needed to use a full-height bay.

The most intriguing and innovative design was CoolerMaster’s proprietary 300mm cross fan. It best resembles a paper towel tube with vents. The curtain of air blown across the motherboard is nothing short of awesome. This generates approximately sixteen inches of uninterrupted air across the motherboard tray and additional devices. In addition, the amount of noise generated by the cross fan is negligible. Then, the hot air is exhausted courtesy of four YS Tech 60MM fans. This is an ideal and optimal environment to cool the enclosure. The construction of the ATC-310, is excellent and well intended. All of the pieces that make up the ATC-310 are smoothed, hand assembled and riveted. I especially appreciated the removal of the drawer-style motherboard tray. This makes for an easy removal or installation of the motherboard and relevant devices. With all these amenities, come caveats.

As the aluminum alloy design make for an aesthetically pleasing and weight reducing combination, I cannot help but speculate the CoolerMaster's marketing position for this product? The opportunity to bend or potentially damage the all aluminum infrastructure is extremely high. Therefore, it is imperative that you pay close attention to the amount of force you use and where, when installing or configuring your dream machine. On many occasions, I caught myself pressing or applying too much pressure on the infrastructure of the case. Another area of concern is the pressure by which you fasten the thumbscrews. It is very possible to strip the threaded holes when fastening down the PCI devices. In addition, with the cost of this enclosure, CoolerMaster could have sprung for a few more thumbscrews placed strategically on the enclosure. This would eliminate the vibration associated with the side panels. For example, two thumbscrews fasten down the two side panels. For fit and function, CoolerMaster should have used four thumbscrews to fasten down the two side panels. This would provide one thumbscrew per corner of each panel. This would eliminate any possibility of vibration.

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This is a full internal view of the ATC-310. As you can see, the power supply resides directly over the PCI devices; which may create a problem when installing and removing devices. Also, with the inclusion of seven internal fans, does pose a wiring vulnerability. I actually tucked the wires between each of the 60MM fans. Although I used rounded cables and plastic ties, it is very difficult to prevent the quagmire of wiring due to the amount of fans implemented. By the way, is that an AMD 1.2GHz 266FSB-processor resting in the A7M266?

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This is a side view of the 310 showing off the behemoth 120MM fans. Again, with these propellers running, there is no need for additional hard drive cooling. Also, take a look at the 300MM cross-fan.

In addition, the side panels, though fit properly, do not seem to provide that snug fit that many traditional steel enclosures do. Again, this may also provide an opportunity for vibration. In addition, I am not quite sure that the positioning of the power supply is ideal for its environment. That is, it resides almost directly over the PCI slots. This requires a very careful and steady hand as PCI devices are removed and inserted. This also requires careful negotiation and patience as the user fastens the thumbscrews. While most of these idiosyncrasies can be overlooked, one glaring problem remains unchanged. As convenient the drawer-style motherboard tray is, it causes a huge frustration. The PCI devices failed to line-up properly with the motherboard. I spent literally hours trying to understand this obvious engineering faux pas. You could actually see the gold interconnects when the PCI devices were inserted. This situation became so frustrating that upon boot-up, the operating system would lose my network and storage device due to the devices not being properly inserted. Regardless of how much pressure I applied, the devices would not insert properly. The reason for this glitch is two possible explanations. Either the motherboard tray rails were not properly aligned (riveted), during assembly or the motherboard aluminum risers that connect the motherboard to the motherboard tray were too short..

I called CoolerMaster and they were very cordial and recommended that I return the motherboard tray so that they could examine it. Not being too thrilled to disassemble this rig and send out the motherboard tray for one week, I declined. The only solution I found was to insert small washers between the motherboard and motherboard tray. This provided the needed elevation required to fully seat the PCI devices. While this was a very simple yet time consuming process, I expected the fit and finish to be perfect. Coincidentally, I was also unable to insert the floppy drive into the floppy bay because the bay was so tight that I would literally have to force it in to fit. Which of coarse, I did not do. I simply inserted the floppy drive into an external 5.25" exposed bay via a 5.25’’ conversion kit. One other area of concern was the placement of the 120MM hard drive fans. While incredibly efficient, the two fans obstructed the holes by which to fasten the four X15’s. That is, anything short of removing the fans, I was only able to fasten one side of the hard drives to the enclosure. However, not a crisis, did frustrate at one point.

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This is a close-up of the two 120MM and 300MM cross-fan.

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This is a long shot of the two 120MM and 300MM cross-fan. As you can see, the length of the curtain fan is almost the exact length of a standard ATX motherboard. Therefore, the entire motherboard is being cooled.