Introduction

Cooler Master centurion 5

Cooler Master is among the industry leaders in high quality cases. From the TAC-T01 Wave Master to the incredible CM Stacker, Cooler Master has produced some of the best looking and sturdiest cases available.

The Centurion 5 (CAC-T05-WWA) is available in black with either blue or silver trim and is constructed of steel, which adds weight and limits some heat dissipation, but adds strength and durability to the chassis. The case was shipped in colorful packaging with the words "Armed with Honor" emblazoned on the side to apparently lend a feel of nobility.

Quoting the Cooler Master press release "Centurion, an honorable name, represents quality of Discipline, Integrity & Loyalty. With the Centurion beside you, now you can conquer the world feeling safe and proud without having to be a Caesar".

While the Centurion 5 is a nice looking case, I am not ready to trade my Stacker just yet. Let's take a look at the specifics.

Specifications

Available colors Silver / Blue
Dimension (mm) 480x 202x 435 (D x W x H)
Weight 9.7kg
Material Aluminum Bezel, SECC Chassis
M/B Type ATX
Power Supply Standard ATX PS2; 350W
5.25 Drive Bay 5 (Exposed)
3.5 Drive Bay 1 (Exposed); 4 (Hidden)
Cooling System One 80 x 80 x20 mm Front Fan (Intake)
One 120 x 120 x 25 mm Rear Fan (Exhaust)
I/O Panel USB 2.0 *2
IEEE 1394 (Firewire) *1
MIC *1
SPK *1
Note Windowed side panel will not be sold separately

External Impression

 

 Front Image Rear Image

The external aesthetics of the Centurion 5 are quite pleasing, like every other Cooler Master case, with gloss black exterior trimmed in chrome and brushed aluminum. The left side panel has a clear Plexiglas cutout with the Centurion symbol etched in the center. The front of the case is similar to the Cooler Master Stacker with a vented and filtered bay cover for added airflow and dust protection. Obviously learning from a key issue with the CM Stacker, Cooler Master decided on a much easier way of removing and replacing these covers. Instead of plastic clasps, each cover is secured with two screws fastened to the inside of the front bezel, which itself is removable by way of four plastic grommets secured to the case itself.

Image Description

The small screen that covers each slot allows for sufficient airflow, although the filter will restrict this somewhat, it is still a nice addition to protect the internal components from excess dust, or in my case dog fur.

Lower Front

The front of the Centurion 5 contains two USB 2.0 ports, a single IEEE 1394 Firewire port, a microphone jack and a headset jack.

Front I/O

I was delighted to see that the screens are much easier to remove then those on the Cooler Master Stacker case, which are currently bent in several directions from having to pry them off each time I add or remove a device. I also like the idea of having access to some of the frequently utilized I/O ports, but unless you have a long headset cable, this could be an issue. I would have preferred the ports closer to the top of the case.

Internal Impression

 

Side view

A major concern with many steel chassis is the sharp edges that can sometimes cut an installer, or worse yet, slice that new cable you just spent hard earned money on. This wasn't quite the issue I expected, although our installer did receive a few minor gouges. Cooler Master did a very nice job of smoothing and buffing the edges of this case.

Image Description

Moving on to the internal layout of the Centurion 5, we see a total of ten available bays: five 5.25 drive bays, and five 3.25 drive bays, more than adequate for any possible configuration. Cooler Master chose to use a sliding lever system to secure devices within the drive bays. Simply slide your device into the bay, slide the lever forward and your device is securely fastened within the bay. For those of us that love to spend all day installing screws, Cooler Master graciously included the standard screw holes and plenty of screws to keep you busy.

Locking mechanisms

The sliding lock system is a wonderful design. No more attaching troublesome rails to your device before installing them. Although we moved our test model from spot to spot we have yet to see any movement with installed devices.

One item noticeably absent from the Centurion 5 is a removable motherboard tray. Though not a huge concern, it is a handy item to have for those of us with less dexterity in our phalanges (fingers for us slow people).

Reaer interior

The PCI slots also incorporated locking mechanisms to hold your PCI cards. Though again, Cooler Master chose to include screws and screw holes for those wanting to use them. The removal of the steel PCI covers can be a bit precarious since they are only secured with tiny tabs that must be broken to remove the individual covers. The major issue we had with this is that once removed they cannot be replaced. Be careful removing these as this was a painful and slightly battle scared lesson for our installer.

PCI Slot locks

I felt the "tool-less" design implemented by Cooler Master worked extremely well, and outside of the tabbed PCI slot covers the installation and layout were outstanding. I also like the fact that Cooler Master, while billing the Centurion 5 as a "tool-less" case, left the option of using screws up to the individual.

Fan and PSU Impression

 

120mm rear fan

Cooler Master's choice of fans was interesting to say the least. The front (intake) uses an 80mm fan placed between the case front and the lower drive bays, while the rear (exhaust) uses a 120mm fan of similar quality.

80mm intake fan

Both fans were extremely quiet, but very poor performers when it came to air flow. This is the same gripe I've had about all three Cooler Master cases that I've owned (Wave Master, CM Stacker, and now Centurion 5). In this day and age of high performance high temperature systems, Cooler Master needs to find an adequate trade off between noise and performance. I would have liked to see Cooler Master use two 120mm fans, and possibly mount a third fan on the side panel.

 

Power Supply

Centurion 5 350W PSU

PSU Label


Voltage 90V~132V or 180V~264V (selectable)
Current 10A @ 115V ac / 5A @ 230V ac
Frequency 47Hz ~ 63Hz
Hold-Up Time > 16ms @ Nominal Input Voltage
Efficiency > 70% @ Full Load
Dimensions PS/2-ATX form factor: approx 15cm x 8.6cm x 14 cm
Operation Ambient 0 to 50 degrees C, to 90% relative humidity, 10,000 ft.
Storage Ambient -20 to 60 degrees C, to 95% relative humidity, 50,000 ft.
MTBF > 100,000 Hours
EMC FCC / CE / CNS
Safety UL / CUL / TUV / NEMKO

The PSU is equipped with the following:
2 dedicated fan only connectors, which supply 12V only
2 SATA connectors
2 cables with 2 4-pin Molex, 1 floppy
1 AUX 12V connector
ATX connector

The review sample we received included a standard ATX PS2 350W PSU. I found this both surprising and disappointing. The case market is flooded with budget cases in the $25-50 range that include 350W PSUs like this. This is an issue for two reasons. first, I hardly consider Cooler Master to be a budget case manufacturer, and second, the price of this case ranges from $85-100, which does not fall in the "budget" category. Since most new systems are extremely power hungry, I think Cooler Master made an extremely poor choice here and would have been better served either offering the case with no PSU and dropping the price $20-25, or including at least a 400W power supply.

The included PSU is adequate enough for low end or older systems, but with most manufacturers recommending at least 400W to power todays power hungry systems, this power supply is in my opinion woefully inadequate.

Jason's Thoughts & the Legit Bottom Line

Jason's Thoughts

The Case

On the positive side Cooler Master did a wonderful job with their tool-less design, both locking systems did a great job securing their individual components without issue and made installation a breeze. Cooler Master also made a very nice improvement to the front cover system. Their new design, with the individual covers secured by screws instead of plastic clips also ensures that your new case will keep its clean, undamaged look for as long as you own it.

Although Cooler Master did not use a removable motherboard tray, installation of interior components was a breeze due to a very nice and very clean layout. The Cooler Master Centurion 5 is a great looking case. The clear side panel is a nice touch, and adding a cold cathode light would highlight the Centurion logo quite nicely.

On the negative side I have to chide Cooler Master for their fan selection. If their choice was quiet operation over air flow, why not use two 120mm fans? The 80mm intake fan was totally inadequate to even cool the hard drives placed right behind it.

I also question Cooler Masters decision to use a 350W PSU. While a great looking and incredibly sturdy case, I would rather they chose to not include a PSU, and charge $20-25 less, or charge a bit more and include an adequate power supply.

 

The Legit Bottom Line

Cooler Master has always been known for quality, and for the most part this case is no exception. The Centurion 5 could have been a great case had Cooler Master made better choices with the fans (two 120mm instead of an 80mm and 120mm), and the power supply.(AT LEAST 400W).