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CMI CSMF425 Case

Welcome once again from “Silicon Holler” and the Monster-Hardware secret labs. It’s been a stretch since I have last had a review due to my “real job” work schedule, and it’s good to be able to contribute once again. Today, we will be taking a look at an entry-level case from CableMart, Inc. CableMart, Inc. is a major importer of cases and computer supplies, and have a very comprehensive website with everything you need for building and modding computers.

In the past we have reviewed a case and power supply tester from CableMart with positive results – so let’s take a look at today’s case, also known as their csmf425.

Black and silver case with the following specifications:

-500 watt ATX power supply and power cord
-Four 5-1/4” bays (all with exterior access)
-Three 3-1/2” bays (one with exterior access)
-Steel construction
-Dual side louvers for improved cooling
-Case size: 45 x 44.5 x 19 cm (appx 17-3/4 x 17-1/2 x 7-1/2 inches)
-USB and audio jacks on the side
-Hardware bag including screws and motherboard standoffs
-Matte black finish with front silver accent panel
-Price: $29

CMI Right Quarter     CMI Left Quarter     Case Insides

The case was presented in a sturdy shipping box, and was well padded and plastic wrapped. The case was uniformly painted with what appeared to be a powder coated enamel - while I have to call the finish “matte”, it is really almost more of an eggshell – not quite a gloss finish but perhaps a little more shiny than a standard satin. As you can see from the case picture, the case is perforated with unobtrusive louvers along the lower side panels. Additionally, the front plastic panel fits well with no machine or tooling marks, and the finish matches the enamel surfaces very well. The front also has a silver accent panel that is faintly reminiscent of some Dell computers.

Also note the unusual placement of the front USB and audio ports. While these are unconventionally located, I find them to be at a very convenient place. Most people have their computers sitting at their left, and this makes the plugging into the USB ports easy. Additionally, they are not so low that it would be difficult to use if the computer was sitting on the floor. Even though I buck the trend by having my computer on my right side, I have my DSL modem to the right of my computer and there is plenty of space. In fact, it could be easily argued that this USB/Audio port placement enhances the front side appearance of the case.

CMI Rear     CMI PSU     CMI Side Panel

I find the read of the panel to be well laid out and nicely done. The power supply mounts up high and in a conventional flat orientation. The manufacturer has shown some thought in the spaces for mounting addition exhaust fans; you can mount any combination of: one large fan, one small fan, one large/one small fans, and two small fans. There is an additional several square inches of air intake area below the fans for additional cooling help. Do note that you will need a screwdriver to remove the case sides; conventional screws are utilized instead of thumbscrews. The case sides lock into the frame very positively and the overall general construction is rock solid as you might expect from a steel case.

As mentioned, the power supply is rated at 500 watts. Understandably, at this price point, the power supply is not a major brand! However, the voltage levels remained steady while I performed initial testing. If I had to give a negative about the supply, it is this – there were only four molex connectors. This really isn’t a negative for the average user – but then again, I’m not an average user, generally having four hard drives in use at any given time. Therefore, after I completed my initial build and testing, I swapped out the power supply for one with more power connectors. Once again, the power supply seemed to be as strong as advertised and would be more than adequate for most users. I almost look at this as an unexpected bonus as the price point of the case.

CMI Top Front     CMI Bezel     CMI Bezel Inside

As we look at the front of the case – I noticed quite a nice feature, especially given the cost of the case. They have included a “flip-front” bay cover so that you can use an existing beige drive if necessary. I have always used lighter colored cases and thus have always had beige drives – out of my two main DVD and CD drives, only one of them came with an interchangeable black face plate. This case feature allowed me to install both drives and maintain a sleek look. To install, you simply remove the flip-front bay cover and install your drive as normal, leaving the installation screws loose and adjustable. Then, you hold the back side of the bay cover up to your drive and adjust the rear button insert to fit your drive button. Then, you can tighten everything up when the installation is tested and works as intended. When I had everything aligned up and working properly, I removed the bay cover and locked the rear side of the button into place with a small dollop of hot melt glue.


As when working with metal components, be careful for sharp edges. Before I started installing any components, I always carefully check for rough spots and burrs – but I missed this one located inside the top drive bay. I reached in to pop out the flip-front bay cover first, and scratched my hand on the back side of the drive screw location punchouts. If I had started down low (like any reasonable person!) I wouldn’t have received this scratch because I could have gotten to it easier from the front. I really can’t fault the manufacturer much on this one. The remainder of the case was well finished and had rolled edges.

CMI MB Mounted     CMI MB Mounted

Next, came the motherboard installation. I used an MSI ATX motherboard with an Nvidia chipset. Even using an oversized Taisol heat sink, there was plenty of “headroom” at the top of the case near the power supply. There was plenty of hand room inside the case while installing the motherboard, which went easily. I am disappointed a bit in the front-to-back depth of the case. As you can see from the installation of the hard drive, the drive cages come very near to overlapping the motherboard footprint. This could have been eliminated if the lower drive cage had been oriented to the left instead of centered. This made getting memory and IDE cables a bit difficult to install. Note that this is due to the component placement on MY motherboard – yours might not have any problems whatsoever. And, I was able to get everything installed, it just took a bit of patience with the cables and some needle nosed pliers assistance.


After I got everything running and well burned in but not overclocked, I took a snapshot of the case temps. I was rather pleased with the air movement through this case even with minimal fan exhaust (power supply only at this point). Frankly, some argue for aluminum cases regarding heat extraction – and it’s certainly true that you will have a bit cooler case in the long run with aluminum. However, because I build a lot and perform testing for Monster-Hardware, I tend to put a higher premium on sturdiness and strength. This case seems to be far stronger than a previous Skyhawk aluminum case I has tested. If the cooling and ventilation is adequate – and it is for this case – I would rather have a compact and strong case. Which this case certainly is.

In conclusion, I like this case a lot and will most likely keep it as my main case for the immediate future.


  • Sturdy steel construction
  • Lots of ventilation
  • Neat and thoughtful fan and front panel features
  • Inexpensive cost
  • 500 watt power supply included


  • Only minor interior edge finish problems (sharp edge)
  • Power supply needs extra molex connectors
  • Lower drive cage could benefit from more space between motherboard
  • Another slot for additional drive or two

Added: April 29th 2006
Reviewer: Insulglass
Score: 8  
Related Link: CableMart Inc
Hits: 7493
Language: english


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