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Case, Power Supply, Fan Reviews
  Product:     Cooler Master CM Media 281 HTPC Case  
  Price:     $343 (CDN) / $299 (U.S)
  Supplied By:     Cooler Master
  Author:     Hi-TEK
  Date:     February 22nd, 2007
  Rating:     star star star star star star star star star

MODTHEBOX would like to thank Yolanda from Cooler Master for sending the CM Media 281 HTPC Case for review.

Cooler Master

Introduction:

Cooler Master has developed a significant reputation in the case manufacturing market. A few years ago the company's main focus was manufacturing products for the cooling market with everything ranging from cooling fans to hard drive and chipset coolers. Many will remember the ATC (Active Thermal Convection System) product line which set a standard for high-end computer enclosures. The explosive growth and demand for new HTPC based products has lead the company to develop the newly branded CM Media concept. The CM Media product line pairs a modular enclosure with the latest home theatre applications allowing consumers to easily integrate a PC into the living room. Today in the MTB Labs, we will be evaluating the new CM Media 281 HTPC Case.

Specifications:

The Cooler Master CM Media 281 features a roomy interior capable of supporting NVIDIA SLI / ATI Crossfire configurations as well as the capacity to hold up to five hard drives. It is also compatible with RAID configurations and full-length video cards which include the newly released NVIDIA G80 SLI. The CM Media 281 comes pre-assembled and supports both mATX and ATX motherboard formats. Here are some specifications taken directly from the Cooler Master website:

ModelCooler Master CM Media 281 HTPC Case
Dimensions16.93" (W) x 7" (H) x 18.78" (D)
MaterialChassis: SECC, Bezel: AL+ABS
Weight20lbs
MotherboardStandard ATX, Micro ATX
Cooling System 1x 120 mm Rear Silent Fan (1200 RPM, 17dBA)
1 x 120mm Front Fan (Optional)
1 x 120mm Top Fan (Optional)
1 x 120mm Side Fan (Optional)
Drive Bays9 (Extemal 3 x 5.25" and 1 x 3.5" lnternal 5 x 3.5")
Expansion Slots7
Front I/O Ports- 2 x USB2.0 port
- 1 x 1394 Firewire
- 1x Earphone Jack
- 1 x MIC
Display TypeMulti-Media Kit (RC-281-OSB1-GP)

Cooler Master CM Media 281 HTPC Case
Click image for larger view
Cooler Master CM Media 281 HTPC Case
Click image for larger view
 

The Cooler Master CM Media 281 HTPC Case was shipped in white and purple double-walled corrugated box with the case manufacturer's logos and images printed on all sides. The front portion of the package includes several images of the CM Media 281 while the back portion includes product specifications. The packaging inside the box was good with the case sealed in protected plastic with two pieces of Polystyrene located on the left and right side of the unit.

Cooler Master CM Media 281 HTPC Case
Click image for larger view
Cooler Master CM Media 281 HTPC Case
Click image for larger view
 

The Cooler Master CM Media 281 HTPC Case was bundled with an assortment of accessories which include mounting screws, motherboard stand-offs, zip ties, power cable, remote, AAA batteries, replacement front bezel, application CD and a single user manual. The documentation included with this package is well written and includes 22 pages of useful information. Consumers will be guided through a feature list, specifications, installation process, conversion, software support and cooling recommendations.

To cater to the demands of HTPC enthusiasts, Cooler Master has included a silver coloured remote control and a copy of Soundgraph's VFD Controler software. The remote control is powered by two AAA batteries that fit into a removable compartment on the back of the unit.

Cooler Master CM Media 281 HTPC Case
Click image for larger view
Cooler Master CM Media 281 HTPC Case
Click image for larger view
 
I was extremely pleased to see that the bundled remote has the same look and feel as Microsoft's own Media Center 2005 Edition remote control. The remote is a solid performer and makes navigation an absolute breeze. The top portion includes macro style buttons that provide quick access to menu options for My TV, My Music, My Pictures, My Video, Guide, Live TV and Recorded TV. The middle portion includes arrow style buttons for quickly moving from menu to menu or each program option. The bottom portion includes a numeric pad as well as control keys for media player or DVD applications.

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