Cooler Master Wave Master LE

Mar 2nd, 2005 | By

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Cooler Master Wave Master LE

: 03/2/05 – 07:50:17 AM


: Cases

Page 1 : Introduction

Cooler Master


Probably one of the most popular Cooler Master designs to date is the Wave Master. The Wave Master generated a lot of buzz with it's unique styling that was adopted by major system builders and eventually imitated by competitor's products. While we never had the opportunity to give the original a look, today we look at an updated Wave Master case in the form of the blue
Cooler Master Wave Master LE

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Not an inexpensive case, the Wave Master represents many of the aspects around Cooler Master that have given them the reputation they have today. Such aspects as cooling, build, design, and features are important and the quality with which they are delivered is what makes a great case. These are the areas that will be concentrated on today.

Page 2 : Specifications

Gathered from Cooler Master's manual and website are these specifications:

Wave Master LE

All Aluminum Alloy
Supports ATX; 12"x9.6" (30.5cm x 24.5cm)
4 x 5.25" external drive bays
1 x 3.5" external drive bays
4 x 3.5" internal drive bays
1 rear 80*80*25 mm exhaust fan
2 front 80*80*25 mm intake fans
7 expansion slots
Front I/O Ports: 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x IEEE 1394 FireWire, 1 x audio, 1 x MIC
Available in silver, black, blue or yellow
Weight: 7.8 kg
Dimensions: 198 mm (W) x 458 mm (H) x 540 mm (D)

A8025-21CB-3BN-81 / MGT8012LS Fan

Fan Dimension: 80*80*25 mm
Fan Speed: 2100 rpm
Fan Airflow: 26.79 CFM
Fan Air Pressure: 1.91 mmH20
Fan Life Expectance: 30,000 hrs
Bearing Type: Sleeve Bearing
Voltage Rating: 12V
Input Current: 0.12A (0.14A max)
Input Power: 1.44W
Noise Level: 23.0 dBA
Connector: 3-pin or 4-pin

First off, the cooling and expansion this case comes with is excellent. Cooler Master includes three 80mm fans and room for more. Second, the I/O ports available on the top of the case are convenient and do not detract from the appearance of the case. In terms of size, the Wave Master LE is just a tad taller and thinner than the Cavalier 1. As with that case, the only thing I could frown upon here is the single external 3.5" bay, nowadays this shouldn't be an inconvenience for most.

If you thought the case was expensive, you'll also need to purchase a seperate power supply. This practice has its pros and cons concerning cost, quality, and choice. I prefer cases that don't come with a power supply, because typically I don't feel I can trust many of them.

Page 3 : Exterior

Naturally, the
Cooler Master Wave Master LE
arrived in a large box. Despite the size, the box was quite lite and unscathed. Inside was a well protected case.

With the plastic surrounding the case and tape holding the doors shut removed, I began to examine the outside from each angle. The design is nothing most of us haven't seen before, but what's new with the LEs are their color schemes. They come in a blue/silver and yellow/black. The blue/silver combination we have here is slick in appearance. The brushed aluminum, smooth paint finish, and flowing curves are gorgeous.

The front of the case features a door for concealing the drive bays, a large aluminum power button, blue HDD activity LED, small and well placed reset switch (well placed in that it's kept far away from the power button), and a blue power LED behind the aluminum pillar.

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The door has a magnet that keeps it closed. The magnet is strong enough to keep it from swinging open when the case is tilted but also easy to open. The side of the door that swings open bears marking as you can see in the picture below. Behind that door are four external 5.25" drive bays and a single 3.5" external drive bay. This amount of expansion should be enough for most users.

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The two sides of the Wave Master LE are simple and plain. Both are identical, featuring the glossy blue finish that makes up the majority of the case.

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Removing the side panels is a snap considering they are held on by only four thumbscrews each. Looking at the interior portion of the panels reveals they are entirely blue. This is unlike many other cases I've gone through where the attention to aesthetics stops where the consumer can't see.

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The back of the case is equally as appealing as the front. A color-coded standard I/O shield is included. Thumbscrews can be seen on the side panels and motherboard tray. There's also a rear exhaust fan with a grill seperated from the case. The brown box sitting where the power supply goes is where Cooler Master placed all the screws and reading material.

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Removing the power supply bracket is simple, but does require a screw driver. This is the method Cooler Master has used in many of their cases to install power supplies – remove the bracket, attach to power supply, then slide the power supply attached to the bracket into the rear of the case. Granted, this process would be made many times easier if the power supply being installed was modular.

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Once removed, inside the brown box are a short manual, installation parts, and an optional fan mount that can be exchanged with the top I/O panel so that a top fan can be used instead.

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Moving to the top of the case is the top I/O panel. The spring loaded cover opens and closes easily. It gives access to two USB 2.0, one IEEE 1394, one audio in, and one audio out ports. This can also be easily removed and replaced with the fan grill pictured above where an additional 80mm fan can be mounted.

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And before we dive inside, the Wave Master LE also features padded feet that resemble home theater equipment in look and feel. This is something I've seen before on other high-end Cooler Master cases, and it's a nice touch.

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Page 4 : Interior

The side panel removed, the look inside the Wave Master LE continues to be clean. Starting at the top is the power supply cage and to its right a PCB with which the I/O panel cables attach to the external ports. There are only three wires there to hook-up: IEEE 1394, USB 2.0, and front panel audio. To the right of those are the 5.25" and 3.5" drive bays, none of which are tool-less. The bay covers are held to the front of the external bays with two screws – one on each side.

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Mounted in the front of the 3.5" drive bays are two 80mm fans that deliver 26.79 CFM of airflow each. The placement of intake fans such that they deliver plenty of airflow accross storage media is very important and Cooler Master delivers well in this area of cooling. These two fans are powered via seperate 4-pin molex connectors.

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Powering the blue Power LEDs located in the front of the case are two 4-pin molex connectors. The Wave Master LE has standard connections for the internal speaker, power switch, HDD activity LED, and reset switch; each is visible in the above photo.

The rear of the case from the inside features a single 80mm exhaust fan pushing 26.79 CFM. The standard IO shield is included and easily removable as are the seven expansion slot covers thanks to the thumbscrews. The slot covers are a high quality aluminum.

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My favorite feature of the Wave Master LE is the removable motherboard tray. Perhaps I should be more harsh on cases that don't have one? The way the tray is designed, everything from expansion cards to CPU cooler can be left installed when removing the tray – just make sure any wires connecting to the power supply, fans, or drives are disconnected.

The tray itself is built of the same high quality, light aluminum that the case chassis is built from. The tray supports mounting studs for ATX and Micro ATX form factors, though Extended ATX is said to be unsupported.

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Page 5 : Installation

Doing a system install is typically simple, and with tool-less features and other quick install features can be made easier. The Wave Master LE has few tool-less features aside from thumbscrews for removing the motherboard tray, side panels, and expansion slots. The rest of the install will require use of a screw driver and pliers for tightening down the motherboard mounts.

The first thing I do with cases with a power supply mount like the Wave Master is install the PSU first. It's much simpler trying to route the cables through the power supply cage when the case is empty than when it's full of components. With the power supply mounted within the case, it's time to install the rest of the system.

Having a removable motherboard tray really makes installation much smoother than trying to work within the case. I attached the mounts in the proper places for an ATX motherboard and mounted the motherboard. With a the board mounted everything procedes as usual: attach CPU and heatsink, video card, any expansion cards, and memory. Once done, simply slide the tray back into the case carefully and then connect all the appropriate wires.

I usually install the optical and hard disk drives last, but some may find it easy to mount them before sliding the tray back into place. Using a SATA drive will eliminate some of the cable clutter that IDE tends to bring. With everything attached, the system looks like so:

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With the system turned on the front LEDs light up:

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Installed Setup:

Intel Pentium 4 520 @ 3.01 GHz (Prescott) @ 1.385 V
Spire SP503B0 CoolWave II HSF
2*512 MB PDP Systems PC4000ELK DDR RAM
Western Digital 80GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive
Nu Technology DDW-082 DVD Burner
MSI 915G Combo Motherboard
XFX GeForce 6600 256MB
Jetart JACSH1 VGA Cooler To be reviewed
Thermaltake PurePower 420 W Power Supply

Cooler Master Wave Master LE Case

Windows XP Pro SP2 + Latest Drivers, Updates

In use, the case performed well in keeping the system temperatures close to ambient. Using a temperature probe as well as MSI's CoreCell monitoring software, room temperature was measured to be ~18° C. With the system idle I measured an idle temperature of 22.3° C on the probe and 31° C in CoreCell. With the system loaded for an hour running Folding@Home and RC5-72 simultaniously, the probe reported 27.1° C while CoreCell reported 40° C. Overall, the performance was very good.

The noise levels were also very good. With only the power supply and case fans running, the noise levels were very low and considered quiet. This was impressive considering three 80mm fans were running as well as the two fans inside the PSU. Paired with a quiet CPU cooler, which the Spire is not, the Wave Master LE could make for a good low noise system.

Page 6 : Conclusion

After having used the
Cooler Master Wave Master LE
for about a month now, it still impresses me and has proved great to work with in tests thanks to the removable motherboard tray. The thing that concerns me most about using such a nice case is my tendency to scratch the paint. With the material and finish that cases come in today it's so easy to damage them, and so I can only stress buyers to take great care when moving and placing such equipment. The Wave Master LE manages to excel in nearly every department and could only see minor improvements in it's compatibility.

The tooled nature of the install can be seen as a plus or minus. It makes installation a bit more involved, but removes some of the bulkier mechanisms and plastic parts seen in tool-less cases. I feel this gives the Wave Master LE a sturdier and higher quality feel. Overall, I am so impressed with the Wave Master LE that I can recommend it to those who want a case that attracts attention through the beauty of it's design and not with flashing lights or gimmicky looks, still managing to deliver a quiet experience with great cooling to boot.

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Quiet operation
Expansion room
Great build and design quality
Plenty of cooling included
Removable motherboard tray


Extended ATX not supported
Not entirely tool-less

I'd like to thank Cooler Master for making this review possible.

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