A mid-tower with up to five external 5.25-inch drive bays (one of which can be converted to a 3.5-inch compatible bay if required), the Cooler Master CM 690 has an average height of slightly less than half a meter tall. Its depth verges on the generous, losing out only marginally (~4cm) to behemoths like Gigabyte's 3D Aurora. However, at 9.8kg, the CM 690 is much more heavier than the predominantly aluminum Gigabyte chassis and that is most likely attributed to its solid SECC build.
The weight of the chassis is exacerbated by its design - while it's easy to grip the rear bottom of this chassis with your hand (the chassis is elevated by two large rubber feet), the front bezel extends all the way to the bottom, making it rather difficult for the other hand to find purchase there. This makes lifting the CM 690 harder than its weight would suggest and we had to tilt it slightly backwards to get a grip at the front first before we could carry it. Now, the 9.8kg weight is before installation. After installing a full PC into the case, it will get a lot heavier. While it may not be a major inconvenience to some, it made us feel less inclined to want to lug this chassis around.
Like most Cooler Master designs, the entire meshed front bezel can be removed simply by pulling it outwards from the bottom. This is required when installing the optical drives. In order to keep dust out of the interior, the meshed areas are lined with filters. This goes for each removable drive bay bezel as well. Although these filters do help keep out the larger dust particles, cleaning them may not be on the 'to-do' list for many users and as time goes by, may actually impede the airflow of the chassis, thus defeating its design. As such, it is quite important to rinse out the filters from time to time, even if it is quite a chore to do so.
I/O ports are located at the top of the chassis, with Cooler Master adding an external SATA port in addition to the usual USB 2.0, FireWire and audio jacks. The removable side panels are dotted with ventilation holes, with the one on the right spotting two mounting locations for system fans. The two panels are secured with removable thumb screws but while we could remove them easily, the panels were rather stiff and took some effort to slide out from the chassis. Subsequent attempts did not fare much better and we have to give the thumbs down for this.
Like some chassis designs, the power supply (PSU) has been moved to the bottom, anchoring the chassis with its weight. There is ample space for even the larger and more powerful PSU retailing nowadays. A thin layer of vibration dampening material is also pre-installed between the power supply and the chassis.