FSP CMT330 Mid-Tower Chassis Review

FSP CMT330 Mid-Tower Chassis Review

The CMT330 is just slightly better overall than the CMT 230, and here's why.

@chad_sebring
Published Thu, May 10 2018 10:00 AM CDT   |   Updated Thu, Jul 30 2020 4:20 PM CDT
Rating: 93%Manufacturer: FSP

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

With two cases under our belt from FSP, we have seen their high-end, and we have seen their low-end. It would only make sense that we also see something they have to offer in the mid-range of what is possible in mid-tower cases. The basic concept with the latest chassis we are looking at is to be very similar to the CMT230 while adding much more bang for the buck for their potential customers.

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VIEW GALLERY - 36 IMAGES

The next chassis in the line is the slightly bigger brother to the CMT230, and not only is it bigger it is wiser, has more interior space, and has learned a few tricks its smaller sibling has yet to figure out. This chassis does have a more aggressive look, yet at the same time brings a feel of elegance to the mix. There is room for better water cooling options, a new PSU cover is in play, and capabilities of hardware potential has also been increased. To be blunt, this is more of what we expected to see when we opened up the CMT230.

Middle of the road is never a bad plan when it comes to buying something new. There are those who always need to have the latest and greatest, as well as those who are on a restricted budget, but for the vast majority of the people, getting as much as you can with as little investment as possible is the spice of life. The CMT330 from FSP that we are about to dive into is a chassis that falls into the latter segment, and if you are out for an affordable design that holds a few surprises, this may be the case for you.

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The CMT330 is billed as an ATX mid-tower, which is made mostly of steel, with some of the components made of plastic. At this time, it is only available in black, but like the CMT230, the CMT330 also sports a plastic side panel window. The front of the chassis has sharp corners, the majority of it gets a hairline metal finish, and ventilation is cut down to thin strips around the edge. The front I/O panel offers a pair of USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, HD Audio, along with power and reset buttons, and a couple of LEDs. Dimensionally the CMT330 is taller at 510mm, it is 215mm wide, and is also 495mm deep. All told, fresh out of the box and internal packaging, the chassis weighs in at 5.6 kilograms.

Inside of the CMT330, there is room for Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX, or even EATX motherboards, but to use the EATX motherboard, you have to delete the use of the pair of 5.25" bays. There is a cage in the bottom to house a pair of 3.5" drives on trays, but the trays will also hold 2.5" drives as well. There are also four other dedicated 2.5" drive locations too. At the back of the chassis, there are eight expansion slots rather than seven.

The CMT330 ships with three fans inside of it, all of which use a 4-pin Molex connection to power them. Each of the fans is identical, where the two in the front of the case, as well as the one at the back, are all 120mm in size and are illuminated by blue LEDs. Those wondering about water cooling options, the CMT330 offers more than the CMT230 did. The front of the case will accept three 120mm or 140mm fans, but the mention a 360mm radiator fitting and not a 420mm radiator. The top of the chassis is capable of three 120mm fans or a 260mm radiator, but 140mm fans and radiators are limited to just two fans or a 280mm radiator. The rear of the chassis can also house a single 120mm radiator, but that will depend if a thick radiator is used at the top.

With improvements in style, some new features found in the PSU cover, and room for more bits, on paper, the CMT330 is shaping up to be quite the contender. To help with the decision-making process, while many cases like this are in the $100 range, FSP can deliver this chassis for just less than $80. The MSRP is set to $79.99 by FSP and looking around to buy the chassis; we see much of the same. Everywhere we looked, including Newegg and Amazon, all show the chassis currently in stock, and they want $79.99 with free shipping to members in both camps. We are a bit more excited to see how the CMT330 plays out in the end, after seeing the downfalls of the CMT230. Hopefully, this is an instance where we can leave the old behind and move on to better and brighter things.

Chad's Chassis Test System Specifications

Packaging

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Much like the previous chassis, the CMT330 is sent inside of a plain cardboard box, where FSP has made sure to include as much style and eye-grabbing art as possible. We can see the naming on the left side of the panel, but the bulk of it is used for the rendering of the chassis and the female warrior behind it.

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The next panel we see is used to deliver the specifications of the CMT330. There is nothing on this chart that we did not already cover. In fact, the information is identical.

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The back of the box offers up an exploded diagram of the chassis, where the doors are removed, a view of the interior layout is offered, and we can also see where the fans are located. The images at the bottom cover the numbered points, where the expansions slots are addressed, we see there is 360mm radiator support, what comes in the front I/O panel, and that there is a side panel window.

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The last panel, along with offering company information at the bottom, is also used to cover some of the features. All of what is listed here has been covered at some point in this review already, but feel free to zoom in and have a peek at what they cover here.

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With the chassis not weighing all that much, the interior packaging does not need to be very robust. The plastic on the window, the bag enveloping the chassis, and the thin foam caps were enough to get the FSP CMT330 mid-tower chassis to our door in one piece.

FSP CMT330 Mid-Tower Chassis

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The look of the CMT330 is completely different than any other FSP chassis we have seen thus far. You are looking at a plastic bezel with a brushed metal effect molded into it, with the I/O panel at the top, just above a pair of removable bay covers. The FSP logo is near the bottom of the solid section, and to let the chassis breathe, the thinnest of strips of the mesh are offered on either side.

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The I/O panel starts with a pair of USB 2.0 ports at the left, followed by the HD audio jacks. In the middle is a metal power button with a power LED above it, which is then followed by the reset button, HDD activity LED, and a pair of USB 3.0 ports.

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The top of the chassis is very similar to what we saw in the CMT230. Metal just behind the front bezel, where the majority of the surface area is covered with a magnetically attached dust filter with tiny holes in it.

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The left side of the CMT330 is also like its little brother, with s similarly sized clear plastic window offered.

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There is more room at the top of the chassis than in the CMT230, which allows the CMT330 better water cooling clearance. The rear I/O is at the top next to a 120mm exhaust fan. There are eight expansion slots next to passive ventilation and cover plate, leaving the PSU to go in the bottom, through the back.

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The right side of the chassis is a view of steel, which has been painted black and matches the plastic bezel on the front very well. Both side panels are held in with thumbscrews, and neither are flared out to offer additional room inside.

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The feet are large, placed as far into the corners as possible, and have foam padding under each of them. The dust filter is easier to remove in the CMT330, and we can also see rivets for the HDD cage, so we know that is not removable.

Inside the CMT330

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Removing the bezel, we find that the wires are still attached, and behind the mesh intake, there is no filter material. The front of the chassis offers two fans placed near the bottom, with room above for another one, as long as you do not need the optical bays.

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The inside of the chassis is laid out like many we see now, with a large open area at the top, and a PSU cover at the bottom. The instructions are floating around inside of the chassis, and all of the wires are tended to as not to break loose in transit.

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Looking from the inside, we see that only one of the optical bays can be used out of the box. The top bay has a removable plate, but once removed can never allow for the third fan to be securely mounted again. The bay drive support is removable, and the motherboard tray has holes to mount devices from the right side of the case.

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Closer to the bottom of the case we can see the pair of fans FSP installed. Also note that the PSU cover has a gap in the CMT330, which means radiators can pass through it. To the left, on the motherboard tray, we also see two of the locations for 2.5" drive installation.

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The top of the CMT330 is identical to the CMT230, and so are its capabilities. Three 120mm fans or a 360mm radiator will fit, as well two 140mm fans or a 280mm radiator.

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The motherboard tray is new to this chassis. There are eight holes of various sizes for the wires to pass through, a large CPU cooler access hole, and fourteen places to tie up the wires. Six of the nine standoffs are in place, and the holes are marked for each motherboard type.

Inside the CM330 Continued

Inside the CMT330 Continued

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The PSU cover isn't exactly a "cover" at this point, but we do see a pair of rails at the top, which will support the cover panel. At this time, we can see the PSU area at the back and the HDD cage, and the side panel has the FSP name pressed into the steel, while at the back there is a chunk missing to view the PSU sticker through.

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The back of the chassis has more room at the top than we show here. We wanted to feature the multi-blade fan mounted here, with adjustment for height included. The eight ventilated slot covers are removable and have the mounting addressed externally.

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Behind the motherboard tray, there is at a minimum, 20mm of room for wires or anything you may want to hide here. We also see an additional 2.5" mounting plate on the right, which holds two drives on it, and the hardware can be located in the hard drive cage.

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The side rails of the HDD cage are made of steel with tabs on the inside to align the plastic trays into. The trays can be locked into the cage, and the trays will accept either a 3.5" drive or a 2.5" drive.

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Since the side rail is thicker in the CMT330, the PSU must be installed from the back of the chassis, once the mounting plate is removed. The floor is well ventilated, and four raised bumps of steel have rubber pads on top for the PSU to rest upon.

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Again, FSP does not offer long cables, but the length given is enough cable to make the connection to the motherboard cleanly. Everything is here from the front panel switch and LED leads, to the native USB 3.0, USB 2.0 and HD Audio connections.

Hardware & Documentation

Hardware & Documentation

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All of the screws and associated bits come in one bag, and once poured out, we broke them down into groups. The top row offers HDD cage drive lock screws, PSU and video card screws, three standoffs, and a socket to drive them. The bottom row contains self-tapping screws to lock on the front bezel, a handful of M3 screws for 2.5" drive and motherboard mounting, and a set of 6/32 screws for 5.25" drive bay mounting.

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The reason the PSU cover was not covered in the chassis, is that the cover comes shipped between the motherboard tray and the right side panel. Unpacked from the foam and the bag covering it, we see that the dark Lexan cover is protected by more plastic, and has a magnetic strip down either side to attach it to the rails of the PSU side cover and the one below the motherboard tray.

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To help with wire management inside of the CMT330, FSP sent along eight zip ties. For some, you may need more, but for a basic installation inside of the chassis, we go by with that is supplied.

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Inside of the manual, you will find a parts list along with instructions on how to install the main components. Beyond that, there is a diagram showing how big the cooling options can be in the front and on top, leaving very little unanswered for the novice builder.

Case Build & Finished Product

Case Build & Finished Product

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Without the need to populate the 5.25" bays, the front of the CMT330 is as attractive as it was right out of the packaging. We do wonder though, are the thin strips on the sides and the opening below the bezel enough to keep our parts cool inside of it.

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With more room at the top of the chassis, no clearance problems came up when installing the 280mm AIO there. The motherboard lines up well, the video card is nearly level, and we can see the reflection of the wires near the Lexan PSU top plate which is now installed.

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The dust shield snapped into place much better this time, but we again had to flex the chassis at the back to allow the GPU to slide in easier. As for the PSU, we recommend attaching any cables before installation.

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Wire management is not stellar, but it gets the job done. We do notice that had we opted for an SSD on the left, wiring to them may be complicated with other wires run there, but otherwise, except for the lack of room in front of the PSU, we have no major complaints.

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Stepping back to take it all in, just after closing up shop, the CMT330 does mimic other cases on the market in styling, but many of them are not in this price range. When looking through the window, we see the motherboard, RAM, Cooler, and the video card, but we can also use the Lexan PSU cover to look up at the components in the reflection.

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With power now running through its veins, the chassis comes to life in a flood of blue LED light. The fans at the front are not seen through the bezel, but they do add light under the bezel on the desktop. We can see all of the chassis LEDs through the window, and in lower light, the rear fan does flood the interior of the chassis.

Final Thoughts

The CMT330 is built better than the CMT230, and for that we applaud FPS. Certain touches like stronger rails, a PSU that installs from the back, a different motherboard tray design, all work together to up the strength game with this chassis. The look is similar to many top name product out there, without being identical, but the attention to adding things like a brushed metal finish, the metal power button, and the under glow of light that comes out of the front when powered are all things many will enjoy. The fact that the CMT330 is taller is also a huge advantage. With the CMT230, water cooling options in the top could be limited by choice of components used in the build. Not here, we had plenty of room for proper cooling solutions.

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There is some bad to all of this, but the list is much shorter this time. We do feel that a wider opening for the expansion cards is needed. If only it were 2mm wider, we wouldn't feel like we have to try way too hard to do something that should be simple to do. The other thing is the lack of intake ventilation. While our 280mm AIO compensated for better results than we saw in the CMT230 build, the GPU was as hot as before. While the styling is on point, we do feel that FPS went with form over function with this front bezel. The last point we want to address is the PSU top cover. This is a plus and a minus to us. We like the idea, and we love the shiny cover. At the same time, it leaves no options for GPU power leads through it, and over time there is no doubt the cover will get scratched up.

What we have seen here has gotten us back to the feelings we had when we saw the CMT510. No, this chassis does not offer tempered glass all over the place like the CMT510, but there is a lot about this chassis to like. A solid entry into the market, even with a few things we would have done differently, at $79.99, we do feel there is value to be had. FSP shows that are trying, and moving away from entry-level designs is something we feel that FSP is a bit better at, and looking at the CMT330 mid-tower chassis is proof of that. All around, we feel that FSP has done enough to draw you to the chassis, and the ball is left in your court as to if the feature set delivered here is up to your standards, and can do what you need from a chassis.

Chad's Chassis Test System Specifications

TweakTown award
Performance90%
Quality93%
Features95%
Value95%
Overall93%

The Bottom Line: The CMT330 from FSP has a lot to offer. It looks good, it is affordable, it is structurally sound, and with the minor changes we would have made to it, we still feel it is a worthy contender for your hard earned money!

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

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DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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