In and Around the Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced

For their budget cases I've noticed Cooler Master offers a lot of options for people who want something flashy, but also for people who want something more functional and workaday. The Elite 120 definitely falls into the latter category; it has a very stylish aesthetic, but that style is smart and understated.

I actually find the front fascia of the Elite 120 amongst the most attractive of the cases I've tested. Gunmetal is, in my opinion, a shamefully underused color that fits in with most setups very nearly as well as basic black does. The cool, gunmetal-colored brushed aluminum finish covers the center of the fascia and continues to the 5.25" drive bay shield, and the accent is flanked by the ports, LEDs, and power and reset buttons. That recessed area around the aluminum plate has ventilation on the sides to allow the 120mm front fan to take in cool air, but I have some reservations as to how much air is really going to get into the case and how effective that fan is going to be.

The top and sides of the Elite 120 are a single piece and the joints are exactly flexible enough to make assembly fairly easy. Each side is ventilated where it needs to be; the extra ventilation is essentially a trade-off between acoustics and thermal performance. This panel is fastened to the back of the case with three thumbscrews: one on each side.

The watercooling port in the back is a cute idea but basically unnecessary; what's more interesting is the extrusion for the power supply. There's a power supply bracket held on with four screws, and the bracket in turn supports mounting the PSU with the fan intake facing the bottom (toward the CPU) or the top (toward the ventilation). This extra 30mm of space could very well wind up being an eyesore for some builders, but it does allow for using a standard ATX PSU, and our modular unit fit snugly without being too cramped. A shorter (say 140mm) power supply without modular cabling would probably fit beautifully. I'm also happy to see Cooler Master didn't even bother with a cover over the extruded expansion slots; my experience with these covers is almost universally negative, and generally I'd rather have that space just left open than have to fiddle with it.

The interior includes a remarkable amount of amenities. The cables all come bundled and tied to the bottom of the case, but I'm more impressed by the drive sleds. Cooler Master included something that's frankly so obvious that it makes other case designs feel silly by comparison: a pair of 3.5"-to-dual-2.5" bay adaptors. 3.5" drives (and the adaptors) have rails that snap securely into their sides (similar to the Antec Eleven Hundred's), and these simply plastic adaptors allow you to not only include two 2.5" drives instead of a single 3.5", they actually provide a healthy amount of space between them. They've also included a remarkably sturdy toolless locking mechanism for the 5.25" bay, and a single removable 80mm side intake fan that blows directly on to the CPU heatsink.

It should be obvious at this point that I'm pretty impressed with the amount of value Cooler Master has crammed into the Elite 120, at least in terms of features. What remains to be seen is how easy the Elite 120 will be to assemble, and just how well it will perform. We've tested a couple of Mini-ITX cases thus far, but this is among the smallest yet and I have concerns about just how effective that single 120mm intake fan will be with so much blocking it.

Introducing the Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced Assembling the Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced
POST A COMMENT

60 Comments

View All Comments

  • IlllI - Thursday, July 26, 2012 - link

    this thing is hideous!
    Reply
  • dave1_nyc - Thursday, July 26, 2012 - link

    Maybe it just doesn't photograph well, and of course beauty is in the eye....

    Maybe it just doesn't photograph well.
    Reply
  • mlmangum - Thursday, July 26, 2012 - link

    Yikes, that thing is uggo... course everyone's entitled to their own opinion. I prefer the understated, stylish aesthetic of the FT03-Mini over this. Reply
  • GotThumbs - Thursday, July 26, 2012 - link

    Let be realistic here. It's a computer case and sells for $50.00. If your looking for a high-fashion computer case...then just pony up and pay more.

    What I find nice about this case is it seems it would be a good candidate for a home-server. It has the capacity to hold four drives (No need for Optical drive) and takes a standard PS.

    The only weakness I see is the thermals. An easy fix for anyone who has a dremal and decent fan/grill combo handy. Children (includes IIIII), ask your mother first before attempting.

    I modded an APEX MI-008 to hold four 3.5 drives (hang like four slices of bread in a toaster) and added a quiet 80mm fan that gently blows on the drives. Zero heat issues and its been running 24/7 for a couple of years now. This case would have been a breeze to setup with the same hardware.

    I'll keep this in mind as I'm thinking of using an AMD APU Itx system to replace my current Atom based MB.

    Good review, but the photos could due with being a bit sharper. Next time.

    Best wishes.
    Reply
  • Scannall - Thursday, July 26, 2012 - link

    But I'm sure it has a nice personality... Reply
  • mgl888 - Thursday, July 26, 2012 - link

    Really? I don't think it looks bad at all. Nothing flashy but definitely not hideous. Looks rather clean IMO Reply
  • n13L5 - Sunday, August 26, 2012 - link

    true...

    and a blatant SG05 ripoff to boot

    both are kinda cheaply made.
    Reply
  • davos555 - Thursday, July 26, 2012 - link

    Just wondering if anyone has released any ITX Z77 boards -I think Asus has one P8Z77-I Deluxe. It's a bit too pricey thought, I don't need all the features (wifi etc). Are manufacturers planning to release more? Im in the UK, so if anyone has any localised info...

    I dont really want to go along the H77 route as I believe these don't offer multiplier overclocking.
    Reply
  • Menty - Thursday, July 26, 2012 - link

    Yeah, there's the Asus one and an ASRock Z77E-ITX that I'm aware of, as well as a handful of older Zotac Z68 boards. Quite spotty availability in the UK, but you can find them somewhere usually :). Reply
  • Brenex - Thursday, July 26, 2012 - link

    There is a Zotac Z77 itx board out on their site. Just got one in. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now