Noise and Thermal Testing, Dedicated GPU

Cooler Master advertises the Elite 120 Advanced as being able to support the biggest, most powerful video cards on the market, and on one point that's true: there's certainly space inside the enclosure for them. The problem lies in keeping them cool; given how small a Mini-ITX case is, a large video card will essentially create its own thermal zone by virtue of its sheer size in relation to the rest of the chassis, so video cards are going to depend almost entirely on the side ventilation of the Elite 120 to feed their fans.

To test Cooler Master's claims, though, I ran the Elite 120 with both our usual Mini-ITX card, the Zotac GeForce GTS 450 Eco, and with our bigger ASUS GeForce GTX 560 Ti from our ATX/Micro-ATX testbed.

CPU Temperatures with dGPU

GPU Temperatures

SSD Temperatures with dGPU

In the most technical sense, the Elite 120 certainly supports higher performance graphics cards, but I'd really hesitate to put anything faster than the GTX 560 Ti in this case. The sheer length of it seems to trap heat inside the drive cage, ramping up the temperature of our SSD. Our CPU also has a harder time staying cool due to the heat radiating off of the back of the video card.

CPU Fan Speed with dGPU

GPU Fan Speed

This is the first time I've seen the Mini-ITX testbed's cooler pushed to its limit. You can fit a GTX 560 Ti in the case, but it will overwhelm the cooling system. If you want a card like that in a Mini-ITX build you're going to have to move up to a BitFenix Prodigy.

Noise Levels with dGPU

With all the fans cranking away as hard as they can the Elite 120's noise profile doesn't improve, either. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, anything more than a PCIe-slot powered video card is probably going to push this case too hard.

Noise and Thermal Testing Conclusion: For a Specific Purpose
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  • IlllI - Thursday, July 26, 2012 - link

    this thing is hideous!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Scannall - Thursday, July 26, 2012 - link

    But I'm sure it has a nice personality...
  • 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
  • n13L5 - Sunday, August 26, 2012 - link


    and a blatant SG05 ripoff to boot

    both are kinda cheaply made.
  • 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.
  • 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 :).
  • Brenex - Thursday, July 26, 2012 - link

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

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