Conclusion: For a Specific Purpose

My experiences with the Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced remain largely positive despite the test results; end users who need an inexpensive Mini-ITX case with stellar acoustic and thermal performance are probably going to have to spend the extra $30 for the BitFenix Prodigy and suffer with the larger size and slightly wonky stand. That doesn't mean the Elite 120 is a bust, far from it actually, but it does mean that you need to adjust your expectations of this case accordingly. Cooler Master is happy to market the case to you as being something more than it really is.

What is it, really? Fundamentally the Elite 120 is going to best serve a more modest system. In terms of performance hardware I don't think you would want to use a 95W quad core at anything higher than stock speeds, and I probably wouldn't consider a video card that requires an external power lead. The problem is the cooling system is just inadequate; for how beautiful the front design is, I get the sense that intake fan is either starving for air or just plain chintzy. Whatever air that does get through seems like it may also be slamming up against the drive cage, at least if the abnormally high temperatures on the SSD during our GeForce GTX 560 Ti test are any indication.

Don't think I'm not incredibly fond of the Elite 120, though. This is one of the more attractive Mini-ITX cases, heck one of the more attractive cases in general that I've seen in some time. The brushed aluminum fascia is beautiful, and the assembly is easy enough to make me wonder if a good, quiet system can't be built inside it. I think some real sacrifices were made to make sure the case could fit all ATX scale components (outside of the motherboard), but the flipside of that is that you don't wind up blowing all the money you saved on the case getting a slimline optical drive and a decent SFX power supply.

And you did save a decent chunk of change. What impressed me most about the Elite 120 was just how much Cooler Master crammed into the package for the price. Performance isn't going to blow anyone's minds, but at $49 it really doesn't have to. A visit to NewEgg reveals pickings around this price that are fairly slim in comparison, none of which sport at least a single USB 3.0 port. Bottom line: if you modulate your expectations accordingly, you can get a fine Mini-ITX case for not much money with the Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced.

Noise and Thermal Testing, Dedicated GPU
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  • 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

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