Small form factor PC builds are among one of the more popular topics on many PC forums. Building affordable small form-factor power-house PCs has taken a huge leap forward recently as many manufacturers are starting to saturate the market with more small form factor hardware. Mini-ITX motherboards and small, yet powerful graphics card availability is on the rise. With that increased demand becoming more apparent, we are also starting to see other SFF (small form factor) accessories appearing on store shelves.
With that said, today we are going to take a look at a Cooler Master Elite 110 chassis. This one is designed to meet those looking to build either a budget friendly or a powerful gaming PC in a tiny foot print. Just how much versatility and style can Cooler Master pack into the Elite 110?? Read on to find out!
Closer Look – Exterior
First let’s take a look at the exterior of the chassis. At the front we have a mesh front panel. You will notice that there is no 5.25″ drive bay here. With the size of the chassis we find that it would be very hard to fit that into this case and still be able to mount your PSU and motherboard. This isn’t much of an issue as most builders are no longer installing CD/DVD-ROM drives anymore. Unfortunately, this also leaves no room for accessories like fan controllers.
The front Cooler Master Intriguingly, this acts as the power button to the case. Also, once powered on, it illuminates in a blue light. At the side of the case, we find ventilation cut outs which will help keep your components cool. At the rear, we find the PSU adapter which will hold a full size ATX power supply, the motherboard cut out and also 2 PCI expansion slots.
Flipping it over to the other side you will find the same ventilation system like the other side. However, it is important to have the extra ventilation here since the graphics card will be mounted on this side. On the left side we will find the I/O Panel which houses the reset button, USB 3.0 ports, front 3.5mm Audio Jack and the HD LED. Jumping to the top, you have options to mount the power supply to take air from the inside of the case and out the back or you can flip it over and have the PSU fan at the top which will allow cold air to be drawn from the ventilated top to help keep things cool.
At the bottom, we find 4 plastic feet that will keep the case elevated.
Closer look – Interior
Looking at the interior, we aren’t going to see a whole lot. With the form factor of the chassis we pretty much have an open cube. You will find the cables from the front/Side panel I/O here. We find the usual suspects of USB 2.0/3.0 adapter, HD LED, Power LED, Power Button, Reset Button cables and the front Audio port.
Moving over to the other side, here is where things get interesting. Cooler Master has designed a side panel here on the VGA card side and will allow for hard drive mounting. You can mount either 3.5″ or 2.5″ hard drives here. If you choose to only mount one HD (at the top), the lower section does have space for two slim 80mm fans. Cooler Master didn’t include any with the chassis so it will have to be an optional purchase.
At the top side, we also find a removable hard drive bracket for additional drives. This is a nice option in case you don’t want to mount your HD on the side of the case like we mentioned in the picture above.At the top side, we also find a removable hard drive bracket for additional drives. This is a nice option in case you don’t want to mount your HD on the side of the case like we mentioned in the picture above.
With the front panel removed, we find the single 120mm Cooler Master fan that is included. This is the only fan included with the chassis, however it would be enough for most users since this case is pretty small.Before we began our installation process, we found that removing the top HD tray made things easier to work with. This was done by removing the 4 screws on either end.
First, for our installation we saw a great design for AIO (all in one) water cooling units to be installed here. You can mount a 120mm or 140mm rad up front which will allow cold air to be brought into the system for better cooling of your CPU. This is great for those running powerful processors and looking for adequate cooling.
An AIO can be mounted in multiple orientations. As you see here, we mounted ours with the tubes on the right side. This will make it easier for tubing to be routed to the CPU.However, due to our ITX motherboard having a built in heatsink, we were unable to use the AIO cooler, instead we used the 120mm fan that cooler master included. Here you can see our motherboard mounted in without issues.
For our hard drive, we decided to mount it to the side of the case. This will allow us to keep the bottom free from obstruction and allow for additional cooling of our graphics card. We will go over that in a little bit.Cooler Master has included a set of rubber anti-vibration gaskets for mounting. They will help the HD slide into place.
Running the cables for the front I/O was not a problem here. Due to our motherboard, we did have to run some across the board, but this wasn’t a problem, as the cables are plenty long.Once we got everything all wired up, we installed out PSU and while space is tight we had no issues.
Our next part of the install was a challenge. Even though the space is rather tight, we still managed to get our AMD 6670 graphics card installed. Here is a view of the card from the side of the case.As you can see, even with a dual slot graphics card, we had space for another HD. Alternatively, you can mount 2x 80mm fans and give your graphics card additional cooling.
While we didn’t use the top HD tray, we did mount it back in place. This left from room at the top and we can see there is plenty of space for additional hard drives.To complete the install we simply mount the cover on and viola, you’re done!Another look at the system complete from the rear. We mounted our PSU to draw air from the inside of the case and out the back. This is because due to our motherboard not having a fan on the heatsink this will help draw some of the hot air out of the case.
Cooler Master did a good job on this tiny form factor chassis. While there isn’t much space to work with, there is plenty of options to be able to install some powerful hardware. Aesthetically speaking, I enjoyed the black texture coating on the outer and interior of the case. The mesh front panel was a great feature to allow for cooler air to enter the chassis. The blue illuminated front logo gives it that extra touch of appeal.
When it came to the interior, I found that the open design concept worked great, and the ability to install an AIO unit at the front will help those looking to install high power CPUs and motherboards. This will help keep heat down. The amount of hard drives that can be mounted is pretty impressive considering its size. While I don’t expect users to fill this chassis with drives, it’s great to have those options.
The only draw-back on the chassis that I found was the left side mounting tray. This did obstruct some of the air flow for the graphics card, and if you are running an SFF gaming GPU, this case could cause some heat issues; however, the option to add the 2x 80mm fans would probably give that little extra push of air to keep things cool. I think that Cooler Master should have included the 2x 80mm fans instead of making the consumers buy it as a option. That would be the only suggestion we can give Cooler Master.