Assembling the Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced

Putting together a system in any Mini-ITX enclosure is going to be more difficult than in larger cases, that's a given. Yet with the Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced, I often found my fingers didn't need to be as spidery as they were to get the job done, and an end user who takes proper care to plan out the assembly isn't going to have much trouble getting everything together. The worst part of just about any Mini-ITX build is getting the power supply in, but if you use a modular PSU, you can ameliorate a lot of that difficulty by connecting all of your leads to the components first and then connecting and installing the PSU last.

Truthfully I was a little disappointed Cooler Master didn't include the motherboard standoffs pre-installed or at least extrude the bottom of the case enough that standoffs wouldn't be necessary (as Corsair did in the 300R). There's only one form factor of motherboard that fits into the Elite 120, and the screws are only ever going to go in the same four places. Given how cramped our testbed motherboard is, though, I opted to connect all of the case headers prior to installing the board and thankfully those cables were long enough to make this relatively easy. The side intake fan, however, does cramp things a bit and no one would fault you for removing it.

Installing 5.25", 3.5", and 2.5" drives was incredibly simple. For the 5.25" bay, you need to remove the front fascia (which snaps off easily, if maybe a little too easily), then remove the bay shield; it's impossible to remove without damaging something otherwise. The toolless locking mechanism for the 5.25" bay is excellent, though, and easy to use. There's a single lever in the center and "Open" and "Lock" etched into the plastic on either side of it. It's a small touch but appreciated.

The adaptor for the 2.5" drives is made of firm plastic and the two come preinstalled with the rails snapped into the sides; a third set of rails for a separate 3.5" drive is included with the screws. The rails snap into the adaptor and 3.5" drives with ease and they feel remarkably secure. I don't think they'll be stellar for absorbing vibration, but certainly they'll do in a pinch and they're a nice convenience.

Where things get hinky is the same place they always do and the same place I mentioned before: cabling the power supply. Installing an expansion card has more to do with delicately moving and cramming cables into whatever nooks and crannies you can find for them rather than any kind of real clearance issue. There's definitely enough height and width for all but the biggest of video cards, but cramming cables can be a nuisance. Thankfully, the power supply bracket is easy to remove, with four standard screws holding it in place. Provided your PSU is short enough you could theoretically even install it without actually removing the bracket, but removing the bracket will make your life easier.

All told the Elite 120 is remarkably easy to assemble given the circumstances and I didn't have any major complaints with how it came together. Even gently tucking the cables and getting the shroud back on the sides and top of the case was fairly simple. As I mentioned before, my primary concerns lie more with actual performance than with aesthetics or ease of assembly. I don't see a Mini-ITX case, especially one that supports full size ATX components, getting a whole lot easier to assemble while staying this small.

In and Around the Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced Testing Methodology
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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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