Mini-ITX Computer Case Final Thoughts
I enjoyed working with the Elite 110. The overall experience makes you appreciate cable tie downs and pre-planning your build. The small footprint of this case is the real selling point, that and that it can hold up to 4 hard drives. The case itself is very sturdy, once assembled. The only time I felt it to be a little flimsy was with the cross member / top hard drive mount removed, it tended to bow a little bit when moving it.
There are a few design choices that I would not have made, but I do understand they were trying to keep the footprint relatively small. I believe this case would be best suited for a small server or HTPC case. The main thing I think that would turn someone off from this case is the extruded PSU bracket. While it serves an important purpose, it’s not very pleasing to the eye, and for some, that will be a big turnoff. Originally when taking on this build I thought that the PSU bracket was going to be optional depending on the length of your PSU, but there simply is no way to mount the PSU otherwise, and even if you could, I just don’t feel that the metal is thick enough to withstand the amount of down-force that would be exerted on the rear of the case. Video card length and placement may prove to be an issue for some as well. If you’re utilizing a two slot graphics card and all hard drive options, then your video card will come very close to the hard drive next to it, restricting airflow and making cable management all the more important to avoid hitting the fan on the graphics card.
Cooler Master Elite 110 Conclusion
As it pertains to performance, I feel the best approach is to rate this case based on what options come standard, and what options you can add and/or modify. In terms of the Elite 110, what you see is what you get, there are one or two small things you can change, specifically with fan size in the front and the option to add a closed loop CPU water cooler, as well as 2 x 80mm fans. Given the small amount of cubic space in this case, airflow should not be a large problem, provided you’re not generating large amounts of heat from the graphics card.
The Cooler Master excels in being small and sleek, with the exception of the PSU bracket. The incorporation of the power switch and power LED into the front logo is something not often seen anymore and is a welcomed feature. The midnight black finish is of good quality and uniformity, with zero inconsistencies. This case would make for a suitable HTPC or Home Server build that can fit well within budget.
The construction of the Elite 110 is of a somewhat thin steel alloy that is very nicely powder coated in a midnight black color. With the top cross member / hard drive mount installed, it is decently sturdy. The tri-paneled outer cover is of the same thickness, so I would not recommend stacking anything heavy atop this case. Although it would probably support it, indentations in the case material would be inevitable. Do not use this case without the top cross member installed, it becomes very unstable without it.
In terms of functionality, Cooler Master was trying to accomplish a small case with big case components. To a large degree, they did just that. Being able to support full sized PSUs up to 180mm and graphics card up to 210mm, the Elite 110 makes the consumer take little sacrifice in terms of available components. As for storage, being able to support 3 HDDs or 4 SSDs and all variations in between, the Elite 110 offers far more storage options than other cases of similar and layout. Supporting 120mm radiator is also a nice touch. With the Elite 110′s somewhat limited airflow options, this may prove to serve as a must depending on what kind of heat you’ll be generating. While the airflow is ample for the PSU, the CPU and the video card, the rest of the system may suffer from heat buildup if you do not utilize one or two of the 80mm fans slots for a push/pull setup. Cable management options with this case are abundant, but I would recommend a full modular PSU and, if available, short cables. To do any work inside this case, you’ll more than likely have to remove the PSU to do so, and not having to undo your hard work in the cable management arena with a full modular PSU can only benefit you.
At the time of this writing, the Cooler Master Elite 110 is sold directly from the CM Store for $39.99, however it is listed on Amazon for $101.93 and on Newegg for $49.99. Both Cooler Master and Newegg list these as out of stock, but Amazon has them in stock. For $101.93, it’s not as much a value, but for $39.99 or even $49.99, it’s a great value. My rating is reflecting the CMStore and Newegg price, not Amazon’s.
The Cooler Master Elite 110 is very nice case with a very small footprint, giving you the best of both worlds without the need for unnecessary options, such as a 5.25″ bay, allowing you to save space while still being able to have full sized performance. I really enjoyed this case, with the exception of graphics card limitations, it’s a very gaming capable case. I don’t know that I would recommend it as a lan box, which seems to be the where the Mini-ITX platform can really shine, but for anything other than lan gaming, it’s a very attractive option.
+ Small footprint
+ Can fit up to 210mm graphics card
+ Supports standard length ATX PSU up to 180mm
+ Supports 120mm radiator in the front (on the inside)
+ Dual Super Speed USB 3.0 Ports on the side
+ Lots of ventilation for airflow
+ Sturdy design, when fully assembled
+ Affordable price
- Extruded PSU bracket
- Limited fan options and airflow design
- Front mesh panel not the sturdiest
- Front USB 3.0 cables are stiff and can get in the way of advanced cable management
- Have to remove the PSU to do any real work inside the case
Value: 9.50 (based on the $39.99 MSRP)