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Cooler Master Elite 130 Review

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Building a System

My Hackintosh system is currently a mini-ITX build based on a Gigabyte motherboard. In the Elite 120, I was forced to use the stock Intel cooler, since I couldn’t find any other low-profile coolers that would fit this motherboard without hitting the graphics card. But now I can water cool! Let’s see how well the radiator and fan from the Intel RTS2011 water-cooling kit fits:

cooler_master_elite_130_cooler_installed

Actually, it fits pretty well. This kit uses a standard thickness radiator and a singe fan. Note that in the image above I have an SSD mounted in the slide-in tray below the 5.25″ bay, and that the radiator is virtually touching it. This means you’d need to get out your trusty Dremel tool should you wish to use push-pull fans or a thicker radiator.

cooler_master_elite_130_intel_fan

The 120x25mm fan included with the Intel cooler fits in a recess in the front of the case; the screws at each corner of the fan go through the holes at the corners of this recessed area to secure the radiator. This “recessed” design means that the fan must be in the front; you can’t mount the radiator at the front with the fan behind it. So you’re limited to either a “pull” configuration that exhausts air from the front of the case, or a “push” configuration that moves cool outside air through the radiator into the case. Cooler Master recommends the latter configuration, which I’ll get into in more detail later.

cooler_master_elite_130_drives_installed

My Hackintosh setup uses three drives: an SSD boot drive, a 2.5″ backup drive, and a 3.5″ media/storage drive. All three drives are mounted in the image above: the SSD in the slide-in bay under the 5.25″ bay; the media/storage drive at the bottom of the case, and the backup drive at the side. There’s still plenty of room here and we’ve a clear area behind the radiator for good air flow. However, I could already see a potential problem: with the Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced design, all the drives are mounted one above the other in a drive cage, which makes the power and data cabling easy. In the Elite 130, each drive’s power and data connectors are in a different plane, facing in different directions.

cooler_master_elite_130_assembled_top_rear_no_ps

And that means that cabling is going to start to get…at little messy. Especially when you throw an optical drive into the mix. Now you have four SATA devices, all of whose power and data connectors are facing different directions.

cooler_master_elite_130_sata_power

The first thing to know is that standard SATA power cables like the one on the right aren’t going to work for most of your drive positions. Since the drives are mounted flat against metal plates, you won’t have the clearance to accommodate a SATA power cable’s wires. You’ll need a right-angled cable or a straight-on cable such as the one shown on the left.

Follow me as I continue the build in the next section.


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8 comments

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  1. Nyks

    Hi,

    thanks for the nice review.

    I’m looking for a case in these dimensions; before seeing your image above, I missed a possibility build a DVD-RW and a cardreader into the Elite 130.
    Which components are needed for the this combination? A slim-DVD-drive and a 3,5″-Cardreader … and anything else? Do I need to buy a “mounting frame”?

    PS: Sorry for al the certainly existing mistakes … I’m not a native english-speaker.

    1. Olin Coles

      There are too many options to list, but we did just review this: http://benchmarkreviews.com/15508/fractal-design-node-804-micro-atx-case-review/

  2. David Ramsey

    Hi Nyks,

    Yes, I like an optical drive and card reader in all my computers. To mount both a slim optical drive and a 3.5″ drive adapter in a single 5.25″ bay, I used this adapter:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817998058

  3. Nyks

    @Olin: The Note 804 doesnt sound good: it isnt jet relased, the dimensions are unknown, there are no front-mountingtrays, and the estimated price is rather high (99 EUR).

    Thank you David Ramsey! A mount like this (SLIM + 3,5″) seems to be very rarely available. But I could find the “SLIMCDFDCAGE” at least from one german amazon-marketplace-retailer.

  4. Ludewig Kepler

    Nice review and plenty of pictures ! Excellent ! My case is on it’s way and already planning to build, as you did, an hackintosh for my self and your review has inspired me :-) One question though, what motherboard model you’r using ?
    I guessing it’s a Gigabyte but which model number ?
    Thanks for the answer

    Ludwig K

  5. David Ramsey

    I’m using a Gigabyte GA-Z77N mini-ITX board.

  6. Dominik de Lioncourt

    Could you please recommend a few Water Cooling 120mm AIO units that will fit into this case? Thank You!

    1. David Ramsey

      Virtually any 120mm AIO cooler should fit, although those with double-thick radiators like the Antec Kuhler 920 might be tight. Any of Corsair’s 120mm AIO coolers will work fine.

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