Mini-ITX Case Final Thoughts
Hackintosh builds are well-suited for the mini-ITX form factor since SLI and CrossFireX aren’t supported in OS X. Since you can only have one graphics card, it might as well be a powerful one, and the Cooler Master Elite 130 mini-ITX case easily accommodates a full-length card like the NVIDIA GTX780. It’s also nice to see an m-ITX case with a full-sized 5.25″ bay, since this feature is increasingly rare as optical drives begin to fade away like the floppies of old.
No mini-ITX case is going to have very much room inside, and while the system I built– with its three drives, optical drive, card reader, 120mm water cooler, and full-length graphics card– stretches the boundaries of what most would consider reasonable for an mITX system, the Cooler Master Elite 130 handled it all pretty well.
Removing the drive cage used in the Elite 120 Advanced made this possible, but the tradeoff was an ad-hoc drive mounting system that makes cable management a nightmare. Admittedly, for most builds with only one or two drives, this will be less of a problem. I do plan to make another pass at cable management at some point, but for now, things are functional.
Cooler Master Elite 130 Computer Case Conclusion
Like its Elite 120 Advanced forebear, the Elite 130 mITX computer case is a fantastic blend of features, quality, and low price. It’s my new favorite in mini-ITX case, if only because it’s the smallest production case I know of that you can actually install a water cooler in. The only thing I can complain about is the cable management problems that come with multiple internal drives.
Performance of the case was excellent. I couldn’t overclock at all in the CM 120 Advanced, since I was limited to using a low-profile cooler. Now I can use a water cooler.
The appearance of the case is pretty bland: it’s a black cube. You can spice it up a bit by replacing the stock front fan with an LED unit, but it’s still going to be a black cube. The brushed metal accents at either side of the mesh front are the only aesthetic touch on the case.
The black steel construction of the case is very sturdy. If you look at some of the interior images, you’ll see a thin black brace across the middle top of the chassis. Although it’s only a few millimeters thick, this brace is easily strong enough to serve as a handle to carry a fully loaded system (with the cover off).
This case may be the most functional mITX case in existence when you take “bang for the buck” into account. It can handle up to five internal drives, or three internal drives plus an optical drive; it accommodates a water cooler, full-sized ATX power supplies if you are so inclined, and full-length graphics cards, all while remaining quite compact. The one functional thing I can nick it on is the cabling problems engendered by the drive mounting system.
Value-wise, this $49.99 case (Amazon | Newegg) is a real winner. You simply won’t find another mITX case at this price point that offers this array of features and functionality. If you’re looking at building a high-end or gaming m-ITX system, this will be the best $50 you’ll spend.
+ Accommodates 120mm closed loop water cooler
+ Can use full sized ATX power supplies and full length graphics cards
+ Full-sized 5.25″ drive bay
+ Three front USB ports
+ Aggressively priced
- No intake air filter
– Drive mounting system makes cable management problematic for more than two drives