Introducing the Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced

At the risk of sounding foolish, more and more it seems that Mini-ITX is very much becoming the new Micro-ATX. Each subsequent hardware generation crams a little more performance and flexibility into the form factor, and Intel's Z77 chipset complete with USB 3.0 makes it that much easier. With Intel's 8 series chipset rumored to halve the power consumption of Z77 while bumping up the number of USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps ports, one has to wonder just how much we'll even need Micro-ATX (let alone ATX) at that point. With all that said, Intel and AMD's advances aren't the only things helping drive forward the adoption of the Mini-ITX form factor.

What used to be the province of specialty motherboards (typically from Zotac) is now a market that enjoys entries from most major motherboard manufacturers, and while cases supporting this form factor used to be moderately expensive oddballs, we now have beefy enclosures like BitFenix's Prodigy going for reasonable prices. Yet the Prodigy is still on the large side; what if we want to build a good-looking Mini-ITX box on the cheap? For that, we turn to today's entrant, the newly released Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced.

Before being a case reviewer gave me the opportunity to check out inexpensive enclosures I might have otherwise missed entirely (including BitFenix's vast line), I was a pretty big fan of Cooler Master's budget cases. For a long time, my go-to was the now-outdated Elite 360, a small but efficient and easy-to-use Micro-ATX case at a very competitive price (typically around $40). When I saw the press release for the Elite 120 Advanced, I knew I had to get it in and get it tested. As I said before, Micro-ATX is the new ATX, and Mini-ITX is becoming the new Micro-ATX. That means we need a good, cheap Mini-ITX case for good, cheap Mini-ITX boards.

Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor Mini-ITX
Drive Bays External 1x 5.25”
Internal 3x 3.5" (two 3.5"-to-2x2.5" brackets included)
Cooling Front 1x 120mm intake fan, 1x 120mm fan mount behind drive cage
Rear -
Top -
Side 1x 80mm intake fan
Bottom -
Expansion Slots 2
I/O Port 1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic
Power Supply Size Standard ATX
Clearances HSF 65mm
PSU 180mm
GPU 13.5"/343mm
Dimensions 9.4" x 8.2" x 15.8"
240mm x 207.4mm x 401.4mm
Weight 7.3 lbs. / 3.3kg
Special Features USB 3.0 connectivity via internal header
Removable 80mm side intake fan mount
Drive trays for converting 3.5" bays into dual 2.5" bays
Price $49

When I unboxed and began testing the Elite 120 (Elite 120 Advanced is a bit of a mouthful) I had no idea what the price was; I was interested in examining it strictly as an arguably "true" Mini-ITX case (the BitFenix Prodigy, however fantastic, does approach Micro-ATX enclosure sizes) and to me, the initial look and feel put it in price competition with BitFenix's design. For such a small case it's remarkably feature rich; I could install my home file server into the Elite 120 without having to really sacrifice anything.

Where I do think Cooler Master made a minor mistake was in including only one USB 3.0 port, but needing the full motherboard header to do it. At this point I'm wondering whether it might've made sense to simply eschew having the third front port and just include two USB 3.0 ports in the front of the case. Cooler Master also theoretically supports video cards like the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 and AMD Radeon HD 6990 inside the Elite 120, but unfortunately I don't have either of these 300+ watt behemoths on hand and honestly, I think that'd really be pushing your luck with this case.

In and Around the Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced
POST A COMMENT

65 Comments

View All Comments

  • nakabaka - Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - link

    Oh, and in addition to that comment I just posted, MY favorite mATX case of all time was that sweet little Elite 341. True it doesn't have much room in liu of hard drive bays, but I really only use 1 SDD these days, used to only use 1 HDD for my needs. The four 120mm fans without a drive cage to block intake flow from the front was beastly, and I still have two of those cases around. Reply
  • jimbob343 - Monday, July 14, 2014 - link

    I have recently bought this case as I wanted a good looking small system to put on my desk that could take a full size GPU... and.... I've managed it...

    The photo taken with the ugly blu-ray drive doesn't do it justice.. and cooling...well...
    Change the fan on the side so it pulls in air into the case, the front fan removed for the water cooling FAN to the CPU which creates a lot more space in the case. Also add an extra fan on the side to pull more cool air in

    PSU is pulling the warmer air out of the case and circulating!

    A10 -7850k CPU
    Coolermaster seidon 120v
    GIGABYTE GA-F2A88XN motherboard
    EVGA GTX 780
    G-Skill Ripjaws X 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3 PC3-14900 1866MHz
    Crucial CT240M500SSD1 SSD Hard drive
    Seagate 1TB Hard drive

    Case temp is 30, CPU is 30 on idle, 51 on full load! I'm no expect but I can live with these temps for what I have in it!
    Reply
  • MaromG - Wednesday, September 3, 2014 - link

    Hi! Could I install 3 HDDs inside?
    I only want to install 3.5 inch drives.
    Can I use the default 2x3.5 inch bays and instead of the CD-ROM drive, install a 3.5 inch HDD using an adapter? It's a crucial point for me in deciding if I want to buy this product of not.

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • jimbob343 - Monday, July 14, 2014 - link

    Update.. Had Windows Update running so wasn't idle... Idle temp is 20c.
    Full load playing Titanfall on Insane quality.. 50c
    Reply
  • wintermute000 - Saturday, August 9, 2014 - link

    Yes I completely believe you that you can chuck a 100W card and a 95W CPU in there and get better performance than the reviewer in a tiny shoebox case with no clearance or airflow or ability to install a 'real' cooler. sure. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now