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Cooler Master Elite 110 Mini-ITX Chassis Review

Cooler Master Elite 110 Mini-ITX Chassis Review

Cooler Master releases the smallest Elite chassis to date. It's time to look at the Elite 110. Follow on as Chad tells us all about this small new case.

@chad_sebring
Published Wed, Apr 2 2014 9:08 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:32 PM CDT
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: Cooler Master

Introduction, Specifications and Pricing

Cooler Master Elite 110 Mini-ITX Chassis Review 99 | TweakTown.com
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While the Elite 130 we just took a look at not too long ago was just enough chassis to house our Mini-ITX motherboard and our full sized video cards, in a lot of users' minds, that chassis is still too big for their needs. Cooler Master is not afraid to take things to the level their customers desire; for instance, just look at the flip side of cases with the much larger Stacker chassis. While not everyone has enough to fill the main chamber without even thinking of parts for one or more add-on sections of the chassis, that did not stop Cooler Master. They delivered such a design without looking back. It is the same sort of logic that brings us here today. While these exaggerated designs may not fit the mold of the chassis of the everyman/woman, it has never stopped them before, so why stop now?

What makes this latest design so special is that while the Elite series of cases is easily recognized, they have gone forth to release the smallest version of this chassis for those that lack space and want something very light and portable. It even has half a chance to make for an interesting HTPC chassis. All of this depends, of course, on what your personal desires for usage are and the components you have planned to use in your build.

It is at this point where Cooler Master stepped in. Cooler Master has taken many of the features from the Elite series cases, downsized them to fit into this smaller case, and even added hidden features that might not be readily apparent. It is only when you actually complete the build that some of the strange openings and new layout all become very apparent as to why they are there in the first place. Even if you are not yet in the market for compact SFF gaming, this is one of that designs that may just get you planning one very soon.

Taking a look at the chart provided by Cooler Master for this Elite 110, we do see at the top that there seems to be two models available, the standard version that we received as well as the AMZ version. The thing is, when looking deeper, there is no real information available to describe the actual differences in them. From what we can tell from searching, both designs offers the same things listed in this chart. They are mostly steel, but they also use plastic and steel mesh for the front of the chassis. They have definitely shortened this design as it measures 260mm wide, 208mm in height, and is only 280mm deep. All told, the Elite 110 weighs in at 5.9 pounds empty.

Cooler Master Elite 110 Mini-ITX Chassis Review 01 | TweakTown.com

Around the outside of the chassis, you have a mix of materials, from the front's large mesh insert that takes up most of the front bezel, to the plastics used to surround that mesh as the frame of the bezel, and down to the clear power button installed into that steel mesh. There are no bays exposed in this design. Down both sides of the chassis, beyond the textured black paint treatment, the lower halves of those panels have passive ventilation cut into them, less for style and more for cooling such a compact design. The top of the chassis also offers ventilation, but the floor of the chassis is solid and is used as the motherboard tray. That leaves the rear of the chassis that has a PSU extension installed and also offers two full height expansion slots.

The inside is where things get a bit more interesting. There are two drive racks, well, less racks and more of a steel plate that will hold storage drives. These plates will hold up to either three 3.5-inch drives or up to four 2.5-inch drives. There is a 120mm fan supplied in the front of the chassis as the only active cooling, but there is also room afforded in this design to mount an AIO as well. There are also mounting holes for a pair of 80mm fans to be installed optionally to help increase the airflow across the motherboard from side to side as well as the air from the front fan to help improve cooling if high-end components are used and stressed to their limits.

Speaking of limits, there are some in this design. Potential users must consider the 76mm CPU cooler height limitation imposed due to the PSU location. Even the PSU has limits; the chosen power supply must be less than 180mm in length. Yes, there is an extension, but that measurement includes that being used. The last major hurdle for anyone wanting dedicated graphics in their system: there is a strict 210mm limitation here, and that does limit you to the smallest of graphics.

As we searched for either flavor of this design, both are just as available depending on where you plan to shop and can be found at a great price. Cooler Master had the intention to make a very unique chassis when they designed this Elite 110, but they also had plans from the beginning to make it very affordable. The fact that most of the hits we found were priced under $50 exemplifies this. Typically in this market, compact designs tend to come with a higher price tag, but Cooler Master is showing us that we can have a slick looking, simple yet sturdy, and compact Mini-ITX system for cheap, and we really think the Elite 110 is well worth the time to check it out.

PRICING: You can find the Cooler Master Elite 110 for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Cooler Master Elite 110 retails for $51.29 at Amazon.

Canada: The Cooler Master Elite 110 retails for CDN$62.10 at Amazon Canada.

Packaging

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Helping to keep the costs down, the Elite 110 arrived in a plain brown cardboard box with black printing applied to it. Here we see a rendering of the chassis off to the left with five main features listed just to the right of it. The bottom offers check boxes for if there is an included power supply and what the power level of that PSU is.

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As we spin the box around, we are now looking at the large naming at the top and to the right of the Cooler Master logo. The lower half offers a sticker for scanner codes and shipping information, and to the right, we see that in ten languages we are told this is a Mini-ITX case and that it is the Elite 110.

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Normally, we would get some internal chassis renderings here, or maybe even just more in depth feature listings. With this chassis, the back panel offers only a condensed specifications chart and company information for their USA, China, Europe, and Asia Pacific markets.

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At first glance, it seems we are looking at a repeat of the opposing side panel, and we pretty much are. The main difference is that there are now eleven other languages telling us what is inside this box.

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The Elite 110 comes with Styrofoam on both sides of the chassis to keep it centered and away from things that may poke through the cardboard. It also takes any major shock loads from transit, but to keep the finish perfect, they also wrap the chassis in a plastic bag. The chassis is very light, and it would take some serious force to damage this chassis, and as proof, ours arrived in terrific condition for us to look at and use.

Cooler Master Elite 110 Mini-ITX Chassis

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The front bezel of the chassis is mostly made of the slotted steel mesh that runs the full expanse and is only broken up by the installation of the power button that features the Cooler Master logo. The outside edge of the bezel is slotted for more air flow and offers a raised lip around the edge for a bit of aggressive styling.

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The top of the chassis offers a large area at the back of the chassis for passive ventilation. It can also allow the PSU to pull in outside air near the back. The rest of the panel is flat painted steel like most of the exterior.

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The left side of this chassis has more than half of the panel offering rectangular slots for passive ventilation for the components inside. We can also see that the front I/O has been incorporated into the side of the front bezel.

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Here you will find the blank slot above a pair of USB 3.0 ports. Those are followed with two 3.5mm jacks for HD Audio connectivity, an HDD activity LED, and the tiny reset button at the bottom.

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At the back of the Elite 110, we are given a PSU extension already mounted to the top. Below that is the rear I/O area where you snap in the dust shield, and to the right, there are two expansion slots. The top and sides will remove as one simply by removing the four thumbscrews, sliding it back slightly, and then lifting it off the chassis frame.

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The right side of the chassis is just like we saw on the left: plenty of ventilation for the size of the chassis and more of that textured black paint to give this its style.

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Under the chassis, we see access to remove the front panel at the top of this image. We can also see the four rubber feet placed out nearest the edges to give it solid footing. We can also see that there are some wire management options stamped into the floor as well.

Inside the Elite 110

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After removing the panels to access the interior of this chassis, we see that they have tied up some hardware as well as bundled the wiring to keep it all secure for transit.

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We also removed the bezel to show the 120mm fan that they have supplied in this chassis. Thing is, we did not realize how handy the holes and wire management options were at this point, but once the build was underway, these will tend to wiring and offer a place to hide things.

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The left side offers a frame component that has a lot of features. This will house either two 2.5-inch drives or a single 3.5-inch drive at the top, and it can also house a pair of 80mm fans at the bottom while still leaving the top storage drive with enough room to be used.

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Across the top of the chassis, there is a removable plate that is much like the left side. This will allow the installation of a pair of 3.5-inch drives or a pair of 2.5-inch drives. That is now a total of four 2.5-inch drives, three 3.5-inch drives, or a combination of both.

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Removing that top plate allows complete access to the motherboard tray. There are only a few inches on the three sides combined, but they do offer seven places to tie down the wiring in addition to the four holes that we need to install standoffs in to set the motherboard on.

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All of the wiring for the Elite 110 is attached to the front bezel. In perspective, the audio, USB 3.0 with USB 2.0 tail on it, and the front panel wiring do look short, but once this bezel is lying in front of the chassis, we were able to make all of the connections with the bezel off and were able to tend to them easily enough.

Accessories and Documentation

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The bag that was inside of the chassis held all of what we see here. There are wire ties provided, rubber grommets for storage drive installation, a motherboard speaker, standoffs and a socket, and an extra screw. The bottom row offers PSU and motherboard screws, drive screws for the grommets, screws for 3.5-inch drives for the top plate, and 2.5-inch screws for that same plate.

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The manual is a single sheet of paper that has been folded into a manageable size and is found outside of the chassis. This covers many languages with the simplified explanations of the renderings for each step of assembly. While there are not many words to help along the route, the images are sufficient, and we also have a parts list included to be sure everything you need came in the box.

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We mocked up the top plate just to show how it works. Of course, these could also be 2.5-inch drives or a combination of both, but you simply line up the drives and use screws to securely fasten them to the plate.

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One of the major components that make the Elite chassis so nice is that we can use more powerful and larger power supplies to push our system with this deep PSU extension. Of course, there is still that 180mm limitation, but most cases in this category only allow 150mm to 160mm PSUs.

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This is less of a feature, but we did try our smallest video card during this build, and there was no way it was going in this chassis. This image is to again remind you of this chassis' limitation of 210mm for a video card, and it is likely that a new card will need to be purchased to fit inside of this chassis.

Build and Finished Product

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Once we had the motherboard in, we pre-wired everything; since we have a modular PSU and a short cable kit, this is easy to do. This is also the last chance we get to see most of this as very soon we will have to install the PSU over the motherboard, which is why there is the 76mm restriction of CPU cooler height.

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Since we had no plans to use the top storage plate, and we don't care to pull against the stock CPU cooler, we have installed the PSU fan-side up to allow it to draw its air from the top of the chassis. We can also start to see how the holes in the front line up to wiring giving an option to route them there.

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We installed a drive at the top of the left side of this build for two reasons. It is out of the way if we need to access other components later, and using the top slot allows the CPU cooler to draw air in through the side venting in the door.

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Even without a rear I/O plate for this board, we did test the fit, and everything is fine there. The PSU slides right in with no issues with the fan grill. Since we did not have the newer tiny cards, we left the expansion slot covers in place.

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If you want to try to swap out memory or need fast access to remove a wire from a fan, this side is where you have the best chance. Mostly unimpeded, this side allows the CPU cooler to draw in air from this side once the panels have been placed back on the chassis.

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With no optical bay and no windows, what we got out of the box is what we see now. While we usually like to get a view of the components, with this small of a design and the orientation of the motherboard, all we would see would be the VGA, if we used one; the clean look we get is pleasing as well.

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Once we fired up the rig and were getting the testing under way, we see that the logo on the front lights up blue, and we were able to catch the red HDD activity light as well. More importantly, the chassis fan will get up into the 40 dB noise level, but the components were very cool considering the compact nature of this design.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot to admire with this design. For one, if you are already a fan of the styling of the large Elite cases, this Elite 110 follows that to the finest detail. The exterior may be a bit simplistic in its design, but that allows this chassis to work well in multiple environments rather than just being a SFF net surfer or LAN box. The Elite 110 would look just as good in the entertainment center or on a desk in the living room to let the kids surf while keeping an eye on them.

Of course, the sound levels can get high if the fans is left to run full speed, but it comes with a Molex plug and a 3-pin fan plug to allow your motherboard to lower its speeds when not needed, which allows it to go almost unnoticed. We also liked all of the ventilation, both in the front and the removable three piece panel. It will not only draw in a flame while holding a lighter next to it, but it was also able to allow our system to run below the average of other SFF chassis in this size range.

There are some major things to consider with this design, though. Of course, we have the pre-defined limitations of the PSU, CPU cooler, and video card length; that will have most customers searching for a while to find the perfect components for their desired uses. Those limitations are easy enough to deal with and all have a few offerings that are easy to locate to fit the bill. The more major issue we found when assembling the chassis is that this takes a fair bit of planning, trial and error, and small hands to get the build completed and wires managed.

Wire management is almost what needs to be done first just to leave room to easily access the tie points. This is better than doing the ballet of the case sitting in our lap while we contorted ourselves to just connect the tie straps to hold the wires down. This is also where the extra room behind the bezel comes into play; some wiring naturally will work better if you run it there first, like for storage drives, PCI-e power, and the front I/O wiring.

Cooler Master may have gone very small in this design, but the designers' ideas and design implementations were big. The Elite 110 Mini-ITX chassis may not fit every single person out there, but for those with the need for a compact build and still want good cooling potential and styling that can go in any situation, this may be the chassis for you. What also really helps out with this design is that Cooler Master is not demanding much at all for the Elite 110.

Being priced under $50 will definitely make a lot of heads turn when they are looking at a lot of the other, less economically friendly solutions available. The Elite 110 Mini-ITX chassis did everything we asked of it inside of the limitations given for this chassis, and we were more than pleased with the solid nature of this design and the thermal performance. Also, since we can easily PWM control the fan, that 40 dB rating is hard to hold against them.

PRICING: You can find the Cooler Master Elite 110 for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Cooler Master Elite 110 retails for $51.29 at Amazon.

Canada: The Cooler Master Elite 110 retails for CDN$62.10 at Amazon Canada.

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After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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