Most cases you see these days are flashy, full-featured housings for your beloved rig. But what if you just want something understated? Something that will still perform? Enter cooler Master's Elite series of cases. Today we'll be looking at their Elite 371. Read on to see how it performs....
You know the name Cooler Master from their high-end gaming cases (HAF series), power supplies, CPU coolers and peripherals. They've recently added the budget-minded Elite series of cases to their already impressive lineup of cases. The elite series cases aren't flashy on the outside, but are still able to hold some high-end hardware on the inside. let's take a look at their Elite 371 and see what it has to offer.
|Material||Steel Body; ABS Plastic|
|Dimension||190 x 424 x 490 mm / 7.5 x 16.7 x 19.3 Inch|
|Weight||4.7 kg / 10.3 lb|
|Motherboard Type||ATX / Micro-ATX|
|5.25" Drive Bay||3 Exposed|
|3.5" Drive Bay||5 Hidden / 1 Exposed|
|I/O Panel||USB 2.0 x 2, Mic x1, Audio x 1|
|Cooling System||Top: 120mm fan x 2 (optional)|
|Front: 120/140mm fan x 1 (optional)|
|Rear: 120mm fan x 1 (included)|
|Side: 120 / 140mm fan x 2 (optional)|
|Bottom: 80 / 90 / 120mm fan x 1 (optional)|
|Power Supply||Standard ATX PS2 (optional)|
The Elite 371 comes packaged in a standard brown cardboard box with basic black graphics and lettering, which helps keep the overall costs down over a full-color glossy package. The front of the box has the Cooler Master logo, a black outline of the case and a few basic features.
The back side of the case has the case model and more detailed specifications.
Both ends of the box are identical, showing the case model and basic info in several different languages.
The case comes wrapped in a plastic bag and sandwiched between 2 pieces of standard styrofoam, which is pretty much the norm these days.
A Closer Look
At first glance you'll notice the side panel has mounting points for either 2 120mm fans or 2 140mm fans, or any combination of the two. The top panel has mounting points for 2 120mm fans as well.
The right side of the case is just plain smooth black steel.
The rear of the case sports 2 water cooling holes, 7 expansion slots and room for one (included) 120mm exhaust fan. All of the covers are of the punch-out variety, and there are no included grommets for the water cooling holes. Again, this helps keep the price down. You'll also notice the inclusion of thumbscrews for both side panels. The bottom-mounted PSU can also be mounted with the fan facing up or down depending on your needs or preference. This is becoming a much more common thing on cases nowadays.
The top of the front panel sports 2 USB 2.0 ports, a microphone jack and headphone jack, as well as the power and reset buttons. There is a marking here for a Firewire port, but one is not included. It would seem to me that they planned on it at some point, but for whatever reason (probably price) it wasn't included. I would have done away with the indentation for it though, as it looks out of place.
With the left hand side panel removed, you'll notice a basic steel inside, with no paint or powdercoat to speak of, yet again for cost reasons I'm sure. There are 3 5.25" bays, only 2 of which have tool-free mechanisms.
There are 7 total 3.5" bays, of which 6 are useable, and 3 have tool-free mechanisms. The top external 3.5" bay has tool-free mechanisms on BOTH sides of the bay, which is a nice touch. The next one down has mounts for an external device, but has no external bay on the front, so it's useless pretty much.
The lower 5 internal bays only have 2 slots that are tool-free (again with mechanisms on BOTH sides of the bay) for mounting hard drives. They are not removable or rotational.
With the right side off you can see the motherboard tray cutout for CPU cooler installation, the 3 extra tool-free 3.5" bay mechanisms, and a lot of open space between the tray and bay area.
The included hardware came in a clear ziplock bag (whereas most cases nowadays have it in a small cardboard box), and includes some white zip ties, a user's manual, case speaker, and a plethora of standoffs and screws for securing everything from your motherboard to your drives to your PSU.
The front panel pulls off easily with a tug at the bottom center and leaves no wires to tangle or worry about unhooking. Removal is required to remove the 5.25" and 3.5" bay covers, which snap in and out easily. The steel 5.25" punch-out plates are easily removed with a twist as well.
Looking at the bottom of the case you'll see 4 rubber feet for vibration absorption, a removable PSU intake filter and a mounting spot for a 120mm intake fan.
Installation was what I expected with a budget-line case. The cable management options are VERY limited, and fitting all the wires of the non-modular PSU was a bit of a pain. A modular PSU would make it easier to work with.
A few things to note here are:
Looking at the rear of the case you'll notice how clean it is, only because there is less than 1/4" between the side panel and motherboard tray which leaves ZERO room for cable management.
Here you'll notice that the CPU cooler cutout, while large, is too low to work properly with my standard Intel ATX motherboard. I've circled the 4 CPU cooler mounting holes, and you'll notice the top two are mostly hidden by the tray. This pretty much makes the cutout useless. Luckily with the stock Intel cooler it's not something to worry about. Another thing to note is that with ANY kind of a CPU cooler installed (save maybe a 1U style) it's impossible to mount a standard 25mm thick fan in the top panel, as the CPU cooler interferes. You may be able to mount a thin (12mm) one, but I didn't have any on hand to test with.
Another issue is trying to install a bottom intake fan with any decent sized PSU installed. This Diablotek 650W isn't very long, and you can see how close the 120mm fan comes to fitting.
Here you can see the space between the 4870 and the HDD mounting bays. Cooler Master says it will fit the longest graphics cards available such as the Radeon 5970. This will hold true as long as you don't plan on using the upper HDD bays.
And a shot of the lights on the front panel. The power button is backlit with a blue LED, as is the HDD activity light.
All in all for a budget case this one is pretty good. It can be found at NewEgg for $49.99 at the time of this writing. For the price, it's got some good features like airflow options, a bottom-mount PSU and support for high-end graphics cards. Although it's missing some features I've grown accustomed to as "standard", I can't complain about the price-to-features ratio on this one. For cases in this price range, this one gets an easy 8 for me. Bottom line: If you need something simple and understated, this case should definitely be on your list.
This product was provided free of charge by the manufacturer for purpose of review.