Cases

Fractal Design Era mini-ITX Case Review

Complete System

I normally show a system when it’s fully done, but this being so compact, I’ve decided to show you it almost completed first. Here we’ve got the mini-ITX motherboard installed easily enough, and there’s the GPU in also.

The GTX 1080 Ti FE was the largest card I could fit in here. Please keep in mind the case strictly sticks to a two-slot design, and any 2.5 slot thick cooler designs will not be compatible. There’s not a lot of extra width either, so some of those huge-fan model MSI/ASUS cards likely won’t fit either. Measure twice, buy once. Remember to leave room for the PSU to GPU cables too, obviously.

You can fit a modest size air cooler in here easily enough, there’s actually pretty good clearance. Even a slim radiator would fit in the top if you wanted to use an AIO or if you’re skilled enough, even a custom loop setup. However, this low-profile Noctua cooler works well and is nice and quiet too.

Now it’s just the small matter of cables and the power supply!

Since this case doesn’t actually have a window on it, cable management is mostly about keeping things from getting stuck in fans than it is about aesthetics. This case is small, so you are going to have to compromise in some places.

The back of the PSU is right above the GPU, so unless you’ve got a custom 3″ cable, you’re going to have to do some cable cramming to deal with any excess for the 6/8-pin GPU cables.

It’s a bit of a squeeze to get the 24-pin cable in place, which sucks. However, it’s not like you’ll be doing this every day, so it’s hardly a big deal either.

There’s plenty of room in the HDD bay for storage, but since I’m using M.2, I don’t need it. You could technically use it for a little cable management space if you really need it. Plus, you’ll still have the side bracket for additional storage too.

Tiny case, but if you plan it right, there’s really a lot more space in there than it looks. There’s room for an ATX PSU thanks to the extra space in the top. There’s room for additional fans and cooling should you need it too.

The mesh filter looks great, it really does, and if you need extra fans and airflow you’re going to want it more open like this.

However, it’s all about that wood panel for me. I’d be happier to have a less extreme system to afford the style and luxury. Then again, I could have this through the day for when I’m writing reviews. Then pop the airflow panel on at night for gaming.

It does look good on my desk though, don’t you think?

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Peter Donnell

As a child still in my 30's (but not for long), I spend my day combining my love of music and movies with a life-long passion for gaming, from arcade classics and retro consoles to the latest high-end PC and console games. So it's no wonder I write about tech and test the latest hardware while I enjoy my hobbies!

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