Cases

Fractal Design Era mini-ITX Case Review

How Much Does it Cost?

The Fractal Design Era Mini-ITX PC Case is launching today with an MSRP of £139.99. You can check for up to date stock and pricing in the UK here, and in the US here. It’ll be available in Silver, titanium Gray, Carbon, Gold and Cobalt, each coming with their own top panel finish. The first two with White Oak and Walnut respectively, the other three with a tempered glass top.

Overview

I’m really quite torn about this case, as there are many things I love about it, and honestly, a few things that I don’t. I think that right now, it’s just a bit too expensive for my taste. The Lian Li PC TU150 is pretty innovative and compact and costs just £100-£115 right now. The In-Win A1 is more expensive at £180ish, but that does come with a 600W PSU too. Then there’s basically no good options for cable management on the interior. Plus, it really does remind me of the Xbox 360 a bit.

However, let’s break that down a bit more. The cost is high, but it’s the little details that add up. All that thick aluminium isn’t cheap, and not one panel is flat or boring. It’s all curved, rolled, smoothed, cut, ventilated, filtered. The list goes on, but there’s a LOT of tooling on this case. Then you’ve got the tool-free mounts, the magnetic fitting top panel, it’s all complex design stuff that is done so well, it feels simple and basic to use, as it should. All of which adds to the cost.

Why pay for one top panel when you can pay for two? That wood panel looks pretty expensive, with its durable metal interior, magnetic mounts, and stunning finish. Then you’re also paying for the ventilated hard mesh panel too. Again you’re paying more, but you’re getting more.

Style

I think this case looks a bit weird. I think it’s trying to be sleek and modern but somehow looks a bit like a double-width Xbox 360. However, I actually quite like it, it’s growing on me. It’s just different enough to stand out and just daft enough to stay quirky and amusing.

I would have liked to see cable management space behind the motherboard. It’s not a deal-breaker though as this case doesn’t have side panel windows and nobody will see it. However, the enthusiasts out there will still care about this.

Should I Buy One?

It’s a pretty capable mini-ITX case. The fact you have room for a good size GPU, some fantastic cooling expansion options, and even a larger PSU if you so desire is impressive. It’s a little quirky, and it’s a little expensive, but it’s certainly a bit different too. For those who want a PC case that you want on top of your desk rather than tucked into a dusty corner, it’s certainly an interesting choice! I know Andy isn’t too keen on this one in the eTeknix office, but it’s grown on me. I’d happily keep this one on my desk.

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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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