Review of Cooler Master Elite 310 case

Cooler Master’s Elite 310 seems to be a good option for consumers looking for a sober looking high quality case for a cheap buck.


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INTRODUCTION

Cooler Master is by many considered to be the number one manufacturer of high end cases for gamers and overclockers. But everyone does not need all the extra features and details which you will find in Cooler Master’s high end cases. There are those who are just looking for a simple and cheap case to mount their system in.


In order to cover the demand for those less sophisticated cases, Cooler Master has released the Elite 310. This case may not have all the clever details from the top line cases, but it do have a spectacular finishing and a structural sturdiness equal to the top the high end cases.  Before further going into any details, let’s have a look at the engineering specifications:



Cooler Master Elite 310 (RC-310-BWN1-GP)

Dimensions

191 x 437 x 468 mm

Material

Steel and plastic

Weight

5.8 kg

Compatibility

mATX/ATX

5.25 inch expansion bays

4 external convertible + 1

3.5 inch expansion bays

6 internal

Cooling system

Back: 120mm x 1 fan

Front: 120mm x 1 fan (optional)

Side: 80/90/120mm fan x 1 (optional)

Front connectors

2.0 USB x 2, MIC x 1, Audio x 1 (it supports Audio HD/AC97), IEEE 1394a x 1 (optional)

PCI expansion slots

7

Power supply

Standard ATX PS2 (optional)




FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The packaging of the case doesn’t reveal anything of the case itself; it’s just a regular brown cardboard box.



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When I opened the box I found the case enclosed in a plastic bag and protected by white foam plastic in each end. It should normally be enough for everything that can happen in transport but maybe some kind of protection for the sides would have been good also.


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There are not many accessories included, just a printed manual and a bag with screws.



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COOLER MASTER ELITE 310 IN DETAIL: OUTSIDE

Cooler Master Elite 310 is a “semi-tower” which has a very clean and sober look. The front is characterized by its glossy finish which differs from the finish of the rest of the case. The front also has a silver color frame. The case is also available with two other colors of the frame: blue and orange.


There’s really no too much to say about the front. It holds a reset button; a power button and the corresponding LEDs. More over; the front holds a series of connectors at the bottom, with the regular USB 2.0; FireWire and audio connectors. What is unusual is that it also holds an eSATA port which is great. One potential problem about the position of the connectors is that they are not protected against dust.


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The right side of the case is totally clean but the left side (viewed from front) holds two positions for 80, 92 or 120mm fans. The intention is that those fans will extract the hot air coming from the graphics card and the CPU.


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In the back side of the case, there are seven expansion slots. From the image below you can also see the hole where the motherboard’s I/O panel will be placed. To the right of the hole for the I/O panel, there is a metallic ventilation grid; behind which a 120mm fan can be placed. It is also possible to install an 80 or 92mm fan in that spot thanks to clever positioning of the screw holes. Above the fan and the I/O shield is a hole where the PSU will be placed.


Regarding the placement of the PSU, I have seen it becoming more and more common to place the PSU in the bottom of the case. The point with that is to force the PSU to take cool air from the outside. As you know cold air is heavier than hot air so the coolest air in a room is always closest to the floor. Of course at the floor is also where all the dust is. Anyhow, a second point with placing the PSU at the bottom is that it facilitates the cooling of the CPU (more space).


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The case rests upon four plastic pivot points. It may have been better if these “feet” where made of rubber instead of plastic to better secure the case on different surfaces.




COOLER MASTER ELITE 310 IN DETAIL: INTERIOR

Cooler Masters Elite 310 is compatible with both micro-ATX and ATX motherboards as is common with most medium tower cases. The interior of the case is rather simple as you can see from the image below.


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The rack for the 3.5 inch hard drives is located in the front of the case and it allows for 6 units to be installed. The rack is not removable but it’s not a problem since it’s easy to reach the screw holes from the front (front needs to be removed). A good thing is that the hard drive rack is turned 90 degrees which makes it easy to install new drives or remove old ones, you will not be in the somewhat annoying situation that you have to remove the CPU heatsink when installing a new drive.


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Aside from offering great possibilities with respect to 3.5 inch hard drives; the Elite 310 allows us to install up to 4 5.25 inch units and one 3.5 inch external unit.



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The cooling possibilities of the Cooler Master Elite 310 are rather extended considering the case being a medium to low end case. The included fan is located in the back and is a 120mm fan with a regular 3 pin connector, but Cooler Master have been kind enough to make it possible to connect the fan directly to a molex connector.


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The motherboard plate is perforated to improve the heat dissipation and to allow a better management of the wiring. But due to the format of the box, the possibilities to keep the wiring behind the motherboard back plate are very limited and we are left to place the remaining cables under the installed hard drives.


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ASSEMBLY OF THE EQUIPMENT

The components I used for this review were:


Test equipment

Processor

Intel E6400

CPU heat sink

Nexus Low-7000

Motherboard

Gigabyte GA-EP45C-DS3R

Graphics card

eVGA GTX 260 216 1728 MB

Hard disk

Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500 GB

Memory

Kingston 800 HyperX DDR2 2x1GB (4-4-4-12)

Power supply

Tacens 600W



Many of the high end cases in Cooler Master’s series do not require the use of hand tools to install the components. This is however not the case with this case (funny eh?). Still, all you need is a screwdriver and some patience.


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There was no problem to install the GTX 260 graphics card which I used for this review, but there wasn’t much space over so I really recommend that you think twice before using this case with a high end graphics card of bigger dimensions.


The case doesn’t offer us many ways to hide the wiring, the space behind the motherboard back plate is just too narrow which leaves us with the only option to hide the cables in the space below the hard drive (provided that you don’t have more than two or three HDs installed).



In the assembly of the equipment the robustness of Elite 310 surprised me. Unlike other cases, where their chassis and their panels bend while working them, the Cooler Master Elite 310 offers an impressive sturdiness.


When I first turned the system on, I was also pleasantly surprised by the low noise of the fan and its ability to move a good volume of air. But I have still seen much more efficient fans so it’s clear that this fan is not from Cooler Master’s high end series.




CONCLUSIONS

One has to consider the price when writing up a conclusion of this case. The lowest I could find when doing a search at Google was $27 which to me feels like a steal considering what this case has to offer.


Cooler Master’s Elite 310 is a semi tower case with a structural rigidity competitive with much more expensive cases. It doesn’t have too many extra features but a few smart details like the turned rack for hard drives and the side panel fans still makes it feel like more than just a standard case.


Overall, this is a case for someone looking for a cheap solution which will work for almost any purpose, however if you are building a high end system I would recommend you to look over other possibilities.



Pros:

  • High construction quality
  • Nice finish
  • Structural solidity
  • Cooling system
  • Spacious
  • Low price


Cons:

  • No anti dust filters
  • Screw driver needed to assemble components
  • No rubber feet




Cooler Master Elite 310

Packing

0.5/0.5

Accessories

0.5/1

Quality and finished

1.5/1.5

Special characteristics

0.5/1

Near space

2/2

Loudness

1.5/2

Price

2/2

Total

8.5/10



The final score is 85 out of 100 owls, and we give the “Cooler Master Elite 310″ our Recommended Award.


TestSeek Labs Recommended 2009 Award


Thanks goes out to Cooler Master for letting me review this case.


Author: Manuel González Fernández

Translator: Vince Emiloz Sanderson

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