Cooler Master Elite 430 Black


Interior Design

Interior Design

So how about the interior, where Cooler Master has promised ample space for even the longest of graphics cards? We removed the side panel and the first thing that struck us is the relative lack of cable management options. Perhaps we have been spoilt by our experiences with other casings, but there was definitely a lack in the number of holes and crannies where one could hide and route our cables. There are just a few hooks at the bottom near the PSU where one could tie some cables too. In fact, there was no gap between the motherboard tray and the panel behind it, which meant one couldn't have routed any cables even if there were holes on the tray. Of course, this isn't unusual for an affordable casing, but rather, we were hoping for progress.

As for the depth of the chassis, it does seem to hold true to its claims and as we soon found, it was capable of fitting at least a pair of long, dual-slot graphics cards. Users may have to relocate their 3.5-inch drives (on paper there's space for up to seven drives) lower in the rack to allow for this, but it's feasible. Of course, this may result in cable overload at the bottom, since the cables from the PSU and your HDD drives congregate in that area.

 Cooler Master asserts that this casing is designed to hold long graphics cards like the Radeon HD 5800 series. From the looks of it, the length does seem adequate, though with this orientation of the drive bays, we have to wonder if they will get in the way. We'll soon find out!

The Elite 430 supports only microATX and ATX motherboards and these are labeled neatly on the casing. Our concern is the relative lack of options for cable management. The only good thing is that the cut-out area below the processor socket.

Have your screwdriver handy. This casing is not completely tool-free. You'll need the screwdriver to install the stand-offs for the motherboard, something that's commonly done with bare fingers on other casings.

The other surprise is how often we had to use our screwdriver. We have come to expect tool-free design for most chassis and Cooler Master has been a big proponent of such designs. Perhaps it's the entry level nature of the Elite 430 Black, but we have seen more tool-free designs from Cooler Master even for entry level chassis. As for the Elite 430 Black, just be prepared to have your screwdriver out. Even the motherboard standoffs required a screwdriver, unlike other casings where one can screw them in with bare fingers. This however has its positive side, since it also means you're unlikely to encounter situations where you're trying to unscrew the motherboard screws and the standoffs below it come off along with it since they are so tightly secured this time.

The other major non tool-free portion lies with the seven expansion slots, which need some force and a screwdriver to remove the covers. And then you'll have to secure the add-on cards with screws. Even the tool-free mechanisms didn't impress us - the 5.25-inch ones felt fragile while the 3.5-inch ones required users to remove both side panels instead of one to install.

As you can see, all the expansion slots require a screwdriver and you have to bash the slots open with it first too.

The 5.25-inch drive bays are tool-free. However, while it's simple enough to use, we felt that the contraption was a bit on the flimsy and fragile side, though to be fair, it held our drive in place with no issue. We just don't have the confidence that it won't break off in our hands on a later occasion.

The 3.5-inch drive bays for your hard drives are also tool-free. This 'clip' holds the drive in place and all you need is to twist and pull out. Take note that there's a corresponding one on the other side, which means you will need to remove both side panels.

The power supply is shunted to the bottom of the casing, which helps for heat dissipation and adds to hold this lightweight casing down. A pair of rubber mounts lift your PSU slightly above the bottom. Space is limited though, so we don't recommend getting a PSU that is larger than average.

Both the top and bottom intakes/vents come with removable dust filters which we have removed. While the specs list two top 120mm fans as optional, it seems a bit too cramped here for more cooling fans.

The optical drive ends up rather close to the motherboard. One could argue that proper cable management will solve this issue but those with older IDE drives could find it difficult to route their thicker cables, especially since there's are no options for users to route cables behind.

We haven't tidied up the cables yet but it's evident that one can indeed fit a longer graphics card or two here. We aren't that optimistic about the hard drives and their cables, which will add to quite a bit of clutter.

Here's a shot of the casing with some of the important components installed and before we tidied up the cables. We can see some potential issues with more HDDs installed, especially since their cables will likely end up together with the ones leading from the PSU. In short, you'll have to be on top of cable management due to the limited space.

Overall, the installation was straightforward and despite the need for a screwdriver, it wasn't difficult or tricky. The plastic front cover came off without too much trouble, allowing us to install our optical drive. While we did mention that the tool-free mechanism for this 5.25-inch bay was flimsy, it still held the drive well. Installing the HDD also required a bit more work but the tool-free design was at least foolproof.

Our main concern is with the cable management, since there's really a lack of options on this chassis. It means that users will have to find their own ways of tying the cables neatly and forcing them into less intrusive corners. The single 120mm fan at the front, which glows blue, is the sole pre-installed source of moving air and we recommend that users get a rear exhaust fan at the very least. We weren't too confident that fans could fit properly into the narrow space between the roof of the chassis and the motherboard. As for the bottom fan vent, it looked impractical to fit a fan with all those cables, so treat it purely as a vent.

7.5
Aesthetics
7.5
Functionality
8
Usability
7.5
Value
8.5
The Good
Competitive price
Easy to install
The Bad
Lacks cable management options
Only one cooling fan included