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Internal Design + Conclusion
The old Elite 430 prided itself on offering enough space to swallow even the longest graphics cards and the new chassis follows this same philosophy. Considering its positioning in the Cooler Master hierarchy, the Elite 431 Plus does have a cavernous interior and could easily accommodate our 11-inch long Radeon HD 3870 X2 with plenty of space to spare. The size of this card is equivalent to even the latest graphics cards like the Radeon HD 7970 and the GeForce GTX 680.
On the installation front, little has changed. The 5.25-inch and 3.5-inch drive bays still employ the same tool-free mechanisms, while the expansion slots still require you to bash the slots open first. It’s not the hardest chassis to install components in, but Cooler Master could and should probably have improved things here especially with the expansion slot covers - replaceable covers are greatly welcomed.
However, our biggest misgivings with the chassis is the complete lack of space behind the motherboard tray to allow us to do any decent cable management. This was a problem highlighted in the older Elite 430 model and it is disappointing that Cooler Master hasn't alleviated this problem. Of course while we would like to see such improvements, one has to bear in mind that this is an entry level case so it could be asking too much for its price point. Still, it's no excuse for the Elite 431 Plus to come with only a single front-side intake fan like its predecessor, which we doubt will be sufficient.
The new Cooler Master Elite 431 Plus is mixture of good and bad. While we are happy to find that Cooler Master has kept with times and included a USB 3.0 port and the hot swappable X-Dock, we were disappointed that overall build quality hasn’t improved much and that Cooler Master did not make any improvements to allow for easier cable management in this new chassis.
Despite the shortcomings however, at S$79, the Cooler Master Elite 431 is affordable, represents decent value for money and anyone hunting for a simple, entry-level chassis should definitely check it out.
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