m-ITX Cases: SEED MA-280B and Cooler Master Elite 100

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m-ITX Cases: Cooler Master Elite 100 & SEED MA-280B

October 19, 2009 by Lawrence Lee

Product
MA-280B
mini-ITX Case
Elite 100
mini-ITX/microATX Case
Manufacturer
SEED
Market Price
~US$70
~US$70

In the current environment, small and thin PCs and PC cases are increasingly popular, mirroring the growth in compact/slim netbooks and ultra-portable laptops. We've already seen big case brands like Thermaltake and Antec join the fray looking to carve themselves a piece of what was once was a niche market. Today we'll be looking at a pair of small form factor cases from Cooler Master, and a lesser known entity known as SEED.

From an acoustic/thermal standpoint, these slim cases are really only suitable for integrated Atom and ION-powered systems, rather than those with "proper" desktop processors. The limited height makes the use of conventional quiet CPU coolers impossible. Some cases in this class also have rather small power supplies — an AMD X2 or Intel Core 2 system's energy requirements may come close to or exceed what is available. As such, our test board will be the Zotac IONITX-A.

The two cases examined in this review differ somewhat in approach and size. The Cooler Master Elite 100 is designed to accommodate both mini-ITX and micro-ATX motherboards, and thus has a much larger footprint than the SEED MA-280, which is only for a low power mini-ITX board. A quick comparison of the relative size of cases and systems we've reviewed is worthwhile.

Case
Volume
Asus Eee Box 202
1.0 liter
SEED MA-280
2.8 liters
mCubed HFX Micro
4.1 liters
Lenovo M58p Eco USFF
5.2 liters
Cooler Master TC-100
5.5 liters
Cooler Master Elite 100
5.8 liters
Antec ISK 300
6.7 liters
Apex MI-008
8.5 liters
Luxa2 LM100
9.3 liters
Silverstone SU 05/06
10.8 liters

For reference, the popular Antec Solo mid-tower ATX case measures about 42 liters.

SEED MA-280

SEED is a brand backed by Lutec Co., Ltd, a major Taiwanese hardware distributor. SEED stands for their four mottos: "Saving Environment, Energy Efficiency, Eco-friendly and Direct Client Service." Not only does the acronym shorten their verboseness, it also evokes a green, organic sentiment. At the moment, SEED offers a small handful of cases, power supplies and other accessories.


The MA-280B box is plain and compact.

The MA-280B.

The SEED MA-280B is just 2.8 liters, and looks it, with a tiny footprint and an elegant appearance. As the size comparison table above shows, it's about the smallest retail case available today. The panels are sturdy, composed of 0.8mm SECC steel that is nickel-plated for a nice shine. To save space and reduce noise, power is delivered with a DC-to-DC unit with a 60W external AC power brick. The front bezel looks modest but attractive with a glossy black panel and a silver belt running around the middle.


The accessories also include a PCI riser adapter, rubber case feet and a plastic stand for vertical placement.

SEED MA-280B: Specifications
Model SEED MA-280B
Chassis Material 0.8mm SECC + ABS
Dimensions 227(W) x 215(D) x 64(H) mm = 3.1l
Surface Coating Hair-line surface by nickle-electroplating
Main board Size Compatible with Mini ITX motherboard (17x17cm)
Front Panel Access USB x 2 MIC x 2 AUDIO x 1
ODD Device SLIM Type ODD x 1
HDD Device 2.5" SATA HDD x 2
Rear System Fan 40 x 40 x 10mm smart noiseless fan (13.8 dB)
Power Supply External 60W/80W/100W Power Supply
Capacity 2.8L
Net Weight 1.08 kg (w/o power supply)
Accessory AC power cord / Screw bag / Stand
Power Solution DC to DC board + External AC Adapter


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