Suggestions for small microATX case similar to CM Elite 341?

Enclosures and acoustic damping to help quiet them.

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wasp
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Suggestions for small microATX case similar to CM Elite 341?

Post by wasp » Mon Jul 25, 2011 6:36 pm

I've decided that for my needs ATX is simply too big. I do game but I don't buy big coolers, don't use multiple HDDs, and don't need an optical drive anymore. I considered mini-ITX but am not interested in proprietary or specialty PSUs and don't want my case to be insanely difficult to work in. So microATX seems like the best bet, but I want as small as possible, not something that's almost the size of an ATX mid-tower. My computer will be on a shelf only about 9" wide so the desktop form factor probably won't work. I don't want a full HDD cage down the front of the case since I only intend to use one HDD and one SSD and would rather that space be open for airflow and a video card. 120mm fans are obviously preferable.

Given all of this, the only case that seems to fit the bill is the Cooler Master Elite 341. I'm not opposed to that choice, seems like a great case for a good price, but I just wanted to double check with others that there aren't similar options that I'm missing. I like the Fractal Design Core 1000 but unfortunately its buttons and ports are on the right side and that won't work for my configuration. I'm not usually a fan of Lian Li or Silverstone as I believe their quality is not worth the money, but I could spend maybe $70-80 tops if the case was absolutely perfect. All others seem to be too big, too gaudy, have full HDD cages, or smaller fans. I'm also interested in HDD suspension with whatever case I get.

Thanks for any recommendations you can make.

boost
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Re: Suggestions for small microATX case similar to CM Elite

Post by boost » Tue Jul 26, 2011 2:30 am

The most obvious choices would be Silverstone cases.
The SG03 is the smallest, but limited to small CPU coolers.
The TJ08 is a classic, fits larger tower coolers and the front looks nice.
The TJ08-E is new and has better airflow, 180mm fan in the front, 120mm in the back. For high end components I would chose this one.
Then there's the Antec NSK3480 nice and small and without optical drives easy to work with.
Each of these cases has 5.25" bays (SG03 only one) to suspend a hard disk.

fwki
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Re: Suggestions for small microATX case similar to CM Elite

Post by fwki » Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:09 am

I built a system for a friend using the 341 to save some money, but you get what you pay for and the Elite is a signicant step below the Antec 3480 which I have for one of my home systems. The Elite developed rattles, so you'll have to be very carefull with hdd and fan mouting. The 3480 is much quieter and really easy to work with especially if you skip the optical drive.....mount the hdd up top and you'll still have room to hide unused psu cables. After you consider the psu cost, the 3480 is maybe 10$ more.

flyingsherpa
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Re: Suggestions for small microATX case similar to CM Elite

Post by flyingsherpa » Tue Jul 26, 2011 9:27 am

I use a 341 for my main computer and I like it. It doesn't rattle at all. I looked pretty hard 1.5 years ago when I built it and it was really the only one i could find that I liked. Like you, I didn't want a drive cage in the lower front, though I do keep my hard drive there (resting on foam and sorbothane). The only mods I did were to cut out the inside front grill and put magnetic sheets on the side panels as mass damping (which may not have been necessary, I just really wanted to try it after the messy results I had with bitumin in my old case). I have no real complaints...

I have a thread showing my build on this site if you do a search.

fwki
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Re: Suggestions for small microATX case similar to CM Elite

Post by fwki » Tue Jul 26, 2011 10:53 am

It's likely the vibrations & rattles were due to my mounting of fans and HDD. Also I did not take any further silencing measures since I was under the budget and time gun. I like the idea of magnetic sheets, expecially since I have some laying around that were used for truck signage. And best of all, it's simple. :)

wasp
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Re: Suggestions for small microATX case similar to CM Elite

Post by wasp » Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:41 pm

boost wrote:The most obvious choices would be Silverstone cases.
The SG03 is the smallest, but limited to small CPU coolers.
The TJ08 is a classic, fits larger tower coolers and the front looks nice.
The TJ08-E is new and has better airflow, 180mm fan in the front, 120mm in the back. For high end components I would chose this one.
Then there's the Antec NSK3480 nice and small and without optical drives easy to work with.
Each of these cases has 5.25" bays (SG03 only one) to suspend a hard disk.
Thank you, I looked at all your suggestions. The SG03 is nice but I'm not a fan of the side window and bulge or the side-mounted PSU. The TJ08 cannot be found anywhere really, and the TJ08-E also seems hard to find. But either way, the -E opens on the right which doesn't work for me, and I'm not sure I could justify its > 2x price over the Cooler Master. The Antec is a popular recommendation. I like its form factor but don't like that it includes a PSU and again the question is whether its quality is worth twice the price. Perhaps it is, I'm not sure.

I found a bunch of IN WIN cases that pretty much fit the bill, however they all include PSUs, are more expensive, and don't necessarily seem any better than the CM.

I'm surprised more of these cases don't offer removable lower HDD cages to accommodate full-length video cards. But it's okay, the Elite 341 seems great and I'm comfortable going with it given flyingsherpa's recommendation. Do you recommend replacing the 120mm rear fan that comes with it? How about the front fan spot, fill it or leave it empty? For the HDD I'm not sure if a foam block, suspension in a 5.25" bay, or trying to stick some rubber grommets in there is the best way to go.

flyingsherpa
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Re: Suggestions for small microATX case similar to CM Elite

Post by flyingsherpa » Wed Jul 27, 2011 8:31 am

wasp wrote:Do you recommend replacing the 120mm rear fan that comes with it? How about the front fan spot, fill it or leave it empty? For the HDD I'm not sure if a foam block, suspension in a 5.25" bay, or trying to stick some rubber grommets in there is the best way to go.
I replaced the rear fan without even giving it a chance. I just assumed it wouldn't be as good as a nice Scythe, and I ordered everything at once. You could always try it and replace it later. I elected to not use a front fan, though I did make a simple paper duct at that opening to make sure the incoming airflow went over my hard drive positioned there on some foam. Might be overkill, but oh well.

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