The problem with computer cases is that there are too many of them! Choosing a new case from 50 possibilities is a gamble to say the least, and you have to wonder about the quality of a $30 or $40 case that includes a power supply also.
In this article, I will talk about my experiences in looking for the best overall value for a Micro ATX case and whether the Cooler Master Elite 343 mini tower was able to fit that bill.
If you are here, then you are no doubt a do-it-yourself computer builder. If you are like me, you might also look at PCs in two ways: the super-powered gaming beast workstation… and everything else. Of course, I use the big guy at my desk, but my living room HTPC, for instance, does not need that computing power.
In fact, my second and third computers in the house are “trickle-down” components from my former machines. When one of those fizzled out on me a month ago, I decided I wanted to go Micro ATX for the obvious benefits of size, heat, power, and simplicity.
This meant it was time to get a new Micro ATX mini-tower. Cooler Master is a respected name in computer cases. They are also a respected name in fans. A well-built Cooler Master case for under $40 with an actual Cooler Master fan in it sounds like a great place to start.
While no cheap case is going to be perfect, this one does a tremendous job for cheap. The Elite 343 mini tower fits the bill perfectly.
Unboxing the Elite 343
Big Features, Little Package
- Lightweight construction, but doesn’t feel like it can’t support it’s own weight.
- Metal corners are rounded (no cuts).
- Comes wrapped completely in plastic and boxed in Styrofoam.
- Double boxed if ordered from Amazon
Room for Improvement
The case is a great value, but of course it cannot have everything. A few areas this case could improve, which may or may not matter to you are:
- 3 of the 4 rear expansion slots use break-off covers instead of screwed on plates
- No mounts for SSD drives. They require an adapter tray if you use them.
- Has a mount for an 80mm fan, not included (certainly didn’t need it for my low-power PC)
- Hard drive bays aren’t tool-less. Don’t plan on swapping hard drives frequently.
Inside and Out
You cannot beat the value of this case. I married it to an Earth Watts power supply, micro ATX motherboard, Core i3 2120, and 8 Gigs of DDR3 RAM. The board has on-board LAN, audio, and video, making for an extremely low-power, cool, and whisper-silent PC.
I highly recommend this for your home theater setups or low cost rigs. Get one now for under $40 and free shipping from Amazon.