Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced

Posted by on Monday, July 16, 2012 - 2:42am

Cooler Master Elite 120 AdvanceThe new case is the Elite 120 Advanced which is a total different animal than the Elite 100. The Elite 100 is more like a vertical HTPC enclosure while the 120 Advanced is a more squared true SFF case. Yes, they are aimed at two different users. The gamer will without a doubt opt for the Elite 120 Advanced as it can hold a full-sized GPU, even two and a standard configuration power supply. We are going to take the Elite 120 Advanced for a spin and see how we like it and see if we will recommend it to the masses.


Introduction to the Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced mITX Case

It seems that the world is splitting into two different groups. The first are ones wanting large over-sized cases to house all their components and for future-proofing. And then there are the people looking for small cases that can house a nice gaming or HTPC system as they don’t need a ton of drives or more than one video card.

We see people from the first group looking at cases like the Cooler Master HAF X and other large cases. Yes, these cases offer plenty of territory to build the ultimate rig. But for the second group of people we see companies opening up to really satisfy them. Just recently we have seen several high profile cases released that fall into the small form factor category. Cooler Master has finally released a SFF case to ride beside their Elite 100.

The new case is the Elite 120 Advanced which is a total different animal than the Elite 100. The Elite 100 is more like a vertical HTPC enclosure while the 120 Advanced is a more squared true SFF case. Yes, they are aimed at two different users. The gamer will without a doubt opt for the Elite 120 Advanced as it can hold a full-sized GPU, even two and a standard configuration power supply. We are going to take the Elite 120 Advanced for a spin and see how we like it and see if we will recommend it to the masses.

Cooler Master’s take on the Elite 120 Advanced

The Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced is and ultra-compact case with support for Full Size High-End Desktop components. Other than conventional Mini ITX cases, The Elite 120 Advanced supports more affordable, quiet, efficient and easily available Full Size ATX PSU’s. It can accommodate even the largest Ultra High-End VGAs, a 5.25” optical drive and up to 5 HDDs or SSDs. Thanks to a smart airflow system featuring 3 fans it manages to still keep the system cool and quiet. Topped off with a stylish brushed aluminum front, this is a compact case you don’t want to hide…


Available Color



Appearance: Aluminum & Polymer front
Case body: Steel Alloy

Dimension (W / H / D)

240 x 207.4 x 401.4mm
9.4 x 8.2 x 15.8 inch

M/B Type


5.25" Drive Bays


3.5" Drive Bays


2.5" Drive Bays

4 (internal, converted from two 3.5” bays)

I/O Panel

USB 3.0 x 1 (internal), USB 2.0 x 2, Mic x 1,
Audio x 1 (supports AC97 / HD Audio)

Expansion Slots


Cooling System

Front: 120mm fan x 1, 1200 RPM, 19dBA
Side: 80x15mm fan x 1, 2000 RPM, 20dBA
HDD: 120x25mm fan x 1 (optional)

Power Supply Type

Standard ATX PS2


Unprecedented airflow for a Mini-ITX case
1/3 the size of a standard case
Supports standard length ATX PSUs with innovative rear mount
Supports Ultra High-End VGA’s (HD7990/GTX690)
Stylish Aluminum front panel
USB 3.0 Super Speed Support
Features a Full Size 5.25” Drive Bay
Supports Up to 3 x 3.5” / 4 x 2.5” HDD/SSD (converted from 2 x 3.5" HDD bay)

Closer look at the exterior

The Elite 120 Advanced did not have the type of release that we have seen from other ITX and mATX cases that have seen the light of day in the pass month or two. This is because it was a minor release for Cooler Master. So, we are figuring there is more to come from CM in the near future to warrant more publicity.

The Elite 120 Advanced reason for being born is to support many of the full-size components in a small casing with the exception of the motherboard which would have to be an ITX version. CM could have made the case smaller with the addition of supporting smaller SFX power supplies, slim-line optical drives and less hard drive support. But that would have upped the price of the overall build of the system.

The size of the case is a minimal 8” tall, 9” wide and sits almost 16” deep. According to CM the case will take video cards 13.5: long which would include the Radeon HD 6990 and CPU coolers as tall as 2.5”. The overall makeup of the Elite 120 is steel and plastic with a partial brushed aluminum front panel.

The front of the case is the only location where you will find the brushed aluminum and plastic that we mentioned earlier. The front fascia is centered with the aluminum and consists of the optical drive bay and a blank canvas with the CM logo stamped in the center.

Surrounding the aluminum is a plastic frame that holds the USB ports, which two of them are 2.0 and the third 3.0. There are also dual audio jacks and the usual power and reset switches.

The three other sides of the case is one piece of steel and separates from the rest of the case as a whole. The sides of the case are perforated for air intake and exhaust.

The rear of the case is designed to take a power supply positioned to slightly protrude beyond the surface of the cases. This bracket is only needed if your PSU is longer than standard. Beside the power supply mount is a single opening that is round. This is not for water-cooling but for the USB cabling for the case.


The bottom of the case just consists of four rubber foot to get the case off the surface of the floor or desktop.

Closer look at the interior

The inside of the Elite 120 is pure metal and is arrange in a way where the motherboard sits at the bottom of the case below the power supply. Here is where we will start to see a difference of opinions on what could or should have been done to make the case more appealing.

With the PSU sitting above the motherboard means there will be a lacking of cable management the user can exercise. In my experience we have seen this lead to initially having cables interfere with the CPU fan. This is not always the case but it does happen. And come to think that if the motherboard was to be mounted above the PSU, that means the options of CPU coolers are more limited. To help in the cable management department CM did integrate rails into the top half of the frame to route cables. How much is this going help? We will find out.

First, we most realized that CM wanted the case to hold a decent amount of drives. All drives are located up front and can accommodate one optical device, three 3.5” drive or four 2.5” drive all depending on your personal configuration.

CM uses a side mounted 80mm 2000 RPM, 20 dBA fan for intake.

Attached to the cages of the front of the case, we have a single 12mm, 1200 RPM, 19 dBA fan for intake.

Build Images

I am sure many of you have built systems before and using the CM Elite Advanced 120 will not be any different except with the fact you are work with less space. During this build we did not leave with any beat up knuckles or cut fingers.

Pretty much the only advice we would give to someone planning on building a rig with this case is when it comes to installing your PSU connect as many cables before actually sliding the PSU inside the case.

Another piece of advice is to use the supplied cable ties and loops in the bottom of the case to your advantage. This is the only way you will get a half way decent result when it comes to cable management.

First, we have our motherboard with stock CPU cooler and Kingston memory installed. There was approxiately another one and a half inches left for CPU cooler clearance.

Installation of the same components from the opposite angle.

Our Kingston SSD assembled in the HDD holder.

Our Seagate HDD installed as well.

Our GTX 580 installed with plenty of room to spare.

Both drives inserted into case.

Cable management becoming a little bit of an issue. But using a shorter PSU and one with shorter cabling would accomplish wonders.

Our two inches to spare between the top of the GPU and the frame of the case.

Three and a half inches between the GPU and the front of the case.

Over seven inches of depth inside the case.

One and 3/4 inches between the back of the PSU and optical drive.

All done. Well almost a few screws here and there.

Cooling results

The temperatures of the obvious pieces of the build was not too bad at all. But unfortunately, we didn't have anything to compare them to at the moment.

Idle CPU - 36-41, Idle GPU - 47, HDD - 38

Load GPU - 87

Load CPU - 73-78


In the end we felt that the Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced is a very suitable case for anyone wanting to build a much smaller gaming rig. With many new motherboards in the ITX range overclocking pretty well and the fact the case can support any GPU currently out, you will not go without the performance you want and require in a gaming rig.

The cooling aspects of the case are very decent. With the smaller 80mm helping to draw air over the motherboard and other components and the large 120mm allowing air to blow over the HDDs and once again across the motherboard all is well. For extra cooling another 120mm can be added to the build if needed.

The case will support CPU cooler about another 1 ½ taller than the stock Intel unit for instance the new Cooler Master GeminII M4. But we were not able to use with and keep the GTX 580 in the build because the PCIe slot of most ITX board is just too close to the CPU socket.

We used a PSU that was 7” long and still had enough room between it and the optical drive to make the power and data cable connections as well as store some extra cables. But all the extra cables that may come with a PSU will make cable management a small issue. We will find out. One thing to remember is also the longer the PSU the more of a cluster all the cabling will make and our build was an example of that.

I know one question that will be bought you and I will answer it now. Can a AIO water-cooling kit fit in this case? Well, we took some measures of a cooler we had in the lab and it measured just 5 ¾ inches of the rad. And the space underneath the optical drive totaled 5 ¼ inches. So, there is your answer.

We would definitely recommend this case to the masses as the case is solidly built and has a very clean look. And it cost just $49.99.

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