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CM Elite 130 mini-ITX PC Case Review

  1. Introduction
  2. Packaging and Specification
  3. External Impressions
  4. Internal Impressions
  5. Installation Experience
  6. Conclusion
  7. Online Purchase Links
  8. View All


Thanks to mini-ITX motherboards, AIO coolers and low-profile CPU coolers, modular/semi-modular power supplies and even SSDs, case manufacturers can make significantly smaller-yet-space efficient case designs. CM Elite 130 is a case that meant to be small and compliment the mini/low profile components that it can house within. One has to be honest, case makers tend to keep such cases up for a premium price. It’s another story when such premium could be justified. BitFenix made Colossus mATX– a pretty large case, but still something you’ll love to keep on your desk rather than hide it away from some corner.

Small but space efficient? Looks like it. Let’s see if its bigger on the inside!

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The packaging is pretty standard. Plain-jane box with all the information about the specification, features and illustration.

The case is protected by two foam blocks and a plastic sheet. Usually, I don’t like styrofoam but since the form factor is small, chances of damages are also reduced.

Model Number RC-130-KKN1
Available Color Midnight Black
Materials Appearance: polymer front mesh panel
Case body: Steel alloy
Dimensions (W x H x D) 240 x 207.4 x 398.5 mm / 9.4 x 8.2 x 15.7 inch
Net Weight 3.1 kg / 6.8 lbs
M/B Type Mini-ITX
5.25″ Drive Bays 1
3.5″ Drive Bays 3 (1 from 5.25” drive bay)
2.5″ Drive Bays 5 (3 from 5.25″ drive bays, 1 from the side bracket, 1 from the bottom)
I/O Panel USB 3.0 x2, USB 2.0 x 1, Audio In & Out
Expansion Slots 2
Cooling System Front: 120mm fan x 1 (installed)
Side: 80x15mm fan x 1 (installed)
Power Supply Type Standard ATX PS2
Maximum Compatibility VGA card length: 343mm / 13.5 inch
CPU cooler height: 65mm / 2.5 inch
PSU length 180mm/ 7.1 inch (w/ less cable management)
142mm / 5.6 inch (w/ full cable management)

CM provides few strips of cable ties, 4x brass stand-off, rubber mounts with 2 separate set of screws- for HDD and SSD. There’s also a stand-off nut, but I wish they provided a small wrench instead.

CM sticks with its usual “elite” type front panel design- the signature front mesh with honeycomb frame on the inside.

The front of the case is meshed, with a thin glossy plastic strip and matte plastic on the sides. CM provides 2x USB 3.0 ports along with the audio jacks and 1x USB 2.0 port, followed by LED indicators, power and reset button.

Judging by the rear, the power supply is top mounted where you can remove the PSU frame, install the frame on the power supply and slide it in. This is helpful, considering after installing all the components, you get less room to stick you hand in, let alone a power supply.CM also provides 2x PCIe slots. Mini-ITX motherboards have one slot, but most gaming-grade reference and non-reference cards are dual-slot. There’s a vent between the PSU mount and the rear I/O cut-out. The case will only allow low-profile CPU coolers or even the stock coolers. Well, you can always strap a 120mm AIO cooler by mounting the radiator towards the front or on the storage drive tray which faces towards the right side of the case.

Both sides of the case have vents but as you can see on the right side panel, there’s a fan mount from the inside. A part of the top panel has vents and it has an air filter from the inside.

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CM is using plastic case feet-ugh! You can see a lot of section where cable tie loops and HDD/SDD keyhole-type mounts are provided from the inside, but no vents.

Unlike in typical cases, the panel is a single piece. You’ll need to remove three thumbscrews and slide off the panel.

The top vent’s mesh is clipped from the inside but for some odd reasons, cm did not include filters for the sides.

The left sidepanel section is clear from any obstacles or vertical trays, and as pointed out earlier the mini-ITX motherboard is mounted on the base while the PSU is mounted on the top.

The right sidepanel section is where you’ll find a storage drive mounting plate and an 80mm fan. The 80mm fan frame can be removed by removing the screws on the rear section of the case. The storage drive plate allows you to install an optional 120mm fan, but since it obstructs the key hole, you can’t install any drives on it.

Thankfully, the front panel connector and control PCB is attached on the case’s frame rather than on the front panel. The front panel allows the installation of 120mm fans only, but it should be noted that the fans are secured with push pins and not the usual screws.

Notice there is a support bar (seen on the top view image) where you can tie down the cables and keep it away from the motherboard. Depending on your requirement and the PSU length, you can adjust the distance of the support bar once you’ve removed the screws from both sides.

Unlike the Bitfenix Colossus mATX, the optical drive bay isn’t removable. but the key-holes allow you mount SSD and 3.5″ HDD drives with appropriate marking. There’s also a plus mount that there’s a 2.5″ mounting towards the underbelly of the optical drive.

But I wish the optical drive could be removed so that you’ll get more space to work in that section of the case where you have to populate it with a couple of 3.5” drives. At the very least you can remove it temporarily so that you get extra space to reach through from the top. A part of the optical bay is screw mounted, but the other side is riveted towards the front panel.

There are also the storage drive tray which can be removed. You’ll need to remove the screws from the underbelly of the case, should you want to remove it. The tray can also be used to mount a 120mm fan, but you lose the option to mount the storage drive in its place.

The PC specification that we’ve used are as follows:

Test Setup for: CM Elite 130 mini-ITX PC Case
Motherboard+ Processor Gigabyte Z97N-WiFi+ Intel G3258 Pentium ‘Devil’s Canyon’
CPU Cooler Stock
SSD Kingston HyperX Fury 240GB SSD
HDD 2x WD 3TB Red NAS HDD
Power Supply Coolermaster G450 Semi-Modular

Two main issues: Getting enough space to properly install 3.5” HDDs and very close proximity of the 80mm side fan and the motherboard which provides no space to connect the ATX cables properly. The second problem can be fixed if you work in a certain sequence depending on the components you plan to mount. The first could have been solved if one could remove the optical bay drive to allow you to slip your hands from the top.

The rubber mounts are much thicker than what BitFenix provided for its Colossus mini-ITX. But as someone who worked with mid-size cases almost all the time, I wish there was more space. These are not cons, but rather the frustration that first-time SFF builders would have to go through.

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In my case, I had CM  G450M. A semi-modular (24 pin, PCIe and ATX cables are the non modular cables) power supply is absolutely brilliant to use with this case, but I also wished the 4+4 ATX/EPS connector cable was also modular. Still, I didn’t have any need to connect extra cables.

Its best if you stick with semi-modular/modular power supplies with this case. Even if there if there a support bar where you can tie the excess cable, non-modular power supply cables (depending on the unit and amount/thickness of the cable) can be a pain to work with. Its best that people refer to the specification comparison table that’s put up and updated regularly in our forum’s never-ending power supply discussion thread.

In my case, I’ve installed the HDDs first, followed by the SSD at the underbelly of the optical drive, the SATA cables, tied them on the bar. Then, I’ve installed the motherboard, connect the SATA cables on the motherboard, then install the optical drive, then the power supply and then the GPU. Its important that you be patient when working around the HDD/SSD area. It’s easier to install the power supply since all you have to do is remove the PSU bracket from the case, install it on the power supply and then slide it in.

With low-profile coolers and even 120mm AIO coolers, you’ll not have an issue. The cable tie clips helped to tie down the wiring, including the front panel audio connector that’s inconveniently placed next to the PCIe slot.

In cases like these, this is the part where you can appreciate implementation like Asus motherboard’s Q-Connector. Just connect the front panel connectors on the Q-Connector which has proper labeling on the side and then install it on the motherboard’s pins.

Note that I’ve made a blooper of installing the power supply with the fan facing towards the motherboard. In the case of CPU air cooled rigs, make sure the PSU’s fan area faces towards the top. This will not be an issue if you use a 120mm AIO cooler.

Edit: I received a Zotac 780Ti AMP! Edition graphic card while I was dismantling the system, but the image below should give you a good idea of how large area you’re getting for the graphic card. The dimension of the card is 11″ x 4″:

Even if you have PCIe connectors on the side or on the rear (in this case, top and right side) of the graphic card, you can easily route the PCIe cables and connect it.

The case is nicely made and well designed, provided you get the right components. Semi-modular/modular power supplies are something you should seriously consider when you’re using such cases.

People who want space efficiency will give this a serious look. This will attract a lot of mini-ITX LAN gamers. CM also did a good job in providing space for mounting 3.5″ and optical bays. It’s pretty good, all things considered. Like any mini-ITX/mATX cases, you’ll need to spend time and have patience while putting it together. I also recommend changing the front 120mm fan for a higher CFM rated fan.

You should also know the case will not allow the installation of full-sized power supplies and that’s why CM specifically said 180mm/7.1 inch long PSU with less cable management or 142mm long PSU with full cable management. There’s also the annoying part where I wish the Optical bay cage could be removed and having more space between the 80mm side fans and the motherboard. You can remove the 80mm fan frame if you want. You may have to remove it if your motherboard’s MOSFET sink (maybe even those mini-ITX motherboards that uses daughterboard for providing phase power chokes and MOSFET) would be an obstacle in some cases. I am not a fan of plastic case feet either. Some people would probably consider after-market case feet. But that’s the individual’s choice.

But there are enough cable tie clips on the case, and it does allow you to install longer GPUs up to 13.5″ with dual slot. The entire left panel section is vented, so the air flow shouldn’t be an issue but I do fish if there was an air filter for the sides.

If you look at the pricing, it will attract a lot of those who want a low-cost mini-ITX case for whatever reasons:

India U.S. U.K.
Rs. 3,470/- $39.99 £36.74

For this price, you’re getting the best you can get for the budget. The cons mentioned below wouldn’t look at bad, but I wish CM did put air filters on the side at the very least.

  • Great space efficiency for a mini-ITX case
  • Excellent value for money
  • Dual slot GPU installation up to 12″ to 13″
  • Multiple 3.5″ HDD/2.5″ drive installation potential
  • Plastic case feet
  • No dust filter for the side
  • Cannot remove the optical drive bay
  • 80mm side fan bracket tends to be an obstacle during installation

CM Elite 130

India

NA

United States


United Kingdom


France

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