Page 3 - Physical Look - Inside
By removing four thumb screws, we can take off the two side panels to gain access to the interior of the Cooler Master Elite 431 Plus. First off, the black painted interior of the case gives off a very clean vibe. The case has a fairly open interior design. While the motherboard tray may not be as open or as fully featured as other chassis that includes a top opening or pre-fitted rubber holes, the Cooler Master Elite 431 Plus is fairly small, so there is simply no room. That said, the Elite 431 Plus gives us plenty of space for wire management by the interior 3.5" HDD bays instead. We will go into this in more depth a little later.
Since the Cooler Master Elite 431 Plus is a mid-tower chassis, it is able to house ATX and mATX sized motherboards. The motherboard tray on the Elite 431 Plus is clearly labeled by letters corresponding to its manual that provides further information. To the left is a grille for the user to mount a 120mm exhaust fan. Ironically, the Elite 431 Plus only comes with one pre-installed fan at the front of the case. A fan is not provided in this area, so the user will need to provide their own for installation. At the top are two additional optional exhaust fan mounts. The overall cooling options of this case are particularly generous, but they are only options -- not standard features. The two roof fan mounts come with a large air filter that can be removed and cleaned. This will prevent dust from entering the roof if you decide to mount fans. Even if you decide not to mount any fans here, the filters can act as dust blockers to prevent the nasty stuff from simply settling in.
Below the roof grilles is the opening on the motherboard tray. This allows users to install aftermarket heatsinks. The hole, on the other hand, is quite small, and may force users to install the aftermarket CPU heatsink onto the motherboard before it makes it into the case.
The Elite 431 Plus uses the conventional method for mounting the power supply. From the image above, you can see the power supply intake with a filter to block out dust if you ever decide to place your computer over carpet, or other areas that are likely to be more congested with dust. What is missing, however, is something to raise the power supply slightly off the bottom of the case, and as such, there is no vibration dampening material present.
Just above the bottom mounted power supply unit bay are the expansion card slots. The system is not tool-free; and metal braces are required to be snapped off to realize an opening. This is much like removing the inner metal pieces on the frame behind the 5.25" drive bays. Also, to complete the installation, a set of screws are provided to securely fasten whatever components you may have into place.
Up at the front interior of the case are internal 3.5" and external 5.25" drive bay rails. The Elite 431 Plus has a simple rail design that runs from the top to the bottom of the chassis. For the interior 3.5" drive rails, Cooler Master has only provided enough tool-free braces to support the installation of two 3.5" HDD drives; a total of three 3.5" HDDs can be installed if you include the SATA dock previously discussed. Also, a similar bracket design on the same rail is used to install the exterior 3.5" drives and components. These braces only allow one 3.5" device to be installed, even though the case provides two exterior 3.5" positions. The system also does not feature any vibration dampening system, but for something of this price, it is definitely something we do not expect. Lastly, in regards to the HDD drive mounting system, I am not a proud supporter of where the hard drives will end up facing (Connectors facing toward the inside of the case). Cabling becomes slightly more difficult, and placing hard drives in a length-wise position can take up the extra room that could be used for longer graphics cards.
As aforementioned, the internal HDD mounting system is tool-free. Also, as seen on many Cooler Master cases is a tool-free 5.25" bay mounting system as well. Both of these systems are quick and easy to use. Something to note when purchasing this mid-tower would be that the Cooler Master Elite 431 Plus does not provide native support for installation of 2.5" HDD or SSD drives. Considering how popular SSDs are nowadays, this can become a hassle. I will go more into this later.
At the back of the motherboard tray, we can really see the open interior design of the Elite 431 Plus. In this area, I would suggest to Cooler Master to completely round off the edges of the motherboard tray. This subtle difference would definitely add to the overall quality feel of the case, as well as having a little bit more protection for wires; wires tend to wear out when placed tightly around a sharp edged corner.
There is roughly 2-4mm of gap between the motherboard tray and the right side panel. This is really not enough room to practically run any cables through. But due to the open design of the case around the front, the gap between the 5.25" bay rails and the side panel is 11mm -- with the gap between the HDD rack and the right side panel being a rough estimate of a whopping 33mm. You can see where we are going.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Outside
3. Physical Look - Inside
4. Installation and Conclusion