Fractal Design Era ITX Review (Page 2 of 4)

Page 2 - Physical Look - Outside

Fractal Design has been known for their ruler-inspired designs for their cases, especially in their top-end lineup. From the Define R6 and the Define S2 Vision, a boxy shape and ninety-degree angle edges often are the defining features of a Fractal Design case. However, after seeing the Era ITX, you might expect it is made by a different company. Even if we take a look back at the other Fractal Design cases they have made, the Era ITX is probably one of the first cases that has a bit more curvature in its body. From the exterior, the shell of the Fractal Design Era ITX is shaped with a top and bottom that flares out as well as a side panel that is not flat. This flare is more prominent on the corners as you can see the upper and bottom edges smoothly pointing out. As such, the light catches a bit differently on the Fractal Design Era ITX. I personally really like these design elements, especially in this smaller size. Some might argue we have lost a bit of the Fractal Design heritage with its Scandinavian minimalism, but I think the Era ITX looks striking in multiple angles without being ostentatious. If anything, Fractal could even upsize this case for a mid-tower ATX version, but I guess we will see what they do in the future.

From the front side, you can see the front inputs and outputs on the Fractal Design Era ITX. At the very top, there is a rectangular power button with an opening for the power indicator LED. Underneath, we have a USB 3.1 Gen. 2 Type C port, which is as expected for a case in 2020. Under that, we have two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, followed by a single combination 3.5mm audio and microphone jack. This is not the first case I have seen with a combination jack, but I would have liked to see a splitter adapter included with this case for the potential use with more traditional headsets utilizing separate audio jacks for input and output. As for the left side panel, we have the nice stylistic diagonal line that protrudes out. Underneath this line, we have an array of holes to let air to pass through here passively. These holes are also lined with a mesh filter to prevent dust from entering at this point.

Moving to the back side, we have a pretty typical layout for the opening at the back, though there is one small change. For one, we have the large opening for the motherboard I/O at the back. Beside this opening, we have a lined opening with mounting rails for an 80mm fan at the back for exhaust. While this is pretty small and probably one of the smaller fans I have seen in a while, I am glad to see Fractal Design including it with their Era ITX. Underneath, we have a C13 socket, presumably used to plug into the power supply. As you can see, we do not have a power supply opening at the back, so it is clear Fractal Design had to affix an extension cable inside to connect to the PSU. Underneath, we have two expansion slots to mount various items like video cards. Otherwise, the right-side panel is identical to the left one with the exception of the holes being above the diagonal line instead of below it. It too is lined with a mesh filter.

At the top of the case is where we get even more style with the Fractal Design Era ITX. If airflow is your jam, you can mount the metal grid grille at the top. This should allow air to naturally exhaust out the top. On the other hand, if you care more for the appearance, you can mount the finished white oak panel on top of the dust filter for a nice contrast of materials. Both of these panels are mounted using magnets, and they can be easily swapped whenever you want. They also both sit on top of a nylon mesh filter for better dust stoppage and improved airflow. The solid wood panel does not cover the whole top, as the sides still allow air to pass by. As for other colors of the Fractal Design Era ITX, the Titanium Gray version gets a darker Walnut panel, while the Carbon, Gold, and Cobalt versions get a dark tinted tempered glass top. I hope users can purchase additional top panels afterwards to swap out later on.

At the bottom, we do not have much that is interesting here to speak about. Four rectangular feet pads are situated in each corner to keep the case in place while preventing the Fractal Design Era ITX from rattling about. The sides on the bottom also show more ventilation slits, to let even more air pass through. These ventilation points are filtered with a mesh grid that is installed in a plastic frame and is easy to remove and clean. It is clear that Fractal Design is trying to maintain decent thermals, even if a lot of the case is a small one.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Outside
3. Physical Look - Inside
4. Installation and Conclusion