Fractal Design Era ITX Review (Page 3 of 4)

Page 3 - Physical Look - Inside

Taking off the side panels of the Fractal Design Era ITX is quite straightforward. Rather than using any tools or screws, the two sides are held on with a set of four metal pegs that slot into the frame of the Era ITX. As such, popping it off means applying some yanking force to get inside. The bottom pegs of the panels have a black holder to make it easier to slot the sides into place. I would have liked to see a bit of a rubber or foam lining, whether on the sides or on the frame of the Fractal Design Era ITX to prevent dings or vibrations between the two metals. Otherwise, on the back of both of these panels are the aforementioned plastic frames that hold a mesh filter.

Once you remove the sides, you can get a better look at the Fractal Design Era ITX and its interior. This is an ITX case that supports the mini ITX form factor of motherboards. The whole case may look like an open interior, but this is not exactly the case. The front has no intake for air. Instead, air should travel in from the bottom and out of the top. This allows for the "chimney" effect or stack effect of hot air rising and exhausting out the top of the case. This is why we have the slits at the bottom and an opening to exhaust out at the top. The rest of the components sit in a typical slot, but at the very left side, we have a black tray that sits over the motherboard. This is where you can install various storage options, such as two 2.5" drives or one 3.5" hard drive. It is held on by four screws and can be taken out altogether if you are not using it.

Once you do remove the drive bracket, you can get a clearer shot of what is happening inside the Fractal Design Era ITX. Smack in the middle are the mounting positions for the mini ITX motherboard. All four standoffs are already installed so you do not need to do so. Moving to the back, you will spot the single Fractal Design Silent Series R3 80mm fan. According to Fractal Design, this is a rifle bearing fan rated to spin at 1600RPM while producing airflow of 20.2CFM and static pressure of 0.99mmH2O. We also have a sound level of 18.1 dBA and a mean time before failure of 40,000 hours. It does use a three-pin voltage-controlled header rather than a 4-pin PWM, so do keep this in mind. Underneath, we have the two slots for expansion cards. Due to its placement, you should only install a dual-slot card here, because the case can fit a video card with a maximum thickness of 47mm, as well as a maximum width of 125mm. The maximum length is more dependent on your other components installed. If you do not end up installing a graphics card, you can also put up to two 140mm fans here for more air intake. Otherwise, you can see several cables at the back and the front. The long power cable at the back bends around the top of the case and has multiple routing hooks to keep it in place. The front connection cables are all black and are relatively clean. The two USB headers are leashed on a flexible flat ribbon cable for a clean look.

Moving to the front of the Fractal Design Era ITX, you can see this is where the power supply will be installed. As you may have read in the specifications sheet, this case can fit either an ATX or SFX power supply. There are two different mounting positions depending on which size of power supply you install. If you choose the larger ATX format, you will have to forgo the additional disk bracket attached to the SFX mounting arms and install the power supply nearer to the top of the Fractal Design Era ITX. With the smaller SFX mount, you can install the power supply in either the top or middle positions. This bracket also includes a storage cage to store a 3.5" drive or two 2.5" drives. This makes for a total of four 2.5" or two 3.5" drives inside the Era ITX, which is quite a bit when you consider the form factor.

After removing the top tray and the magnetic filter, you can get a better look at mounting positions for radiators or fans. This top area has mounting rails for two 120mm fans, two 120mm radiators, or a single 240mm radiator. You should be careful of your radiator thickness, as Fractal Design does not recommend anything more than 38mm with 25mm fans installed on them. This is also dependent on the size of your power supply and graphics card. While you may not necessarily choose custom water loop cooling in the Fractal Design Era ITX, it is still great to see the amount of support for various cooling mounting positions overall.

At the back, we have not a whole lot to look at here. With respect to its form factor, this back will probably not be used for cable management or to hold any other components. There is not a whole lot of space in between the panel and the frame, so you should not be stuffing any cables here. I personally would have liked to see a few more cable tie points here, as it will help with the installation process. One other thing to point out here are the large holes that exist behind the motherboard as well as the large opening near the power supply. All of these holes are rounded off to prevent users from accidentally cutting themselves or cutting through any cables that might sit around here. I do appreciate the fact we have this opening, as many smaller ITX cases require users to remove their motherboard from the case when they need access to the back. Whether you have an M.2 drive slot at the back or want to install a different cooling option for your processor, this opening makes this change easier.

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