Cooler Master Elite 431 review
Budget cases usually come with an expectation of poor build quality and thin metal sides. We're pleased to say that the Cooler Master Elite 431 Plus ditches all of those expectations with its excellent build quality. It feels tough and much more expensive than its price would suggest.
The 'Plus' suffix comes from the extras you get compared with the original Elite 431 case, including a USB3 port on the front panel next to the two USB ports, headphone and microphone jacks and power button. You also get a SATA X-Dock, which takes up one of the 5.25in drive bays, and lets you plug in a hard disk without having to open your case up. It's a quick and easy way to have a backup-up disk, which you can remove and keep somewhere safe.
This leaves you two spare 5.25in drive bays for optical drives, which is definitely enough. In addition there are two external and five internal 3.5in drive bays. We recommend using the bottom bays where possible, as this means your hard disks will sit below the motherboard, out of the way of any expansion cards you install.
All drives are held in place by set of tool-free clips. You just line their pins up with a drive's screw holes, and turn the handle to secure them in place. They're quite effective and hold your drives in place well.
Cooler Master fits a single 120mm fan at the front of the case. It has a blue LED that glows gently through the front grille and isn't too intrusive. This fan blows across your storage, helping to keep it cool. You can replace it for a 140mm fan, which will move more air, and you can add up to four more 120mm fans to the rear, top and bottom to improve airflow and keep your components even cooler.
The Cooler Master Elite 431 Plus is a great budget case, but the similarly-priced Corsair Carbide 200R is even better.