What Was Cooler Master THINKING H100 ITX Case Review
Well hello good people, I’m Dmitri and welcome to my review of the Cooler Master H100 ITX enclosure. We first saw this behind closed doors at CES, they pulled us aside and they were like “what do you think?”. Well my first impression was I appreciate their commitment to the design language of the H series. Obviously it’s like a miniature version of the H500 Mesh, because of the Mesh front panel and the whole exterior design language. However, the interior cube form factor is a bit confusing because it has pretty strong limitations in terms of cooling and GPU compatibility.
Interestingly when they did their market research for this price point for this target audience, they found that a lot of people were using AMD APUs, therefore no graphics card required and I guess cooling is not really that big of an issue as long as you have a stock cooler. I understand their decision to potentially target this case towards that demographic, but it’s almost like Cooler Master is shooting themselves in the foot by limiting this model to that demographic and not doing anything innovative on the interior to potentially cater to somebody who might want a beefy GPU or more importantly a nice CPU cooler as well.
For $69 it kind of caters to that exact demographic who are not using a beefy GPU or any GPU at all, and just going stock cooler, ITX motherboard, ATX power supply and that’s it.
So I feel like there are four main selling points for this enclosure. Number one is the top handle making this a pretty portable solution for ITX. All told it’s a fairly large case for this form factor compared to something like the Ncase M1, which can actually do water cooling versus this thing that can’t do much.
Number two we have that massive 200mm fan at the front. It is RGB, and it comes with a 12V RGB connector that you can connect to your motherboard for example, but it also has its own controller so you don’t necessarily need to connect it to the motherboard. You can also re-route the reset switch into the controller. Unfortunately, the pins on my controller were totally bent out of the way, so Cooler Master’s quality control is clearly not so good.
The third point is ATX PSU support, which is not common for ITX cases. It’s great to have it here because you can potentially re-use your other components to build the system, but it’s also a little bit of a compromise in terms of cooling. For number four I would say it’s a pretty good looking enclosure that could go into your living room or your desktop and given the side panels are completely closed off and solid you don’t really see the mess that it could be hiding inside, it’s out of sight and out of mind.
The I/O is pretty basic with dual USB 3.0 ports, power & reset buttons, and audio jacks. It is important to know that the power supply bracket at the back extends beyond the frame to accommodate extra clearance on the inside, so you can mount a 210mm PSU without the radiator in the front or up to 160mm PSU if you install a radiator in the front.
Moving inside beyond the drive bracket that can house two SSDs we have a very simple interior. You cannot even remove the other side panel to access whatever’s behind the motherboard. So everything is done on the interior, and you’ll have to do some creative work with cable management otherwise the cables will be all over the place.
Unfortunately, none of the motherboard standoffs are captive, so you have to hold your motherboard in place and then screw everything in.
Given that the power supply is basically installed above the CPU area, CPU tower clearance is limited to 83mm. So basically all stock coolers are fine or go for a low-profile design if necessary.
I would not recommend going with a radiator in here. In the front you can do a 120mm or 140mm or 200mm radiator, but going with the radiator in the front limits your GPU clearance, which is already pretty short at maximum 210mm. So like an RTX 2060 Founders Edition which is a super short card will not fit inside this enclosure. You have to opt for an actual ITX small form factor graphics card to fit inside the H100. I went with the Zotac RTX 2060 Super, which is a perfect fit for this enclosure, but as you look at the bottom there is no ventilation area. It only has holes for an SSD or a 3.5″ hard drive, and again that is a massive compromise given there is no ventilation for the GPU outside of whatever’s coming in from that front panel.
This is a pretty interesting and disappointing airflow design, because there’s nothing in the rear for exhaust simply there’s no room for it. So they rely on passive air being pushed out from the front fan. However, the top has a ventilation mesh and you could easily mount it a 120mm fan up there even with a handle installed onto the frame and they didn’t. It would be great to have additional ventilation but it’s not present.
And so the temperatures really do suffer in the default configuration. 86°C on the GPU at 80% fan, which is pretty hot while opening the side panel does drop the GPU temps by 3°C and only 2°C for the CPU.
Honestly, I was expecting a little bit more innovation from Cooler Master with regards to this sort of cube format. A potentially good idea would be to move the power supply somewhere because there’s so much space wasted that is not occupied by the PSU cables. Normally with a cube design like this you would expect the power supply to be mounted somewhere at the front to improve the CPU tower clearance area, because if the power supply wasn’t here there would be so much space for a beefy CPU tower to completely and efficiently cool the CPU. Nevertheless, the GPU compatibility would still be pretty short given the cube form factor.
The price point is also an issue, $69 is simply too much. I think this is a $49 case even though it has a 200mm RGB fan in the front. The size and temperature limitations are too severe to consider building something even in the mid-range in this case because you have to consider GPU size and CPU cooler height, and those limitations outweigh the budget price point. But you know what guys? I’m excited for the new Lian Li TU150 that just showed up, and that is where innovation happens. Stay tuned for that article.