Interior and Build Notes
Before we look inside the case, let's talk about the side panel (one of my pet subjects). This one is of course tempered glass, and removal requires no tools or even thumbscrews. Instead, a latching mechanism holds the panel in place at the top, and once depressed the panel swings out and lifts off.
The one-handed operation of the side panel might sound like a little thing, but it unusual for a case at this price point and makes opening the case very convenient.
The side panel glass is fairly thick, and feels sturdy. Unexpected at this price, tempered glass adds a bit of weight to the case, but it always looks better than a plastic side panel window.
And now a look inside the main compartment:
A wide open layout, as so many cases without 5.25-inch bays tend to be these days.
In the front of the case there is a dual 120 mm fan mount, which will allow for the installation of intake fans (which would make use of that interesting vent in the rear side panel) or a radiator of up to 240 mm. The case floor can also hold a pair of 120 mm fans, but this would block the lower PCIe slot of a micro-ATX board (but would pose no issue with mini-ITX).
And now a look behind the motherboard tray at the rear of the enclosure:
There's plenty of room on the left side for cables, and the upper right section houses the power supply, hiding the resulting cable mess with a partition that includes a lower cutout for the PSU fan.
The pre-installed motherboard standoffs are for mini-ITX – which I used – but additional standoffs are of course included for micro-ATX boards.
Graphics cards of up to 330 mm are supported, and there is nothing in the way of large cards in any direction – unless a front-mounted liquid cooler is installed (more on cooler installation shortly). I use a reference AMD Radeon design for these case reviews, which is a pretty average full-length GPU, and from the finished build photos you will see there’s a lot of extra space around it in the case with an air cooler (heatsinks up to 158 mm in height are supported).
With my mini-ITX board in place I began the process of installing the power supply and routing cables, and here the 301 provides a decent amount of room and a logical paths for getting cables from the PSU to the system components.
Since the case is small you probably won’t need any PSU extension cables to keep this a very clean-looking build, and I had no trouble keeping the extra cable under control behind the system, which made replacing the rear panel easy.
Storage is the one area of this enclosure that is limiting, due to the fact that it supports only a single 3.5-inch hard drive – though a total three 2.5-inch SSDs are supported via the 3.5/2.5-inch tray and a pair of dedicated SSD mounts.
That single 3.5-inch drive bay is fine for someone like me, as I prefer a setup with an SSD for the OS and a single large hard drive for storage.
Installing an SSD was easy with a pair of screws on the outside edge securing each drive (and metal pins in the bracket holding the back of the SSD in place). Attaching an SSD on the back side is simple as the process is repeated from the back side of the case.
The front fan mounts are somewhat unusual as they are part of a removable metal bracket, and while it was easy to remove and mount my 240 mm AIO cooler getting it back in with the cooler attached was a little tricky. I ended up pulling out the HDD/SSD bracket above this area during re-installation of the fan bracket/liquid cooler, which made the process easy.
As you can see, things get pretty tight with a 240 mm liquid cooler up front (this is a Corsair H100i GTX). I had to orient it so that the hoses were along the case floor due to clearance issues up top, and my GPU just fit in next to it, but nothing was touching and it wasn't difficult to get it all in place – though it's a slow process to remove and replace the fan and storage brackets.
Next we'll take a look at a completed build and then see how the 301 performed in the temperature and noise tests.