I recently published an article talking about how things are changing when it comes to building a computer. We have motherboard makers releasing full sized ATX motherboards that are not taking advantage of the available space and many companies moving away from the smaller form factors. This shift in the marketplace is somewhat driven by economics, some by power and mostly because, that is what everyone is familiar with and change is scary. What people don’t realize is that a major change will be required if we want our custom PC and DIY computer hardware hobby is to survive.
In this review we will be looking at the Cooler Master NCORE 100 Max. This is a new chassis design built around the Mini ITX form factor and is released as a complete kit including the main chassis, AIO watercooler and power supply. As you can image these are all things that Cooler Master makes already so, it makes sense that they would provide everything in a nicely completed package. Simply install your favorite Mini ITX motherboard and graphics card and away you go.
This case is currently available in two colors which determine the side panel color. The Dark Grey (featured in this review) has a gunmetal appearance and is very neutral. The other color is Bronze and should appeal to those who need a little yellowish gold in their life.
This is not the first time that Cooler Master has experimented with a total system case. The Cooler Master NR200P Max is a system we reviewed back in 2021 and found the complete package to be the perfect combination of parts in the "right sized" computer chassis. That case did not come with a power supply but offered an AIO water cooler and supported both the SFX and SFX-L PSU form factors.
The question always comes up. "Why should you pick a system like this over mixing and matching components?." For instance, the NR200 is a chassis that you can buy in the Max configuration or as a bare shell. Well, the NCORE 100 is a little unique. Instead of the standard tower that we all know and love we are presented with a vertical cube that, in a way, reminds me of the FT03-Mini from Silverstone. Very tall, very square
This unique shape has components placed vertically and in such a way that it will also require specific and custom components to work correctly. So, to help users during the building process it was decided to offer the Cooler Master NCORE 100 as a complete system to make the building process a little easier.
That isn’t to say you cannot simply replace the components on your own but, as you’ll see later in this review there is a certain procedure that is required to build in this chassis and swapping out parts just adds to the confusion.