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Fractal Design Core 1100 Micro-ATX Case Review: Budget Option

Manufacturer: Fractal Design

Introduction: The Core Series Shrinks Down

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Image credit: Fractal Design

The Core 1100 from Fractal Design is a small micro-ATX case, essentially a miniature version of the previously reviewed Core 3300. With its small dimensions the Core 1100 targets micro-ATX and mini-ITX builders, and provides another option not only in Fractal Design's budget lineup, but in the crowded budget enclosure market.

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The price level for the Core 1100 has fluctuated a bit on Amazon since I began this review, with prices ranging from a high of $50 down to a low of just $39. It is currently $39.99 at Newegg, so the price should soon stabilize at Amazon and other retailers. At the ~$40 level this could easily be a compelling option for a smaller build, though admittedly the design of these Core series cases is purely functional. Ultimately any enclosure recommendation will depend on ease of use and thermal performance/noise, which is exactly what we will look at in this review.

Continue reading our review of the Fractal Design Core 1100 case!!

Before running this enclosure through its paces we'll first check out the specs from Fractal Design:


Our thanks to Fractal Design for supplying the Core 1100 for review!

Specifications

  • Mini ITX, Micro ATX motherboard compatibility
  • 2 drive bays of 5.25" , two 3.5" HDD positions or 3 bays 2.5"  or one 2.5" and one 3.5"drive positions
  • 4 expansion slots
  • Supports Graphics cards up to 350mm in length may be installed. One or more 3.5" hard drives may interfere with side-mounted power connectors on graphics cards longer than 170 mm
  • Support cooling system: 3 Fan positions (1 fan included)
  • Filtered fan slots in front 
  • CPU coolers up to 148 mm in height
  • ATX PSUs, up to 185mm if a typical-length optical drive is mounted
  • Available in Black
  • Case dimensions (WxHxD):175 x 358 x 410 mm (6.9 x 14.1 x 16.1 inches)
  • Net weight: 3.8 kg (8.4 lb)

Unboxing and First Impressions

The Core 1100 arrives in the typical plain enclosure box. Not much to see here.

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Even for this small enclosure the padding is more than adequate to keep it safe in transit

There is a small bundle of the various screws and standoffs one might need for the average build, and a small user guide included as well.

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Out of the box the Core 1100 is very light but feels sturdy. There is frankly nothing exciting about the design, but in its defense the Core series is aimed at a low-cost, entry-level market.

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This is quite narrow enclosure, but there is just enough width from a standard 5.25" optical drive, and looking at the front we see support for up to two of these. There is the standard I/O on the front below the power button, with a pair of USB ports (one each USB 3.0 and 2.0), and 3.5mm audio input/output jacks.

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Not much going on with the sides of the enclosure, but the left side is vented with another fan opening.

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The rear of the Core 1100 shows upper placement for the power supply, as well as four expansion slots. The fan opening is only 90mm, but there is a 120mm opening inside the case front if an AIO liquid cooler is to be used.

Next we'll try out a build with the Core 1100.

Video News


November 12, 2014 | 04:46 PM - Posted by alkarnur

This is great for those "console killer" low-budget, $300-$600 builds.

November 13, 2014 | 02:30 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Not bad for the price but it's so plain.

It cost them money to paint it black. Why not offer a different color to make it stand out from the literally dozens of other cases at this price?

I dunno who is doing the design down at Fractal but they seemed stuck in the 80s styling is a huge turn off.

November 15, 2014 | 12:37 AM - Posted by ZemaTalon

I just picked up one of these for $30 and free shipping on Newegg yesterday. Perfect for housing my Smoothwall router.

August 18, 2016 | 12:48 AM - Posted by mmj (not verified)

The way you have reported the noise level is meaningless, you want to quote dBA instead. "Noise level above ambient" doesn't really mean anything; we don't know the characteristics of your ambient noise and dB isn't a linear scale that you can just add and subtract.

That said, it'd also be nice if there was a comparison to other cases in both the temperature and noise charts, as each reviewer does testing a bit differently and a like-for-like test against other cases is valuable.

August 21, 2016 | 04:01 PM - Posted by Bishop Clark (not verified)

"Plain" isn't a curse! This looks like a solid, serviceable case, and I'm considering it for my next build.

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