Fractal Design is a Swedish company that focuses on manufacturing computer cases, cooling hardware, power supplies. This company has made some great cases like the Meshify-C, Focus, and Define. The Era is an offering in the ITX domain, and it looks great as a case. It is a shiny aluminum box with wood integration in some models and features racy curves and a matte finish that looks awesome from the outside. Fractal has stepped up its design game with this model, and the Era is different from the cube-like design of most ITX cases.
The Era ITX supports a wide range of hardware. You can fit a 240mm AIO liquid cooler, up to an ATX PSU, four 2.5-inch bays, and two 3.5-inch drive bays, and up to a 295mm long graphics card. Support for such a wide range of hardware is quite commendable, but Fractal overdid it.
The case is completely made up of anodized aluminum, and it sports a matte finish. The case does not have any tempered glass panels, and the first glance at it might raise concerns about airflow. It has a single 80mm which is set to exhaust by default. The top of the case can support up to 2x 120mm fans, and up to a 240mm radiator. The case also comes with support for an ATX case or an SFF PSU along with a hard drive bay. So, users sacrifice a hard drive bay if they opt for an ATX PSU. The bottom of the case also supports up to two 120mm fans if you use a single-slot graphics card like a GT 710 or use none at all.
The silver and gold versions of this case come with a wood top panel that makes this case extremely aesthetic but at the cost of airflow. However, Fractal includes a mesh cover too if you want to focus on airflow. The white, blue, and black versions of this case come with a tempered glass cover for the top mesh. All of these covers can be magnetically attached to the case which makes installation very easy.
Speaking of installation, the side panels also do not require any tools for removal. This can partly be accredited to aesthetics, but it does make working with this case a bit easier.
The bottom of the Era has no ground clearance to allow air intake. On that note, the Fractal Design does not have any bottom intake at all. This means that graphics cards that require some good cooling suffer in this case. An MSI GTX 1660 Ti topped out at 48.59℃ over ambient when three fans (2x 120mm and 1x 80mm all placed in the exhaust) were pushed to 100%. Although ITX builds are generally crammed, building in the Era ITX requires some good finger work and adequate planning. Although wires do not affect airflow, and none of the dirty work will be visible once the aluminum side panel is put on, it is necessary to manage your wires in the Era ITX because it puts a bar between hardware compatibility at times.
Thus, we can conclude that the Era ITX is not a case you should pick up to build an SFF gaming PC. It may be great for a home theater PC, or an APU build which won’t require a graphics card. It seems like Fractal made this case with a team of great designers but no engineers. The thermals are way worse than most ITX cases. And add to that, at $169, it is pricier than most ITX offerings. However, that does not make this case great at all. If you are in the market for an ITX case, better look at other options like the NCase M1 or the Ghost S1.