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Case shopping (priority is solidity and longevity)

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December 28, 2011 2:46:39 AM

Sorry if you guys get a lot of these, but I don't want to just look up someone else's case thread and buy what's suggested for them. I don't want to go and buy the HAF X just because the hundreds of internet masses tell me it's the best. I'll admit, originally I sought out the flash and the LED-fans, but having thought about it for going on near a month now... I realize the flash isn't important. I want to focus on finding a case that feels good to me, not that just looks good to people I invite over. I've been hearing a LOT of different things from different people, but I've been saving Tom's Hardware for last because generally... I trust you guys the most with this stuff (for big non-mobile computer anyway).

My first point is Filters, I am personally really annoyed with dust so my first instinct was to seek out cases with 100% filter coverage. This was surprisingly hard because reviews are often very vague regarding filters. They will tell you the case has "some", but not which slots are left open. Or they will call a "mesh" a filter, when in truth it has holes over a milimeter in diameter. I'm sorry but that's not a filter... Another I've heard is that filters are, at their heart, a gimmick. That real dust (the kind that sticks to your hardware like a bad paint job) is so fine nothing that lets air-flow through will really stop it. And if you really protected your case from all dust, you would ultimately create heat-pockets and risk damaging your build. I don't know if this is true or not... and I'd like some second (and third) opinions regarding that.

Next is Color, I had my eye out for some cases with nice white accents (I'll admit I wanted the Level 10 GT snow edition for a while). I heard a passing comment on a YouTube review that after just a few years, most white plastics fade to an ugly yellow, even if you don't smoke. Rebutals stated this is only true for old plastic and not modern ones, and that this only risks happening if you expose your case to UV sunlight 24/7. I'd rather not spend 300+ dollars on a beautiful white case if it winds up staining before 3 years are through.

Steel vs Plastic. My current case is a little cheap (and tiny, it has a microATX) but it's all metal, so it feels good. It's a thin metal though, so it would probably dent easily. My main concern is that plastic feels cheap, but metal always seems thin and dent-susceptible. I was watching a review of the LIAN LI PC-Z60B Black, which is supposedly the end-all simple solid all metal case, and the side panel just looks… thin. I feel like I’ll bump a notch in it if my elbow runs away from me and knocks it. On the other hand, I hear all these stories about pieces of plastic that just sometimes… snap right off. Even on expensive full towers made by reliable companies. I understand that there is inherent risk in everything… but I would like a case that is KNOWN for being indestructible, or damn well near it. And one that isn’t discontinued, ideally.

Mobo Compatibility. I actually have this weird DTX format, but it’s intercompatible with ATX/microATX boards. So any case that can support those two will probably support mine, and so that’s not too much of a worry. I doubt I am going to buy myself an E-ATX any time soon…

Air flow. For this, again, I’m not too worried. Apart for the whole filter thing impeding the flow… But yeah, I don’t plan on overclocking. I doubt I am going to be setting up any SLI/Crossfire in this case either, so it’s probably going to be reasonably low power, low heat. One of the reasons I’m hesitating with the HAF X, those intakes/exhaust fans are ridiculously large. It would probably wind up being overkill.

Side window/LED fans/Front-USB 3.0/Front-Fan-controls… those are all OK, but they are not a priority. Solidity should come before all that. I plan on having 1 optical drive, maybe 1 media-card reader (if they still make those, the kind you can pop right into a 5.25 inch bay). I doubt I’ll need more than 4 HD bays. I do want good cable management, but I think that’s pretty standard in cases these days.
December 28, 2011 2:47:41 AM

Ok, so here are the cases I’ve been considering and why.

Thermaltake Level 10 GT snow edition (5/5 stars)
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
I saw this in a magazine back when I was in my “flash” phase and thought I gotta have it. The most impressive part is really the hinged door. I doubt I am going to access the inside of my case all that much, but yeah… the marketing ploy said it best, “Why didn’t they think of this sooner!” The down-side is the enormous price-tag (with shipping it will be near 320$) and the fact that it has a lot of plastic… the reviews are all great, and it says it uses real metal, but in some of the reviews when they lift it or move it some of the pieces… rattle. I don’t want a piece to break off a year after buying it. I can also get the black edition for 280$, whether I would push the extra 50$ or not depends on how true that yellowing white plastic story is.

Cooler Master HAF X (5/5 stars)
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
In many ways this case strikes me as being very similar to the Level 10, but they kept the hinged door off, which saves me 40 bucks (meaning it will set me back 240$). I’ve heard a whole lot of good from all sorts of people (which places this case high on my list), but like I said earlier… I want the case that’s right for me, not just the one that’s right for the masses. I have the same concerns about aparant rattling on some of the plastic pieces, and un-necessarily huge fans. The ones on the top seem to have little more than honeycomb mesh, which means dust will settle down right into the computer when it’s not on and blowing air out.

Cooler Master Storm Trooper (4.5/5 stars)
http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-Trooper-Computer-SG...
This one feels nice and streamlined, even though it’s still labelled as a Full Tower. It seems to have lots of filters all over (except for the side intakes, an odd omission). It doesn’t have as wide a base as the HAF X, and doesn’t scream… “tank” as much either, but the rubberized metal panels look nice and solid. I didn’t get any impression of “rattling” during the reviews I watched, but I did hear some text-reviews mentioning that it “feels like a 100$ case”. Which… concerns me slightly. It also has some neat rotating internal drive bays, but that’s secondary, as I said earlier.

Fractal Design Core 3000 (4/5 stars)
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
This case inhabits the other end of my list, it strikes me as a more bare-bones chassis that has everything I need, and nothing I don’t. It has filters (though I’m not sure if that’s good or bad anymore), 6 hard drive bays that I can cut in half to expand air flow, cable management is there, it’s elegant and streamlined, and it… seems solid. I don’t even know if it’s metal or plastic though. And I heard that there are some difficulties with the PCI slots, though I don’t think they are serious. A part of me really wants to get this case because the money I could save from buying it would enable me to get some nicer internals for it. I could get it for around 100$. Another part of me really wonders if this little case will last me 5 years.

Corsair Obsidian 800D (4.5/5 stars)
http://www.amazon.com/Corsair-CC800DW-Obsidian-Aluminum...
This case looks a lot like the 3000, but inflated to try and match the HAF X. It looks huge, heavy, and unmanageable, and I would say that’s not a bad thing. I like the idea of a case I can slap hard and hurt my hand more than I damage the case. I’m a klutz, and I don’t want to tempt fate. The obvious downside is the enormous price-tag, this one is almost as bad as the Level 10 snow. If I could just find a nice middle-ground between the 3000 and this 800… not so exceedingly expensive, but not so… plastic either.

I’ve also seen others, but to be honest the more research I do the less certain I get. I’m sure I could be content with many of these, but I really want the best investment I can make. I don’t want to spend too much more than 150$, but if I can find a 200+$ case that someone can guarantee me is really a tank… I’ll buy it. I plan on doing gaming on this computer (nothing extreme, though I do like to play at full 1080p), along with casual 3D graphics (I sketchup in my spare time). I plan on getting a decent graphics card that can handle high graphics, but nothing jaw-dropping, and nothing bleeding edge.

Phewww… that was a mouthful, thanks for anyone who made it through all that. Please, ANY anecdotes, opinions, suggestions, useful incite from long-time owners, please share. I want to trust the youtube reviews but most of these have people who only handle the cases for a few days. I want the advice of people who’ve owned the cases and who really know them through and through.
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Anonymous
a b ) Power supply
December 28, 2011 3:13:49 AM

I suggest looking at silverstone cases.
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December 28, 2011 3:21:17 AM

Well... thanks, I'll add it to my list. Though I do hope people will offer more than 1-liners as suggestions.
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Best solution

a b ) Power supply
December 28, 2011 3:34:20 AM

Dust Filters - My K62 has been up and running for two years now in an area where dust really is a major issue. In my wife's pc (antec 300) I have to hit it with compressed air about ever other month and about every six months pull the hsf out and really deep clean it. My rig, I've taken it apart once in two years and while there was some buildup it wasn't even comparable to hers. Dust filters were one of my top concerns going into picking the case I did and from my experience it's paid dividends.

With that being said I wouldn't recommend the K62 to you based on what you've said as it does incorporate a lot of plastic, and while I've had no issues with it I could see where it could potentially be broken without trying.

I'm going to recommend an older case that while I was doing my research really struck me as being an ideal case with one exception, it didn't have a window and that was a deal-breaker for me. The CM ATCS 840. It's an all-aluminum case that does offer dust filters, wire management, tool-less design features, removable mobo trey, comes in a great pearl/offwhite color and was showered with praise by both air and water builders alike. You can watch a video review from a guy that's seen hundreds of cases here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8_1cQkYTO4

edit: The downside to the ATCS 840 is availability. Trying to find one might prove difficult.
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Anonymous
a b ) Power supply
December 28, 2011 3:38:59 AM

:p 
K. So.
Multiple lines.
The reason I suggest Silverstone is because of their quality. Their filters are very nice too. I don't know about the other coolermasters but the filter on the haf 912(coolermaster) was terrible. I'm not sure if they are all the same but the ones on the haf 912 was basically a plastic sheet with holepunches on it. The silverstone on the otherhand is real mesh. Only problem is the price but still cheaper than the level 10 thermaltake stuff.

http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=298&area=...
Filters on all intakes. Some people don't like the looks of it. But you might.

http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=298&area=...
Is even better. But might be kind of big.
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December 28, 2011 3:45:58 AM

@ a4mula

Wow, that actually looks pretty good. Thank you for the suggestion.

Sadly though, it seems like it's discontinued, or at least unavailable in Canada. I checked on NewEgg, Tiger Direct, and Amazon, none of them seem to sell it. It's the same story as the Cosmos S, beautiful all metal case that just happens to be completely un-attainable. Also similar story with the Apple Mac Pro case. Now I'm not an Apple lover, but even I have to see the appeal of that pure metal chassis. But you just can't find it anywhere!

@ bear95
Thank you :) 

Though from the quick glance I've seen on Newegg, the 'Stones are not cheap... The level 10 was around 300$, I found a Silverstone that was 650$, lol. I'll check them out in deeper detail tomorrow, it's past midnight here and I work in the morning.
Also, both links you just posted are the same item, I think you meant to post 2 different ones.
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a b ) Power supply
December 28, 2011 4:06:07 AM

PTNLemay said:
@ a4mula

Sadly though, it seems like it's discontinued, or at least unavailable in Canada. I checked on NewEgg, Tiger Direct, and Amazon, none of them seem to sell it. It's the same story as the Cosmos S, beautiful all metal case that just happens to be completely un-attainable. Also similar story with the Apple Mac Pro case. Now I'm not an Apple lover, but even I have to see the appeal of that pure metal chassis. But you just can't find it anywhere!


Yeah the Cosmos S was a great case too that I had completely forgotten about. I loved the look of that case.

In lieu of that I'd say stick with Lian Li (all aluminum cases) or Silverstone (Steel/Aluminum cases). While both typically carry a bit of a premium they're both regarded as manufacturers that build cases that focus more on quality than "Gaming" design. By that I don't mean to insinuate that they aren't good performers, they just tend to be less pronounced in their design styles and tend to leave some of the bling for others.

The TJ07 would be perfect, but it doesn't have dust filters. The Fortress series on the other hand might be just what you're looking for. Something like the FT03 looks like a very solid case, just be aware of its form factor.

As a side note, I'll be picking up the RV02 for my next build. It's from the Raven series and while it does incorporate some use of plastic I have little concern about its durability. The RV03 might be more suited for your tastes as it does accent the case with white.
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December 28, 2011 9:04:31 AM

a4mula said:
The TJ07 would be perfect, but it doesn't have dust filters. The Fortress series on the other hand might be just what you're looking for.
...

Yeah, the Fort-03 is a bit of an odd-ball, but in that link I saw the FT02... that looks very decent. It's a little steep on the price, and I'm not sure about that 90 degree twist on the mobo, but it sure looks metal... The silver one even reminds me of the Apple Mac Pro. Thanks again for the suggestions.

Also, do you know how they get the black models to be black? Do they use paint? Are the silver ones bare metal, or are they also painted with a silver color? Just thought about scratch-risks.
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a b ) Power supply
December 28, 2011 9:44:09 AM

PTNLemay said:
Yeah, the Fort-03 is a bit of an odd-ball, but in that link I saw the FT02... that looks very decent. It's a little steep on the price, and I'm not sure about that 90 degree twist on the mobo, but it sure looks metal... The silver one even reminds me of the Apple Mac Pro. Thanks again for the suggestions.

Also, do you know how they get the black models to be black? Do they use paint? Are the silver ones bare metal, or are they also painted with a silver color? Just thought about scratch-risks.


I was also looking for more conservative looking case . There were many out there but they were either way to much coin or got poor reviews in terms of functionality . I ended up going with the lancool pc-k62 . Its a bit more flashy than I wanted but the reviews on the design were very good with the exception of one power supply routing glitch and for $99.00 you cant lose in my opinion .
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December 31, 2011 2:12:44 AM

Ok I need help with something.

I was reading this review on the Silverstone Fort-02: http://www.anandtech.com/show/4620/silverstone-fortress...
And throughout he keeps saying "It's a good case so long as you have a blower-style graphics card." I don't understand what he means by that, I thought graphics cards came in passive cooling and fan-based cooling. What exactly does 'blower-style' mean? And can someone post example pictures comparing the two please?
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a b ) Power supply
December 31, 2011 2:23:40 AM

It's a gpu that has fans to exhaust out the back of the card, hence out the back of the case.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Note how the fan is enclosed and is meant to move air from one side of the card, across the gpu and out the back.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This fan is set directly above the gpu and while some exhaust exits out the back, most is trapped inside the case. If the case has good front to back, bottom to top airflow (like most do) it isn't a huge deal. These type coolers tend to do a better job (@ the gpu) as instead of indirect air moving across the gpu, you have direct air.
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January 7, 2012 2:42:09 AM

Best answer selected by PTNLemay.
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