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Four More Sub-$100 Cases For Your Gaming Build, Reviewed

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May 28, 2013 9:27:20 PM

Why no love for coolermaster its easily the best Case company out there, i rarely even consider anything else. For just 60$ they offer one heck of a deal.
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May 28, 2013 9:39:36 PM

jdwiiWhy no love for coolermaster its easily the best Case company out there, i rarely even consider anything else. For just 60$ they offer one heck of a deal.

Tom's HardwareOf the 28 companies we invited to participate, 11 responded with cases they thought would give the Tom's Hardware audience the best balance between quality, features, and price. We divided the round-up into three groups based on when each of the samples arrived.
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May 28, 2013 9:50:54 PM

Sorry about the double post, I can't seem to find the delete button :)  Moderators?
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May 28, 2013 10:38:10 PM

Wow! Looking for a new case! It's time to upgrade my Antec OneHundred windowed. it's too loud with all the fans. and the PSU. Looks like I'll be going with a Zalman MS800 for my next rig! I liked the look of the z11 better at first, but seeing what the MS 800 looks like with a few LEDs, it seems classy and sleek yet not overdone. Great review THW!
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May 28, 2013 10:48:33 PM

Thank you for not doing a slide show for this like the other reviews.

Also, still looking forward to a review of the Cooler Master HAF XB.
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May 29, 2013 4:31:03 AM

slomo4shoThank you for not doing a slide show for this like the other reviews. Also, still looking forward to a review of the Cooler Master HAF XB.


Apparently you were unaware of the slideshow they released last week. What Toms has done with all of these round ups was take the pictures and post them, then once they get done with their battery of tests they post the results and commentary afterward.
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May 29, 2013 6:21:59 AM

Excellent review! I like to get the best possible performance for the money I spent and it seems that these cases you reviewed are perfect for a mid-end gaming build I am planning to do! How about some exotic cases to review for us Tom? For example I would like to see a review of cooler master haf xb or fractal 304.
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May 29, 2013 6:49:34 AM

It's about time Zalman sent you guys one of their budget oriented cases. I bought the Zalman Z9+ for $34.99 last year with free shipping from NCIX, and I absolutely love the case. Great quality with a huge amount of features for a case of that price. It has more features than my brothers Antec 900 surprisingly, and it probably should of been $70-80. I'm not complaining though. lol. I have recommended the MS 800 and the Zalman Z9+ to a few friends, depending on their budget. They all loved the cases and were shocked at what they got for the money. I'd love to see more reviews for Zalman's cases on Tom's.
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May 29, 2013 7:08:20 AM

Ok. Where are the Tom's models?

Inner butt cheek. Side boob. That's what's going to sell cases. :) 
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May 29, 2013 8:12:22 AM

ubercakeOk. Where are the Tom's models?Inner butt cheek. Side boob. That's what's going to sell cases.
Sorry, all the models near this location are BBW. I don't believe that would go-over with the majority :p 
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May 29, 2013 9:41:43 AM

dalmvern said:

Apparently you were unaware of the slideshow they released last week. What Toms has done with all of these round ups was take the pictures and post them, then once they get done with their battery of tests they post the results and commentary afterward.


I typically ignore any article that starts with "In Pictures"
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May 29, 2013 10:35:07 AM

Why not include the Arc Midi R2. Retails for $100 but you can get it on sale for $70 and free shipping. It has excellent cooling support as well.
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May 29, 2013 11:11:38 AM

Any indication as to what the cases are made out of? Its important to me that they be aluminum; steel rusts here quite readily :/ 
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May 29, 2013 2:19:37 PM

The conclusion's final paragraph confused me quite a bit on first reading. I thought the Zalaman’s MS800 won it all and the wrong image was posted.
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May 29, 2013 2:29:37 PM

were there any temp readings coming out of the case taken ? It can be hard with open cases , but here in south florida it is a big concern.
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May 29, 2013 2:38:08 PM

Tom, honest question: why the insistence on an eighth slot? Yes, some mboards do have the slot on the very bottom that you can make use of. But in reading your reviews on mboards, it seems that most manufactures nerf the lanes going to that slot anyway ( getting only four when the main two slots get eight or even 16 lanes each. ) The mboards that do give extra lanes to the bottom slot are typically high-end fare. The sheer money it takes to go three-way SLI/CrossFire suggests a sub-$100 case is not a huge priority at that point.

I'm guessing that the vast majority of gamers and enthusiasts run two cards or less ( with the majority of those setups single-card. ) I just think an eight slot on a budget case should only be considered a welcome addition, not a requirement.
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May 29, 2013 3:18:37 PM

I was looking at the MS800 yesterday very nice case, simplistic looking, plenty of room. I needed something that would accommodate water cooling, was simple looking and sleek and wasn't expensive. I would have got the MS800 until I came across the Arc Midi R2 on sale at NCIX, got it for $67 shipped couldn't beat that.
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May 29, 2013 3:37:37 PM

Crashman said:
ubercakeOk. Where are the Tom's models?Inner butt cheek. Side boob. That's what's going to sell cases.
Sorry, all the models near this location are BBW. I don't believe that would go-over with the majority :p 


:lol:  I guess I'll shut up about it for a while then. Although... A 12-pack may change my perspective?
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May 29, 2013 3:47:58 PM

RedJaronTom, honest question: why the insistence on an eighth slot? Yes, some mboards do have the slot on the very bottom that you can make use of. But in reading your reviews on mboards, it seems that most manufactures nerf the lanes going to that slot anyway ( getting only four when the main two slots get eight or even 16 lanes each. ) The mboards that do give extra lanes to the bottom slot are typically high-end fare. The sheer money it takes to go three-way SLI/CrossFire suggests a sub-$100 case is not a huge priority at that point.I'm guessing that the vast majority of gamers and enthusiasts run two cards or less ( with the majority of those setups single-card. ) I just think an eight slot on a budget case should only be considered a welcome addition, not a requirement.
No insistence, merely suggestion. It's a cheap feature, as is the extra 1" of space needed to mount a radiator internally, and both features are favored primarily by the gaming market. This is a gaming case roundup after all, and as the price gets closer to the $100 limit I start to notice more of the things that make a case a "gaming" design.

Slot configuration really depends more on the chipset than the motherboard manufacturer. If the chipset has enough lanes for 16-8-8, you'll generally find that configuration. If Intel can't cut it for you in the mid-budget market, consider how many more lanes AMD offers :) 

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May 30, 2013 11:44:04 AM

Crashman said:
No insistence, merely suggestion. It's a cheap feature, as is the extra 1" of space needed to mount a radiator internally, and both features are favored primarily by the gaming market. This is a gaming case roundup after all, and as the price gets closer to the $100 limit I start to notice more of the things that make a case a "gaming" design.

Slot configuration really depends more on the chipset than the motherboard manufacturer. If the chipset has enough lanes for 16-8-8, you'll generally find that configuration. If Intel can't cut it for you in the mid-budget market, consider how many more lanes AMD offers :) 

Thanks for answering. In reading the conclusion, it seemed to me you were a little harsher on the lack of an eighth slot than I would have been. I can see what you mean though, under $70 you just want a solid case and don't expect frills. Once you start bumping into the $100 mark, such things should be a little more common. At $150, an eighth slot and radiator room should be mandatory.

I will admit, I don't care much for either liquid cooling or the eighth slot ( probably why I don't get why others DO give them more weight. ) I don't plan on doing liquid cooling anytime soon because air serves me just fine for less money. And even if I had the money, I'm not apt to add a second GPU, let alone a third one. I figure by the time it takes for me to save up money for a second GPU ( or am at the point where I can no longer play games at acceptable detail levels, ) I'll be almost two generations behind the current cards. In those situations I spend a little extra for a single newer card that gives me similar performance as two older cards while using less power and no micro-stuttering issues. If I needed multiple cards for compute purposes, obviously I'd do things different.

Granted, I'll admit I'm a bit odd as a "practical enthusiast."
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May 30, 2013 12:23:28 PM

Man, aside from the Shinobi, which looks to have terrible airflow, all of these are fugly.
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June 3, 2013 11:05:02 PM

Finally some decent cases.
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June 3, 2013 11:09:56 PM

???
So the BitFenix didn't win because....Looks like the best performer/price, no?
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June 3, 2013 11:28:53 PM

buzznut???So the BitFenix didn't win because....Looks like the best performer/price, no?
Did you read below that chart? What do you have against features? Why do you think nobody should have an eighth slot, intake fans, or extra SSD storage? Why would you think that $15 more features for $5 more price is a bad deal?
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November 11, 2013 7:37:59 AM

I'd like to propose Tom's stop with the value assessment on this type of article. Value assessments are GREAT when the field is open or spans multiple classes of components (e.g. $650 vs. $1300 vs. $2550 SBM) but it just doesn't make sense when you have already pigeon holed yourself into a tight value limit like this. We already know we are looking at <$100 cases. We don't need to know which is the best value because there is so little difference in price from the start (like $5? who cares??). What we need to know is which one is the best at this price category.

It's simple:
1. Provide value judgements when you span multiple value sectors.

or

2. Provide quality judgements when you define a particular price segment.

Just my 2¢.
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November 12, 2013 4:50:24 PM

AtariST said:
I'd like to propose Tom's stop with the value assessment on this type of article. Value assessments are GREAT when the field is open or spans multiple classes of components (e.g. $650 vs. $1300 vs. $2550 SBM) but it just doesn't make sense when you have already pigeon holed yourself into a tight value limit like this. We already know we are looking at <$100 cases. We don't need to know which is the best value because there is so little difference in price from the start (like $5? who cares??). What we need to know is which one is the best at this price category.

It's simple:
1. Provide value judgements when you span multiple value sectors.

or

2. Provide quality judgements when you define a particular price segment.

Just my 2¢.

Sorry, but that makes absolutely no sense. You're saying you only want to compare a Ford Focus to a Honda Accord and an Audi A7, but don't want to compare it to a Honda Civic or Mazda 3. Proper, and useful, comparisons come from isolating and quantifying variables. Tight value ranges means you can more easily compare features by largely negating the price variable. It's real simple, if you have three things that are nearly identical, but one has an additional feature the other two lack, that means you're getting more for your money for that item, meaning better value.

On the other hand when you have multiple wildly divergent items, that have a wide range of price, features, pros, and cons, then you're left with fuzzy math. You have to calculate how much each feature is worth to you. How much do you penalize a case for lacking an eighth slot? How much is an extra fan dust filter worth? How much is a drive backplane worth? How bad is a particularly noisy case? What if one is full tower and another is mid? I mean really, how do you objectively compare a Rosewill Redbone, a Sliverstone Raven, a Cooler Master Cosmos II, and a Thermaltake Level 10?

As for the idea of which case is best, well, best according to what criteria? Best for small server storage that has a lot of drive bays? Best cooling? Best acoustics? Lowest cost? The reviewer can state their favorite case for their own particular uses. But what's to say that's the best case for your uses, or mine, or anyone else's?
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November 15, 2013 4:54:50 AM

RedJaron said:
Proper, and useful, comparisons come from isolating and quantifying variables. Tight value ranges means you can more easily compare features by largely negating the price variable. It's real simple, if you have three things that are nearly identical, but one has an additional feature the other two lack, that means you're getting more for your money for that item, meaning better value.

As for the idea of which case is best, well, best according to what criteria? Best for small server storage that has a lot of drive bays? Best cooling? Best acoustics? Lowest cost? The reviewer can state their favorite case for their own particular uses. But what's to say that's the best case for your uses, or mine, or anyone else's?


You have actually made my point for me so, perhaps, I need to reword. This article is: Four More Sub-$100 Cases For Your Gaming Build, Reviewed. Price is not a significant variable. They are all, essentially the same "<$100". Your uses and mine are irrelevant. The uses are also the same for the purposes of this article: "gaming" so it is not for anyone's particular use. My point is that the "variables" in an article like this are something else entirely and so "value" judgments should be limited to the true variables (like quality, design, ease of use, whatever). Take into context that they are sub $100 gaming cases and you can probably further reduce the variables. I'll leave that to Toms.

Once we have drilled down to "sub $100 gaming cases", we no longer need to go back and rehash price or see an inferior system win the value award because it is $10 cheaper. That doesn't help. I can find the cheapest case without Toms help.What I can't do is find the best without buying a bunch of them.That's Toms "value".
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November 15, 2013 8:26:42 AM

I really wish the Zalman case has more cooling options. In terms of appearance, BitFenix takes the cake. I've not been disappointed with many of their cases.
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November 15, 2013 1:49:07 PM

AtariST said:
You have actually made my point for me so, perhaps, I need to reword. This article is: Four More Sub-$100 Cases For Your Gaming Build, Reviewed. Price is not a significant variable. They are all, essentially the same "<$100". Your uses and mine are irrelevant. The uses are also the same for the purposes of this article: "gaming" so it is not for anyone's particular use. My point is that the "variables" in an article like this are something else entirely and so "value" judgments should be limited to the true variables (like quality, design, ease of use, whatever). Take into context that they are sub $100 gaming cases and you can probably further reduce the variables. I'll leave that to Toms.

Once we have drilled down to "sub $100 gaming cases", we no longer need to go back and rehash price or see an inferior system win the value award because it is $10 cheaper. That doesn't help. I can find the cheapest case without Toms help.What I can't do is find the best without buying a bunch of them.That's Toms "value".

Please tell me you're joking here. Please? Your illogical statements here are nearly overwhelming.

The cases here have a $30 price range between the cheapest and most expensive. The most expensive case here is 42% more money than the cheapest case. You don't think that's significant?

And purpose DOES matter. Yes, these were looked at from a gaming perspective, but whose gaming? Are you really going to claim all gamers have the exact same needs, or at least very similar? Some overclock, some don't. Some get the most powerful hardware money can buy, some skrimp by on the best they can aford on a meager budget. Some want quiet, some don't care. Some want massive cases for lots of drives, others are satisfied with micro ATX. A small nitpick to one user is completely unacceptable or trivial to another. So no, unless two are nearly identical save for one key difference, you can't say one is unequivocally better than the rest. To say everyone has the same need for thermals, acoustics, space, and drive capacity is beyond ignorant.

You're making the mistake of using absolutes, arguing that one product will be undeniably the best for everyone.
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November 19, 2013 2:26:57 PM

RedJaron said:

Please tell me you're joking here. Please? Your illogical statements here are nearly overwhelming.

The cases here have a $30 price range between the cheapest and most expensive. The most expensive case here is 42% more money than the cheapest case. You don't think that's significant?

No, I don't. Using percentages in this "case" is a great way to make a small number ($30) seem big (42%). Toms established they were <$100. That's granular enough for me. If they had done an article called "A Bunch of Cases with Wildly Varying Prices for a Broad Variety of Uses" then I would feel differently about value.

RedJaron said:
And purpose DOES matter. Yes, these were looked at from a gaming perspective, but whose gaming?

See Test Configuration in the article referenced to give you an idea. It's the information they used to come up with the "Value" judgement you seem so adamant to support.

RedJaron said:
To say everyone has the same need for thermals, acoustics, space, and drive capacity is beyond ignorant.

You're making the mistake of using absolutes, arguing that one product will be undeniably the best for everyone.

Sigh. I'm not sure I'm the one using absolutes. I also don't see how my posts could be construed as insulting or rude for that matter. Go back and look at your posts and mine and see who merits these derogatory comments.

The reality is I'm not going to convince you of anything. That's ok, you don't have to agree but let's try to behave as if we were sitting next to one another, ok?
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November 19, 2013 5:23:49 PM

AtariST said:
No, I don't. Using percentages in this "case" is a great way to make a small number ($30) seem big (42%). Toms established they were <$100. That's granular enough for me. If they had done an article called "A Bunch of Cases with Wildly Varying Prices for a Broad Variety of Uses" then I would feel differently about value.
Percentages only make things look bigger or smaller when taken out of context. I related all the info ( cheapest case is $70, most expensive is $100, $30 difference, 42% difference in budget. ) You said, "Price is not a significant variable. They are all, essentially the same '<$100'." I'm still trying to figure out how you consider these cases "essentially the same [price]." Would a $30 variance still be a small or insignificant number to you if we were talking about ~$50 cases?


AtariST said:
See Test Configuration in the article referenced to give you an idea. It's the information they used to come up with the "Value" judgement you seem so adamant to support.
You might want to look at past case reviews and their test settings. It's noted many times that the CPU, cooler, and GPU were chosen specifically to ramp heat and noise up to maximum levels to see how the case handles them, not to be indicative of a typical use for the case.

Note that Tom's called $80 - $120 cases "mainstream gaming" cases, so most of these here fall in that category too ( and those case reviews used the same test bed as here. ) I have no idea how you can call a $1000 CPU or a GTX 580 mainstream gaming components.


AtariST said:
Sigh. I'm not sure I'm the one using absolutes. I also don't see how my posts could be construed as insulting or rude for that matter. Go back and look at your posts and mine and see who merits these derogatory comments.

The reality is I'm not going to convince you of anything. That's ok, you don't have to agree but let's try to behave as if we were sitting next to one another, ok?
I never called you out for being rude or insulting. However, you taking this route is typically code for, "I can't logically or factually disprove your points so I'll call you 'mean' to discredit you." Please tell me what I have said/written that you consider rude or insulting. Yes, I attacked your statements and arguments because I saw them as flawed, baseless, and invalid, but never once did I toss insults at you. You're looking for and finding insult where none actually was.
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November 19, 2013 5:57:50 PM

RedJaron said:
You're looking for and finding insult where none actually was.
I only have one thing to say about that exchange...Hello Red!
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!