Sleek Designs, Little Innovation: 4 Barebone Cases Compared

Are these four cuboid cases a square deal?

You might think that it is hard to go wrong when selecting a case for your PC. Think again, as our tests have shown that not all cases are created equal. Many PC cases look like they are sleekly designed and appear to offer a good build quality. A closer look, however, often reveals that good looks can be very deceiving.

Tom's Guide has checked out four mini-PC cases, all of which were sent to us as "brand new" designs by their respective manufacturers. The models reviewed here all cost about €70, which is a lot of money for a case of this size. After all, these enclosures don't contain any hardware whatsoever. You'll need to buy a motherboard, PSU and all other components separately. By the time you're done, that can add up to several hundred dollars.

At first blush, all of these cases look small and very stylish, as if they could be the gem of a LAN party. However, we found a good number of problems with each of our candidates that would go unnoticed in a store and especially when ordering online. These flaws would only become apparent at home, when it is already too late.

Even disregarding the plastic flaps that we have been criticizing for years, some of the test candidates seem more suited to becoming scrap metal at your neighborhood junk yard than best sellers. In some cases, the enclosures rattle even as we unpacked them, with no additional hardware installed. Drive cages seem to bend just by looking at them, which did not exactly inspire confidence on our part. As you can imagine, we had a field day with some of these flaws, some of which we documented in the videos at the end of the review. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.