The Final Three: Sub-$100 Cases For Your Gaming Build

The journey was a long one, but we're finally wrapping up our round-up of sub-$100 gaming cases. Today we review the last three of 11 total product submissions and pick an overall favorite. The competition was vicious, but one model definitely stands out.

We're well into summer, so it's about time we wrapped up a gaming case round-up that started in the spring. As a reminder, we focused on the value market, setting a price cap of $100 and warning the 28 companies we invited that quality would be a major consideration. Fortunately, we didn’t encounter any of the throw-away parts that a few brands continuously try sending to our labs.

In fact, most of the companies that make the cheap cases we'd caution you against decided to simply not show up for fear of higher-end vendors. Most of the 11 models that did land at the Tom's Hardware office had more than 15 pounds of material to enhance their durability. We reviewed the field in the order they arrived, and two of the lighter contenders coincidentally show up in the last part of our round-up.

  Antec GX700 Cooler Master Storm
Scout 2 Advanced
In Win GT1
Dimensions
Height19.0"20.2"18.6"
Width7.9"9.0"8.3"
Depth20.8"20.3"19.8"
Space Above
Motherboard
2.2" (w/o fans)1.2"0.5"
Card Length11.4"11.2-15.7"***^11.9"
Weight14.6 Pounds19.1 Pounds12.8 Pounds
Cooling
Front Fans
(alternatives)
None
(2 x 120 mm)
2 x 120 mm
(None)
1 x 120 mm
(2 x 120 mm)
Rear Fans
(alternatives)
1 x 120 mm
(None)
1 x 120 mm
(None)
1 x 120 mm
(None)
Top Fans
(alternatives)
None
(2 x 140/120 mm)
None
(2 x 120 mm)
None
(2 x 120 mm)
Left Side
(alternatives)
None
(1 x 120 mm)
None
(2 x 120 mm)
None
(None)
Right Side
(alternatives)
None
(None)
None
(None)
None
(None)
Drive Bays
5.25" ExternalFour (1-blocked)ThreeThree
3.5" ExternalNoneNoneSSD/HDD Dock
3.5" InternalFiveSevenSix
2.5" InternalFive*2*+2*6* +1
Card SlotsSevenSeven (Plus One)
Seven
Noise Dampening
SidesNoneNoneNone
TopNoneNoneNone
FrontNoneNoneNone
Price$60$85$65
*Shared on 3.5" hard drive tray **Via 5.25" adapter tray ***w/o Center Cage ^Slots 1-6

There’s no hard-and-fast 15-pound rule, as both Antec and In Win certainly know how to shape their metal to stiffen it. We even had an all-aluminum sample arrive in Part 1 that weighed in just under 11 pounds. Its only weakness was its internal structure. Rather than make scurrilous remarks based on a single specification, we’re going to build these up and put them through our tests to find out which company really has the best gaming-oriented chassis.

If you missed any of the five stories preceding this one and want a refresher of what Antec, Cooler Master, and In Win are up against, check out each picture-based walk-through and the reviews that follow them. In chronological order:

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46 comments
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  • envy14tpe
    Thanks for doing the sub $100 cases. Obviously these are the most important ones.

    Is there any way tomshardware can put all the data together on a couple spreadsheets?
    1
  • JJ1217
    I'd like to see an article for this for cases that are larger, like the HAF X, Switch 810, and a few others. Be interesting to see them compared.
    2
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    Thanks for doing the sub $100 cases. Obviously these are the most important ones.

    Is there any way tomshardware can put all the data together on a couple spreadsheets?


    Performance data?
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/antec-gx700-cooler-master-storm-scout-2-advanced-in-win-gt1,3512-10.html

    Or do you mean dimensional data?
    1
  • ojas
    Hey about the GX700: Only exhaust would mean more dust build up (negative internal air pressure) so how does that factor in?
    0
  • envy14tpe
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Thanks for doing the sub $100 cases. Obviously these are the most important ones.

    Is there any way tomshardware can put all the data together on a couple spreadsheets?


    Performance data?
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/antec-gx700-cooler-master-storm-scout-2-advanced-in-win-gt1,3512-10.html

    Or do you mean dimensional data?


    That's exactly what I was looking for.
    0
  • vertexx
    Thanks for doing all the analysis. Cases are so subjective and have so many factors, and it all comes down to trade-offs.

    I thought the final analysis was perhaps a bit brief with so many cases reviewed. It would be good to see some type of point or rating system for different factors that go into overall case value (i.e. Finish Quality, Build Quality, Component Accessibility, Flexible Layout Options, Cable Management).
    2
  • Onus
    If one can deal with its anomalies (dealbreakers for some I'm sure), the Antec GX700 looks like a winner. I'm not sure about the styling, but that Ostrog does look like a good choice too. The Storm Scout looks like a bigtime value loser, and I'm very surprised Rosewill didn't do better. I suspect a lot of positions might change if you allow a certain amount of modding and tweaking though. I think this is why selecting a case will remain a matter of personal preference, regardless of what stock benchmarks show.
    0
  • Spooderman
    I built my friend's PC in the In Win and it was a good experience. Cable management was acceptable, everything fit nicely, nice color scheme. There was an interesting moment when I noticed that the case was built to include its own standoffs in the form of raised bumps on the motherboard tray. This scared me because I didn't trust putting the mobo on the case, but I looked it up and apparently the standoffs that came with the case were only for micro ATX. The front panel design and lights were nice looking and mostly unobtrusive. Other than that, it was a great case to build in and I think I'll be using it for my next friend's build this summer. Out of all the cases I would recommend this one for a good building experience.
    1
  • JPNpower
    So which is the good budget case that doesn't look like a flashy monster? I know it shouldn't matter, but I personally couldn't stand many of these cases sitting in my living room.
    0
  • Onus
    I'd take a look at Fractal Designs or Lian Li for a much more subdued styling, and also quiet. I don't mind a blue light here or there (if only to tell me the PC is on, ready to do as I tell it), but I don't like garish either; not in the living room anyway.
    0
  • slomo4sho
    So the Antec GX700 is quieter, cooler, and cheaper than the Ostrog GT yet the GT is the smarter buy?
    1
  • CyranD
    Would have liked to see how Fractal Design Define R4 would have compared to these cases. I just built a computer using the Fractal Design Define R4 (Paid $80 for the case on newegg a few weeks back so fits in the sub $100 catagory). Some people might not like the fact it wider then the typical mid tower case but the extra width made cable management extremely easy. Fractal Design did a excellent job providing places all around the motherboard for routing the cables behind the motherboard. seems fairly silent to me and getting good temps also.
    0
  • Onus
    CyranD, that's the case I had in mind for JPNpower; solid, sturdy, quiet, and sedate.
    0
  • chumly
    The Arc midi and R4 are both under $100 now making all these other cases seem like "meh."
    0
  • lt_dan_zsu
    Thanks for this. I might be needing to get a case soon for a friend, and these are definitely a few I will be looking at.
    0
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    If one can deal with its anomalies (dealbreakers for some I'm sure), the Antec GX700 looks like a winner. I'm not sure about the styling, but that Ostrog does look like a good choice too. The Storm Scout looks like a bigtime value loser, and I'm very surprised Rosewill didn't do better. I suspect a lot of positions might change if you allow a certain amount of modding and tweaking though. I think this is why selecting a case will remain a matter of personal preference, regardless of what stock benchmarks show.
    The Scout 2 Advanced is one of the heavy-duty cases in the roundup, that must count for something.

    Anonymous said:
    So the Antec GX700 is quieter, cooler, and cheaper than the Ostrog GT yet the GT is the smarter buy?
    The GX700 is one of the flimsiest cases in the roundup, and is so cheaply made it doesn't even have replaceable slot covers. That must count for something...
    2
  • Taintedskittles
    Best case I ever got & still use Rosewill CHALLENGER-U3 Black mid tower case. $40 on sale/ regular price $59. USB 3.o, 3 fans that don't suck/ room for 2 more side fans, & a good 10.5" GPU room.
    1
  • slomo4sho
    Anonymous said:
    The GX700 is one of the flimsiest cases in the roundup, and is so cheaply made it doesn't even have replaceable slot covers. That must count for something...



    I guess if you move around your system a lot it may be worth something.
    0
  • Edgtho446
    Every time I read these reviews I am left wondering just exactly what kind of material the cases are made of. I enjoy seeing these case builds, but if any of them are majority steel they are automatically disqualified due to my very salty location. Should I just assume they are all steel?
    0
  • CyranD
    Edgtho446, they are all majority steel except for the Lian-Li PC-9N which is Aluminum.
    0