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Antec Wins?

Part 1: Four Gaming Enclosures Under $50

Antec’s Three Hundred leads our cooling, noise, and efficiency charts, but it’s an unfortunate fact that today it cannot be found at our intended $50 price point (it's now $10 higher than that on Newegg). Yes, it was cheaper a few weeks ago when Antec shipped it. But users who want superior quality should be willing to pay the extra $10 to get a unit that’s 33% thicker, more durable, better at cooling, and quieter than its competition.

Next up is the Enermax ECA3171-BR-AP, with three cooling fans sporting red LEDs and an unbelievably low $50 price tag. An obvious pick for the best case at or below this predetermined price point, our only concern is that its price will go up before anyone can click the “buy” button. For now, the chassis remains priced at $49.

Cooler Master’s Elite 430 takes third place overall, and we’re happy to see that it looks at least as good as it performs. Cheaper at the beginning of the month, it jumped up to $55, and is now back to $49 online--right where we were hoping it'd land. It only has one fan, but does well considering that fact.

The only real loser of the cases we're looking at today is AeroCool's VS-9. The thing started falling apart as we were assembling the system, it did little to nothing to muffle the noise of internal components, and it twisted so easily that we had to weigh it down with a power supply just to keep it sitting flat. We’ve not seen a case this weak since the Hades earned our ire a few months ago. But at least the VS-9 has a comparatively low-cost. We’ve even read user reviews that tell others how to beef the VS-9 up to the standards of other $50 cases but—armed with this foreknowledge—we’d just as likely chose a better starting point.

Of course, it's too early to declare one overall winner of our case comparison. We have four more models to add to our data here in Part 2. Look for that follow-up soon!

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  • 0 Hide
    rzilla91 , August 23, 2010 6:21 AM
    Great article!
    I have the Antec 300 and love it - my current build is/was my first build, and the Antec case was very easy to build in.

    My only (rather silly) question is how did you get the case fans to run on low? They appear to be plugged into your PSU, which is what i did, but that forces it to run on high.
  • 6 Hide
    gkay09 , August 23, 2010 6:49 AM
    ^ Did you read the Aerocool specs properly ? Card Length - 17.7"
    AFAIK there are no graphic cards that are longer than 12.5", so it would fit HD 5970...
    But as for the 300, I doubt it wont fit the 5970, but other cards would...
    But if you will be spending ~$600 for a graphic card, then am sure you wont skimp on the case...
  • 1 Hide
    Mark Heath , August 23, 2010 7:06 AM
    Interesting to see the Antec 300 doing well even when the fan speed's put to low.
  • 1 Hide
    smithereen , August 23, 2010 7:25 AM
    No NZXT Beta?
  • 3 Hide
    radiovan , August 23, 2010 7:34 AM
    rzilla91Great article!I have the Antec 300 and love it - my current build is/was my first build, and the Antec case was very easy to build in.My only (rather silly) question is how did you get the case fans to run on low? They appear to be plugged into your PSU, which is what i did, but that forces it to run on high.

    It should be equiped with speed-adjustmentable tri-cool fans, which should have added speed selectors to go from LOW to MID or HI, and back.
  • 0 Hide
    falchard , August 23, 2010 7:36 AM
    I just reread the card length on the AeroCool.
    I would like a review on the NZXT Beta. Sub $50 market, you really aren't looking at any of those cases. You are looking at the Rosewills, NZXT, and cheap Thermaltakes.
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , August 23, 2010 7:47 AM
    @falchard - My Vapor-X 5850 fit perfectly in my Antec 300. I don't know what you're BSing about.
  • -2 Hide
    rajangel , August 23, 2010 8:12 AM
    I own the 300. It's a nice sturdy case, but in the end it really was a pain in the rear to put it all together. It's extremely cramped.

    Also don't ever buy Rosewill. EVER. Their products are terrible. I've bought a few items they've had on clearance (from newegg) and not a single product is worth the 90% discount. One case came bent and the power supply inside was missing some of the power plugs the manual said it had. One item came shipped with a driver all in Chinese. Customer service blamed it on whoever shipped it (right because Newegg is going to switch the power supply inside a case). Newegg switched the case out and the girl on the phone said they have a lot of problem with Rosewill products. The laptop pad was missing fan blades.

  • 1 Hide
    falchard , August 23, 2010 8:24 AM
    Well thats your problem right there, you are looking at Rosewill for electronic products. You shop Rosewill for products that don't rely on electricity like a case.
  • 2 Hide
    vixiv , August 23, 2010 8:28 AM
    I was expecting some of the $40-45 Raidmax, Foxconn, NZXT, CM, etc. cases. To be fair, $49.99 is under $50 =P

    Then again, cases in that range might be included in Part 2...
  • 0 Hide
    liquidsnake718 , August 23, 2010 9:14 AM
    You should have added the gigabyte I-solo 210, its a beast of a mid-tower case and very neatly designed. It has watercooling holes so its ready for watercooling.
  • 2 Hide
    belardo , August 23, 2010 9:25 AM
    I've bought the Antec 300 case several times for $45~50 at Micro Center for friends and clients.

    I use the Antec 300 as a "normal" computer case because its priced cheap yet made well, looks good - and not so "kiddy" like. The power & USB are at a good position for FLOOR users. The fans are usually quiet... the blue lights are nice.
  • 2 Hide
    gio2vanni86 , August 23, 2010 9:47 AM
    I own the antec 1200 and its a beast of a case. When i was trying to come up with a cheap but efficient case for my friends build i couldn't deny Antec's 300 case. To this day my friend loves the case, its great at cooling, and it looks superb at doing just that =D Was as sturdy as my 1200 n only cost 1/3 the price.
  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , August 23, 2010 9:50 AM
    I have the threehundred chassi and I think its pure garbage to be fan is very loud and seems to be "vibrating" so the noise it gives is very annoying. Had to place a weigth ontop of the chassi, to keep the chassi is made from vibrating. Also hade som clearence issues with the cpu fan...
    Maybe it is good "for the price", but I will never ever buy another of those cheap ass antec chassis again.
  • 2 Hide
    h83 , August 23, 2010 11:08 AM

    I´ve bought an Antec 300 for 60€ and i couldn´t be happier!!! The case is silent, very cool and has a very nice construction quality.

    The only downsides are the tiny reset button (almost useless) and the inside of the case, that´s a little cramped and i don´t know if it can accommodate the bigger GPUs.

    rzilla91, both 120m fans that came with the case, have a small black cable with a little "button" on the end, that can be set on 3 positions; high, medium and low. That´s how you change your fans to low noise.
  • 0 Hide
    cmartin011 , August 23, 2010 11:17 AM
    i got a antec 1200 its all a pro air cooler could dream of and a water cool wouldn't mind could use a couple more drive bays tho
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 23, 2010 11:46 AM
    zipzoomflyhigh is right the Antec 300 is always on sale somewhere. Canada Coputers currently has it for $49.99
  • 2 Hide
    jorjxmckie , August 23, 2010 12:14 PM
    I have the three hundred and it works great. Video card noise is perceptible under high loads, but its still less than many other cases with similar cooling.

    In the article the author downplays the usefulness of the top mounted fan, I have a Noctua NH-U12P with fans on either side in a push pull and rotated to blow out to the top case fan. I find this configuration better at keeping core and case interior temps low when the back of the case is pushed back against a wall. May not be the most efficient airflow if the rear of the case is unrestricted but that is not always possible.
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , August 23, 2010 12:45 PM
    The 300 is an unbeatable value for the price.
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