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

Test Settings

Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E): 3.30 GHz, Six Cores
O/C to 4.25 GHz (34 x 125 MHz) at 1.35 V Core
CPU CoolerCoolink Corator DS 120 mm Tower
MotherboardAsus P9X79 WS: LGA 2011, Intel X79 Express, Firmware 0603 (11-11-2011)
O/C at 125 MHz BCLK
RAMG.Skill F3-17600CL9Q-16GBXLD 16 GB (4 x 4 GB) DDR3-2200
Benchmarked at DDR3-1666 CAS 9 defaults
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 580: 772 MHz GPU,  GDDR5-4008
Maximum Fan for Thermal Tests, SLI
Hard DrivesSamsung 840 Series MZ-7PD256, 256 GB SSD 
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerSeasonic X760 SS-760KM
ATX12V v2.3, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Gold
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 8 Pro x64
GraphicsNvidia GeForce 314.22
ChipsetIntel INF 9.2.3.1020


Samsung recently equipped all of our labs with its latest flagship SSD, the 840 Pro model MZ-7PD256.

Now we’re ready to make some noise! We’re counting on the overclocked hexa-core CPU to flood the case with heat, and Coolink’s Corator DS to flood the case with noise as it transfers that heat away from the processor.

Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 580 is a great noise maker in its own right, its blower-style cooler spinning at a few thousand RPM at full speed. This reference card idles down to 40%, and we used full-speed and idle-speed during load and idle tests.

Benchmark Configuration
Prime95 v25.864-bit executable, Small FFTs, 11 threads
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.3.0, Extreme Preset: Graphics Test 1, Looped
Real Temp 3.40Average of maximum core readings at full CPU load
Galaxy CM-140 SPL MeterTested at 1/2 m, corrected to 1 m (-6 dB), dB(A) weighting
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31 comments
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  • 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.
    -6
  • 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.
    1
  • Sorry about the double post, I can't seem to find the delete button :) Moderators?
    1
  • 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!
    1
  • 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.
    0
  • 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.
    2
  • 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.
    0
  • 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.
    0
  • Ok. Where are the Tom's models?

    Inner butt cheek. Side boob. That's what's going to sell cases. :)
    2
  • 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
    0
  • 515793 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"
    1
  • 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.
    -1
  • Any indication as to what the cases are made out of? Its important to me that they be aluminum; steel rusts here quite readily :/
    0
  • 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.
    0
  • 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.
    2
  • 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.
    0
  • 8708 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?
    0
  • 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 :)
    -1
  • 8708 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."
    0
  • Man, aside from the Shinobi, which looks to have terrible airflow, all of these are fugly.
    0