Roundup: Four Gaming Cases Under $150

Building With The Z7 Plus

The Z7 Plus includes a basic user's manual, a second side-panel fan, and a bag filled with standoffs, standard screws for the motherboard, shoulder screws for the hard drive cage, and cable ties.

Our preference for a desktop placement led us to install the optical drive in a center bay. Removing the drive adapter tray from the bottom and placing it on top gave us a handy place to stuff excess cable.

Zalman doesn’t provide a top-panel exhaust fan, but the power supply’s intake fan serves the same function.

Notice that the Z7 Plus, like its NZXT competitor, forced us to overlap the hard drive and graphics card. Repositioning the hard drive cage allows cards up to 16.8” long to be installed through the drive bays, but the space between the back of a 3.5” hard drive and slot panel is only 10.44.”

Pre-installing only one of the Z7 Plus’ two included side fans makes sense, since Zalman is also a CPU cooler company. Leaving the top fan out allows extra space for oversized coolers, such as our test platform’s 120mm tower.

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  • skora
    Good article. But I'm a little surprised that the Element actually found the Buy award. Usually seems like that's set aside for superior products that don't have the QC issues this did.

    I'm sure there will be request for this case and that and across a lot of price ranges.

    If you do enough of these, you could do a "Best Gaming Case for the Money" series. Or is that peeing in Don's yard?
    18
  • sarsoft
    No Antec Nine Hundred case...
    16
  • 4ILY45
    No CM 690 II??
    10
  • Other Comments
  • skora
    Good article. But I'm a little surprised that the Element actually found the Buy award. Usually seems like that's set aside for superior products that don't have the QC issues this did.

    I'm sure there will be request for this case and that and across a lot of price ranges.

    If you do enough of these, you could do a "Best Gaming Case for the Money" series. Or is that peeing in Don's yard?
    18
  • sarsoft
    No Antec Nine Hundred case...
    16
  • p1n3apqlexpr3ss
    That wouldnt be a bad idea tbh skora, would like to know what the best budget case is out there... not excactly a fan of the antec 200/300
    0
  • 4ILY45
    No CM 690 II??
    10
  • bk641
    the cm doesn't have a fan control option, afaik.
    -10
  • Anonymous
    Gosh, that Zalman is butt-ugly.
    2
  • zoemayne
    ANTEC 902?
    3
  • sarsoft
    More cases need to be added. There are other case under $150 that are better choices.
    9
  • bk641
    the lancool (lian-li) k62 is a very, very good case for a sub $100 range. i'm using one, and it has pretty much everything you'd want in a mid-tower case. i especially like its HDD bay system, which can be configured to have the hard drives straight on, or perpendicular. in addition to that there are four quiet fans (two on top) and room for two 5870s.
    4
  • Crashman
    sarsoftNo Antec Nine Hundred case...

    No OLD cases. The Cooler Master case ended up in here by mistake, it was supposed to be for stuff released from November onward.
    -1
  • Crashman
    bk641the cm doesn't have a fan control option, afaik.
    Scroll up and look at the BIG KNOB in the picture maybe?
    4ILY45No CM 690 II??
    Got the CM Storm Sniper instead, was looking for 4-8 cases due to time constraints which means one per company.
    Tekkie9Gosh, that Zalman is butt-ugly.
    And the NZXT isn't?
    sarsoftMore cases need to be added. There are other case under $150 that are better choices.
    More companies were contacted. Every major brand who released a case between the end of November and the end of January was contacted. These are the ones Tom's Hardware got...most of the older-yet-popular cases have already been reviewed.
    2
  • sarsoft
    8708 said:
    More companies were contacted. Every major brand who released a case between the end of November and the end of January was contacted. These are the ones Tom's Hardware got...most of the older-yet-popular cases have already been reviewed.

    Fair enough.
    1
  • frozenlead
    While the lack of connector on the side fan of the Thermaltake chassis is a bummer and you painted it as such, you don't necessarily have to get a replacement from the factory. From the looks of it, it still uses the same 3 leads that standard fans do - an 11 year-old with a soldering iron could get any given fan to run off it.
    I could, of course, be mistaken. There is only one picture of it.
    1
  • evillman
    No CM 690 II Advanced? :/
    -4
  • Crashman
    48264 said:
    While the lack of connector on the side fan of the Thermaltake chassis is a bummer and you painted it as such, you don't necessarily have to get a replacement from the factory. From the looks of it, it still uses the same 3 leads that standard fans do - an 11 year-old with a soldering iron could get any given fan to run off it. I could, of course, be mistaken. There is only one picture of it.


    Yes, the connector was not removed to show the back side but anyone with wiring skills could wire the original connector to a generic replacement fan.
    0
  • Crashman
    197004 said:
    Good article. But I'm a little surprised that the Element actually found the Buy award. Usually seems like that's set aside for superior products that don't have the QC issues this did. I'm sure there will be request for this case and that and across a lot of price ranges. If you do enough of these, you could do a "Best Gaming Case for the Money" series. Or is that peeing in Don's yard?


    It was a tough call. Compared to the other cases it's an incredible value, but only when the side fan works. Hopefully if Thermaltake sells enough of these and is forced to replace enough of these, they will eventually solve the problem at the manufacturing level!
    0
  • haplo602
    ugly, big, expensive ... describes all of the cases :-)

    cannot help myself, but there's no case that would pass for a decent gaming case ... they are either ugly, have too many lights or too much wasted space or bad airflow.
    1
  • Crashman
    haplo602ugly, big, expensive ... describes all of the cases :-)cannot help myself, but there's no case that would pass for a decent gaming case ... they are either ugly, have too many lights or too much wasted space or bad airflow.


    The NZXT is tiny...and both Cooler Master and Thermaltake let you shut off the lights from the fan controller. IMO the big cases are too big, the small cases are too small, and if you're right about the looks than I guess you're not in their target market.
    0
  • Crashman
    evillmanNo CM 690 II Advanced?
    Got the CM Storm Sniper instead, was looking for 4-8 cases due to time constraints which means one per company.
    0
  • 4ILY45
    CrashmanGot the CM Storm Sniper instead, was looking for 4-8 cases due to time constraints which means one per company.


    That's understandable.. anyhow cheers..
    2