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Test Settings

Roundup: Four Gaming Cases Under $150
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Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-920 (2.66 GHz, 8MB Cache)
O/C to 3.80 GHz (19x 200 MHz), 1.416V
MotherboardAsus P6T, X58 Express IOH
BIOS 0801 (09/30/2009)
RAMKingston KHX16000D3ULT1K3/6GX (6GB)
DDR3-2000 at DDR3-1600 CAS 8-8-8-24
GraphicsXFX GeForce GTX 285 1GB
670 MHz GPU, GDDR3-2500
Hard DriveWestern Digital Velociraptor WD3000HLFS, 300GB
10,000 RPM, SATA 3 Gb/s, 16MB cache
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerOCZ-Z1000 1,000W Modular
ATX12V v2.2, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Gold
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GraphicsNvidia Forceware 190.62 WHQL
ChipsetIntel INF 9.1.1.1014


An old C0 stepping Core i7-920 processor produces a great amount of heat when overclocked, which is perfect for testing the ventilation of today’s cases.

Asus’ P6T keeps the processor stable at high temperatures and current loads.

A factory-overclocked XFX GeForce GTX 285 reflects the graphics power that gamers typically need.

Rosewill’s Fort 120 air cooler is large enough to expose any potential mounting space issues, noisy enough at full speed to reveal a case’s noise-isolation capability, and powerful enough to keep our overclocked CPU well below its thermal limits.

The most efficient 1,000W power supply we could find, OCZ’s Z1000 was originally obtained for use in an overkill CrossFire configuration. Though its debut article was cancelled, modular design and an 80 PLUS Gold rating still make this the perfect unit for high-end case reviews.

Benchmark Configuration
Prime95 v25.864-bit executable, Small FFTs, 7 threads
FurMark 1.6.5Windowed Mode, 1280x1024, 8X AA, Stability Test
Minimum and maximum temperature
RealTemp 3.40Highest-core reading at full CPU load (60 minutes)
Highest-core reading at 30 minutes idle
Galaxy CM-140 SPL MeterTested at .25m, corrected to 1m (-12dB), dBA weighting


In order to create the maximum possible thermal load from our hardware, we dedicated a single CPU thread to FurMark and the remaining seven threads to Prime95 simultaneously, measuring the component temperatures after warming the system for one hour.

Galaxy’s low-cost CM-140 SPL meter takes care of our audio testing needs, though its 32dB minimum rating forces us to check audio levels at a .25m reduced distance. All readings are corrected to an industry-standard 1m distance (-12dB).

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Top Comments
  • 18 Hide
    skora , March 23, 2010 6:21 AM
    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?
  • 16 Hide
    sarsoft , March 23, 2010 6:26 AM
    No Antec Nine Hundred case...
  • 10 Hide
    4ILY45 , March 23, 2010 6:30 AM
    No CM 690 II??
Other Comments
  • 18 Hide
    skora , March 23, 2010 6:21 AM
    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?
  • 16 Hide
    sarsoft , March 23, 2010 6:26 AM
    No Antec Nine Hundred case...
  • 0 Hide
    p1n3apqlexpr3ss , March 23, 2010 6:28 AM
    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
  • 10 Hide
    4ILY45 , March 23, 2010 6:30 AM
    No CM 690 II??
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , March 23, 2010 6:36 AM
    Gosh, that Zalman is butt-ugly.
  • 3 Hide
    zoemayne , March 23, 2010 6:41 AM
    ANTEC 902?
  • 9 Hide
    sarsoft , March 23, 2010 6:49 AM
    More cases need to be added. There are other case under $150 that are better choices.
  • 4 Hide
    bk641 , March 23, 2010 7:00 AM
    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.
  • -1 Hide
    Crashman , March 23, 2010 7:04 AM
    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.
  • 2 Hide
    Crashman , March 23, 2010 7:14 AM
    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.

  • 1 Hide
    sarsoft , March 23, 2010 7:20 AM
    Quote:
    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 Hide
    frozenlead , March 23, 2010 7:37 AM
    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.
  • -4 Hide
    evillman , March 23, 2010 7:57 AM
    No CM 690 II Advanced? :/ 
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , March 23, 2010 7:57 AM
    Quote:
    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 Hide
    Crashman , March 23, 2010 7:59 AM
    Quote:
    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!
  • 1 Hide
    haplo602 , March 23, 2010 8:18 AM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , March 23, 2010 8:53 AM
    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 Hide
    Crashman , March 23, 2010 8:56 AM
    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.
  • 2 Hide
    4ILY45 , March 23, 2010 9:08 AM
    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..
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