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Test Results

Roundup: Four Gaming Cases Under $150
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We’ve seen bold claims of cooling superiority for big cases, yet the largest full-tower case in today’s comparison barely edges out the smallest one. NZXT’s performance is especially impressive, since the Hades is too compact to support its side fan and our CPU cooler simultaneously.

In fact, the NZXT Hades actually beats the Element V at minimum fan speeds, and we think we know why: the Hades case is wrapped tightly around the CPU cooler, forcing its exhaust fans to draw air through it, rather than around it. The inverse would explain why the widest case in today’s roundup, Cooler Master’s Storm Sniper, has the worst low-fan speed results.

Cooler Master and Zalman tie for the quietest case fans at 25dB, yet neither of these does a particularly good job of blocking the excessive noise of our CPU cooler. For that, we again look to Thermaltake’s Element V and again find an easy explanation: by placing the Element V’s side fan and related ventilation holes below the CPU, Thermaltake allows only reflected noise to escape.

The SPL difference between directional and reflected noise can be significant, which is why this writer always places his PC to his left, so that ventilated side panels face away from his head. Yet, doing so makes it impractical to use cases with doors that swing to the right, such as NZXT’s Hades.

Good cooling and modest noise reduction allow Thermaltake’s Element V to easily pass other solutions in cooling-to-noise comparisons.

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  • 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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