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Roundup: Four Gaming Cases Under $150

Roundup: Four Gaming Cases Under $150
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A seemingly never-ending stream of press releases bombards the review world with flowery language and hard-to-prove claims of superiority, often from case manufacturers maintaining that a specific model is perfect for nearly anyone’s gaming rig. In the face of all this fluffy stuff, we have to ask ourselves what really qualifies as an ATX enclosure for gaming use. Is it a combination of features? The way certain graphics cards fit? Could ventilation be the deciding factor? Portability, perhaps? Or could the term “gaming case” simply be one of those nondescript descriptors that define nothing more than a styling theme?

Flat-black paint, top-panel ports, and manual fan control are three things that all of today’s competing cases have in common. Now that we know the similar features that chassis designers believe gamers desire, here’s a short list of differences.

  Cooler Master
Storm Sniper
NZXT
Hades
Thermaltake
Element V
Zalman
Z7 Plus
Dimensions
Height21.75"17.75"22.0"18.63"
Width10.13"8.50"8.81"9.0"
Depth22.50"21.95"22.25"19.62"
Space Above
Motherboard
1.75"1.06"1.82"1.0"
Card Length13.38"16.65"13.63"16.80"
Weight25.0 lbs.
16.0 lbs.31.5 lbs.17.0 lbs.
Cooling
Front Fans
(alternatives)
1 x 200mm
(120mm, 140mm)
1 x 200mm
(stock only)
2 x 120mm
(stock only)
1 x 120mm
(140mm)
Rear Fans
(alternatives)
 1x 120mm
(92mm, 80mm)
1 x120mm
(80mm)
1 x 120mm
(92mm, 80mm)
1 x 120mm
(92mm, 80mm)
Top Fans
(alternatives)
1 x 200mm
(2 x 120mm)
1 x 140mm
(2 x 140mm/120mm)
1x 200mm
(2x 200mm/120mm)
None
Side Fans
(alternatives)
1 x 200mm
(2 x 120mm)
1 x200mm
(stock only)
1 x 230mm
(1 x 120mm)
1 x 120mm
(2 x 120mm)
Drive Bays
5.25" ExternalFiveFourFiveNine
3.5" External1 x AdapterNone1 x AdapterCombo Tray
3.5" InternalFive4 x Adapters
(5x 5.25" internal bays)
2 x Three-Bay CageFour-bay/Five-HDD cage,
Combo Tray
2.5" Internal1 x AdapterTwo-drive TrayNoneCombo Tray
Price$140 $100 $135 $80


Zalmans’ small Z7 Plus stands out as having the most external bays, though four of these are consumed by an internal 3.5” drive cage. Meanwhile, Thermaltake’s Element V actually has 11 external bays, though the bottom six are covered in groups of three. With explanations like these needed for such a simple features table, a closer examination is required for each product before testing begins.

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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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