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Temperature, Noise, And Acoustic Efficiency

Five Gaming Cases Between $80 And $120, Reviewed
By

The two most closely-matched case designs take first and second place in our thermal tests, with the case that has the most factory-installed fans topping the chart.

While this editor finds drive doors inconvenient, they do occasionally help reduce the overall noise profile of a case. Thicker material also dampens noise, while vent size and location have a profound effect on how much noise escapes.

Similarities in internal design are not proven in noise dampening, as NZXT and Xigmatek take opposite ends of the chart. Corsair’s 300R is the quietest of the three thin cases, and it is also the coolest of those three.

For our cooling to noise comparison, the word relative refers to how each case compares to the average of cases in this review.

Because lower temperatures produce better results, an inverse scale of thermal performance is needed to give better-cooling cases a higher score. The average temperature of all cases is divided by the average temperature of an individual case to calculate its relative cooling.

The bottom number in a division problem is already inverted (a larger denominator produces a smaller fraction), so the average noise level of each case is divided by the average noise level of all cases to produce a direct result for relative noise reduction.

Taking first place in both cooling and noise, NZXT’s Phantom 410 has the most favorable cooling-to-noise ratio. Corsair continues its dominance as the best of the cheaper models, while Xigmatek’s poor noise control drops it to the middle of the pack.

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Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    TekN9Ne , May 25, 2012 4:53 AM
    The Phantom with the Gunmetal looks smooth.
Other Comments
  • 13 Hide
    TekN9Ne , May 25, 2012 4:53 AM
    The Phantom with the Gunmetal looks smooth.
  • 5 Hide
    hellfire24 , May 25, 2012 4:53 AM
    my vote goes to phantom!
    BTW,i recently saw Antec 1100 and it's a very good case.for 100 bucks,it's best in it's class-
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129178&Tpk=antec%201100
  • 9 Hide
    Ohmybad , May 25, 2012 4:58 AM
    I love the hell out of my 300R! i didn't want a show piece, Stylish and plain is fine with me!
  • 1 Hide
    sirencall , May 25, 2012 5:34 AM
    I almost got the Phantom case but I got the Raidmax Storm case instead....about the price range for this review but has some unique features like the motherboard is attached to a panel that hinges out so you can work on it very easily.
  • 0 Hide
    anxiousinfusion , May 25, 2012 5:40 AM
    I'm contemplating getting the 300r. It would be a big cooling boost over my Silverstone Sugo SG-03. I'm an idiot for trying to stuff a rig into that thing.
  • 2 Hide
    sirencall , May 25, 2012 5:45 AM
    anxiousinfusionI'm contemplating getting the 300r. It would be a big cooling boost over my Silverstone Sugo SG-03. I'm an idiot for trying to stuff a rig into that thing.

    CHeck out the Raidmax Blackstorm....you may find it a very pleasant choice, with good reviews and easy on the price.....and there is plenty of space lol
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 25, 2012 6:37 AM
    MSI Stealth now has a $20 MIR bringing it down to same price as the other cases
  • 5 Hide
    Crashman , May 25, 2012 7:10 AM
    sirencallI almost got the Phantom case but I got the Raidmax Storm case instead....about the price range for this review but has some unique features like the motherboard is attached to a panel that hinges out so you can work on it very easily.
    Hey guys, just remember this is the first Five of Fifteen. Your favorite brand could appear in a later part of this series!
  • -7 Hide
    amuffin , May 25, 2012 8:38 AM
    300R=OVERPRICED

    Better cases:
    NZXT Tempest 410
    Antec 300
    CM 690 II advanced
    Cooler Master Storm Enforcer

  • 0 Hide
    ojas , May 25, 2012 8:52 AM
    I wish you guys could review the HAF 912 Advanced ...but that's Asia only...
  • 3 Hide
    s3anister , May 25, 2012 10:16 AM
    Maybe it's time to buy a new case. I am still using my Antec Sonata II, after all...

    Can't wait to see what other cases Tom's has in store.
  • 2 Hide
    old mann , May 25, 2012 11:23 AM
    No top exhaust fan, no buy. Makes NZXT the best. I have to be honest I always use more expensive cases from Antec or Cooler Master.
  • 3 Hide
    roadrunner343 , May 25, 2012 12:04 PM
    Crashman,

    Since this is just the first 5 of 15, could the last article do a recap of all 15? That would make for an awesome article, and allow us to easily compare all the cases.
  • 5 Hide
    87ninefiveone , May 25, 2012 12:08 PM
    amuffin300R=OVERPRICEDBetter cases:NZXT Tempest 410Antec 300CM 690 II advancedCooler Master Storm Enforcer


    What??? It's overpriced at $70? Really? Did you read the article or do you just hate Corsair?
  • -6 Hide
    ct1615 , May 25, 2012 12:18 PM
    case A fits two 120mm fans up front & up top and one 120mm rear (like every other recently released case out there)

    case B fits two 120mm fans up front & up top and one 120mm rear

    case A comes with three fans yet case B comes with two so lets rate case A as good for internal temps and case B as poor.

    rating temps for a case is pointless. focus more on build quality and the cases ability to prevent dust-balls. a case with two fans has poor internal temps...oh wait i have two fans lying around the house...now the case has four fans and temps are so much better...
  • 6 Hide
    Crashman , May 25, 2012 12:41 PM
    ct1615case A fits two 120mm fans up front & up top and one 120mm rear (like every other recently released case out there)case B fits two 120mm fans up front & up top and one 120mm rearcase A comes with three fans yet case B comes with two so lets rate case A as good for internal temps and case B as poor.rating temps for a case is pointless. focus more on build quality and the cases ability to prevent dust-balls. a case with two fans has poor internal temps...oh wait i have two fans lying around the house...now the case has four fans and temps are so much better...
    1. More fans means more noise
    2. Noise is compared to heat
    3. The noise-to-heat comparison is given more consideration than either the noise or the heat
    4. Adding your own fans alters the price, so this is the only fair way to do a value analysis.
    5. It appears you don't care about performance-to-price. That's fine, the last two paragraphs are specifically what you asked for.

    So, what's the complaint?
  • 2 Hide
    Onus , May 25, 2012 12:41 PM
    I'd still choose the Xigmatek. That drive dock is a great feature; for convenience, space, and cable clutter it beats heck out of using a separate external enclosure. To expand on what ct1615 said, cooling and noise are both adjustable. With a single graphics card and a modest CPU overclock, the Xigmatek will remain cool and quiet even if another [low speed] top fan is added.
  • 1 Hide
    greenrider02 , May 25, 2012 12:50 PM
    I solve the oversized motherboard issue with half the cases in this round-up by only even considering the 12"x9.6" standard. If they can't fit those dimensions, they're cutting corners, IMO.
  • 3 Hide
    ct1615 , May 25, 2012 1:13 PM
    Crashman1. More fans means more noise2. Noise is compared to heat3. The noise-to-heat comparison is given more consideration than either the noise or the heat4. Adding your own fans alters the price, so this is the only fair way to do a value analysis.5. It appears you don't care about performance-to-price. That's fine, the last two paragraphs are specifically what you asked for.So, what's the complaint?

    1. i can stick 10 fans at 10db (scythe 800rpm) in a case or 1 one fan at 35db (scythe 3000 rpm), which makes more noise?
    2. noise is not compared to heat, see above example. one fan even at high speeds will not show better airflow then ten at slower speed.
    3. your test, your considerations.
    4. adding air filters to a case to stop dust bunnies also adds to the price.
    5. performance to price in a case is more theory then fact. some people prefer a case with sturdy sides, fewer fan ports for noise to escape, and filters. some want to stick a fan in every whole imaginable so they can attempt to create an internal tornado. some despise a metallic interior, LED fans, molex fan connectors, etc.,.

    My complaint is, each case has it's pros and cons. what am I giving up going from once case to another?
  • 4 Hide
    ct1615 , May 25, 2012 1:15 PM
    *hole not whole. can't edit
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