Five Gaming Cases Between $80 And $120, Reviewed

Although they often don't get as much love as they deserve, cases are critical components in any new system build. That's why we've made an effort to not only write up in-depth build-oriented reviews of enclosures, but also photograph them from every possible angle. If you haven't already read In Pictures: Five Mainstream Gaming Cases, Previewed, check that piece out before this one.

When we build our $1000 PCs for the System Builder Marathon, cases in the $80-120 price range dominate the reader-favorite list. When we recently polled the audience on what they'd most like to see in an upcoming round-up, we even had a few folks let us know that they wanted a comparison of everything in that range. Though the constant flow of new hardware makes it impossible to go into that much depth, we promised we'd do what we could.

Given so many potential candidates, we decided to do a series of round-ups with five or six models per story. We then invited more than two dozen companies to send up to three of their most competitive cases, giving them just three unobtrusive requirements:

  1. The cases had to be priced between $80 and $120.
  2. The cases had to hold full ATX components.
  3. The cases had to provide an internal front-panel USB 3.0 connector.

That third requirement was a big problem for many manufacturers. But it was important to us because Tom's Hardware is the site that begged, pleaded, and eventually coerced motherboard companies to agree on an internal header standard, even as the forum that controls those standards dragged its feet.

Case companies have been so slow to embrace this standard that our requirement dropped a field of over 50 products to a collection of only 15. Fifteen products is an easy number to manage, dividing cleanly into a three-part series. We recently published In Pictures: Five Mainstream Gaming Cases, Previewed to show you some of the features found on our first five contenders, and today's review concludes part one of the series.

  Corsair
300R
In Win
Mana 136
MSI
Stealth
NZXT
Phantom 410
Xigmatek
Midgard II
Dimensions
Height18.7"17.0"18.6"20.5"18.4"
Width8.3"7.5"8.1"8.7"8.1"
Depth19.4"19.4"19.5"21.4"19.6"
Space Above
Motherboard
1.4"0.5"1.3"1.25"****0.2"
Card Length11.8" to 16.3"**11.5"11.5" to 16.4"***10.8", 11.8"^, 16.8"^^11.9" to 16.7"^^
Weight14.1 Pounds12.0 Pounds14.8 Pounds20.8 Pounds16.1 Pounds
Cooling
Front Fans
(alternatives)
1 x 140 mm
(2 x 140/120 mm)
1 x 120 mm
(2 x 120 mm)
1 x 120 mm
(1 x 140/160/180 mm)
1 x 120mm
(1 x 140 mm, 2 x 120 mm)
1 x 120 mm
(2 x 120 mm)
Rear Fans
(alternatives)
1 x 140 mm
(None)
1 x 120 mm
(1 x 92 mm)
1 x 120 mm
(1 x 92 mm)
1 x 120 mm
(None)
1 x 120 mm
(1 x 92 mm)
Top Fans
(alternatives)
None
(2 x 140/120 mm)
None
(2 x 120 mm)
None (2 x 120 mm,
1 x 140/160/180 mm)
1 x 140 mm
(2 x 140/120 mm)
None
(2 x 140/120 mm)
Left Side
(alternatives)
None
(2 x 140/120 mm)
None
(2 x 120 mm)
None
(2 x 140/120 mm)
None
(1 x 140/120 mm)
None
(2 x 140/120 mm)
Right Side
(alternatives)
NoneNoneNoneNoneNone
Drive Bays
5.25" ExternalThreeThreeFourThreeThree
3.5" ExternalNoneNoneNoneNoneNone
3.5" InternalFourSixFourSixSix
2.5" InternalFour*TwoFour*Six*Six*
Card SlotsSevenSevenSevenSevenSeven
Price$80 $80 $100 $100 $85
*Shared on 3.5" tray **Slots 1-5 ***Slots 2-4 ****w/o Top Fan ^w/o fan bracket ^^w/o Center Cage


Three of today’s cases weigh less than 15 pounds, yet all five cases use a steel structure. In other words, the lightest of today’s cases is going to inherently have less rigidity than we might expect of products priced over $80. We’ll try to reserve most of that critique for our conclusion, though.

Create a new thread in the US Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
53 comments
    Your comment
    Top Comments
  • TekN9Ne
    The Phantom with the Gunmetal looks smooth.
    13
  • Other Comments
  • TekN9Ne
    The Phantom with the Gunmetal looks smooth.
    13
  • hellfire24
    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
    5
  • Ohmybad
    I love the hell out of my 300R! i didn't want a show piece, Stylish and plain is fine with me!
    9
  • sirencall
    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.
    1
  • anxiousinfusion
    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.
    0
  • sirencall
    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
  • Anonymous
    MSI Stealth now has a $20 MIR bringing it down to same price as the other cases
    2
  • Crashman
    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!
    5
  • amuffin
    300R=OVERPRICED

    Better cases:
    NZXT Tempest 410
    Antec 300
    CM 690 II advanced
    Cooler Master Storm Enforcer
    -7
  • ojas
    I wish you guys could review the HAF 912 Advanced ...but that's Asia only...
    0
  • s3anister
    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.
    3
  • old mann
    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.
    2
  • roadrunner343
    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.
    3
  • 87ninefiveone
    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?
    5
  • Crashman
    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?
    6
  • Onus
    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.
    2
  • greenrider02
    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.
    1
  • ubercake
    Again...

    Case articles are perfect opportunities for the Tom's models or the Teaser Girl.
    2
  • catatafish
    Thank you for this article, I enjoyed it. I would love to see more articles written on cases and power supplies rather than the sea of GPU articles we seem to get.
    0
  • pacioli
    ubercakeAgain...Case articles are perfect opportunities for the Tom's models or the Teaser Girl.

    Crashman... you and teaser girl need to do a collaboration...
    -1