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Part 2: Four More Gaming Enclosures Under $50

Rosewill topped today’s charts for cooling and cooling-to-noise, but this is the second of a two-part roundup. Let’s see what happens when we throw the cases from Part 1 into an expanded cooling-to-noise chart.

Antec’s Three Hundred still looks great from a performance standpoint, but it was disqualified from any awards during our Part 1 article, simply because of recent price increases. Available for $49 and change when it was delivered, this $60 part was only retained because it was submitted when its price met our requirements. The same is true of the $55 Enermax ECA3171, though this particular model has less of a penalty-price.

Now for a little easy math. Because this is a $50 case comparison, calculating price as a percentage of that target price is as easy as putting a decimal point in front of the price and doubling it. Doing so makes $50 a 100% target price (1.0), Antec’s $60 price is 120% of the target (1.2), while NZXT and Rosewill have an ultra-low $40 price that is 80% of the target (0.8). Dividing the above efficiency numbers by the price percentage proves the performance-value of each case.

This is what building on a budget is all about. The Rosewill Challenger and NZXT Gamma are basically the same case, but while NZXT adds a second, empty fan mount to the lid, Rosewill fills its single lid-mounted grille with a single fan. Rosewill then goes on to add a front fan, and still charges the same price as NZXT. Those extra fans don’t offer much in the way of added cooling, but the small help they do serve up is reflected in a 4% value lead.

Rosewill destroyed NZXT’s value leadership goals by putting a greater number of fans in an otherwise-similar chassis at the same price. Yet, with a lead this small over NZXT, buyers who prefer the second-place model’s style need not feel any shame over the slight value difference. Although they're very similar, both of these cases far exceed the value rating of competing products.

Rosewill wins the value competition (and consequently, our Recommended Buy award). But we can only really sign off on it for buyers who have extremely tight budgets. All but one of the cases we looked at today are made of 0.6 mm or thinner steel and lack the durability (and noise dampening) we prefer for long-term (and daily) use. The one exception, Antec’s Three Hundred is priced beyond the $50 target set forth during the planning stages of this piece. Though many of us have also been accused of being cheap, we’d all gladly pay a few dollars more for a 0.8 mm-thick model.

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