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One In 15: Picking An Overall Winner

The Final Five: Gaming Cases Between $80 And $120, Rounded-Up
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We've seen a leader emerge from each of our five-way comparisons. But a competition between 15 cases must yield one overall winner—or so we hope. Here is how they all finish in terms of average cooling performance:

The above chart is sorted by the average of both CPU and GPU temperature, with the top three cases exhibiting similar cooling performance. The NZXT Phantom 410 did a better job of cooling the GPU area, while the SilverStone Kublai KL04 and Antec Eleven Hundred pushed more air past the CPU.

Antec’s quiet Solo II topped our noise suppression chart, but at such high temperatures that we were forced to expand the scale of our thermal performance chart. Roughly equivalent in noise suppression, the Storm Enforcer, Kublai KL04, and Phantom 410 appear to be better options for building quiet gaming systems.

Combining excellent cooling and good noise suppression, the NZXT Phantom 410 tops our comparison of temperature-to-noise.

We limited our five-way comparisons to prices between $80 and $120 because that was what it took to qualify for our round-up. Since we began, however, a few of these cases dropped below $80. So, we updated our final chart to reflect actual, current prices.

Corsair’s 300R did not impress at the manufacturer-suggested price of $80, but that price recently dropped to $65 at Directron. Cooler Master’s Storm Enforcer similarly dropped to $72 at Walmart’s online store. Normalizing those two prices at the $80 minimum causes them to drop down to 10% and 15% over-average value. Strictly following the review guidelines, NZXT’s Phantom 410 comes out on top.

Using the mid-budget gaming market as our standard, the next three cases to appear on the value chart exhibit sub-standard quality. We don't see another chassis exhibiting the quality we expected in this segment until we reach Antec’s mid-pack Eleven Hundred.

A drop to $81 at Mwave puts NZXT’s Phantom 410 into its current high-value position, though it already received our accolades for high quality. Leading the entire field in both cooling and acoustic efficiency, this lower price sees the Phantom 410 finish ahead of its competition in value as well. Market leadership is the key qualification for our highest award and honor, the Best of Tom’s Hardware recognition.

If you need a different drive configuration, require different dimensions, prefer a different style, or simply despise external bay doors (like me), then fear not. The second-place Cooler Master Storm Enforcer, SilverStone Kublai KL04, and Antec Eleven Hundred perform admirably as well and are excellent values.

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