Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

The Final Five: Gaming Cases Between $80 And $120, Rounded-Up

The Final Five: Gaming Cases Between $80 And $120, Rounded-Up
By

Our 15-way shootout of cases priced between $80 and $120 ends as we compare the last five models to the previous ten, yielding an overall winner. Which chassis offers the best balance of quality, cooling, and noise reduction, and which is the best buy?

Mid-range gaming hardware is a favorite among Tom’s Hardware readers. So, we were not surprised last year when a poll revealed that a majority of responders wanted us to focus on the $80 to $120 range for our next round-up of cases. That's a super-dense field, involving more enclosures than one reviewer can tackle. We set a few reasonable ground rules, though, that helped reduce the number of submissions we received to a more manageable 15. As we prepare to test the last five entries, here are a few links to the coverage of the 10 models that came before.


Previous performance analysis revealed several award-worthy products, such as NZXT’s high-quality Phantom 410 and Cooler Master’s high-value Storm Enforcer. The big question today is whether any of the final five enclosures are better than the cases we've already tested. At the end of this piece, we'll compare all 15 submissions to determine one overall winner. But first we have to test the last quintet.

  Antec Solo II Corsair 400R In Win Buc MSI Ravager Raidmax Seiran
Dimensions
Height17.3"19.7"19.1"18.4"18.9"
Width8.1"9.3"8.6"8.1"8.0"
Depth18.9"21.3"20.2"19.7"19.7"
Space Above
Motherboard
0.6"1.3"0.7"1.3"0.8"
Card Length16.0"13.1"12.0"12.0" to 16.9"**^^11.7" to 16.6"
Weight20.5 Pounds16.8 Pounds16.6 Pounds15.7 Pounds13.0 Pounds
Cooling
Front Fans
(alternatives)
None
(2 x 120 mm)
2 x 120 mm
(None)
1 x 120 mm
(None)
1 x 120 mm
(2 x 120 mm)
1 x 120 mm
(None)
Rear Fans
(alternatives)
1 x 120 mm
(None)
1 x 120 mm
(1 x 140 mm)
1 x 120 mm
(None)
1 x 120 mm
(1 x 92 mm)
1 x 120 mm
(1 x 80 mm)
Top Fans
(alternatives)
None
(None)
None
(2 x 140/120 mm)
1 x 120 mm
(None)
None
(2 x 140/120 mm)
None
(None)
Left Side
(alternatives)
None
(None)
None
(2 x 140/120 mm)
None
(2 x 120 mm)
None
(2 x 140/120 mm)
1 x 180 mm
(1 x 120 mm)
Right Side
(alternatives)
None
(None)
None
(None)
None
(None)
None
(None)
None
(None)
Drive Bays
5.25" ExternalTwoFourThreeThreeNine
3.5" ExternalNoneNoneOneNone1x Adapter
3.5" InternalThreeSixFiveSix6x Adapter
2.5" InternalThree* +1Six* Five*Six*Seven*
Card SlotsSevenEightSevenSevenSeven
Price$90 $89 $95 $80 $80
*Shared on 3.5" tray **Slots 1-5  ^^w/o Center Cage


Prices have dropped on several models since our series began. For instance, Raidmax's Seiran sells for only $70 at Directron, and MSI’s Stealth shows up at Micro Center for an online price of $77. Because all of these cases had to be priced between $80 and $120 to qualify for this round-up, we're using the price floor in our comparison. However, we'll factor in the updated prices when it comes time to compare the value of each product in the 15-way evaluation.

Display 51 Comments.
  • 4 Hide
    idroid , August 29, 2012 4:39 AM
    Hell yeah!!! NZXT Phantom 410 FTW!!
  • 4 Hide
    idroid , August 29, 2012 4:40 AM
    Toms should do a review on high-end cases featuring EXTREME watercooling.
  • 1 Hide
    dudewitbow , August 29, 2012 5:12 AM
    idroidToms should do a review on high-end cases featuring EXTREME watercooling.


    the only tiny problem at the most part i see in that is that it would be slightly harder to test thermal efficiency, since its being cooled by water, rather than air + hsf so in a wc build, the thermal ratings will be extremely close.
  • 0 Hide
    jupiter optimus maximus , August 29, 2012 5:44 AM
    now try to find the best micro-atx case...
  • 5 Hide
    amuffin , August 29, 2012 6:01 AM
    The Antec Solo II is not a case meant for gaming.
  • -1 Hide
    back_by_demand , August 29, 2012 6:10 AM
    It would be nice to see a left-sided window case listing, there are definate advantages to a left sided window / upside down mobo config
  • 0 Hide
    iknowhowtofixit , August 29, 2012 6:23 AM
    But, but, but.... The Phantom 410 is sooooo ugly...
  • 5 Hide
    Crashman , August 29, 2012 6:45 AM
    amuffinThe Antec Solo II is not a case meant for gaming.
    Well...Antec sent it anyway. Along with the Eleven Hundred. So they evidently had a plan.
    back_by_demandIt would be nice to see a left-sided window case listing, there are definate advantages to a left sided window / upside down mobo config
    Did you know that the reason many manufacturers abandoned the upside-down case was because some motherboard heat pipes supposedly didn't work right in that configuration?
    iknowhowtofixitBut, but, but.... The Phantom 410 is sooooo ugly...
    Eye of the beholder :) 

  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 29, 2012 8:16 AM
    The Solo II would probably have done a little better with your LGA2011 / GTX580 setup, if Antec included at least one front intake fan. Any chance of a [quick, informal] re-test with an added intake fan or two? :) 
  • -1 Hide
    antemon , August 29, 2012 9:34 AM
    as
  • 0 Hide
    antemon , August 29, 2012 9:40 AM
    I'm a fan of smaller cases

    I have a qx-2000 case from aerocool. it's a nightmare for cable management and upgrading partsm but I like it

    can toms also do an in-depth article on smaller cases?

    particularly, I want a similar case as the qx-2000 but the PSU is mounted at the bottom so that adding items inside woundnt be too much of a chore.

    thermaltake armor a30 looks awesome, but still has a top mounted PSU
  • -1 Hide
    ojas , August 29, 2012 12:47 PM
    HAF 912 (preferably the Advanced model) is also a great case. Maybe include it in a round-up some day, if you can...
  • 1 Hide
    grokem , August 29, 2012 1:45 PM
    I really appreciate seeing each of these cases setup in the same way with pro/cons pointed out. Really well done quick review of the cases.

    My only complaint is that instead of the title "Gaming Cases Between $80 And $120" I would have titled the article "Overclock-able ATX Gaming/File Server Cases". I'm not sure why a gaming rig needs to be a 20" tower with room for seven drives and seven expansion slots these days. There are two large camps of gamers; those that overclock and those that don't.

    For either camp, mATX is the best board to choose these days. Also, no gamer needs 2-9 external 5.25" bays unless they are also building a file server with hat swappable drives. They make file server cases for that. I think everyone appreciates lots of 3.5" and 2.5" internal bays but they should be optional and cooling and noise should always be the primary concern.

    For the overclockers, these cases are sized but for those that don't intend to overclock a review of mATX cases would be a lot more what the common gamer is looking at these days. In the recent builder challenge, most of the rigs came with Core-i5 CPUs because the extra CPU power of the i7 didn't really help with the benchmarks that much. The graphics card was where all the bang for the buck in gaming is. Using that same logic, a lot of gamers are not overclocking their CPU because of the cost and hassle as well a reduced component life. More than ever I think you have have a true top tier gaming rig and not overclock anything in it.
  • -2 Hide
    Sakkura , August 29, 2012 1:51 PM
    This makes me pretty happy about the Cooler Master Storm Enforcer I've invested in. It's not as butt-ugly as the NZXT Phantom 410 and scores very close to it in value and efficiency.

    I think CM, Antec and SilverStone are going to be pretty sadface about getting those tiny "perform admirably as well and are excellent values" words at the end instead of a big, fat award badge.

    Excellent series of articles anyway. Extremely useful to have such a wide selection of cases compared. Case selection IMO tends to be one of the tougher things when putting a build together, it's usually harder to compare cases than CPUs or graphics cards.
  • -1 Hide
    jaquith , August 29, 2012 1:55 PM
    Very nice Article! :)  By now you've got to be numb of building.

    Interesting you had the 400R and not the $115~$120 -$15 MIR Corsair 500R.

    Cases must have good cable management, features, airflow, and quality -- beyond that it's a Beauty is in the Eyes of the Beholder.

    Just a thought on your grid you might want to add e.g. 1. Front Ports, 2. Side Panel Cable Management, 3. USB 3.0 (20-pin/pass-through)
  • 2 Hide
    Crashman , August 29, 2012 2:00 PM
    jaquithVery nice Article! By now you've got to be numb of building.Interesting you had the 400R and not the $115~$120 -$15 MIR Corsair 500R.Cases must have good cable management, features, airflow, and quality -- beyond that it's a Beauty is in the Eyes of the Beholder.Just a thought on your grid you might want to add e.g. 1. Front Ports, 2. Side Panel Cable Management, 3. USB 3.0 (20-pin/pass-through)
    #3 doesn't make a difference, because the ground rules mentioned in part one and linked in parts 2 and 3 say that nobody could participate unless they included 20-pin.

    Without adding that restriction, Tom's Hardware would have gotten at least twice as many cases at just one per manufacturer, and four times as many cases with this series' "twofer" plan.

    As a motherboard editor, I can't recommend anything that doesn't have 20-pin. So as a case editor, I can't recommend anything that doesn't support recommended motherboards. Yeh, I'm a little...well anyway, you did know that without this editor we might still be waiting for a front-panel connector standard, right?
  • -1 Hide
    jaquith , August 29, 2012 2:18 PM
    RE: #2 ; one of the cases, searched them all first, showed a USB 3.0 pass-through and then I looked at the case's page (your Article) looking for the 20-pin. Admittedly I haven't read all of your article. Hmm...I think many MFG's haven't gotten your MEMO. In the last day or so I ran across some case, I think an Antec, that ships with 3 USB 3.0 ports with x2 20-pins -- so odd stuff is still out there being produced.

    Many of the Corsair lines need a 'Version 1.1' with standardized USB 3.0 20 pins, Front Ports, and the 800D with SATA3.

    Anyway thanks again :) 
  • -1 Hide
    halcyon , August 29, 2012 3:05 PM
    The Antec and Corsair appear to be the most attractive in my opinion with this cleaner and more sophisticated approach. I'm considering moving my PC from its 800D to a 500R
  • -2 Hide
    rohitbaran , August 29, 2012 3:41 PM
    What about CM690?
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 29, 2012 4:12 PM
    As an owner of the 400R, I'm surprised Tom's didn't mention how easy it is to mount an H100 cooler in the case. (with tons of room I might add, no need for anything custom) The 400R is very subtle also. No crazy angles, good looks, and the ability to turn off the included LED lights.

    The H100 alone is why I bought this case over others. Although it doesn't take the overall win, I'm very glad to see it gets the 2012 approval. Makes me feel like I did good on my purchase. :) 
Display more comments
React To This Article