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Test Settings

Three Gaming Cases, With Power, Under $100
By
Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-920 (2.66 GHz, 8.0 MB Cache), O/C to 3.80 GHz (19 x 200 MHz), 1.416V
MotherboardAsus P6T, X58 Express IOH
BIOS 0801 (09/30/2009)
RAMKingston KHX16000D3ULT1K3/6GX (6GB)
DDR3-2000 at DDR3-1600 CAS 8-8-8-24
GraphicsXFX GeForce GeForce GTX 285 1GB
670 MHz GPU, GDDR3-2500
Hard DriveWestern Digital Velociraptor WD3000HLFS, 300GB
10,000 RPM, SATA 3 Gb/s, 16 MB cache
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GraphicsNvidia GeForce 190.62 WHQL
ChipsetIntel INF 9.1.1.1014


We retained the hardware from our previous $100 Gaming Case Roundup, minus its power supply, to review today’s sub-$100 case and power supply combos. This should allow some consistency for anyone who wants to compare noise levels.

Benchmark Configuration
Prime95 v25.864-bit executable, Small FFT's, 7-threads
FurMark 1.6.5Windowed Mode, 1280x1024, 8x AA, Stability Test
Minimum and maximum temperature
RealTemp 3.40Highest core reading at full CPU load (60 minutes)
Highest core reading at 30 minutes idle
Galaxy CM-140 SPL MeterTested at 1/4m, corrected to 1 m (-12dB), dBA weighting


Galaxy’s CM-140 SPL meter has received critical acclaim for its high accuracy and low price, making it an excellent companion for today’s article. Its one shortcoming is a 32dB floor, which can be overcome by measuring at a closer distance. SPL drops 6dB when distance is doubled, so we measured at 0.25 m and subtracted 12dB to approximate the audio industry’s 1 m standard.

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Top Comments
  • 17 Hide
    dirtmountain , June 30, 2010 6:44 AM
    Good article, i really enjoy these articles about squeezing the biggest bang for the buck out of builds. We'd all like to be able to drop big $$$$ on our systems, but sometimes reality (or the wife) puts a pretty low limit on how much we can spend.
Other Comments
  • 5 Hide
    Vic84 , June 30, 2010 6:25 AM
    Good review
  • 4 Hide
    gordo_46 , June 30, 2010 6:28 AM
    yeah good review
  • 2 Hide
    xc0mmiex , June 30, 2010 6:44 AM
    In "Measured Test Results", first chart, temperature over ambient in degrees Celsius... even at freezing temperature of 0C, CPU would be at 67+ C.... and on a hot day of 30C your CPU would be approaching boiling... i think its a little too toasty so there gotta be a mistake in there somewhere; wrong unit or math
  • 17 Hide
    dirtmountain , June 30, 2010 6:44 AM
    Good article, i really enjoy these articles about squeezing the biggest bang for the buck out of builds. We'd all like to be able to drop big $$$$ on our systems, but sometimes reality (or the wife) puts a pretty low limit on how much we can spend.
  • -3 Hide
    Anonymous , June 30, 2010 7:19 AM
    Just to confirm, are you guys using a dual channel RAM for a 920 build?
  • 0 Hide
    JonnyDough , June 30, 2010 7:34 AM
    Quote:
    Unfortunately, Cooler Master does not include an exhaust fan.


    I would not only prefer not to have one if not necessary due to noise, but I would also prefer to purchase one of my choosing so this is not necessarily a bad thing.
  • 0 Hide
    falchard , June 30, 2010 7:35 AM
    I think in cases more people are looking at aesthetics and ruggedness over temps and acoustics as nearly all cases have acceptable values. When it comes to this NZXT and Rosewill have really seperated themselves from other cases under $50.
  • 0 Hide
    JonnyDough , June 30, 2010 7:49 AM
    I agree, but as an enthusiast I'm really loving that Cooler Master case. I tend to like front to back air flow just because it helps direct noise away from me and I can cool my hard drives first and my GPU last since that seems to be the order of coolest to hottest operating temps.

    I suspect with a bit higher power draw Cooler Master's PSU may perform a bit more admirably on efficiency. The only way to really know is to test the PSUs against each other and measure power draw of the PSUs themselves (until they power off preferably!) under load/idle. If you're going to make a statement about energy efficiency at all then it is my belief that you should test them.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , June 30, 2010 7:51 AM
    xc0mmiexIn "Measured Test Results", first chart, temperature over ambient in degrees Celsius... even at freezing temperature of 0C, CPU would be at 67+ C.... i think its a little too toasty so there gotta be a mistake in there somewhere; wrong unit or math
    No, it's an overclocked Core i7 at eight threads of Prime95, if you find those numbers shocking you're thinking of the wrong CPU.
    falchardI think in cases more people are looking at aesthetics and ruggedness over temps and acoustics as nearly all cases have acceptable values. When it comes to this NZXT and Rosewill have really seperated themselves from other cases under $50.
    These are basically $40 cases in this article. Two of the cases in the review are already far better than this one:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-computer-case,2579-5.html
    That is to say, two of these $40 cases are vastly superior to that $100 case. So you can say what you like, but words alone will not convince me.
  • 5 Hide
    paigeinfull , June 30, 2010 8:00 AM
    grossemesserWhy in blazes you did NOT include in this... comparison the amazingly incredible HAF 922??? Its way better than any of these and costs only $90 Plenty of space, cable management space and of course AIRFLOW! it even has slots in the door so you can fit one big or two small fans... Anyways what can i say, you should have included it

    "Three Gaming Cases, With Power, Under $100"
  • 3 Hide
    rohitbaran , June 30, 2010 8:59 AM
    While the cases are good, the review doesn't throw any light on how the included PSUs perform. Considering that these are budget PSUs, there might be a chance of having substandard PSUs being included which may not even deliver rated power. Cooler Master Extreme Power 600W is one low cost PSU that can't deliver it's rated power.
  • -5 Hide
    rohitbaran , June 30, 2010 9:00 AM
  • 3 Hide
    rohitbaran , June 30, 2010 9:05 AM
    Oh, I found the review of the exact PSU being included in Cooler Master USP 100. It is RS-550-PCAR-E3 which is commercially known as Cooler Master extreme Power 550W. Here is a review at hardwaresecrets.com that clearly shows that it is a bad PSU.
  • -6 Hide
    metallifux , June 30, 2010 9:23 AM
    Why would you put the PSU at the bottom of a case when hot air rises?
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , June 30, 2010 9:31 AM
    MetallifuxWhy would you put the PSU at the bottom of a case when hot air rises?
    Groupthink. Someone said it was cool and everyone else jumped aboard. It happened around three years ago, and now you're not one of the cool kids if you don't agree.
  • -3 Hide
    rohitbaran , June 30, 2010 9:32 AM
    Because a PSU at the bottom provides better position for the motherboard. With PSU at the bottom, you can install 2 fans at the top which ain't possible if the PSU is at the top.
  • 5 Hide
    paigeinfull , June 30, 2010 10:21 AM
    MetallifuxWhy would you put the PSU at the bottom of a case when hot air rises?

    Not to mention that hot air will rise right into the psu causing an increase in psu temps and a decrease in efficiency. I don't think using the psu to exhaust air from the case is a good idea when fans can do a much better job
  • 3 Hide
    DavC , June 30, 2010 11:00 AM
    are you going to put these 3 PSUs through their paces when you do the PSU testing article?
  • -5 Hide
    Wheat_Thins , June 30, 2010 11:31 AM
    The PSU's don't even have enough AMP's / rail to power an higher end GPU..... A 5850 alone is recommended to have at minimum 25 AMP's available on its rail.
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