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Conclusion

Three Gaming Cases, With Power, Under $100
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While many enthusiasts have never even considered using a power supply that came with a case, we’ve previously found excellent value in carefully-selected budget combos. Our continued effort to expand our low-cost options had yielded some surprising results!

First up is Cooler Master’s USP 100, a sharp-looking $88 unit that includes a 550W power supply valued at $50 separately. Advanced design features included a transverse hard drive cage that many builders prefer for ease of drive replacement, and an enormous opening behind the CPU cooler to ease the installation and removal of CPU cooler support plates. Those two features make this the most modern of today’s competitors, yet the hard drive cage does partially block airflow from the intake fan. And while the 550W power unit does offer an impressive 32A maximum 12V capacity, its efficiency numbers are fairly grim.

Next came In Win’s Griffin case and Power Man 400W power supply, two parts not yet sold together by any major vendor (though large buyers can specify the combo). In Win’s moderate quality has long made its cases a favorite amongst reputable office system builders, a fact that shows through in the power supply’s superb efficiency and acceptable 25A 12V capacity. Unfortunately, the Griffin case doesn’t quite measure up to the legacy of the company's office PC line, as it doesn’t support the gamer-oriented oversized CPU coolers that fit easily into many of the firm’s more traditional products.

Finally there’s Thermaltake’s VI1450BWS. Its M9 case the top performer of today’s review. Buyers don’t get modern features like transverse hard drive mounts or the CPU cooler installation hole found in Cooler Master’s competing product, but Thermaltake’s simpler drive cage design allows it to aid in overall rigidity while providing better airflow. The included “450W” power supply comes with a shockingly-light 20A limit for the 12V rails, outpaced by In Win’s 400W unit. Likewise, the side window that might add value for some buyers is flimsy enough to take it away from others.

Budget-oriented buyers must always face compromises, but are any of these cases more worthy than the rest of our recommendations? To be frank, we have too little faith in Thermaltake’s power supply to use it in any level of gaming PC, though we certainly can appreciate the performance of its M9 chassis. Conversely, In Win took itself out of the running by providing a gaming case that doesn’t offer the same level of support for gaming hardware as its traditional cases, even though its power supply appears to offer the highest quality of today’s competitors.

As a result, we are left providing a tepid recommendation to the solution that supported all of our needs, but did so with moderate performance. Cooler Master’s USP 100 had the highest temperatures and lowest power supply efficiency of today’s competitors, yet it also provided the easiest hardware installation and highest amperage capacity.

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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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