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Three Gaming Cases, With Power, Under $100

Three Gaming Cases, With Power, Under $100
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Case and power supply combos always look like a bargain, but bargain-basement parts have always seemed to chase experienced builders away. Today, we consider three budget-enthusiast models to determine if any of them can meet our basic gaming needs.

Though the above phrase is typically used in reference to politicians and corporations, the true power brokers in our PC purchasing decisions tend to be people we trust. These are usually people with a great deal of experience, or at least those whose advice appears to come from a place of experience.

They tell us to spend in places that don’t make sense, to save in places where we don’t want to skimp, and to basically build their idea of what our PC should be. And while many of the people we trust diverge on the finer details, the one place they almost always meet is on the subject of cases with power supplies. They tell us that, as a rule, any power supply that’s cheap enough to be included with a case is worthless.

We know better. Deep down inside, they know better. Everyone knows that there are exceptions to nearly any rule, and now is the time to make our own rules. As with any revolution, we must first determine our true needs, then find the means to meet them.

Though most performance enthusiasts want a PC worth thousands of dollars, the truth is that many would rather not stretch their budgets that far. The majority of builds start out well below $800. And what most experienced builders won’t tell you (or forget to tell you) is that the lion's share of sub-$800 builds use less than 600W of power. If we push a little harder, we can even build a $550 performance system that draws less than 300 peak watts. That's why, today, we're examining a few money-saving combos able to output far more than 300W for far less than $100.

  Cooler Master
USP 100
In-Win
Griffin
Thermaltake
VI1450BWS
Dimensions
Height19.0"16.30"17.3"
Width8.6"7.5"8.9"
Depth19.4"19.6"19.7"
Space Above
Motherboard
1.31"0.38"0.15" to brace
0.75" total
Card Length11.42"11.60"16.75"
Weight21.0 pounds14.0 pounds19.7 pounds
Cooling
Front Fans
(alternatives)
1 x 120 mm (92, 80 mm)1 x 120 mm (92, 80 mm)1 x 120 mm (stock only)
Rear Fans
(alternatives)
1 x Empty (120, 92, 80 mm)1 x 92 mm (80 mm)1 x 120 mm (92, 80 mm)
Top Fans
(alternatives)
Not Available
Not AvailableNot Available
Side Fans
(alternatives)
1 x Empty (120, 92, 80 mm)1 x 220 mm (2x 120 mm)2 x Empty (120, 92, 80 mm)
Drive Bays
5.25" ExternalFourFourNine
3.5" ExternalOneOne1x Adapter
3.5" InternalSixFive3 x 5.25" bay
to 3-HDD Cage
2.5" InternalNoneNoneNone
Power Supply
ModelRS550-PCARE3IP-S400DQ3-2TR2 RX-450PP
ATX Version2.32.12.2
PFC TypeNoneNonePassive
80 PLUSNoneStandardNone
UL Cert.E320127E193791E303666
Rated Output550W400W400W
12V Rails16A +16A18A +16A14A +15A
12V Combined32A25A20A
ATX Lead20+4 Pin20+4 Pin20+4 Pin
ATX12V4+4 Pin4-Pin4-Pin
PCIe Power2 x 6+2 Pin1 x 6-Pin1 x 6-Pin
SATA Power6 (2-leads)4 (3-leads)2 (1-lead)
ATA Power1x 3-drive2 (2-leads)6 (2-leads)
Floppy Power1-drive1-drive2-drives
Price$88 $82 $83
Display 65 Comments.
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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