With each case review the number of cases we review grows, as does the amount of time required to examine, test and review those cases. The good news is that the choices available to the consumer continue to grow. This second part of the 2003 Fall Case Review thus completes the largest and most comprehensive case review in THG's history.
In part one of the 2003 Fall Case Review we examined the MicroATX offerings from several case manufacturers; if you are looking for the MicroATX cases that we reviewed earlier, here is the link to that review: (2003 Winter Case Review Part 1: MicroATX Case Madness )
Before we dive into this lengthy case review, we thought it worthwhile to recap some of the key points from our discussions with numerous case manufacturers at Computex regarding new innovations and such. (You can read the entire article here - Computex Fall 2003 : Case, Case, This Is The Place! )
One of the most important discussions with the case manufacturers during Computex covered the development of the new BTX form factor and cases that are compatible with the BTX form factor. Since our initial discussion with many case manufacturers on the subject of BTX, things have grown mysteriously silent on this topic. Several manufacturers have indicated they are still working on the development and testing of BTX solutions, but others have stated that development of new BTX cases remains at the starting line for the moment. It seems that at least from a case manufacturing point of view the transition to BTX is not as much a priority as many feel it should be.
However, anyone who is purchasing a case for a long-term use should carefully weigh the cost of that case against the likelihood that they might decide to migrate to the BTX form factor in the future. This uncertain form factor future, along with the uncertain world economy, seems to have reached the case manufacturers as well. Several manufacturers believe that these two factors have impacted sales of their higher-end flagship products, while sales of their mid-range and low-end products continue to remain about the same.
Many manufacturers are lowering the prices of their high-end flagship cases to combat stagnant sales of these cases. This is great news for consumers, who can now get a higher quality case for considerably less. Whether or not to invest in a high-end case, even at an affordable price, has never been more complicated due to the looming BTX question. Based on our discussions with the case manufacturers, however, we can assure you that ATX cases are not going away anytime soon; thus, at least for the near future, BTX should not be the overriding concern, as compatible ATX form factor products are plentiful and should continue to be for some time.