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The Final Three: Sub-$100 Cases For Your Gaming Build

Three More Cases And A Grand Finale

We're well into summer, so it's about time we wrapped up a gaming case round-up that started in the spring. As a reminder, we focused on the value market, setting a price cap of $100 and warning the 28 companies we invited that quality would be a major consideration. Fortunately, we didn’t encounter any of the throw-away parts that a few brands continuously try sending to our labs.

In fact, most of the companies that make the cheap cases we'd caution you against decided to simply not show up for fear of higher-end vendors. Most of the 11 models that did land at the Tom's Hardware office had more than 15 pounds of material to enhance their durability. We reviewed the field in the order they arrived, and two of the lighter contenders coincidentally show up in the last part of our round-up.

Antec GX700Cooler Master Storm Scout 2 AdvancedIn Win GT1
Dimensions
Height19.0"20.2"18.6"
Width7.9"9.0"8.3"
Depth20.8"20.3"19.8"
Space Above Motherboard2.2" (w/o fans)1.2"0.5"
Card Length11.4"11.2-15.7"***^11.9"
Weight14.6 Pounds19.1 Pounds12.8 Pounds
Cooling
Front Fans (alternatives)None (2 x 120 mm)2 x 120 mm (None)1 x 120 mm (2 x 120 mm)
Rear Fans (alternatives)1 x 120 mm (None)1 x 120 mm (None)1 x 120 mm (None)
Top Fans (alternatives)None (2 x 140/120 mm)None (2 x 120 mm)None (2 x 120 mm)
Left Side (alternatives)None (1 x 120 mm)None (2 x 120 mm)None (None)
Right Side (alternatives)None (None)None (None)None (None)
Drive Bays
5.25" ExternalFour (1-blocked)ThreeThree
3.5" ExternalNoneNoneSSD/HDD Dock
3.5" InternalFiveSevenSix
2.5" InternalFive*2*+2*6* +1
Card SlotsSevenSeven (Plus One)Seven
Noise Dampening
SidesNoneNoneNone
TopNoneNoneNone
FrontNoneNoneNone
Price$60$85$65
*Shared on 3.5" hard drive tray **Via 5.25" adapter tray ***w/o Center Cage ^Slots 1-6

There’s no hard-and-fast 15-pound rule, as both Antec and In Win certainly know how to shape their metal to stiffen it. We even had an all-aluminum sample arrive in Part 1 that weighed in just under 11 pounds. Its only weakness was its internal structure. Rather than make scurrilous remarks based on a single specification, we’re going to build these up and put them through our tests to find out which company really has the best gaming-oriented chassis.

If you missed any of the five stories preceding this one and want a refresher of what Antec, Cooler Master, and In Win are up against, check out each picture-based walk-through and the reviews that follow them. In chronological order:

  • envy14tpe
    Thanks for doing the sub $100 cases. Obviously these are the most important ones.

    Is there any way tomshardware can put all the data together on a couple spreadsheets?
    Reply
  • JJ1217
    I'd like to see an article for this for cases that are larger, like the HAF X, Switch 810, and a few others. Be interesting to see them compared.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    11083777 said:
    Thanks for doing the sub $100 cases. Obviously these are the most important ones.

    Is there any way tomshardware can put all the data together on a couple spreadsheets?

    Performance data?
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/antec-gx700-cooler-master-storm-scout-2-advanced-in-win-gt1,3512-10.html

    Or do you mean dimensional data?

    Reply
  • ojas
    Hey about the GX700: Only exhaust would mean more dust build up (negative internal air pressure) so how does that factor in?
    Reply
  • envy14tpe
    11083962 said:
    11083777 said:
    Thanks for doing the sub $100 cases. Obviously these are the most important ones.

    Is there any way tomshardware can put all the data together on a couple spreadsheets?

    Performance data?
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/antec-gx700-cooler-master-storm-scout-2-advanced-in-win-gt1,3512-10.html

    Or do you mean dimensional data?
    That's exactly what I was looking for.
    Reply
  • vertexx
    Thanks for doing all the analysis. Cases are so subjective and have so many factors, and it all comes down to trade-offs.

    I thought the final analysis was perhaps a bit brief with so many cases reviewed. It would be good to see some type of point or rating system for different factors that go into overall case value (i.e. Finish Quality, Build Quality, Component Accessibility, Flexible Layout Options, Cable Management).
    Reply
  • Onus
    If one can deal with its anomalies (dealbreakers for some I'm sure), the Antec GX700 looks like a winner. I'm not sure about the styling, but that Ostrog does look like a good choice too. The Storm Scout looks like a bigtime value loser, and I'm very surprised Rosewill didn't do better. I suspect a lot of positions might change if you allow a certain amount of modding and tweaking though. I think this is why selecting a case will remain a matter of personal preference, regardless of what stock benchmarks show.
    Reply
  • Spooderman
    I built my friend's PC in the In Win and it was a good experience. Cable management was acceptable, everything fit nicely, nice color scheme. There was an interesting moment when I noticed that the case was built to include its own standoffs in the form of raised bumps on the motherboard tray. This scared me because I didn't trust putting the mobo on the case, but I looked it up and apparently the standoffs that came with the case were only for micro ATX. The front panel design and lights were nice looking and mostly unobtrusive. Other than that, it was a great case to build in and I think I'll be using it for my next friend's build this summer. Out of all the cases I would recommend this one for a good building experience.
    Reply
  • JPNpower
    So which is the good budget case that doesn't look like a flashy monster? I know it shouldn't matter, but I personally couldn't stand many of these cases sitting in my living room.
    Reply
  • Onus
    I'd take a look at Fractal Designs or Lian Li for a much more subdued styling, and also quiet. I don't mind a blue light here or there (if only to tell me the PC is on, ready to do as I tell it), but I don't like garish either; not in the living room anyway.
    Reply