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Four More Sub-$100 Cases For Your Gaming Build, Reviewed

Zalman MS800 Plus

Packed with features, an eighth expansion slot is the biggest thing missing from Zalman’s $100 MS800 Plus. That omission prevents builders from putting a double-slot graphics card into an ATX motherboard’s bottom slot, which is sometimes required in three-way SLI configurations—depending on motherboard layout.

We're not going to say that an eighth slot is mandatory for us, but we're still surprised to see such a well-detailed and tall case missing a feature that would have been so easy to add. Zalman's money instead goes into a three-drive backplane, a six-fan speed controller, card-supporting brackets that can also host a component cooling fan, and better material quality compared to less-expensive competitors. Some of the extra quality shows up as a more than five-pound weight penalty compared to today’s other contenders.

Unlike most sub-$100 cases, the MS800 has more than enough room to stack a radiator and fans beneath its top panel. Zalman even leaves room between the top chassis panel and plastic cover for a second set of fans, which could allow a radiator installation with push-pull fan configuration. The holes in the chassis do not line up with any of the radiators we've seen though, and the tabs that hold its external mesh insert get in the way of that optional second set of fans. You might be tempted to make some easy modifications, but we'd probably hang a double-width radiator from a single fan mount.

The extra component fan we mentioned is a 92 mm unit included in the MS800 Plus installation kit. Also included are extra brackets to hold more fans or cards, and a divisible (4+4-pin) eight-pin power cable extender.

The MS800 Plus doesn’t include any USB 3.0-to-USB 2.0 adapters, instead relying on builders to use a modern motherboard with front-panel headers. Platforms that lack the necessary header can still use the case’s two USB 2.0 jacks.

  • jdwii
    Why no love for coolermaster its easily the best Case company out there, i rarely even consider anything else. For just 60$ they offer one heck of a deal.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    jdwiiWhy no love for coolermaster its easily the best Case company out there, i rarely even consider anything else. For just 60$ they offer one heck of a deal.Tom's HardwareOf the 28 companies we invited to participate, 11 responded with cases they thought would give the Tom's Hardware audience the best balance between quality, features, and price. We divided the round-up into three groups based on when each of the samples arrived.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    Sorry about the double post, I can't seem to find the delete button :) Moderators?
    Reply
  • griptwister
    Wow! Looking for a new case! It's time to upgrade my Antec OneHundred windowed. it's too loud with all the fans. and the PSU. Looks like I'll be going with a Zalman MS800 for my next rig! I liked the look of the z11 better at first, but seeing what the MS 800 looks like with a few LEDs, it seems classy and sleek yet not overdone. Great review THW!
    Reply
  • slomo4sho
    Thank you for not doing a slide show for this like the other reviews.

    Also, still looking forward to a review of the Cooler Master HAF XB.
    Reply
  • dalmvern
    slomo4shoThank you for not doing a slide show for this like the other reviews. Also, still looking forward to a review of the Cooler Master HAF XB.
    Apparently you were unaware of the slideshow they released last week. What Toms has done with all of these round ups was take the pictures and post them, then once they get done with their battery of tests they post the results and commentary afterward.
    Reply
  • nd22
    Excellent review! I like to get the best possible performance for the money I spent and it seems that these cases you reviewed are perfect for a mid-end gaming build I am planning to do! How about some exotic cases to review for us Tom? For example I would like to see a review of cooler master haf xb or fractal 304.
    Reply
  • sincreator
    It's about time Zalman sent you guys one of their budget oriented cases. I bought the Zalman Z9+ for $34.99 last year with free shipping from NCIX, and I absolutely love the case. Great quality with a huge amount of features for a case of that price. It has more features than my brothers Antec 900 surprisingly, and it probably should of been $70-80. I'm not complaining though. lol. I have recommended the MS 800 and the Zalman Z9+ to a few friends, depending on their budget. They all loved the cases and were shocked at what they got for the money. I'd love to see more reviews for Zalman's cases on Tom's.
    Reply
  • ubercake
    Ok. Where are the Tom's models?

    Inner butt cheek. Side boob. That's what's going to sell cases. :)
    Reply
  • Crashman
    ubercakeOk. Where are the Tom's models?Inner butt cheek. Side boob. That's what's going to sell cases.Sorry, all the models near this location are BBW. I don't believe that would go-over with the majority :p
    Reply