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Roundup: Four Gaming Cases Under $150

Test Results

We’ve seen bold claims of cooling superiority for big cases, yet the largest full-tower case in today’s comparison barely edges out the smallest one. NZXT’s performance is especially impressive, since the Hades is too compact to support its side fan and our CPU cooler simultaneously.

In fact, the NZXT Hades actually beats the Element V at minimum fan speeds, and we think we know why: the Hades case is wrapped tightly around the CPU cooler, forcing its exhaust fans to draw air through it, rather than around it. The inverse would explain why the widest case in today’s roundup, Cooler Master’s Storm Sniper, has the worst low-fan speed results.

Cooler Master and Zalman tie for the quietest case fans at 25dB, yet neither of these does a particularly good job of blocking the excessive noise of our CPU cooler. For that, we again look to Thermaltake’s Element V and again find an easy explanation: by placing the Element V’s side fan and related ventilation holes below the CPU, Thermaltake allows only reflected noise to escape.

The SPL difference between directional and reflected noise can be significant, which is why this writer always places his PC to his left, so that ventilated side panels face away from his head. Yet, doing so makes it impractical to use cases with doors that swing to the right, such as NZXT’s Hades.

Good cooling and modest noise reduction allow Thermaltake’s Element V to easily pass other solutions in cooling-to-noise comparisons.

  • skora
    Good article. But I'm a little surprised that the Element actually found the Buy award. Usually seems like that's set aside for superior products that don't have the QC issues this did.

    I'm sure there will be request for this case and that and across a lot of price ranges.

    If you do enough of these, you could do a "Best Gaming Case for the Money" series. Or is that peeing in Don's yard?
    Reply
  • sarsoft
    No Antec Nine Hundred case...
    Reply
  • p1n3apqlexpr3ss
    That wouldnt be a bad idea tbh skora, would like to know what the best budget case is out there... not excactly a fan of the antec 200/300
    Reply
  • 4ILY45
    No CM 690 II??
    Reply
  • bk641
    the cm doesn't have a fan control option, afaik.
    Reply
  • Gosh, that Zalman is butt-ugly.
    Reply
  • zoemayne
    ANTEC 902?
    Reply
  • sarsoft
    More cases need to be added. There are other case under $150 that are better choices.
    Reply
  • bk641
    the lancool (lian-li) k62 is a very, very good case for a sub $100 range. i'm using one, and it has pretty much everything you'd want in a mid-tower case. i especially like its HDD bay system, which can be configured to have the hard drives straight on, or perpendicular. in addition to that there are four quiet fans (two on top) and room for two 5870s.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    sarsoftNo Antec Nine Hundred case...No OLD cases. The Cooler Master case ended up in here by mistake, it was supposed to be for stuff released from November onward.
    Reply