Roundup: Four Gaming Cases Under $150

Defining The Game-System Case

A seemingly never-ending stream of press releases bombards the review world with flowery language and hard-to-prove claims of superiority, often from case manufacturers maintaining that a specific model is perfect for nearly anyone’s gaming rig. In the face of all this fluffy stuff, we have to ask ourselves what really qualifies as an ATX enclosure for gaming use. Is it a combination of features? The way certain graphics cards fit? Could ventilation be the deciding factor? Portability, perhaps? Or could the term “gaming case” simply be one of those nondescript descriptors that define nothing more than a styling theme?

Flat-black paint, top-panel ports, and manual fan control are three things that all of today’s competing cases have in common. Now that we know the similar features that chassis designers believe gamers desire, here’s a short list of differences.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Cooler Master Storm SniperNZXT HadesThermaltake Element VZalman Z7 Plus
Space Above Motherboard1.75"1.06"1.82"1.0"
Card Length13.38"16.65"13.63"16.80"
Weight25.0 lbs.16.0 lbs.31.5 lbs.17.0 lbs.
Front Fans (alternatives)1 x 200mm (120mm, 140mm)1 x 200mm (stock only)2 x 120mm (stock only)1 x 120mm (140mm)
Rear Fans (alternatives)1x 120mm (92mm, 80mm)1 x120mm (80mm)1 x 120mm (92mm, 80mm)1 x 120mm (92mm, 80mm)
Top Fans (alternatives)1 x 200mm (2 x 120mm)1 x 140mm (2 x 140mm/120mm)1x 200mm (2x 200mm/120mm)None
Side Fans (alternatives)1 x 200mm (2 x 120mm)1 x200mm (stock only)1 x 230mm (1 x 120mm)1 x 120mm (2 x 120mm)
Drive Bays
5.25" ExternalFiveFourFiveNine
3.5" External1 x AdapterNone1 x AdapterCombo Tray
3.5" InternalFive4 x Adapters (5x 5.25" internal bays)2 x Three-Bay CageFour-bay/Five-HDD cage, Combo Tray
2.5" Internal1 x AdapterTwo-drive TrayNoneCombo Tray

Zalmans’ small Z7 Plus stands out as having the most external bays, though four of these are consumed by an internal 3.5” drive cage. Meanwhile, Thermaltake’s Element V actually has 11 external bays, though the bottom six are covered in groups of three. With explanations like these needed for such a simple features table, a closer examination is required for each product before testing begins.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • 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?
  • sarsoft
    No Antec Nine Hundred case...
  • 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
  • 4ILY45
    No CM 690 II??
  • bk641
    the cm doesn't have a fan control option, afaik.
  • Gosh, that Zalman is butt-ugly.
  • zoemayne
    ANTEC 902?
  • sarsoft
    More cases need to be added. There are other case under $150 that are better choices.
  • 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.
  • 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.