Five Gaming Cases Between $80 And $120, Reviewed

Cases For Cost-Conscious Builders

Although they often don't get as much love as they deserve, cases are critical components in any new system build. That's why we've made an effort to not only write up in-depth build-oriented reviews of enclosures, but also photograph them from every possible angle. If you haven't already read In Pictures: Five Mainstream Gaming Cases, Previewed, check that piece out before this one.

When we build our $1000 PCs for the System Builder Marathon, cases in the $80-120 price range dominate the reader-favorite list. When we recently polled the audience on what they'd most like to see in an upcoming round-up, we even had a few folks let us know that they wanted a comparison of everything in that range. Though the constant flow of new hardware makes it impossible to go into that much depth, we promised we'd do what we could.

Given so many potential candidates, we decided to do a series of round-ups with five or six models per story. We then invited more than two dozen companies to send up to three of their most competitive cases, giving them just three unobtrusive requirements:

  1. The cases had to be priced between $80 and $120.
  2. The cases had to hold full ATX components.
  3. The cases had to provide an internal front-panel USB 3.0 connector.

That third requirement was a big problem for many manufacturers. But it was important to us because Tom's Hardware is the site that begged, pleaded, and eventually coerced motherboard companies to agree on an internal header standard, even as the forum that controls those standards dragged its feet.

Case companies have been so slow to embrace this standard that our requirement dropped a field of over 50 products to a collection of only 15. Fifteen products is an easy number to manage, dividing cleanly into a three-part series. We recently published In Pictures: Five Mainstream Gaming Cases, Previewed to show you some of the features found on our first five contenders, and today's review concludes part one of the series.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Corsair 300RIn Win Mana 136MSI StealthNZXT Phantom 410Xigmatek Midgard II
Space Above Motherboard1.4"0.5"1.3"1.25"****0.2"
Card Length11.8" to 16.3"**11.5"11.5" to 16.4"***10.8", 11.8"^, 16.8"^^11.9" to 16.7"^^
Weight14.1 Pounds12.0 Pounds14.8 Pounds20.8 Pounds16.1 Pounds
Front Fans (alternatives)1 x 140 mm (2 x 140/120 mm)1 x 120 mm (2 x 120 mm)1 x 120 mm (1 x 140/160/180 mm)1 x 120mm (1 x 140 mm, 2 x 120 mm)1 x 120 mm (2 x 120 mm)
Rear Fans (alternatives)1 x 140 mm (None)1 x 120 mm (1 x 92 mm)1 x 120 mm (1 x 92 mm)1 x 120 mm (None)1 x 120 mm (1 x 92 mm)
Top Fans (alternatives)None (2 x 140/120 mm)None (2 x 120 mm)None (2 x 120 mm, 1 x 140/160/180 mm)1 x 140 mm (2 x 140/120 mm)None (2 x 140/120 mm)
Left Side (alternatives)None (2 x 140/120 mm)None (2 x 120 mm)None (2 x 140/120 mm)None (1 x 140/120 mm)None (2 x 140/120 mm)
Right Side (alternatives)NoneNoneNoneNoneNone
Drive Bays
5.25" ExternalThreeThreeFourThreeThree
3.5" ExternalNoneNoneNoneNoneNone
3.5" InternalFourSixFourSixSix
2.5" InternalFour*TwoFour*Six*Six*
Card SlotsSevenSevenSevenSevenSeven
*Shared on 3.5" tray **Slots 1-5 ***Slots 2-4 ****w/o Top Fan ^w/o fan bracket ^^w/o Center Cage

Three of today’s cases weigh less than 15 pounds, yet all five cases use a steel structure. In other words, the lightest of today’s cases is going to inherently have less rigidity than we might expect of products priced over $80. We’ll try to reserve most of that critique for our conclusion, though.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • Ramlethal
    why is it between 80 to 120 if the most expensive ones are 410 and stealth priced at 100 ?
  • Crashman
    19046365 said:
    why is it between 80 to 120 if the most expensive ones are 410 and stealth priced at 100 ?
    Because it was written four years ago?
  • Tschrom
    Honestly, that's probably still true today, if not even cheaper. You can find good quality Full ATX cases for around $80 now, and to spend that much ($410) on a case is just a waste of money. If you really know what you're doing, you don't need to spend anywhere near that much on a case just to house your components. I'm using a Thermaltake Versa H22 SE, which is pretty small (only a mid-ATX case and cheap at only $40) in regards to cases, yet I am able to keep everything quite cool and even made some manual customizations to the case to ensure everything fits well and works well. And I'm using only Air Cooling. Really the case you use comes down to "do the components fit, and is there adequate cooling". Even then, the cooling part can be adjusted to what is necessary with some manual customizations or even just so much as ensuring that your case fans' CFM is adequate for cooling of your currently installed components (or water, but water cooling doesn't work in my current setup so I have no opinion on that).