Part 2: Four More Gaming Enclosures Under $50

Conclusion

Rosewill topped today’s charts for cooling and cooling-to-noise, but this is the second of a two-part roundup. Let’s see what happens when we throw the cases from Part 1 into an expanded cooling-to-noise chart.

Antec’s Three Hundred still looks great from a performance standpoint, but it was disqualified from any awards during our Part 1 article, simply because of recent price increases. Available for $49 and change when it was delivered, this $60 part was only retained because it was submitted when its price met our requirements. The same is true of the $55 Enermax ECA3171, though this particular model has less of a penalty-price.

Now for a little easy math. Because this is a $50 case comparison, calculating price as a percentage of that target price is as easy as putting a decimal point in front of the price and doubling it. Doing so makes $50 a 100% target price (1.0), Antec’s $60 price is 120% of the target (1.2), while NZXT and Rosewill have an ultra-low $40 price that is 80% of the target (0.8). Dividing the above efficiency numbers by the price percentage proves the performance-value of each case.

This is what building on a budget is all about. The Rosewill Challenger and NZXT Gamma are basically the same case, but while NZXT adds a second, empty fan mount to the lid, Rosewill fills its single lid-mounted grille with a single fan. Rosewill then goes on to add a front fan, and still charges the same price as NZXT. Those extra fans don’t offer much in the way of added cooling, but the small help they do serve up is reflected in a 4% value lead.

Rosewill destroyed NZXT’s value leadership goals by putting a greater number of fans in an otherwise-similar chassis at the same price. Yet, with a lead this small over NZXT, buyers who prefer the second-place model’s style need not feel any shame over the slight value difference. Although they're very similar, both of these cases far exceed the value rating of competing products.

Rosewill wins the value competition (and consequently, our Recommended Buy award). But we can only really sign off on it for buyers who have extremely tight budgets. All but one of the cases we looked at today are made of 0.6 mm or thinner steel and lack the durability (and noise dampening) we prefer for long-term (and daily) use. The one exception, Antec’s Three Hundred is priced beyond the $50 target set forth during the planning stages of this piece. Though many of us have also been accused of being cheap, we’d all gladly pay a few dollars more for a 0.8 mm-thick model.

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  • stm1185
    The Antec 300 is the only case in the roundup that doesnt look and feel like your buying a cheap ass case. It is well worth the extra money and I dont think anyone should really consider building with anything less.
  • AMW1011
    stm1185The Antec 300 is the only case in the roundup that doesnt look and feel like your buying a cheap ass case. It is well worth the extra money and I dont think anyone should really consider building with anything less.


    Have you actually used an Antec 300? The quality is only average. Plus it lacks a lot of features that all the others have. Seems pretty cheap ass to me.

    Note I've used one Antec 300 and two Rosewill Challengers in different builds. Quality wise I would put them pretty close, the Antec 300's paint finish is like sand paper, where the Challenger is smooth, however the Antec 300 has slightly thicker metal. Feature-wise, its no comparison, and everyone who saw them together preferred the challenger.

    Nice review Tom's. Hopefully you will move on to some more gamer class cases ($50-$100).
  • pangedit
    Awesome article toms. Appreciate it :D
  • wielander
    "Rosewill destroyed NZXT’s value leadership goals by putting a greater number of fans in an otherwise-similar chassis at the same price."

    Except that the NZXT gamma costs $7 less shipped (current and suggested prices) and has for a while now.
  • sparkle_ftw
    I hope the HAF 912 get reviewed and compared. And centurion 590... but that is old and tom's did something with it a while ago
  • ceps
    I love my NZXT Gamma (mostly cos no floppy slot and mate finish), although as mentioned, u need to buy fans, 6 fan slots but only 1 included.
  • takeapieandrun
    Its pretty cool how cheap cases nowadays can top cases like the Antec 900 in some aspects.
  • TommyV
    no offense to anyone who owns one of these cases, but all four of those cases are really ugly. All but the rosewill looks like a busted up autobot.
  • RazberyBandit
    Well, you showed us 4 cases, but truly just two designs. The NZXT and Rosewill are almost identical, while the AeroCool and Silverstone are as well. You could have paired each general design together and pointed out their subtle differences simultaneously.

    If I were truly on a tight budget, I might consider one of these designs. But, it's easily argued that there are higher quality and more feature-rich cases (that don't cut any corners like grommets, fans, filters, etc.) within a $20-$30 earshot of these.
  • Zplendid
    I love my Gamma because I got it for $35 with a $25 MIR(which I received). Can't complain about a $10 dollar case, eat it 300!
  • Tamz_msc
    AMW1011Have you actually used an Antec 300? The quality is only average. Plus it lacks a lot of features that all the others have. Seems pretty cheap ass to me.Note I've used one Antec 300 and two Rosewill Challengers in different builds. Quality wise I would put them pretty close, the Antec 300's paint finish is like sand paper, where the Challenger is smooth, however the Antec 300 has slightly thicker metal. Feature-wise, its no comparison, and everyone who saw them together preferred the challenger.Nice review Tom's. Hopefully you will move on to some more gamer class cases ($50-$100).

    Only problem with the Antec 300 in cable management and there is not enough room for a big Graphics card.Otherwise, it is a solid case.
  • elbert
    I have purchased a many sub $50 case and by far I like the GIGABYTE gz-ph1a3. At only $20 is the best built and best looking case I have seen under $50. The only thing worth note about this case is its 13.78" depth. Any GPU over 9.6" would require you to cut some metal. The 5770 works out great in this case. Luckily the HD bay is set to the outer edge with the HD's second metal hanger is recessed about middle way. Due to the divider between the 5.25" and 3.5" drive bays the mobo may require the remove of the back fan to slide in place. No worry tho just reattach it after. For what you get for $20 you should be expecting a little work.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811233061
  • ares1214
    Whoever says the 300 is a "far superior" or "not cheap" case has clearly never used it. It has pretty much 0 cable managment, higher price, and no terribly good features. Its actually quite a standard, generic, "cheap" case. All of these cases had a black interior, decent cable management, a lower price tag, and considering the 300 is stock with more fans than most of these, then put the same amount of fans in and im sure cooling would be the same.
  • zooted
    I enjoy my challenger that I got for my sub $500 build
  • cknobman
    For the last couple of years I have found it mighty hard to beat Rosewill when it comes to value for your money.

    For building a cheap computer gaming or otherwise I always go Rosewill.
  • jonxor
    I have the NZXT Gamma, and I built a server out of it. 2 8-port RAID cards, D-link 5-port Gigabit switch powered from the internal ATX power supply. I was able to cleanly tuck over 40 Ft of cable in the case, I would love to share pictures search flickr for "bnrclearcase" I'll post the updated pics tonight.
  • coldmast
    3 FANS! for $40 US and a CASE! The Rosewill Challenger is definitely a good case for a budget build.
  • jestersage
    Aw... Silverstone! What were you thinking with those top fan mount offsets? Oh well, I'm sticking to my mATX box for now.
  • TheStealthyOne
    I got the Gamma for 30 bucks, and wow, what a value. I added three more case fans and it was a budget beast!
  • kilthas_th
    Ahh, cheap cases. Spending hard-earned money for a good suck or blow that may not be illegal, but is still pretty dirty.