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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.

  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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).
    Reply
  • pangedit
    Awesome article toms. Appreciate it :D
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • takeapieandrun
    Its pretty cool how cheap cases nowadays can top cases like the Antec 900 in some aspects.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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!
    Reply