Part 2: Four More Gaming Enclosures Under $50

Garnering playable frame rates from entry-level hardware often requires ambitious overclocking. We test four gamer-oriented cases to see if they're able to serve up the cooling needed to push mainstream hardware to hardcore performance levels.

While high-end hardware generates the most excitement among technology enthusiasts, the toughest competition happens at the other end of the pricing scale. Many of the products here are sold based solely on their good looks, rather than performance. After all, the highest-performance products cost the most money.

It’s no surprise, then, that only eight of the many manufacturers we contacted for our two-part roundup were ready to step up to our challenge. Unfortunately, one of the most enthusiastic of those companies was unable to get its part delivered, even after several follow-up messages. A second case model from one of our Part 1 comparison’s competitors fills the gap. Oh, and if you missed Part 1 of our Gaming Enclosures Under $50 story, be sure to check it out first!

When it comes to gaming hardware, overclocking is often a necessity to get entry-level components to serve up adequate performance in games. When it comes to gaming-oriented cases, the cost of extra fans can be a real problem for the entry-level vendors. Fortunately, big fans are not much more expensive than the typical 80 mm coolers found in budget boxes, and all of today’s contenders have at least a 120 mm exhaust fan, in addition to gamer-themed styling.

 AeroCool VX-RNZXT GammaRosewill ChallengerSilverStone Precision PS05B
Dimensions
Height18.1"17.7"17.7"18.3"
Width7.7"7.5"7.5"7.5"
Depth19.4"19.9"19.3"19.5"
Space Above
Motherboard
0.5"1.1"1.1"0.5" to panel
0.3" to fan mounts
Card Length12.3"11.1"11.1"11.6"
Weight10.2 Pounds11.7 Pounds13.8 Pounds12.5 Pounds
Cooling
Front Fans
(alternatives)
None
(1x 120/92/80 mm)
None
(1x 120 mm)
1x 120 mm w/LED
(Stock Only)
None
(1x 120 mm)
Rear Fans
(alternatives)
1x 120 mm
(92, 80 mm)
1x 120 mm
(92, 80 mm)
1x 120 mm
(92, 80 mm)
1x 120 mm
(92, 80 mm)
Top Fans
(alternatives)
None
(None)
None
(2x 120/140 mm)
1x 140 mm
(1x 120/140 mm)
None
(2x 120 mm)
Side Fans
(alternatives)
None
(None)
None
(2x 120/92/80 mm)
None
(2x 120/92/80 mm)
None
(None)
Drive Bays
5.25" ExternalFourFourThreeFour
3.5" ExternalOneNoneTwoTwo
3.5" InternalFourSevenFiveFour
2.5" InternalNoneNone1 x Adapter TrayNone
Price$50 $40 $40 $50


Also fortunate is that all four of the cases featured in today's story remain under our $50 limit, unlike a couple of models from our Part 1 comparison that rose in price after the enclosures were delivered.

Rosewill tops the fan-to-price curve by packing its $40 Challenger with a total of three fans. But has the company been able to retain a modicum of quality at this low price? Let’s take a closer look.

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61 comments
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  • 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.
  • liquidsnake718
    I have to admit, $50 is a very very cheap and tempting price for ANY gamer, however I suspect that the next gen cases will have alot more features than the "enthusiast" cases we see even today. Like USB 3.0 outputs, at least 2 SSD compartments, standard watercooling holes, space, and even controls for fans, and most of all a compartment for items such as usb's, dvd's, or even a dock for an external HDD. Onewith a lock would even be great for the office. Perhaps external HDD docks that slide in and can connect to SATA6gbs ports horizontally from the front bay would be even crazy!

    I can even imagine a next gen case that has an LED much like those small HTCP cases from Silverstone. With all these ideas, Im still waiting for true next gen casing as weve seen the skeleton and all those ANTEC's, the server looking case, those alienwares, lian li's, gigabytes, and of course the Coolmaster HAF.

    For stock cases these are great but we havent seen innovation since that skeleton case, but honestly, how safe is it for dust, water, and the office?
  • triculious
    nice articles

    now go for the $50-$100 range, please! (although I suspect the winner would be a case close to $100 rather than $80, which is the price range I usually go for)
  • compton
    I like the value case reviews, but I think its time for a uATX case throwdown.
  • KT_WASP
    I have to say that Rosewill has stepped up their game over the past few years when it comes to budget gaming cases. In the past, they offered pretty generic cases with one 80mm or one 120mm fan included and no bells and whistles to speak of.

    If you look now,the under $50 price point from Rosewill is fairly nice, considering what you get for the money. Here is a brief look at whats out there from Rosewill...

    BlackBone Black $35 (two 120mm fans and room for more)
    Challenger Black $45 (two 120mm ans, one 140mm fan and room for more)
    Smart One Black $45 (three 120mm fans and room for more)
    Destroyer Black $45 (three 120mm fans and room for more)

    All these cases have a black finished interior and each has a nice array of features that make them very appealing for those on a budget. I think if your on a budget, they are worth looking into.. as I for one would rather the extra cash saved on a case go into more robust internal hardware. I think Rosewill has stepped it up nicely indeed. Plus, since they are Newegg's house brand, they tend to go on sale and catch free shipping deals more frequently then other brands.

    Also.. Have you seen Rosewill's first attempt at a "highend" case? Check it out...

    Rosewill ARMOR $100

    Full mesh design, one 80mm MB tray fan, four 120mm fans and one 200mm fan. I wonder how well that case performs?