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Four Sub-$100 Cases For Your 2013 Gaming Build, Reviewed

Can You Find Value In A Sub-$100 Case?

A high-quality case can outlast even the fastest build. Ironically, though, value-oriented enthusiasts spend money on components that improve performance and tend to cut back on those that don't. You already know that a $30 enclosure won't give you the durability, airflow, or room to expand that a smart upgrade should be expected to offer. But there's no guarantee that a $300 chassis will give you anything more in those areas than a far cheaper model. Sometimes, splurging on a case is simply wasted expense.

Knowing that there are a few solid enclosures out there available for under $100, we made that our budget for this month's round-up. As you read in In Pictures: Four Sub-$100 Cases For Your 2013 Gaming PC, we received 11 total submissions, all battling for supremacy. Today's story is a follow-up to our first picture-based exploration, designed to go beyond our initial visual inspection and lead to more concrete conclusions. 

Cougar Evolution BOLian-Li PC-9NNanoxia Deep Silence 2SilverStone Precision PS06
Dimensions
Height20.2"18.7"18.4"20.8"
Width8.7"8.3"8.2"8.4"
Depth20.6"19.7"24.2"20.0"
Space Above Motherboard0.0"0.5"1.3"1.2"
Card Length12.1"17.3"13.6"12.1"
Weight19.1 Pounds10.8 Pounds24.6 Pounds19.5 Pounds
Cooling
Front Fans (alternatives)1 x 120 mm (2 x 120 mm)1 x 140 mm (2 x 140 mm)2 x 120 mm (None)1 x 120 mm (None)
Rear Fans (alternatives)1 x 120 mm (None)1 x 120 mm (None)1 x 140 mm (1 x 140/120 mm)None (1 x 120 mm)
Top Fans (alternatives)None (2 x 120mm)None (None)None (2 x 140/120 mm)1 x 180 mm (None)
Left Side (alternatives)None (1 x 140 mm)None (2 x 120 mm)None (1 x 140/120 mm)None (None)
Right Side (alternatives)None (None)None (None)None (None)None (None)
Drive Bays
5.25" ExternalSixThreeThreeFive
3.5" ExternalNoneNone1 x Adapter1 x HDD Bay
3.5" InternalFourThreeEightFour
2.5" InternalFour*TwoEight*Four*
Card SlotsEightEightSevenEight
Noise Dampening
SidesNonePlastic CoversCloth/MatNone
TopNoneNoneCloth/MatNone
FrontNonePlastic CoverFoamNone
Price$90$100$90$100
*Shared on 3.5" Tray

Quality is the primary consideration for our round-up, though unusually good or unusually bad performance could certainly set a single case apart from the pack. Features are next up for evaluation, primarily when comparing price to value. Let’s take a closer look at the quality and features each case offers.

  • g-unit1111
    Nice choice of cases that aren't from the usual contenders. I'm a fan of Silverstone - I think I might use the PS06 in my next build, but the polished metal look of the Lian Li is awesome, I wish more case manufacturers would use that look.
    Reply
  • mjmjpfaff
    Nanoxia, in my opinion has produced a winner. It is pretty significant what they have been able to do with such a short time in the American market. My vote goes out for Nanoxia DS2. The size of it is a plus, as well as its looks. And of course it is aesthetically very pleasing, especially for its price.
    Reply
  • ASHISH65
    Good review,i think there should have been more cases and contenders,but personally liked SilverStone’s case due to looks.
    Reply
  • slomo4sho
    I would like to see the temp ratings with a GPU that isn't using a blower style cooler since these seem to be the minority these days.

    Also, I would like to see more cases at this price point. The Cooler Master HAF XB is one I would like to see included personally.
    Reply
  • vmem
    I think Nanoxia is the winner in this contest imho

    HOWEVER, I'd be curious to see how it's GPU temperature problem can be alleviated by adding a few fans, and how that affects it's noise reduction. if the overall picture is still good, then it is the clear winner
    Reply
  • dudewitbow
    I think Nanoxia. albeit temperatures are one thing, silence is another. there is a trens for people to pick up better fans, and the trend of people using low end AIO WC units with Dwoods brackets to cool gpus.
    Reply
  • rolli59
    I say it again any case that has a door for drive bays or a flap for ports, does not work for me. Making the Silverstone and Cougar cases my choice out of the lot but I would prefer both all black.
    Reply
  • dalmvern
    g-unit1111Nice choice of cases that aren't from the usual contenders. I'm a fan of Silverstone - I think I might use the PS06 in my next build, but the polished metal look of the Lian Li is awesome, I wish more case manufacturers would use that look.
    I was thinking the same thing g-unit. Im 90% sure im going to use the PS06 for my Haswell build in a few months.
    Reply
  • major-error
    vmemI think Nanoxia is the winner in this contest imho
    HOWEVER, I'd be curious to see how it's GPU temperature problem can be alleviated by adding a few fans, and how that affects it's noise reduction. if the overall picture is still good, then it is the clear winnerI have the exact same opinion.
    If I had the case, I don't think I'd put a fan on the side panel. I'd be more inclined to install some stand-offs and install a larger baffle, allowing passive airflow but still keeping things quiet.
    Of course, if I needed more fans, I'd fill all the other slots with Noctua NF fans...
    http://www.quietpc.com/na-ds2

    Bottom line: I think this would be an excellent choice to replace my 14-year-old In-Win Q500 case.
    Reply
  • BVKnight
    Why does the Nanoxia look (inside) like a chopped-in-half version of the Rosewill Thor V2? Design characteristics, materials,and layout are almost exactly the same. Seems like both companies may have sourced from a Chinese general supplier in making these cases.
    Reply