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The Final Five: Gaming Cases Between $80 And $120, Rounded-Up

Test Setup And Benchmarks

Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E): 3.30 GHz, Six Cores O/C to 4.25 GHz (34 x 125 MHz) at 1.40 V Core
CPU CoolerCoolink Corator DS 120 mm Tower
MotherboardAsus P9X79 WS: LGA 2011, Intel X79 Express, Firmware 0603 (11-11-2011) O/C at 125 MHz BCLK
RAMG.Skill F3-17600CL9Q-16GBXLD 16 GB (4 x 4 GB) DDR3-2200 Benchmarked at DDR3-1600 CAS 9 defaults
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 580: 772 MHz GPU, GDDR5-4008 Maximum Fan Speed for Thermal Tests, SLI
Hard DrivesSamsung 470 Series MZ5PA256HMDR, 256 GB SSD
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerSeasonic X760 SS-760KM ATX12V v2.3, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Gold
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GraphicsNvidia GeForce 296.10 WHQL
ChipsetIntel INF 9.2.3.1020

We reused the test platform from our earlier Four ATX Cases For High-Capacity Water Cooling, Reviewed article, but at an overclocked setting more appropriate for air cooling. The test platform includes Asus’ P9X79 WS and a sacrificial C0-stepping Core i7-3960X.

We normally choose a heat sink for its low noise and cooling performance, but Coolink’s Corator DS delivers the moderately low temperatures and moderately high noise results needed to properly evaluate the airflow and noise-dampening capabilities of these cases.

Benchmark Configuration
Prime95 v25.864-bit executable, Small FFTs, 11 Threads
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.1.0, Extreme Preset: Graphics Test 1, Looped
RealTemp 3.40Average of maximum core readings at full CPU load
Galaxy CM-140 SPL MeterTested at 1/2 m, corrected to 1 m (-6 dB), A-Weighting
  • idroid
    Hell yeah!!! NZXT Phantom 410 FTW!!
    Reply
  • idroid
    Toms should do a review on high-end cases featuring EXTREME watercooling.
    Reply
  • dudewitbow
    idroidToms should do a review on high-end cases featuring EXTREME watercooling.
    the only tiny problem at the most part i see in that is that it would be slightly harder to test thermal efficiency, since its being cooled by water, rather than air + hsf so in a wc build, the thermal ratings will be extremely close.
    Reply
  • now try to find the best micro-atx case...
    Reply
  • amuffin
    The Antec Solo II is not a case meant for gaming.
    Reply
  • back_by_demand
    It would be nice to see a left-sided window case listing, there are definate advantages to a left sided window / upside down mobo config
    Reply
  • Crashman
    amuffinThe Antec Solo II is not a case meant for gaming.Well...Antec sent it anyway. Along with the Eleven Hundred. So they evidently had a plan.back_by_demandIt would be nice to see a left-sided window case listing, there are definate advantages to a left sided window / upside down mobo configDid you know that the reason many manufacturers abandoned the upside-down case was because some motherboard heat pipes supposedly didn't work right in that configuration?iknowhowtofixitBut, but, but.... The Phantom 410 is sooooo ugly...Eye of the beholder :)

    Reply
  • The Solo II would probably have done a little better with your LGA2011 / GTX580 setup, if Antec included at least one front intake fan. Any chance of a re-test with an added intake fan or two? :)
    Reply
  • antemon
    as
    Reply
  • antemon
    I'm a fan of smaller cases

    I have a qx-2000 case from aerocool. it's a nightmare for cable management and upgrading partsm but I like it

    can toms also do an in-depth article on smaller cases?

    particularly, I want a similar case as the qx-2000 but the PSU is mounted at the bottom so that adding items inside woundnt be too much of a chore.

    thermaltake armor a30 looks awesome, but still has a top mounted PSU
    Reply