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In Pictures: Five More Mainstream Gaming Cases, Previewed

A Cagey Affair

A panel on each side of the Agusta’s lower compartment opens to reveal six trays, each supporting 2.5” and 3.5” drives. There is no backplane in this design, so centering of the 2.5” drives within each tray is acceptable.

Behind Agusta

Handles on each of the Agusta’s side panels fold onto the back of the case, though card connectors and external liquid cooling lines could block them. Three ingress/egress holes support abrasion-free cable and hose routing, and a second set of fans in the drive compartment supplements the 120 mm fan in the top compartment.

Agusta Cable Management

Though the Agusta has all of the necessary holes to route cables behind the motherboard tray, the space between the tray and side panel is too narrow to hold them. Builders must instead follow a meandering path within the C-shaped protruding section of the side panel to find space for thick cables, and then tie them to appropriate points on the tray.

Agusta Ventilation

The Agusta’s top and front panels are not designed for easy removal, as the design instead favors replacing large fans from inside the case. When you build up a machine inside the case, though, components block access to the requisite screws. Furthermore, the face panel must still be unscrewed to access the little 80 mm lower-compartment intake fan.

Though two top-panel fans are included, the Agusta lacks room above the motherboard to place a radiator upon them.

Exhausting Storage

Though many users prefer the speed of SSDs, it's still almost mandatory to mix solid-state and mechanical storage, even in a high-end build. That means you're going to end up with one or more warmer-running disk drives. Raidmax attempts to optimize drive cooling by using twice as many exhaust fans as intakes in this compartment, relying on side-panel vents to cool the Agusta’s lower compartment. These particular fans can also be replaced without disassembling the PC.

SilverStone Kublai Series KL04

Currently available in the basic black KL04B and windowed KL04B-W, SilverStone’s KL04 presents a smooth and simplified design lacking so much as a vent in the front panel. Molded-in grain provides a simulated brushed-aluminum finish on the plastic front, while ports have been moved to the top of this 19.3” mid-tower.

KL04 Ports

SilverStone knew that USB 3.0 would soon take precedence when designing its KL04, placing two of these ports on its top panel. Both ports face forward for easier reach under a desk, surrounding a pair of likewise-angled headset jacks.

Inside The KL04

The KL04 opens up to reveal eight expansion slots, an eight-bay removable 3.5” drive cage, and a six-bay 2.5” mini drive cage behind it. The eighth slot of the back panel allows double-slot graphics cards to be mounted in a motherboard’s bottom slot, as required for three-way configurations on some motherboards.

Enhanced Drive Support

The KL04’s removable 3.5” drive cage supports hard drives using only three screws. The shorter side of this design provides added expansion card clearance—up to 17.3”—where you find empty bays. Removing the cage altogether allows cards up to 18.1” to be installed, while occupied drive bays provide only 12.5” of card clearance.

A 2.5” mini drive cage attached to the bottom of the KL04 can be relocated onto the removable 3.5” drive cage, and the base of the 3.5” cage holds one additional 3.5” drive.

Behind The KL04

SilverStone moves the intake panel of its KL04 to the case’s right side, cleaning up the face design. With shades of Antec’s old Sonata IV, the side-panel intake also reduces noise pollution from internal components.

The rear panel is far less exotic, with indications of cost cutting manifesting as knock-outs for liquid cooler pass-through lines and a flimsy metal cover over an outward-bent card holder tab.

Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • EzioAs
    Cooling wise, I'm guessing the eleven hundred will come out on top
    Reply
  • amuffin
    That is correct^^ The Eleven Hundred is one of the cases I have seen that has superb cooling over the competition. I recommend it to anyone who needs a well rounded and cooled system :)
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    EzioAsCooling wise, I'm guessing the eleven hundred will come out on top
    Depends. More holes are not always better. Their Dark Fleets are pretty horrible when it comes to cooling.

    I still prefer my Corsair 500R as these cases are either bland or ugly.
    Reply
  • monkeymonk
    I lilke the side panel on the eleven hundred and the fan behind the cpu is cool too.
    Reply
  • refillable
    Antec 1100. Who is with me? :)
    Reply
  • Onus
    I like the 1100 also, but would probably prefer a version without the big window.

    The Raidmax looked like gimmicky junk.
    CM has too many "oops"es.
    The Fractal Designs and Silverstone cases also didn't quite "get it right," at least not for me; but I could probably make them work. The aesthetics were good on them.
    Reply
  • old mann
    Didn't care fore any of these. All seemed boxy and without personality. Whatever the price point is for these, it is probably too high. Hopefully, the next segment will show the HAF XM or the NZXT Phantom 410. These are supposed to be gaming cases yet, they lack most of the features of an enthusiast case. Heck, I'd pick the Rosewill CHALLENGER over any of these and it's only fifty bucks.
    Reply
  • ivyanev
    I would never buy/recommend a case with top mounted fan: just begs to spill something on.
    Reply
  • element1981
    I've had numerous cases including the Antec 900 and 300. I just upgraded to the Antec 1100 for my main PC and have been extremely pleased with it. I mounted 2 more 120mm fans behind the front panel and the cooling is nothing short of amazing. It's a relatively simple looking case, but it's elegance is in it's simplicity. It does everything exceedingly well. Installation was a breeze and future modifications will be easy with the extra interior space. You'd have to pay double the cost of this case to get something that exceeds it significantly in features. An all around great case, and I'd definitely recommend it over any other case in the $80-120 range.
    Reply
  • spookyman
    Cases are more a personal preference then design.
    Reply