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Part 1: Four Gaming Enclosures Under $50

Antec Wins?

Antec’s Three Hundred leads our cooling, noise, and efficiency charts, but it’s an unfortunate fact that today it cannot be found at our intended $50 price point (it's now $10 higher than that on Newegg). Yes, it was cheaper a few weeks ago when Antec shipped it. But users who want superior quality should be willing to pay the extra $10 to get a unit that’s 33% thicker, more durable, better at cooling, and quieter than its competition.

Next up is the Enermax ECA3171-BR-AP, with three cooling fans sporting red LEDs and an unbelievably low $50 price tag. An obvious pick for the best case at or below this predetermined price point, our only concern is that its price will go up before anyone can click the “buy” button. For now, the chassis remains priced at $49.

Cooler Master’s Elite 430 takes third place overall, and we’re happy to see that it looks at least as good as it performs. Cheaper at the beginning of the month, it jumped up to $55, and is now back to $49 online--right where we were hoping it'd land. It only has one fan, but does well considering that fact.

The only real loser of the cases we're looking at today is AeroCool's VS-9. The thing started falling apart as we were assembling the system, it did little to nothing to muffle the noise of internal components, and it twisted so easily that we had to weigh it down with a power supply just to keep it sitting flat. We’ve not seen a case this weak since the Hades earned our ire a few months ago. But at least the VS-9 has a comparatively low-cost. We’ve even read user reviews that tell others how to beef the VS-9 up to the standards of other $50 cases but—armed with this foreknowledge—we’d just as likely chose a better starting point.

Of course, it's too early to declare one overall winner of our case comparison. We have four more models to add to our data here in Part 2. Look for that follow-up soon!

  • rzilla91
    Great article!
    I have the Antec 300 and love it - my current build is/was my first build, and the Antec case was very easy to build in.

    My only (rather silly) question is how did you get the case fans to run on low? They appear to be plugged into your PSU, which is what i did, but that forces it to run on high.
    Reply
  • falchard
    I think the Antec 300 and AeroCool models lose for 1 simple reason. They cannot house the longer ATI HD5850~HD5970.
    Reply
  • gkay09
    ^ Did you read the Aerocool specs properly ? Card Length - 17.7"
    AFAIK there are no graphic cards that are longer than 12.5", so it would fit HD 5970...
    But as for the 300, I doubt it wont fit the 5970, but other cards would...
    But if you will be spending ~$600 for a graphic card, then am sure you wont skimp on the case...
    Reply
  • Mark Heath
    Interesting to see the Antec 300 doing well even when the fan speed's put to low.
    Reply
  • smithereen
    No NZXT Beta?
    Reply
  • rzilla91Great article!I have the Antec 300 and love it - my current build is/was my first build, and the Antec case was very easy to build in.My only (rather silly) question is how did you get the case fans to run on low? They appear to be plugged into your PSU, which is what i did, but that forces it to run on high.It should be equiped with speed-adjustmentable tri-cool fans, which should have added speed selectors to go from LOW to MID or HI, and back.
    Reply
  • falchard
    I just reread the card length on the AeroCool.
    I would like a review on the NZXT Beta. Sub $50 market, you really aren't looking at any of those cases. You are looking at the Rosewills, NZXT, and cheap Thermaltakes.
    Reply
  • @falchard - My Vapor-X 5850 fit perfectly in my Antec 300. I don't know what you're BSing about.
    Reply
  • rajangel
    I own the 300. It's a nice sturdy case, but in the end it really was a pain in the rear to put it all together. It's extremely cramped.

    @falchard-
    Also don't ever buy Rosewill. EVER. Their products are terrible. I've bought a few items they've had on clearance (from newegg) and not a single product is worth the 90% discount. One case came bent and the power supply inside was missing some of the power plugs the manual said it had. One item came shipped with a driver all in Chinese. Customer service blamed it on whoever shipped it (right because Newegg is going to switch the power supply inside a case). Newegg switched the case out and the girl on the phone said they have a lot of problem with Rosewill products. The laptop pad was missing fan blades.

    Reply
  • falchard
    Well thats your problem right there, you are looking at Rosewill for electronic products. You shop Rosewill for products that don't rely on electricity like a case.
    Reply