Which Of These Four Cases Takes Top Spot?
Coincidentally, the alphabetic order in which the cases are arranged coincides with lowest price first. That certainly makes a nice-looking chart, since it’s difficult for any company to come up with a 5% performance advantage to overcome its $5 price disadvantage. With the average of all cases as the 100% baseline, we can see that BitFenix’s low-cost Shinobi tops the chart by 22% over-average.
BitFenix sells the third-place performer in today's round-up, and it uses a $5 price advantage to beat the second-place performer from Enermax. That company's Ostrog GT is the only case in our comparison to include an eighth slot. I recommend the eighth slot to anyone who builds serious gaming machines and occasionally swaps motherboards, simply because some motherboards have a PCIe x16 slot at the bottom. Performance-oriented graphics cards usually need two slots.
Enermax has a few other features that help justify its $5 premium, such as the pair of intake fans that help with its second-place performance finish, along with its dedicated SSD cage (even though it appears to have been tacked onto an older chassis). But I can’t hand an award over to Enermax just yet.
Next up on the value chart is Rosewill’s R5. The R5 can hold up to three times as many SSDs as the Ostrog GT, though most enthusiast-class machines top out at two anyway. The R5 also has flapped rubber grommets covering all of its cable passages for a cleaner appearance. Its incompatibility with slightly-oversized motherboards could be an issue, however, and its performance left a little to be desired.
At the top of the performance heap, Zalman’s high-end MS800 Plus takes last place on the performance-per-dollar chart only because it falls just within our $100 limit. This is one of the cheapest high-end cases I’ve seen, so a performance-to-price comparison with mid-quality parts isn’t exactly fair. And, as much as it might be the perfect case for many of us, a perfect gaming case should at least have an eighth slot. I’m also concerned that the shape of the motherboard tray might block access to some of the SATA ports on slightly-oversized platforms, such as the previously-qualified Asus P9X79 WS. Over the years, we’ve seen several 10.5”-wide boards marketed specifically towards the mid-budget enthusiast market.
So the highest-quality case in today’s comparison, Zalaman’s MS800 Plus doesn’t win our top prize simply because it’s not specifically designed for mid-budget gamers. Enermax’s mid-market Ostrog GT has the performance and features to make it the value-oriented pick over BitFenix’s less-expensive Shinobi, so the Ostrog GT gets our "Smart Buy" award.