Five Gaming Enclosures, Rounded Up

Some time ago, Chris Angelini made it clear in the intro to a case roundup that he's a fan of small form factor business machines. I couldn't disagree more. Sure, I can see the merit of a tiny computer in some circumstances (say, as an HTPC or in a cubicle), but business computing, to me, is the most boring thing anyone can do with a PC. Gaming is where it's at, and as far as enclosures go, I like large, aluminum beasts with lots of fans and the ability to fit 11" graphics cards with room to spare.

All of the cases in this roundup fit the bill, but that doesn't mean they're all created equal. Some are short and fat, some are as tall as skyscrapers. Some offer a ridiculous amount of convenience, while others might leave builders with aching fingers. Some have lots of room for big power supplies, while others don't. Some are tool-free, while you'd better not forget your Philips-head screwdriver with others. Some look pretty darn cool, others are kind of frumpy.

The lineup includes a monolith of a case from Lian-Li, an interesting enclosure with sideways external drives from ABS, a typically compartmentalized case from Antec, and open, airy cases from Thermaltake and NZXT. Most of the enclosures here are aluminum, though there's some serious steel in the Antec case.

The cases in this roundup range in price from $120 to $400; these are not your $49, low-end, plastic chassis. All of them feature several fans, but I still tested their cooling abilities on a fairly standard Core i7 setup. Of course, to really throw in a challenge, I added a ridiculously hot graphics card (an ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2-based card from Asus), as if any number of fans can keep that monster cool.

To test these enclosures, we first tool a dozen pics of each one from just about every angle. Then we built up a system within each case--the same system in every instance, to keep the playing field level. In the interest of real-world testing, we describe the build experience; for the benefit of numerical comparison, we report the temperatures of the CPU, GPU, and ambient internal air within each case, both with the system at idle and also whilst running a Prime95 torture test.

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  • Anonymous
    "we first tool a dozen pics of each ..."
  • LePhuronn
    Um...isn't that ABS Canyon actually a Lian Li Tyr X-2000?
  • Anonymous
    LePhuronn 12/10/2009 18:53 Hide -0+
    Um...isn't that ABS Canyon actually a Lian Li Tyr X-2000?

    Close but no cigar. Looks almost identical externally, but the TYR-X2000 has 3x 140mm intake fans, space for six hdds and a larger top "heat zone".
    And its not the X500 either (which has only 2 "heat zones").
    The Canyon 595 seems to be slightly more sensible than both Lian Li's.
  • will_chellam
    'the coolest case both under load and idle was the panzer box'

    interesting when the graph shows the antec to be cooler on all three criteria, in addition the antec and panzer under load both have the same gpu, the antec is lower for ambient and the panzer lower for gpu - the figures suggest a draw under load and a win for the antec at idle.

    Yet another example of excellent scientific method and crappy interpretation of the data....
  • Anonymous
    In the case of the antec the ambient temperature is actually lower in both cases, but especially in idle, so the actually difference between ambient temp and cpu/gpu temperature is smaller in the case of the panzer.

    On a different note, I'd hardly call one test of one sample in one environment 'excellent scientific method'...
  • section_32
    I agree with will_chellam, according to your results the antec wins out overall. plus i've seen few more hideous boxes than the panzerbox. spend the extra and get an antec
    ( i do not work for antec )
  • jamac666
    Where is the Coolermaster HAF932?
  • fishslappedface
    it would be nice to get decibel ratings and power consumption figures in future reviews
  • tony singh
    I love my cheap antec 300 case, low on cost, high on cooling as well as looks double its price..