Three Gaming Cases, With Power, Under $100

Case and power supply combos always look like a bargain, but bargain-basement parts have always seemed to chase experienced builders away. Today, we consider three budget-enthusiast models to determine if any of them can meet our basic gaming needs.

Though the above phrase is typically used in reference to politicians and corporations, the true power brokers in our PC purchasing decisions tend to be people we trust. These are usually people with a great deal of experience, or at least those whose advice appears to come from a place of experience.

They tell us to spend in places that don’t make sense, to save in places where we don’t want to skimp, and to basically build their idea of what our PC should be. And while many of the people we trust diverge on the finer details, the one place they almost always meet is on the subject of cases with power supplies. They tell us that, as a rule, any power supply that’s cheap enough to be included with a case is worthless.

We know better. Deep down inside, they know better. Everyone knows that there are exceptions to nearly any rule, and now is the time to make our own rules. As with any revolution, we must first determine our true needs, then find the means to meet them.

Though most performance enthusiasts want a PC worth thousands of dollars, the truth is that many would rather not stretch their budgets that far. The majority of builds start out well below $800. And what most experienced builders won’t tell you (or forget to tell you) is that the lion's share of sub-$800 builds use less than 600W of power. If we push a little harder, we can even build a $550 performance system that draws less than 300 peak watts. That's why, today, we're examining a few money-saving combos able to output far more than 300W for far less than $100.

  Cooler Master
USP 100
Space Above
1.31"0.38"0.15" to brace
0.75" total
Card Length11.42"11.60"16.75"
Weight21.0 pounds14.0 pounds19.7 pounds
Front Fans
1 x 120 mm (92, 80 mm)1 x 120 mm (92, 80 mm)1 x 120 mm (stock only)
Rear Fans
1 x Empty (120, 92, 80 mm)1 x 92 mm (80 mm)1 x 120 mm (92, 80 mm)
Top Fans
Not Available
Not AvailableNot Available
Side Fans
1 x Empty (120, 92, 80 mm)1 x 220 mm (2x 120 mm)2 x Empty (120, 92, 80 mm)
Drive Bays
5.25" ExternalFourFourNine
3.5" ExternalOneOne1x Adapter
3.5" InternalSixFive3 x 5.25" bay
to 3-HDD Cage
2.5" InternalNoneNoneNone
Power Supply
ModelRS550-PCARE3IP-S400DQ3-2TR2 RX-450PP
ATX Version2.32.12.2
PFC TypeNoneNonePassive
80 PLUSNoneStandardNone
UL Cert.E320127E193791E303666
Rated Output550W400W400W
12V Rails16A +16A18A +16A14A +15A
12V Combined32A25A20A
ATX Lead20+4 Pin20+4 Pin20+4 Pin
ATX12V4+4 Pin4-Pin4-Pin
PCIe Power2 x 6+2 Pin1 x 6-Pin1 x 6-Pin
SATA Power6 (2-leads)4 (3-leads)2 (1-lead)
ATA Power1x 3-drive2 (2-leads)6 (2-leads)
Floppy Power1-drive1-drive2-drives
Price$88 $82 $83
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  • Silmarunya
    Not having Antec in the running is a shame. Their PSU's and cases are top notch and their NSK series is superb for its budget. Reliable, silent and with very good efficiency, it's hard to fault them. They're the clear winners, even though they weren't put on test here. Antec, you lost an opportunity to prove your worth once more. Although tbh, most Tom's readers are already aware of Antec's quality...
  • Motopsychojdn
    I'd also like to point out that budget builders like myself are usually happy to do some cutting on their cases to make those 'Not available' fans 'available' :P
    nice to see some cases getting screentime that are aimed at the lower end of the cost market.
  • Solitaire
    Maybe a better compromise would be to buy a much more modern Thermaltake V3, NZXT Gamma or Antec 200 then slap in a reputable Corsair CX400 for roughly the same money as the archaic combos above?
  • proletarian
    the last one was the best one, the other two were, as one from Merseyside would say, JARG - proper awful looking cases, that red one's a pure state mate, what a shambles.

    but the thermaltake m9 is a bit decent, i'd probably get one even when not on a budget, the power supply would end up in a bin or on ebay with bidding starting at 99p, useless. i've got an antec 900 and this m9 doofer looks just as good, don't like the plasticy bits for the hard disks though, much prefer screws.
  • proci
    it's interesting to see the same problem with In Win's budget case, wich plagued Cooler Master's Cosmos S and Stacker 832 (and partially CM690): Either you can have a decent cooler (which was the 160mm TRUE) or you can have the side vents. but, the Cosmos S was a case for water cooling with a triple rad. and 220mm+120mm intake, 92mm (+psu) exhaust... that is far away from ideal. and if a case without a side panel could win as the coolest case, that means that ventillation is really bad for each case.

    the 550W CM PSU is heavily outdated. i mean, 2x16A@12V? 32A, the CX400 can do nearly so much. and 20A@12V? yeah, that will be nearly enough for a x4 635 and a 5770 on base clocks. overclocked, there will be OCP shutdown (_if_ it has a functional OCP btw).

    no recommendation indeed.
  • kyzar
    Couple of points / questions:

    1. If you are interested in a budget case, you are probably going to be more than happy with a stock cooler on your CPU - why are you harping on and on about the In Win not fitting your after-market cooler? I'm more than happy with the noise and temps of my Phenom II with stock, why if I were on a very tight budget would I spend on a separate cooler that I could add instead into the gfx card or RAM?

    2. Personal issue - why on earth would I waste desktop space by putting my PC on it? I y'know use my desk space for desk space stuff - files, peripherals, printer, phones, doritos (j/k).
  • Anonymous
    What if someone already has a decent aftermarket cooler from an older build?
    Or what if they want to be able to upgrade later?

    I didn't see the point of an aftermarket cooler when I built my latest PC, but then decided to buy one later as I felt it was a bit too noisy. As a standalone upgrade a CPU cooler isn't too expensive, certainly much cheaper than a new CPU/Gfx card. I also fully intend to use the same cooler for as long as AMD don't change their fan mounts (or Intel start catering to budget range).