Choose your Case Review

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Crashman

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I'm taking suggestions for the theme of our next case review. We need to narrow the theme down to the point where less than a dozen products qualify.

You can use features, price, color, pretty much anything you want to narrow the field such as "Cases that support USB 3.0 and a two-fan radiator" as long as your criteria makes logical sense to the majority of readers and fits within a clean-looking title.

From this point I'm guessing I might get 10 or so different answers, but there won't be 10 or so different articles within the next month :p So, I'm going to ask you guys to follow up on the previous responses whenever possible so that at least a few of us can agree on the topic.

Thanks!
 
We keep seeing reviews all over for what people call gaming cases in the $100+ and up bracket. I personally would like to see a review of $50 to $100 bracket. Knowing that the performance comes more from the parts that go in the case than the case itself!
 

Onus

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I agree with dirtyferret. I don't think enough attention has been paid to silence. A single review would be limited to out-of-the-box performance, but I'd also like to see a few standardized steps taken (e.g. remount all fans on silicone "nails," install a readily-available noise-dampening layer, and replace the HSF with a 120mm tower) and do a noise/cooling analysis.
 
Not really interested in "for the money" reviews as no two people have the same criteria for that judgment......I'll decide whether it's worth the money, where you can help me is doing an exhaustive feature comparison.

Cover the features always not talked about....openings in MoBo tray have grommets ? how ez is it to change filters ? Is the front USB a thru the back and to an external port or MoBo connection ? Does it have hot swap HD / SSD cradles ? How about a SATA power backplane so I only have to run one connector to storage cage ? Does it have built in fan control ? What fans are installed, which are optional ? Howz the space on the back side of the MoBo tray ? Does the back of the tray include MoBo tie downs ? If it has fan LED's can they be turned off ? Are the fans 2 pin, 3 pin or Molex ?


Side panel attachment....hinged ? Case window fan connection ... do ya gotta unplug fan to remove ? Are all storage trays hot swap" ? What is clearance to side panel / fan for CPU cooler ? Case Locking feature ? Any "special" features like the doo-dads draw on the ole Lanboy cases or the headset holder on the Level 10 GT ? Water cooling ready (hose grommets, what size radiator etc.). How well does it allow for SLI / CF fans (back of HD cage , case door, etc) and how well do they line up with typical 2,3 and 4 slot boards ? What f any provisions for mounting 2.5: drives (SSD's and hybrids) ? Are the case front cable lengths long enough ? Does the POSU placement allow for cables to reach w/o extension cables ? Howz the area around the PSU air intake ....enough room allotted ? Bottom / top mounted ? Are 3.5" and 5.25 bays tool less ? Card retaining mechanisms tool less ? How easy or problematic are they ? (I have oft struggled w/ tool less features on HAF cases) What drives are lockable ? How are feet attached (Glue, screws) and what material ?

Lets not of course forget the numbers. Put in two GFX cards (OC'd to a relatively hi level), OC the CPU to 4.8, run OCCT for the 60 minute GPU and CPU tests and review or publish the graphs at end....nice if can be done w/ all fans on lowest than highest settings, of course record decibel level for both....if time allots, how does it change is optional fans added ? Do they provide cable tiedowns and convenient clips for cables ? Size of MoBo Tray opening (back of CPU) ?

No need for a narrative for most of these ..... just a checklist....sorta like the details tab on newegg
 

Crashman

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Most of the stuff you mentioned it loosely covered in the picture story that goes with the review, but it could be "tightened up", thanks.

I'd pick you for "Best Answer" except that I'm still looking for a few people to agree on the theme for the next one.

Oh, and for those suggesting the NZXT H2, it's been reviewed, it's...not that good in material quality, cooling, noise or any combination of those things. Even though it's relatively inexpensive, it still costs twice that of similar-quality cases. Since it's already been reviewed, it won't be reviewed again.
 

a4mula

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Cases that support interior radiators, about time Toms tackled a real loop.

Cleanest Build Cases - featuring ease of installation, wire management, tool-less installation, HSF/CPU backplate openings - sidebar sleeving and sound dampening foam

Best CFM/Cooling cases from CPU and GPU perspective.

As a side note, it'd also be nice to see an article that covers case accessories like fan controllers, CCFL/LED lighting, Window installation, Decals/Wraps, powder coating ect.
 

noob2222

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mjmjpfaff

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I would like to see the best air cooled cases from ~100$ to ~150$. this seems to be the average price spent on solid cases. It is also very difficult to tell cooling performance based on the number of fans a case has and cooling performance seems to be overlooked these days.
 

Crashman

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Editor
You mean we're like, 2-4 years beyond the proper time? Because 2, 3 and 4 years ago Tom's Hardware was using "real loops" in lots of stuff including several of the early System Builder Marathons (back when the budget was around $4k).
Thanks for seconding the vote to expand coverage on wire management, which was only dealt with lightly in the case picture stories.
Add noise and you're asking for the same coverage Tom's Hardware already publishes. Have you read any lately?
Noted. So we'll add a little more to the case description and see if anyone wants to do case mod article. Thanks!
 

Crashman

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Editor
What will you do when the ancient/cheap Antec Three Hundred wins? Really, we just did a multi-GPU case performance comparison, but thanks to your suggestion we'll probably repeat the test (using different case models) on the next one!

OK guys! So we have suggestions that we add detail to the case descriptions and continue using multi-GPU's. That still leaves us with hundreds of options.

Another suggestion was for cases that hold radiators. I'll assume we can do either 2-fan or 3-fan radiators. Of course, liquid cooled graphics cards would eliminate our ability to check the case's effectiveness with air-cooled cards, so...

How about LC on the CPU and air cooled graphics? Or any other suggestions? A 3-fan-radiator case comparison would probably be small enough to finish in a timely manner...or...any more suggestions?




 

Crashman

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$100-150, does anyone want to second that?

As for cooling performance....say what? When's the last time you read a Tom's Hardware case roundup????
 

a4mula

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100-150 excludes quite a few cases that I'd consider mainstream like the 690II Advanced and Lancool K62. Sub $200 might be a more flexible in that you can include the sub-100 entries while still being able to include some of the less expensive offerings from Silverstone and Corsair that still breach the 150 mark.

As far as cooling performance. The only thing I'd like to see would be a comparison to not only the cases currently being reviewed, but also how these cases fared against previously tested cases. This isn't a shot at Toms as I spend more time here than anywhere else by far, but for case reviews I always check bittech just for the ability to compare a cases performance across a wider spectrum.
 

mjmjpfaff

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I never said tomshardware overlooked it.
 

Crashman

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Well, we're getting requests for an expanded budget but at 2 days per case we're going to need to keep it small. Manufacturers are hammering us with requests all over the market, and I'm not finding much agreement on what the focus should include.

So I've got to keep the discussion going!
 

I agree with the $100-150 price range.
Important aspects like what size radiator,air-cooler,and gpu will fit should be included.
Probably the most requested info asked in the forums.
 

noob2222

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I say go with the 3-fan radiator mountable cases or 2x dual fans (preferably internally) , but most of those are near $200, so might need to up the budget a little bit, less than 200 should work. should be able to accomodate 3-way xfire/sli minimum with the radiators in place.

Antec's Lanboy Air looks like a candidate to use for that one, not sure Id want the pastic, could be interesting to review.
 

Frizzo

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i was thinking what jacknay posted. i think it would be really interesting to see an in depth comparison of these two cases. it looks pretty obvious that nzxt was trying to offer a cheap version of the 600t. after an in depth look would the nzxt case be revealed as a cheap gimmick case? or would it maintain some quality, and be a cheap alternative at forty bucks?


http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811146076


http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811139005


wonder if it's any coincidence that the 600t price just dropped about 25%

they also offer an "elite" version. no idea what's up with that, reading it now.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811146077
 

Crashman

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I've got bad news: Tom's Hardware has used a version of the Corsair case and it's a little flimsy for the price. The side panel has a rolled edge, which costs more to produce and basically turns what might have been a $50 case into an $80 case (under the added features). Beyond that, I don't think the added features are worth doubling the price, so it sets a poor baseline for the comparison.
 

Crashman

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How do you guys feel about a case comparison with a triple-fan radiator installed? We've gotten one reader request and two manufacturer requests to compare these.

I was thinking about just doing the CPU on the big cooler, so that I can check the airflow at the graphics cards using traditional GPU coolers. SLI of course, since GTX 580 is extra hot, and maybe I can try for 5 GHz at some unreasonable voltage level on the CPU.
 

a4mula

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The problem is that most of the mainstream angles have been tackled already. Gaming Cases, Budget Cases, Best All-Around cases. The latest article had to take on 10 slot cases just to find something new to talk about.

Maybe it's time to just do a round-up review that reiterates things that have been said previously but just brought together in a single source. Take the 15-20 most popular cases and give each a scoring system based on thermal, sound dampening, quality, price, ease of build and see which one comes out on top.

With this approach you don't necessarily have to go back over each and every case, those reviews have been done. Just bring it all together to create the definitive 2012 case bible.

 

a4mula

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If it's a custom loop then I think there will be interest in it for no other reason than the lack of coverage for water cooling parts (radiators, pumps, blocks). It'd also be nice to see how well big air (which gets plenty of coverage and benchmarks galore) fares today against a real loop.

With LGA2011 cpus not shipping with a HSF and Intel nudging people towards liquid based solutions it does open up an entirely new user base that could be liquid cooling their cpu while air cooling their gpu. Sounds like an angle to me.
 

Crashman

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Great! Maybe after that, spend a few months doing a "bible" of $80-120 cases? They seem to be most popular among enthusiasts, we could do 5 or 6 per article.
 
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