Budget Case that Doesn't Suck

BecauseScience

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Help me pick a case that doesn't suck.

  • $50 or less from Newegg before shipping (rebates ok)
  • accepts full ATX boards
  • capable of supporting a decent wolfdale OC on air (having to add fans is ok)
  • handles large videocards
  • all black; no chrome; no colored accents
  • no backlit fans or the like
  • no side window
  • no tool-free crap or at least the possibility to use screws
  • vast expanses of mesh are very bad (looking at you CM Centurion!)
  • huge bonus points integral fan filters

I have a CM Centurion 5 sitting here unused. It's everything I hate. It's impossible to keep clean because of all the mesh. I could spend an hour a week cleaning the mesh filters. Drives rattle when "secured" with the tool-free holders. The silver accent looks gaudy.

I have an Antec 4400 NSK with all-black faceplate that I mostly like. It's not ideal but I got a good deal on it.

Comments on these?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811233039

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811233035

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811147124

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811147074

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811147073

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811147110

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811147075

Yea, a lot of them are ugly. I know...
 

zero2dash

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You're not going to effectively cool a oc'd Wolfdale and a large (ie high powered) video card in those types of cases because they have very little intake and/or restricted intake. You will definitely be running a hotter box with those sorts of components in one of those cases.

Anyway - just because the mesh of 1 case sucks doesn't mean all cases with mesh suck. Cooler Master uses decent mesh and filters on some of their cases, but crappy foam filters on other cases (like the Centurion 5). You can take the foam out, run unfiltered, and run positive pressure (which should give you less dust).

Requirement wise I would recommend an Antec 300, IMO the best case under $100 you can buy. Cheaper at $50 than both the CM 590 and 690, and capable of 2x120mm front intake (with good filters) without having to buy 3x5.25 adapters like CM forces you to do with their cases.
 

dynkin

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I've researched most cases on newegg perhaps more than anyone else. Most budget cases are from a few manufacturers in China and then rebranded by different distributors in US. So basically they share the very same internal structures.

My advice is to avoid those with very thin plates. Choose 0.8mm-1.0mm SECC steel case if you can.

I've looked at the seven cases you give. None of them are to my standard. At one moment the Rosewill R5730 looked almost ok for me, but the next moment I saw its amateurish rear fan grid, I said no.

Compucase has some very nice designs. This one is extremely nice:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811121087
It even comes with detachable hard drive cage and rubber grommets! The silver version is also not bad and is cheaper on mwave.com(without shipping)

If you stretch your budget a little bit, Sigma has a design which is good and interesting. It is also seen on certain Raidmax products.
The Sigma Unicorn
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811226039
It has a flip out motherboard tray, which is really handy. Due to the design, they reinforce the case with 1.0mm SECC steel.
 

BecauseScience

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You can take the foam out, run unfiltered, and run positive pressure (which should give you less dust).

That's a damn good idea.

Requirement wise I would recommend an Antec 300, IMO the best case under $100 you can buy. Cheaper at $50 than both the CM 590 and 690, and capable of 2x120mm front intake (with good filters) without having to buy 3x5.25 adapters like CM forces you to do with their cases.

I just watched a few video reviews on youtube. Antec 300 is ideal. I was sold as soon as I saw the "easy open" bezel with washable filter.

Thanks guys!
 

BecauseScience

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Compucase has some very nice designs. This one is extremely nice:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811121087
It even comes with detachable hard drive cage and rubber grommets! The silver version is also not bad and is cheaper on mwave.com(without shipping).

Nice looking case but it doesn't hold up against the 300.

If you stretch your budget a little bit, Sigma has a design which is good and interesting. It is also seen on certain Raidmax products.
The Sigma Unicorn
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811226039
It has a flip out motherboard tray, which is really handy. Due to the design, they reinforce the case with 1.0mm SECC steel.

That could be a very attractive case if it weren't for the oversized logo on the bezel and bright red fans. Sometimes I think designers go out of their way to make their cases look tacky.

Thanks for the suggestions, dynkin, but I don't think I can pass up the 300. I didn't know cases like it were available at the $50 price point.
 

dynkin

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Messages
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Nice looking case but it doesn't hold up against the 300.



That could be a very attractive case if it weren't for the oversized logo on the bezel and bright red fans. Sometimes I think designers go out of their way to make their cases look tacky.

Thanks for the suggestions, dynkin, but I don't think I can pass up the 300. I didn't know cases like it were available at the $50 price point.

I thought you want a low profile case with no mesh, only a few fans. But it seems that you prefer a case with better ventilation but minimal logos and windows.

Yes, Antec 300 is a good choice. Lian Li Lancools are the newest babies from Lian Li. K58 and K62 is already on newegg and I believe K56 and K60 is coming. But they're out of your budget. Of course currently Newegg has the free shipping promo code on all cases, this save you about $10-$20 on shipping.
 

wol-va-rine

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didn't someone post that some BestBuys had the Antec 900 on clearance for ~$70 (making room for the new version of the 900)...? might want to take a trip to your local BB to check that out before ordering the 300...
 

BecauseScience

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I thought you want a low profile case with no mesh, only a few fans. But it seems that you prefer a case with better ventilation but minimal logos and windows.

Yea, I wasn't very clear about my dislike of mesh. If it's filtered and easy to clean and it keeps the inside of my case clean then I'm down with it.

I saw the rebadged Lian Li for $80 in Hot Deals. Nice, but those lights on the front panel are ugly as sin. I would have jumped in a heartbeat if it weren't for that.

The Antec 900 has lighted fans, a side window, and tons of unfiltered mesh. I wouldn't take one for free. :)

For the money the 300 looks hard to beat. I just pulled the trigger on one.
 

Vengance_01

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Antec 300. Works great for my rig in sig. Its 59$ with free shipping atm at newegg
 

lord_farfig

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+1 for the Antec 300.

I am in love with this case!
Looks great, built well, and plenty of airflow... but the cable management can be a bit tricky without a modular PSU.

Still an excellent case.
 

BecauseScience

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And? That's nothing to do with the topic.

Anyway, good choice on the 300, you'll enjoy it :)

Thanks. All the credit goes to the [h]ard for the suggestion. I was lost looking at cases on the net. Too much missing info. Nothing beats recommendations from people who have actually built with a particular case.
 

Lysdexik

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300 is a nice case, I had it before my haf 932, and its a real nice small case.
 

Vengance_01

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Antec 300 can handle any modern air cooled system. Just make sure you have a modular PSU, and maybe a custom SATA power connector chain so you can use only 1 power cable. ;)
 

kuyaglen

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Consider the new Lancools. The bottom end one is $30 north of your $50 price point, but they have a lot of neat features.
I also recommend going this route.

double true

At one moment the Rosewill R5730 looked almost ok for me, but the next moment I saw its amateurish rear fan grid, I said no.
I was thinking the same thing. And that Sigma case, save for the name, I'd be willing to consider it if I was in the market same as the op.

But as with a lot of expressed views, I'd have to recommend the Antec 300 (feature wise) then Sigma (budget wise) then any of the Lian Li oem'd cases.
 

hotbrass

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I'm another one for the Antec 300. Sturdy, plenty of fans, and looks clean. I got mine for less than $50 shipped from newegg. Just watch for free shipping. They run it every once in a while. Put a window in and paint the inside and it looks good too. I've built a lot PCs in far more expensive cases and the 300 is just as good if not better then almost all of them.
 

Jeffredo

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Just did an Antec 300 build a couple weeks ago. I have an X4 955 and GTX 260 in it. Very good airflow and lower temps than the CM Stacker I had previously. Very good budget case (and worth the $9 over your limit).
 

zero2dash

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300 is a very nice case, definitely. I wish it was more friendly in cable management (especially if it had room behind the motherboard tray), but it's not horrendous at all, not in the least. I just recently did a psu swap in mine (going from the HX520 I'm now selling to a TX650) and despite not being modular, it's still very clean on the inside. The area behind the 5.25" bays on the bottom has a lot of room to stash a whole lot of cables. In fact if I didn't want something different, I would have bought a 2nd one for my primary (instead of recently buying a HAF 922 which I plan on finally migrating over to tonight). :)

I would probably say under $100 = Antec 300. $100 = HAF 922. Over $100 there's a million choices, many similar, and really boils down to preference.

The filter is easy as hell to clean too (if you don't just use a vaccuum hose from the outside). Another big +1 in my book.
 

zero2dash

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That's a damn good idea.

That is what I was going to do with my Elite 340 until I scrapped the whole case and went with a PC-V350 (temporarily). The month I ran in the 340, man the front was disgusting and it really ticked me off that they were dumb enough to use styrofoam as dust filters. The front of the case ends up all caked up with dust and it looks like it's been in a filthy house.

300 is a very nice case, definitely. I wish it was more friendly in cable management (especially if it had room behind the motherboard tray), but it's not horrendous at all, not in the least. I just recently did a psu swap in mine (going from the HX520 I'm now selling to a TX650) and despite not being modular, it's still very clean on the inside. The area behind the 5.25" bays on the bottom has a lot of room to stash a whole lot of cables. In fact if I didn't want something different, I would have bought a 2nd one for my primary (instead of recently buying a HAF 922 which I plan on finally migrating over to tonight). :)

I would probably say under $100 = Antec 300. $100 = HAF 922. Over $100 there's a million choices, many similar, and really boils down to preference.

The filter is easy as hell to clean too (if you don't just use a vaccuum hose from the outside). Another big +1 in my book.
 

BecauseScience

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The case arrived Friday. I did the (re)build yesterday. The 300 is without a doubt my favorite case ever.

Thanks to everyone for recommending it! I knew you guys would steer me to the right one. :D

I like it so much I'm tempted to move the guts of my work machine out of it's Lian-Li and into a 300. Too bad there isn't enough drive space. A full tower version of the 300 would be ideal...exact same design with all of the "stretch" done in the 3.5" bay region. Initially, I thought that one of the 900, 902, or 1200 must be exactly that but there are design differences that I don't like. The instructions for cleaning the front drive bay filters for all three models begin with "Remove the cage thumbscrews fastening the HDD cage to the 5.25” drive bays and set them aside." Wow, what a fail. I don't want to tear cages out to clean filters.
 
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