Hot New PC Chassis For Any Budget5:43 PM EST Mon. Apr. 13, 2009
What are you looking for in a computer case? Hot-swappable drives? Liquid cooling? Slide-out motherboard trays? Windows into the LED-lit soul of your fully loaded monster rig? Whether you want all the bells and whistles provided by a chassis supplier such as Cooler Master, whose medley of available specials is pictured here, or just a simple enclosure and power supply at a nice price " you're in luck. Click through to see the best-selling desktop chassis, from the top suppliers of computer cases to builders of custom systems.
When you're paying close to $600 for a computer case, you'd better be getting something pretty bright and shiny. ABS Computer Technologies delivers the goods with this hand-crafted aluminum Super Tower chassis featuring a multiple heat zone design and support for up to six hot-swappable SATA hard disk drives. Liquid cooling is an option, but internal air flow in the Canyon 695 is already wicked cool thanks to four 140mm cooling fans with three-level fan speed switches, three 140mm intake fans and an additional pair of 80mm fans. There's also a removable motherboard tray and pull-to-open side panels.
The Aplus series Black Pearl from ABS is an ATX Full Tower case fashioned from aluminum and featuring an illuminated side window with blue LEDs. A pair of 120mm cooling fans in the front and back chill the enclosure -- an adjustable four-channel fan controller with fan speed and temperature display makes managing the Black Pearl's thermals a snap. A total of 15 drive bays and two removable hard disk cages with slots for eight drives complete the package.
Another top seller in ABS' Aplus lineup, the CS-El Diablo is a black ATX Full Tower chassis that can house a micro ATX, standard ATX or E-ATX motherboard. A mesh side panel and single 360mm side fan help the 250mm front panel cope with heat dissipation. The rig is set up with five external 5.25-inch drive bays and an additional 3.5-inch external slot, six internal 3.5-inch numbers and seven expansion slots.
Here's a look inside the ABS CS-El Diablo -- which, incidentally, we've seen available on e-tail sites for as little as $119 -- featuring that enormous 360mm side cooling fan that lights up spectacularly with blue LEDs. The enclosure also features a removable 120mm fan bracket, easy-flip PCI slots and a "case open" alert system. Front ports include USB, audio and IEEE 1394.
Antec's loaded P193 chassis taps into a smorgasbord of fans to stay cool -- one 120mm fan in the rear, two 140mm fans at the top and a 200mm side fan for dual graphics cards. For serious cooling, options include a 120mm HDD fan in the lower front chamber and another 120mm HDD fan in the upper front of the enclosure, as well as a 120mm fan set in the middle for graphics cards. Behind the motherboard tray, Antec has built in cable organizers to minimize clutter.
This look inside the P193 showcases Antec's dual-chamber design with a separate chamber for the power supply to isolate heat and reduce system noise. Other Antec efforts to that effect include two-layer sound-deadening side panels made of steel and polycarbonate, and a three-layer aluminum and plastic front door. Front-mounted ports include eSATA, audio and a pair of USB 2.0 slots. The double-hinged door opens extremely wide, the better to get at seven expansion slots for disk drives -- which themselves sit in vented, air-filtered drive bays.
Here's another fine enclosure from Antec, with views of both the finished product and the empty guts inside. Two-layer steel and polycarbonate side and top panels keep this case quiet. Keeping the Sonata Elite cool are a rear 120mm fan and a 120mm exhaust blower, each with three-speed switches and a built-in washable air filter. Seven drive bays and front-mounted I/0 -- two USB 2.0 ports, audio and eSATA -- round out the features.
Antec lists its Three Hundred enclosure as a gaming case -- nine drive bays and some pretty nifty fan options may be a clue as to why. In addition to the standard 120mm rear fan and a 140mm spinner up top -- both have three-speed switch controls -- you can add two 120mm hard-drive fans up front and another 120mm fan to cool down your graphics cards on the side. A perforated front bezel assures maximum air intake. The I/O is top-mounted and includes a pair of USB 2.0 ports and audio.
This black aluminum PC Tower enclosure from Apevia has a whopping 13 drive bays and space for up to five 120mm cooling fans featuring two-speed, air-in/air-out control. Two HD audio slots, two USB 2.0 slots and a Firewire hookup live on top of the JupiterG-BK, plus two more USB 2.0 ports reside in front. And you can't beat front and side windows that offer an LED-lit glimpse of the engine within.
Here's a very nicely priced Mini Tower from Apevia -- made all the more attractive with the ATX 500W power supply included. The X-QPack 2 is a black and silver aluminum case featuring a three-sided window panel offering an LED-lit view of what's inside. Heat is handled by a 120mm rear fan. An LCD display on the front of the X-QPack 2 tells you if the fan is doing its job temperature-wise.
Perhaps our favorite thing about Apevia's X-QPack2 Mini Tower is the convenient carrying handle for taking it with you wherever you go. Other nice features include two 5.25-inch drives, three 3.5-inch drives and four expansion slots, plus three USB 2.0 front access ports, two for audio and one for Firewire. The case itself can handle motherboards up to 9.6 inches by 9.6 inches.
Here's another case from Apevia that's priced very nicely considering the inclusion of the 500W power supply. This Standard ATX enclosure can be built as a tower or on its side as a desktop, while color options include everything from classic black to red to the green featured on this model.
Peek inside Apevia's X-Master and you'll find seven expansion slots. Also included are three USB 2.0 ports, two for HD Audio and one for Firewire, all front access. Two 80mm UV Blue rear cooling fans come standard with the chassis, while more cooling options include 120mm fans on either side of the rig.
Cooler Master's top high-end and midprice chassis are the ATCS 840 Tower, pictured on the right, and the Sileo 500 desktop case. The all-aluminum ATCS 840 is an old standard that Cooler Master updated recently -- among the new features are a slide-out motherboard tray along with cut-out CPU access for easy chip upgrades. The Sileo 500, meanwhile, is Cooler Master's latest Mid Tower chassis. Quiet is the name of the game with this case -- it features acoustic foam sound insulation, antivibration pads for the detachable HDD trays and more noise reduction padding for the power supply.
Price: ATCS 840 -- $199; Sileo -- $79
A nice entry-level chassis from Cooler Master, the Elite 360 is a Mid/Mini Tower that accommodates Micro ATX and ATX motherboards. The black chassis is compact and attractive enough to fit in anywhere. Ventilation is provided by standard 120mm cooling fans -- one up top and another on the side -- while additional fan options include placing a pair of 80mm numbers on the bottom of the case and in the rear.
If a lack of hot-swappable drives is getting you down, Lian Li's PC-C34F may be just what the doctor ordered. Check out the lockable hard disk drive bay on this baby, not to mention a hot-swap SATA HDD cage for RAID arrays. A Mid/Mini Tower, the case supports Micro ATX and ATX boards, comes with a 2.4G wireless remote sensor and full multimedia I/O ports. Standard cooling involves one side-mounted 140mm input fan spinning along at 900 rpm and another 1,500 rpm extraction unit measuring 80mm at the rear of the box.
Lian Li doesn't bother with fancy names for its computer cases -- model numbers and what you're getting inside tell you everything you need to know. The PC-A06F chassis is another Lian Li enclosure for Micro ATX and ATX motherboard platforms, the key to this unit being the antivibration padding -- including shake-proof hard disk drive cages and antivibration clips to prevent side panel shaking. An adjustable power supply bracket in the PC-A06F case provides extra-long PSU space, and removable front, side and top panels offer easy access to the PSU and other components. Two fans, a 120mm top-mounted extraction fan and a 140mm input unit up front, provide the chill.
This ATX Mid Tower black aluminum case from Lian Li has two 5.25-inch external drive bays and additional 3.5-inch module, plus three 3.5-inch internal bays and seven expansion slots. Multimedia I/O is a given, while the cooling system features ball-bearing fan construction for quieter performance, as with all Lian Li cases. In this value-oriented chassis, that spells one 120mm rear fan. Other standard Lian Li features include a finely honed finish, modular component architecture and antivibration padding throughout the unit.
NZXT has a very affordable chassis targeting gamers in its Tempest, featuring E-ATX support to open up the possibility of slotting in the biggest, most powerful graphics cards, plus fan-cooled cages with room for up to eight hard disk drives. The light show and enormous side panel window are de rigeur for NZXT -- what's more enticing is the Tempest's standard-issue inclusion of six fans, including 120mm dual-intake, 140mm dual-exhaust, as well as 120mm side and rear fans. What's more, you can add on the two 120mm HDD fans and mount a dual 120mm radiator (compatible with Swiftech MCR220, Asetek Dual and Thermaltake TMG2) at the top of the chassis if you really want to go nuts.
It may sound like a dinosaur, but the Smilodon from Raidmax offers the latest in chassis add-ons for a surprisingly low price. Headlining the Raidmax Elite Series, this black ATX Mid Tower case is fashioned out of 1.0mm SECC steel and features a large side panel window for viewing all the good stuff inside. Two 80mm fans and another pair of 120mm fans keep the air moving, while a foldout, removable motherboard tray, roomy interior space and blue LED front panel lights round out the Smilodon story.
The product name may read like an eye chart, but Rosewill's RS-MI-01 Mini ITX Tower computer case is anything but a strain on the old peepers. Black steel with a nicely rounded front end, this case comes preloaded with a 250W power supply for the price listed below, features two USB 2.0 ports and another two for audio, three total drive bays and an additional expansion slot.
Here's a Full Tower case from Thermaltake that offers some nice additional cooling features for the extra dollars this unit will cost you -- including an independent adjustable fan bar, slots for installing up to eight total fans, including a wireless side panel fan, and a nice big window on the side to see the whole operation at work. Liquid cooling is an option for this high-end gaming system case.
The Element S Mid Tower enclosure features something Thermaltake calls a Stealth Black interior -- viewable, we're guessing, via the unusual top panel window that spies directly on a 230mm top-mounted fan. Seven 3.5-inch and two more 2.5-inch hard disk drive bays, a direction-free HDD cage and a side panel fixed with antivibration and noise-reduction material are more key elements of the S.
One of Thermaltake's hottest-selling entry-level chassis, this ATX and Micro ATX-supporting Mid Tower case comes with a 120mm rear-mounted TurboFan and the option to install another one up front. Microphone and speaker ports pair up next to the two USB 2.0 points on the black plastic front bezel. The rest of the unit is fashioned from SECC steel. Seven expansion slots offer plenty of options to complement four 5.25-inch drive bays and space for five more 3.5-inch drives.