Introduction

Perhaps twenty or even just ten years ago, people thought of a computer case as simply pieces of metal holding the components in their proper places; nothing more. Today, however, things are pretty different. As computers become more and more commonplace, average people are starting to be more concerned with concepts such as airflow patterns, better heat-dissipating materials, or sound-dampening drive mounts - all things increasingly needed to keep today's high-wattage powerhouses cool and quiet.

Also, popularity of computers in general is quite possibly the cause for the biggest shift in case design, which is improved asthetics. As computers occupy more places in our everyday lives, people are less interested in large, beige, boxy eyesores, and much more interested in finding a machine that fits in with its surroundings and incorporates the type of features that a true enthusiast values.

In order to serve our readers better, we have decided that it makes more sense to have a review of a comparative analysis of multiple cases than an extremely close look at an individual case that we receive. Today, we're focusing on a range of cases that we feel best represents a popular price point - between $60 and $150 - and have selected cases that most of our readers either are seriously considering or we feel should be considered. This all being said, several of the cases that we are looking at in this article are unique enough to certainly write several pages about them, but we are going to try to condense the information and present it in as concise a manner as possible.

We'll look at the cases in order of cost, least expensive to most expensive.

Aspire X-Cruiser
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  • Abecedaria - Sunday, September 11, 2005 - link

    What was the criteria for choosing these cases? Most of them look nasty-plasticy and even the Antec P-180, although it looks good, has a veery plasticy feel.

    Where was Silverstone in your review? They have some of the best cases available:
    http://www.silverstonetek.com/product-case.htm">http://www.silverstonetek.com/product-case.htm
    and from their new subsidiary:
    http://www.tuniq.com.tw/Chassis/chassis.htm">http://www.tuniq.com.tw/Chassis/chassis.htm

    These things rock.

    abc
    Reply
  • unclebud - Monday, September 12, 2005 - link

    please consider reviewing the performance 640 next time?
    it currently includes a smartpower v2 400w, for $129
    thanks in advance
    Reply
  • Rudee - Saturday, September 10, 2005 - link

    There is an error in the article. The Sonata II does indeed have a removable air filter in the front of the case, thus should not be given a score of "0" for this catagory. Reply
  • Tamale - Saturday, September 10, 2005 - link

    The filter is removable from the bottom of the case only.. while this certainly is 'removable', it is nowhere near as accessible as the other cases which I gave this point to. I struggled with the idea of giving the case .5 for this category, but it wouldn't have made a difference in the end, and I really don't feel that most users would go through the trouble of tipping the case over just to clean the filter, so no points were awarded.

    Thanks for pointing out the detail though.
    Reply
  • Rudee - Saturday, September 10, 2005 - link

    The Sonata II case is great. I was able to overclock a AMD 64 3700 to 2700mhz using the stock AMD heatsink and fan with one Panaflo 92mm fan in the duct over the CPU. Temps are great and I ended up returning my Zalman 7700 as I didn't need it. Reply
  • dgkulzer - Friday, September 09, 2005 - link

    After 1 month of use I am very happy with my P180. Assembly does take a bit longer than a standard case if you are trying to hide your cables but that isnt much of an issue to me. I put a Phantom 500 PSU in it and because its longer than most other PSU's I had to replace the lower fan with a thinner model (Nexus 120). I have 4 hard drives in the lower chamber and the Nexus at 5 volts keeps them very cool - I havent had the Phantom fan kick on yet either.

    This is one case that looks better in person than it does in pictures, the pictures make it look like a little fridge or something but it looks pretty sweet on your desk :)
    Reply
  • mschira - Friday, September 09, 2005 - link

    I guess the two compartment design is great for watercooling. You could put the pump reservoir etc in the lower compartment. If something leaks, the electronic is save.
    I think that's great thing...
    M.
    P.S. onla trouble is where to put the power suply...
    Reply
  • Griswold - Friday, September 09, 2005 - link

    Kids, having a flashy computer under your desk doesnt make the chicks like you more. Say no to stupid side windows! Reply
  • Tamale - Friday, September 09, 2005 - link

    you seem to forget that most kids who think it would look cool to have the window in the first place probably don't care about girls anyway ;)

    p.s. - most people (girls included) seem to think my all-acrylic case is pretty cool
    Reply
  • Griswold - Sunday, September 11, 2005 - link

    quote:

    p.s. - most people (girls included) seem to think my all-acrylic case is pretty cool


    Besides the total lack of EM shielding (which is enough reason to not do what you did, not only because it's not allowed in many countries (I know, I know, US is different, there, the cops wont stop you if your car has only 3 wheels..)), a full acrylic case is a nice show thingie. I just find side windows embarrassing, especially when the rest of the case looks like Optimus Prime's chest armor.
    Reply

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