Two cases enter, one case leaves: That’s the gist of our mini-roundup this month. We’re still amazed sometimes at the disparity in production quality between cases. Sometimes, it’s as if manufacturers really don’t even bother giving the case a quick run-through before sending it off to retailers. Other times, it feels as if manufacturers go over their cases with a fine-toothed comb, checking every detail and nuance to eliminate even the smallest of possible annoyances.
Note: This article originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of the magazine.
Budget is as budget does, but Silverstone’s RL04 just feels incomplete—or ill-designed—across a number of key areas. We suppose this case is worth looking into if you’re tired of running all your parts and pieces on an open-air design—as in, propped up on cardboard boxes or Styrofoam. Otherwise, it’s worth your while to explore some of the other cases in the sub-$80 category; the RL04 just isn’t all that compelling.
Note: This review was taken from the May issue of the magazine.
If you thought that the only innovation in modern chassis design was the (long-awaited) switch from USB 2.0 ports to USB 3.0 ports at all price levels, you haven’t seen anything yet. The cases in our roundup this time around really run the gamut of features: From inexpensive cases that attempt to deliver a lot of functionality without fattening up the price tag, to simple-looking chassis that hide a wealth of must-haves, to some of the most eye-opening cases we’ve seen – that don’t quite stack up once you look beyond their crazy offerings.In other words, it’s a typical case roundup.
This computer case roundup was taken from the February 2013 issue of the magazine.
Zalman’s Z9-U3 isn’t a great case but, at a cost of $70, it would be difficult to expect this mid-tower chassis to move many mountains.
The case’s design isn’t all that different from the company’s previously released Z9 chassis. Changes include the removal of the case’s grilled side in favor of an acrylic window and the happy inclusion of USB 3.0 connectivity on the chassis’ front—two ports, with internal headers. Although the switch from a grilled side to acrylic means that you’re down two potential fan slots, the case supports five fans in total (ranging from 12cm to 14cm) and comes with three preinstalled for you.
Note: This review was originally featured in the January 2013 issue of the magazine.
Good looks, solid installation, a few eyebrow-raising quirks
If you’re big on case lighting—you Cylon fan, you—you’re going to absolutely love NZXT’s latest Phantom chassis. It’s rare to see such attention to detail paid to simple illumination, as with the three separate strands of lighting found on the exterior, interior, and rear of NZXT’s Phantom 820. Cooler still, you can manually cycle through a variety of colors for the lights, so as to find the one that matches whatever mood you’re in at any given moment.
A soprano could sing inside of this case and you’d never hear it
Finding a chassis that successfully combines practical noise dampening, useful features, and cooling can be a bit of a needle in the haystack sometimes—but in this case (pardon the pun), that’s Thermaltake’s New Soprano. The solid construction of this chassis creates an upgrading or installation experience that’s free of frustration. Our only complaint with the case, if you can really call it that, is that it lacks pizazz.
Note: This review was taken from the February 2013 issue of the magazine.
How do we love thee, Azza Genesis 9000 full-tower case? Let us count the ways. Is it your gorgeous, pearl-white (or charcoal) chassis? The thin, blue or red lit-up lines that adorn your body and provide us with fond memories of the oh-so-delightful Tron: Legacy? The ample space within your interior that allows us to install a motherboard, a kitchen sink, and two power supplies at once? The list continues.
Fractal Design’s Define R3 chassis, which we reviewed in January 2011, impressed us with its combination of functionality and customizability at a low price. The Define R4 is an updated version of that chassis, and like its predecessor is tricked out for noise control—if not enthusiast building.
The Define R4 isn't much to look at on the outside, but Fractal Design has made some good tweaks to the system's insides to take it above and beyond its predecessor.
Daring to be different, but falling a little short
The Level 10 GTS is a mid-tower based on a full-tower based on an overdesigned concept chassis, and the form factor has lost something in translation at each step, resulting in a chassis that’s a bit, well, weird.
The Phantom 410 inherits the good looks of its full-tower predecessor but adds some tweaks of its own. It’s a great-looking case in any color (we’ve used white and red for builds), but the gunmetal gray is spectacular. The paint is thick and luxurious to the touch, enough to give the Phantom 410 a much better feel than the MSI Ravager, which uses similar chassis tooling. Like the full-tower Phantom, the 410 has plastic shrouds on the top and front panels, which increase the size of the case (and make it impossible to rest anything on top). The top shroud contains two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, audio jacks, and a three-speed fan controller—as well as the seven fan-control cables that lead from it.