CES 2016 – Interesting PC Gaming Cases

I was recently in the market for a new case myself, and I haven’t been swayed from the Corsair 760T (I’ll be covering it soon) that I’ve been eyeing for some time now, I’ve come across a number of compelling new options. There were quite a few ludicrous designs shown off that while cool, weren’t something that the average consumer or even enthusiast should actually consider outside of novelty. All of the cases I’ll be covering here are within the range from sensible options to incredible buys.

Case - Corsair 760T


NZXT S340 Inspired Mid-Tower Cases

The wonderful NZXT S340 was the first case I’d ever seen that looked so slick, inside and out, for such a low cost. Right after It’s launch, I recommended it to a friend who approached me about building a system, and it was a joy to work in. The fit and finish was superb for the price, and I thought the result was surprisingly nice for an i5 + GTX 970 + 120GB SSD + 1TB HDD system, all under $900 (in Oct 2014).

The PSU shroud and matte interior takes most of the effort out of routing cables for a clean look. We paid $65 USD shipped, but now even though there are 3 additional color variations (5 total), you’re hard pressed to find one shipped for under $80, most even reaching to $90-100+ because of it’s popularity. A few small tweaks like double fan/rad support in the roof and a slide-out PSU dust filter, and it would be near perfect for the form factor. For lighting, one of their HUE+ models is an amazing addition, though the system is nearly as expensive as the entire case. A revision with an integrated “Hue+ Jr.“, would probably sell quite well.

It’s success was bound to drive competition, and that’s exactly what happened at CES 2016, with 3+ models taking clear inspiration at around the same price point.

Case - Corsair 400 & 600 Series

Corsair 400C / 400Q – [ $100 ]

Corsair had previously announced two cases, the 600C & 600Q, both using this same exterior aesthetic, but with inverted motherboard mounting. The PSU and shroud were positioned in the roof, also covering two optical bays and HDD mounting.

The 400C & 400Q are slated to come in at $50 less and 7cm shorter than their inverted brothers. That height reduction was achieved by opting to remove optical drive support entirely, and by decreasing the space between the top of the motherboard and the roof (previously the floor). While the days of optical drives have past in the eyes of many, the big hit here is that where you could fit a 2x140mm rad and fans in the 600 models, the 400s’ will only accommodate 2×120 rad+fans w/e low-profile memory. You can fit 2 140mm fans up there still, but adding essentially any rad will make it collide with the motherboard. In all of these you can fit a 2x140mm rad and fans in the front, so AIOs like the H110i and others are still supported.

For all 4 models, the C means Clear and indicates the full-length side-panel window (with the brilliant door hinges from the 760T), while Q means Quiet and indicates internal sound dampening with no windows. They accommodate a large number of fans for their size, and the lack of HDD mounting all along the front that we’ve been accustomed to for many years now, allows for near unrestricted airflow across all the core components. The thermals on the S340 were already excellent because of this, but these take it a step further with even more fan mounting options.

Corsair always does a fantastic job, though they seemed to have failed a bit with their shroud implementation. You can see what they were going for, but it’s as if they stopped in the prototyping stage. It’s removable and has a sliding mechanic, but theres a few inch gap between the front that can’t be closed up even though it would still support two 140mm fans above that with no issues, and the positioning of the hole meant for GPU power is just nonsense. It’s a clear oversight, and while it can be easily fixed by anyone with basic modding skills using the framework they’ve provided, it’s the primary area for improvement if this ever gets a revision.

Motherboard ATX
Fans Front: 3x 120mm or 2x 140mm (1 incl.)
Roof: 2x 240mm or 2x 140mm
Rear: 1x 120mm (1 incl.)
Radiators Front: 280mm / 360mm
Roof: 240mm
Rear: 120mm
Storage / Expansion Slots 0x Optical
2x 3.5″ HDD
3x 2.5″ SSD/HDD
7x PCI Expansion
Dimensions 425 x 215 x 464 mm
16.7 x 8.5 x 18.3 inches

Case - Phanteks Eclipse P400

Phanteks Eclipse P400 / P400S – [ $70 – $90 ]

The shroud here isn’t as aesthetically pleasing vs the NZXT / Corsair offerings, and lacks a hole for GPU power pass-through. A section near the front is removable to expand radiator support, and it uses a unique system to mount additional HDDs along the front. Rigid HDD trays (sold separately, also work with the Enthoo Pro M / Enthoo Pro M Acrylic) mount to 4 slots on the right of the motherboard tray, with removable plastic panels to cover up where your SATA data and power cables would pass. There’s a short 10-color LED strip beneath the front panel, controlled by a button near the reset switch. There’s a cable inside that allows you to connect additional LED strips to light the internals using the same controller.

There are many variants and accessories available, so exact pricing for each configuration is still unclear. Essentially the P400S is the same as the P400, but with sound dampening foam and a 3-speed fan controller. Available in 3 finishes, being the semi-matte “Satin Black” and “Anthracite Grey”, and a glossy white for $10 more. Both windowed and solid side panels will also be available.

Motherboard ATX
Fans Front: 3x 120mm (1 incl.) or 2x 140mm
Roof: 2x 240mm or 2x 140mm
Rear: 1x 120mm (1 incl.)
Radiators Not Final
Front: 280mm
Roof: 240mm
Rear: 120mm
Storage / Expansion Slots Not Final
0x Optical
2x 3.5″ HDD (+4?)
2x 2.5″ SSD/HDD
7x PCI Expansion
Dimensions Not Available

Case - SilverStone RL-05-B

SilverStone RL-05-B – [ $60 ]

While slated to come in cheaper than any of the other options, the fit and finish is clearly not as nice. It’s also much earlier in development and they may make changes, so shoot them a message if you have any feedback.

It features a mesh front and an optical bay as opposed to the solid side or bottom-vented designs of the others, and no fan mounting at all in the roof like a few of the Fractal Design cases. To be honest with you, I don’t see very much promise for this case… If you’re already spending this much, you might as well add the small amount more for something you’re truly happy with. If this pops up on sale at anywhere $30-45, then that’s a different story. Talking $60 vs $70-80, I think the choice is clear if you’re thinking at all about the long-term.

Cases are simultaneously the least and most important part of your build. Generally there’s minimal impact in performance between most modern cases for the average user and you literally don’t even need one to run a system, but at the same time, it’s the one component that can last you the longest of any other if you make the right choice. In the past few years, we’ve seen a change in design philosophy that has improved style, component support, and cooling performance dramatically, and I don’t see such a massive shift occurring again so soon. Buying a case meant to last is a relatively safe bet at the moment.

Motherboard ATX
Fans Not Final
Front: 2x 120mm or 2x 140mm (2 incl.)
Roof: None
Rear: 1x 120mm (1 incl.)
Radiators Not Final
Front: 280mm
Roof: None
Rear: 120mm
Storage / Expansion Slots Not Final
1x Optical
3x 3.5″ HDD
2x 2.5″ SSD/HDD
7x PCI Expansion
Dimensions Not Available

 

More Coming Soon… Corsair Spec-Alpha – Thermaltake Core X31


 

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