Advice-Time: New Computer Case, Please!


#1

Howdy, all. None of the old threads I saw seemed worth bumping, so here's a new one.

I'm finally installing a few new components that have built up between gifts and purchases (and likely wiping everything out and going straight to Win10 via a work-discounted copy). Seems like a useful time to finally rid myself of my old Antec 300, which is sort of a gigantic pain to work in, and I've got a bit of spare Christmas money leftover for the task.

I'm looking for a case of moderate-to-good quality (great's nice, too!) in the $40-60 range. Mid-tower's ideal, but if you've got a reasonable-sized full tower (or a mini case that's a breeze to work in and can accommodate an R9 290x), I'm willing to budge on that. Good airflow/fan layout is ideal, since I won't be adding any of my own. ~3 5.25" bays at least, plus ~3 3.5" bays at least, but more of either is okay. Front-side audio and USB ports are a big plus, while extremely gaudy built-in LEDs are a big minus.

Most vital is "workability" and ease of use stuff. I'll take a little smaller, less full-featured, or less flexible case for one that is roomy and/or has, say, screwdriver free access to most areas. I loathe digging into my PC's guts more than I have to; a case that would at least not have a negative impact on my opinion on the matter is perfect.

An optional thing is reasonable cable management options even an idiot could figure out. At this point, I've got cables criss-crossed over cables, stretched over PCI cards like a prisoner sawing through their bindings, and cables just stuffed into drive bays to get them out of my hair. Pretend that I'm an idiot in the bottom 5th percentile of the US population with regards to spacial awareness, here (because according to my 3rd grade IQ test, I am!).

Thanks in advance!

(Oh, PS, if it's available for pickup within 30 miles of Raleigh, NC or through Amazon Prime and I pick yer suggestion, I'll send you a buck on Steam)


#2

Spend a little bit extra and get a fractal design R5.


When do the next generation GPUs drop?
#3

Let’s pretend for a moment that I can’t literally double my budget ;). Is the older R4 worthwhile in comparison?


#4

Check Intrex for avaliability of parts. Intrex’s tend to be questionable on servicing (and depends on branch) , but on parts supply they’re usually pretty good.

The Roswell Thor case works well, but that’s double your budget. What I ended up getting for my SFV machine. That’s double your budget though unless you get a sale (I did)

Best I could find there was about $70 and IMO looked questionable on cooling. I think you should wait a bit and spend more.


#5

The R4 is a great case too, sure. If you can’t stretch, I’d probably get the Corsair 200R.


#6

I just (as in yesterday) built my new gaming system and used the R5. Can’t say enough good things about this case. Shop around, I got mine from Newegg for under $90 + free shipping. It is dead silent and a joy to work with. Worth the investment.


#7

I technically can probably yoink out some of the 90/120mm fans from my existing case, if it’s just a matter of lack of fans as opposed to poor fan layout making the cheaper options iffy. Aside from that, I don’t really plan to do much in the way of OC, so unless the stock cooler on the used R9 I bought starts to give out, I am less worried about internal temps now than I’d have been 10 years ago.

Did check Intrex; their website-listed [in-store?] prices are uniformly about $10 above net prices, with the upside of having local availability while I’ll still be on the holiday weekend. . . hmmm.


I guess part of my concern is that whatever I might buy (Corsair Carbide 200R/300R, NZXT Source 220, CoolerMaster HAF912, Thermaltake G42, rebated Rosewill R5, or free-shipped Fractal Design Define R4 currently top my list and all sit between about $50 and $65, if I get lucky) isn’t necessarily any easier to work with than my existing Antec 300. I’m sure that gearing up and grabbing a $130 case would solve that uncertainty real quick, but as-is, I’m having a tough time justifying $60 for a case instead of more important bills to come, so I don’t see saving up being a real option for the medium-near future ;)


#8

If it’s a choice between spending $60 on a case you don’t actually need and paying bills, well, do the adult thing.


#9

… and use a credit card.


#10

Prostitution is illegal in his state.


#11

I’m selling my COMPANIONSHIP, thank you very much!

In truth, the money I listed above can (and was intended to) go to a non-essential, but it’s very unlikely to be joined by additional unrestricted funds in the near future, so apologies to stusser if I gave the impression I was buying a case instead of paying rent.


#12

I have no experience with either of these cases, but they were HardwareCanucks’ top picks this year for budget cases:

Corsair Carbide 100R

Silverstone PS11


#13

My Corsair Carbide 300R was very easy to work with. You can also save a few bucks with the 200R if you wish.


#14

The 200R’s tempting me a lot (and the 300R, although less so, given the price increase). I’d love to wait for a deal on an R4, but then again, you gotta commit and hit the buy button at some point.

One thing I really like on the 200R is the little slide-in SSD tray stuck to the side of the lower HDD cage. One of the upgrades I’ll be doing is replacing the venerable, legendarily flaky Vertex 2 I’ve tenuously run on the last 4-5 years with a Crucial MX100, but I’d love to keep 'em both handy, and the little drop-in slot looks awesome. The 300R seems to omit this little doohicky (instead limiting you to screw-requiring brackets to fit into a 3.5" HDD slot or–I think–a little screw-on indention on the panel behind the mobo), though it is, as others have noted, generally larger. Definitely doing a bit of soul-searching (and also Google-searching) on this one now, but thanks all for the recs. Even the higher-end ones are stuff to keep in mind if and when stuff finally turns around for the Penblade clan :-D


#15

Those are all great cases, but keep in mind the main benefit of the define R5 (and I guess the R4, although I haven’t really looked at it) is that it’s also a [I]silent[/I] case. The carbide series are optimized more for airflow.

My general feeling on these things is not to upgrade until I actually [I]need[/I] to do so, and when I do I get what I really, really want. I’m still using my i7 920 from 2009 or so, because I bought a premium PSU, motherboard, CPU, and cooling. The hard drive and GPU have been upgraded several times, but the core system is still fine.

Although, it’s been [I]so[/I] many generations that I may upgrade sometime this year anyway. I’m waiting for march to see how nVidia’s Pascal looks first. And waiting for thunderbolt3 eGPU solutions too.


#16

In my case (hah), it’s mostly that the sheer quantity of HDDs, SSDs, optical drives, and PCI cards competing for space inside of the existing case make fitting any sort of graphics card a real bear, and moreover, the relatively short cables that came with my PSU are currently straining as they slide over the GPU, etc., to make it where they’re going. The Antec 300 was never really regaled as a cable management king, but quality of life stuff like that have filtered down to the lower-tier cases over the intervening decade or so since it launched

End result is that doing any sort of upgrade inside is an absolute bear, and my airflow is atrocious (the sheer quantity of dust in my apartment doesn’t help, either). So, while a case now isn’t exactly life-or-death (unlike the nasty period last year where both of my old LCDs bit the dust within a few months of each other), replacing it alongside putting in some gifted and cheaply acquired parts seems like a smart next step.

Honestly, silence isn’t that big of a deal for me. Between our steadily dying old fridge thunking every few minutes, the washer and dryer dancing all around the tile floor of the laundry cubicle, and mine and my gf’s competing music blaring from headphones, this joint ain’t ever gonna win any silence awards to begin with. Supreme cooling options aren’t really a big deal, either; I’m past my overclocking days and relying on stock coolers and prayers for the most part. Not gonna be slapping water cooled radiators bigger than my car’s into whatever I wind up going with.

But between people here’s good impressions of the Carbide x00R and Define X series, I feel like I’d be well-served by either. One just happens to fit into some computer-directed Xmas funds more cleanly than the other :)


#17

You have PCI cards aside from the GPU?

As an aside, you really should adjust the feet of the washer and dryer to make them stable and level. Otherwise they will destroy themselves even sooner.


#18

Sound card (ancient X-Fi XTreme Audio) and USB expansion (I use a genuinely ludicrous amount of USB ports).

Washer wobble seems to be more from internal instability than external (something about the washer basin not being balanced properly? Dunno, Youtubed this like two years ago and figured it was beyond my level to mess with since it’s not my property). Did tell the owners about it, but the “repair guy” their chosen property manager favors is a mason by trade, so he just sort of poked mournfully at it for a few minutes and left.

Mentioned decision-making process to genuinely curious, overly generous father who has recently re-acquired the building bug after his “little” GPU upgrade for himself over Christmas turned into a multi-week part-replacing fiasco, and he offered to put forward a little more, because I think he’s fundamentally wired to do that kind of thing. Final decision incoming, but suddenly those budget-doubling items seem like a better use of my funds. . .


#19

What did you end up getting, Armando?


#20

With the old man’s help, a Fractal Design Define R5. It really was a pretty fabulous case to build in, mostly. My old power supply’s cables were a little short in a couple of cases, so there’s an 8-pin stretched over the PCI cards to hook into the mobo (couldn’t route around the back) and more SATA power cables stretched across behind the motherboard panel than I’d like to manage the two SSDs, two HDDs, and DVD-R drive… .

. . . but on the flip side, the PC runs cooler, quieter, and with far less tangle and mess than before. Not having to listen to the grinding whir of very old and very overworked case fans anymore alone is a huge relief :)