In truth, a gaming computer can be put in just about any old ATX case. But who would want to? Trying to fit a gaming PC into a case which is not well suited for it is liable to make the temperature of the entire PC warmer than needs be, resulting in lower life-spans for components and potential performance issues. Plus, let’s face it – gaming cases are cool, in a nerdy kind of way. If you’re going to spend a lot of money on high-end gaming components, then it is not a bad idea to have an enclosure which also looks high-end.
Fortunately, gaming cases are not hard to come by, and there are several stand-outs which every gamer should consider before pulling the trigger. The three gaming cases listed here are best of class, but note that this class is mainstream gaming cases which do to tend to be of mid or full tower size. Those looking for a smaller case should consider our list of the best mini-ITX cases.
At first glance, the Raidmax Smilodon does not seem much different than the sea of plastic and metal gaming cases which flood the PC case market. Available in either a blue-silver or green-black color scheme, the Raidmax Smilodon case in either color scheme looks like there might be a rave happening inside. The case does make great use of plastics, and generally plastics in a PC case are something to be avoided, but the Smilodon at least makes the situation tolerable by ensuring that they are of decent quality. The same can’t be said of the optional included PSU, however, so it is better to go for a model which does not include it. The Smilodon also stumbles when it comes to cooling, as the Smilodon has a very traditional format using 120mm fans. It is adequate, but not clever.
There is a reason the Smilodon gets the nod, however. Despite being available for well under $100 dollars, the Smilodon has one of the best layouts for system builders of any case in any price range. The front is easy to remove and the left side panel swings open as one would expect. But the right side panel also swings open complete with the PCI expansion cards and motherboard. In other words, it is possible to replace the motherboard without removing the PSU, the hard-drives, or any other components because of the need for extra room. PC gamers, who do often upgrade their PCs, will find this feature to be infinitely useful, and there are cases costing three times as much which do not have it. That makes it a very good case.
Elegant. Crafted. Superb. These are words which have traditionally been used to describe Silverstone cases, and for good reason. Silverstone’s products are extremely highly regarded. That said, cool is a word less often attached to them. Silverstone’s cases are usually the shapes one would expect and rarely even include such features as a case window, which has always seemed odd for a case which will certainly be filled with expensive equipment.
Silverstone’s new Raven, then, is quite a change for Silverstone. Crafted in stealth-fighter black, the Raven looks like something out of a science fiction movie. It includes a huge case window which looks into a well organized case interior and provides a good view of the video card, motherboard, and other critical components. This is a case in which a three hundred dollar motherboard and an equally expensive video card would look very much at home.
There is something else unusual about the Raven – the interior layout. Like most Silverstone cases, the Raven includes numerous advanced layout features like a sub-floor which separates the PSU from the rest of the case. However, the Raven also takes the motherboard and rotates it clockwise ninety degrees from its normal position. In other words, the PCI expansion slots on this case are oriented towards the top of the case. The reasoning is that the graphics card is by far the hottest element in a modern gaming PC, and so it makes sense to keep that component at the top so that heat can rise naturally away from it. It is quite a brilliant piece of engineering, and ensures the Raven’s spot as a great gaming case. You’ll have to pay for it, however – the Raven does typically cost $200 dollars.
The Antec 900 is a classic. It was widely considered one of the best gaming cases when it first debuted around three years ago, and it is still well regarded. It has been on the best-seller list at Newegg for years now, as it is very nearly considered the default choice of case for many gamers.
The reason for the Antec’s success has been a simple focus on maximizing airflow throughout the case using large, slow-moving fans. The Antec 900 can mount two 120mm fans in the front and 120mm fan in the rear, which is normal. More unusual, however, is the 200mm fan which is in the top of the case. Some other cases have begun to use this since the Antec 900, but the 900 is the case which made the concept popular. While large fans may seem to be a recipe for noise, large fans in fact are quieter than small ones. This is because large fans do not need to spin as fast as smaller ones to move the same amount of air. As a result, the Antec 900 has great airflow throughout the case and is not nearly as noisy as one might expect.
While the Antec 900 is quite old at this point, the case remains a good choice thanks to the consistency of the ATX format. The Antec 900 is very well set up to cool a PC with a GPU and CPU in the rear and hard drives in the front. The PSU is at the bottom of the case and stays out of the way of the air which is exhausted from the top of the case by the 200mm fan. The Antec 900 isn’t a bad value, either, considering it is usually priced well under $150 dollars. Even 3 years after its release, this case remains a solid contender.