Gaming Case Round-Up (2017)
A lot of the cases are in the “TBD Pricing” class for this year, but we’ve gotten price ranges from most the vendors to assign loose categories.
Best Budget Cases of CES 2017 ($50-$100)
Cases aren’t as closely packed to the ~$70 + PSU shroud market this year as they were last year, when the PSU shroud inclusion went from “fad” to “necessity,” apparently. Instead, we’ve seen more experimental cases, with several classics now shifting to include RGB LEDs at a higher overall cost. This moves the bar from more budget and entry-level PC builds and toward mid-range builds.
EVGA DG-7 Mid-Tower – Affordable and Standard ($90-$100)
EVGA’s DG-7 is the most “traditional” case in this round-up, avoiding RGB LEDs and cutting cost everywhere possible. That said, the company is still trying to stick with some of the current trends: There’s a PSU shroud in the usual bottom-mounted position, an “EVGA” logo cut-out in that shroud, and there’ll be tempered glass on both sides. As we understand it now, the EVGA logo will change to be LED-backlit prior to launch (it was just a cut-out for CES), and the tempered glass tinting will be lighter on the left side, but heavily darkened on the right side. This allows for the dual-side tempered glass setup that most the competition has, but without exposing ugly cable management.
In theory, anyway.
The DG-7 is a welcomed departure from EVGA’s DG-87 chassis released last year, which threw a bunch of metal, mirrors, and plastic at a steel frame and called it a case. The DG-7 is more traditional – it’s a mid-tower, it fits ATX motherboards, and it’s got a PSU shroud. Fan support scales to accommodate 7 total fans (as of now), but stock configuration is not yet finalized.
The DG-7 should land at around $100, making it competitive with the NZXT S340 Elite ($100) that we recently reviewed.
Release date is unfinalized, but probably in the first half of 2017. The EVGA DG-7 will post here once it’s available.
Thermaltake Core P1 TG Wall-Mountable Case ($100 likely)
Thermaltake’s Core P1 TG kicks off our entry to the next trend for 2017: Mini-ITX form factor cases. It’s a fitting time for growth in the ITX market, as Intel’s Kaby Lake still offers the usual ITX support, and AMD will now be adding X300/AB300 chipsets for mini-ITX Ryzen motherboards. As AMD didn’t have much support prior to Zen for ITX form factors, this change should theoretically bolster the market in smaller form factor cases. Learn more about the new chipsets here.
The Thermaltake Core P1 TG (“TG” stands for “Tempered Glass”) is the first of several mITX cases for this year’s “Best Cases” round-up. The P1 should be priced roughly around $100, right at the top of our bracket, and will include most of the same features that the Tt Core P3 ($91) & Core P5 ($121) offer. Among those, the Core P1 uses a semi-modular approach to case construction that allows for a front-facing GPU (or not – your choice) and wall-mount configuration. The 301 also supports full ATX PSUs and GPUs of effectively any length as there is no paneling to block the card.
The wall mounting aspect of the P-series of Thermaltake cases is probably the most noteworthy. It keeps the system out of the way, but allows the better component accessibility than usual. The glass panel can also be removed at will, if you’d rather use the P1 as an ad-hoc test bench. This is the main reason we like the P3 – it’s a cheaper test bench (and uses higher quality materials) than most actual test benches.
The Core P1 TG is not for sale yet, but should be listed right here when it goes up.
In Win 301 Mini-ITX – A Shrunken 303 ($70-$90)
In Win’s booth primarily had alternatives to the existing In Win 303 ($89) case, which we recently reviewed here. The two primary options are the In Win 301, a shrunken version of the 303, and the In Win 303 Type C. We’ll get to the latter once we’re in the $100-$200 section.
The In Win 301, however, is slated to be more affordable – likely in the $70-$90 range. That’d place the case among the elite few sub-$100, high build quality mini-ITX cases. Like the 303, the 301 has effectively zero front ventilation, and instead relies on bottom intake (through likely-optional 2x120mm bottom fans) for its breathing. Like the 303, there’s also no top exhaust – that’s where the PSU goes, and the PSU breathes air from the inside of the case and exhausts through its body. That’s a decent replacement for case exhaust, but you’d want to couple it with another rear exhaust fan (supports 1x120mm) or some intake.
Like the other cases thus far, the 301 is not yet available. In Win hopes to get the case on market in 1H17, and will post it here once it’s up.
SilverStone SG14 Mini-Tower ($80-$100)
SilverStone’s “SG” series has a moniker straight out of the Korean HQ. The new “SuperGO!” SG14 case hails from the mini-tower form factor, supporting mini-ITX motherboards (like the above two options). The total height of the SG14 is presently unfinished, but we were told to expect GPU length support minimally of 10.5”, but possibly up to 11”.
In terms of layout, the SG14 is a compact case that favors height over width/length, making for taller polycarbonate windows with a slight tint. The windows bow inward slightly, just enough for some flash, and may be backlit by RGB LEDs before the final option ships. SilverStone asked us to ask readers and viewers whether they’d like to pay extra for the RGB LEDs, because a non-LED option would land the SG14 under $100. Adding the RGB LEDs and controller (to allow synchronization) would plant the case probably $20-$40 more in total price.
LEDs aside, the case relies on a single fan for cooling and positions that fan bottom-center. SilverStone is using one of its Air Penetrator fans in the 140mm size, granting some silence while still maintaining a relatively high CFM. Air exhausts out the top of the case, through a meshed top panel that flanks a carrying handle.
The SG14 is the most prototype rev of the cases we’ve yet looked at, and there’s still time for feedback on how the case could be improved.
Best Mid-Range Cases of CES 2017 ($100-$200)
Our mid-range case range is somewhat generous with its $100-$200 pricing, since most cases >$150 start to enter more of an enthusiast/high-end class, but we’ve got to be generous when it comes to these unfinalized prices. Until each unit has a firm price, we’re working with the ranges that manufacturers loosely provided. These next few units are the best gaming PC cases in the more mid-range market.
SilverStone PM01-FX ($140-$160)
The PM01 case is one that we saw at Computex 2016, but it’s been revamped and renamed to PM01-FX – now complete with, as expected, more visual “FX.”
To SilverStone, this means the addition of a tempered glass panel, some RGB LED-lit fan covers, and an optional horse painting on the side panel. Functionally, the case has also been updated in a few key ways – namely the top of the chassis now supporting 140mm radiators and fans. The top panel can also fit a radiator underneath it (assuming average radiator size), which is useful in further compartmentalizing components.
These changes bring the enclosure up in price, with the PM01-FX without painting priced at $140-150, and the PM01-FX with painting priced at ~$150-$160 ($10 more).
It’s not a bad price for a painted side panel, if that’s your thing, though we’d like to see SilverStone do something better with the options. Partnerships with games make sense; it’d be unique (and marketable) if SilverStone could land Blizzard (Overwatch), Valve (DOTA), or Riot (League) characters for their paintable options.
The original PM01 is available for $115. The PM01-FX will post here once available. It’s not out at the time of this writing, but shouldn’t be long in the production queue. The tooling is already done for the original, so the FX just has some tweaks.
In Win 303 Type-C (~$150 likely)
Back to In-Win. The other enclosure we mentioned above, the 303 Type-C, offers yet another take on the In Win 303, but with the addition of a USB Type C connector and some small tweaks.
Of those tweaks, video card positioning is the most noticeable. An included riser cable will allow for the 303 Type C to mount its AIB with the faceplate facing outwards – a nice, optional touch – and should include a better-looking riser cable than we saw at the CES booth. The downside to this approach is that there is a definite loss in cooling potential, since at least one of those bottom fan slots is sacrificed to the GPU.
The case does not escape the RGB LED trend, either, though does so with a different take on the implementation. In Win’s 303 Type-C adds RGB LEDs to its left side panel, using what appears to be some sort of laser etching process to embed a design. The design is backlit by LEDs that don’t require cabling, thankfully, and use a simple pin-to-pad contact at the corner of the panel and the case.
In Win is still deciding on price for the 303 Type-C. They’ve asked us to judge how much it’d be worth to viewers and readers. We reckon no more than $150, but let us know in the comments if you have thoughts.
Honorable Mention: Enermax Saberay (probably ~$120-150)
The Enermax Saberay looks to be somewhat of an updated Ostrog Advance ($110), using diffusers over lightpipes for RGB LEDs flanking the front panel. Internal fan mounting makes for an interesting side-wall fan mount (potentially a radiator compartment?).
The Enermax Saberay will use Enermax’s new LED fans with illumination for the blades, and is capable of mounting radiators in sizes of 360, 280, and 240mm. This includes a compartment in the side wall of the chassis, the front panel, and the top panel.
The case is a standard mid-tower layout other than the side-wall fans, though we’re not sure yet if those are included with the final product. The side panels have extruding handles and latches for carrying and quick panel removal, which worked well during our visit, and the front panel is RGB LED illuminated, like every other case this year, and is using lightpipes to diffuse the light across the panel.
The installation features look pretty basic at this point and, honestly, could probably use some work, but we’ll have to wait for a review sample to see how the builds turn out. Cooling potential looks promising, in the least.
Learn more about this case here.
Best High-End Cases of CES 2017 ($200+)
We’ve only got two expensive cases to show for this year’s CES, with only one of them being really expensive.
Deepcool New Ark 90 Case (TBD, $200+ likely)
Deepcool’s entire CES lineup can be found here, including the EarlKase, BaronKase, and Quad Stellar.
The new Ark 90 case is the most interesting to us. It’s more standard in layout and likely price target, but includes an AIO with flowmeter for extra flash. The Ark 90 includes a Deepcool Captain 280EX AIO liquid cooler, for which a front-mounted flowmeter rests within the chassis. The flowmeter splits the left and right compartments of the case, with an LED backlight for extra flash on the tube. LEDs are also positioned on the CPU block and PSU shroud, where Deepcool’s logo rests.
The Ark 90 can accommodate up to a 360mm radiator, though does include the 280mm unit pre-positioned for installation on the CPU. The Ark 90 will include a unique ventilation system on the non-glass side panel, a ribbon cable extender for vertical GPU installation, and 3x 140mm fans pre-installed. Availability should start in May of this year, at a TBD pricing. We are on the list to review this one.
Lian Li DK05 Desk Case ($1700-$1800)
The final enclosure isn’t really a proper enclosure. It’s more of furniture.
That’s because it’s Lian Li’s DK05 desk case. This is Lian Li’s standing desk case with a glass top, but this time, the tempered glass actually has a purpose – namely, to act as a desk surface. Now, of course, the downside is that you wouldn’t want to put much on the desk, seeing as it’d obstruct sight to the actual computer underneath. This is a better fit for minimalists.
The DK05 can house two full systems, up to EATX in motherboard form factor, and can use two separate front panel controllers on either side of the desk for separating the systems. The desk deploys an electric motor to drive the legs, and comes with 4 presets for desk height. Each height can be modified with incremented adjustment from + and – buttons. We didn’t measure exactly, but the desk comes up to about a meter high, and uses a front angle of about 60-degrees to better fit chairs under the desk than previous models.
The desk will include something like 8-12 fans, depending on how the final design shakes out, and can support at least some minimal level of liquid cooling AIOs. We’re not sure on the details yet, though.
Price for the Lian Li DK05 will be about $1700 to $1800.
That’s it for this year’s CES 2017 best cases round-up. Keep checking back for ongoing coverage of all the new products. Check the YouTube channel to catch-up on other coverage that may not have made it to the website.
Editorial: Steve “Lelldorianx” Burke
Video Producer: Andrew “ColossalCake” Coleman
Video & Photography: Keegan Gallick & Jim Vincent