It's easy to get excited about ultra high-end computer hardware (like the HAF Stacker), but realistically, the largest percentage of our system building audience looks for cost efficiency. We've previously reviewed RAIDMAX's Cobra and Rosewill's R5 in the entry-level ~$50-$60 budget range, and in an effort to fill out our bench, we're adding Antec's new GX700.

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We first looked at the GX700 at CES 2013, where Antec representative Justin Chou demonstrated the case's main features. At the time, Antec noted that its objective was to fit a $50-$60 price-point and maximize case fan count without inflating cost. The case also hopes to fit a 'gamer' aesthetic that a lot of modern enclosures attempt, almost vaguely mirroring Corsair's higher-end C70 with its military styling and flair.

This Antec GX700 gaming case review aims to benchmark performance, optimal case fan placement, build quality, and best cable management practices. We tested multiple aftermarket fan configurations, so if you've got extra money to add fans, our below benchmark will help with  airflow optimization. We'd also recommend that you take a look at our case fan placement guide.

There's been a bit of localized interest in case modding since we posted our introductory guide with BS Mods & Rod Rosenberg a while back. The fact is that case modding is an incredibly rewarding, easy-to-get-into avenue to give your PC unique charm.

cm-case-mods-1An upcoming case mod by user Corsaronero333.

Case, cooling, & power manufacturer Cooler Master hosts a mod competition every year, and this year's event spots $20,000 in computer hardware prizes. Modders have until October 31st to sign up on the CM forum, where they'll be keeping a build log for their progress. Images and descriptors must accompany the thread as the build progresses.

If you haven't noticed, we just revamped the website to be a slick, mobile-responsive, fast resource for gaming system builders; it's been our goal for a few years now to guide enthusiasts in PC building endeavors, and with our new revamp, we can do that better than ever. More on that in a separate post.

Before the weekend closes out, we decided to compile some of the best computer hardware sales available right now for those of you looking to get in a bit of pre-holiday shopping. This weekend sees the highlight of an $80 120GB SSD, $90 H100i CLC, $60 Corsair enclosure, and a $480 ASUS Ivy Bridge non-gaming notebook.

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I will note that if you're looking to build a new rig, we recently revamped our PC build guides to include a new content filtration system -- so go play around with that! The forums are, of course, always open to support your efforts.

Welcome to another edition of Mik's picks. The new school year is fast approaching -- as we noted in our recent budget gaming PC build -- so we've now begun our yearly ritual of back-to-school hardware sales round-ups. Even if you're not a school-goer yourself, you can still take advantage of the annual purge by hardware retailers.

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Its knee-high, monolithic stature almost resembles what you'd find in a server farm: Wide, imposing, and externally simple. NZXT's H630 was slowly leaked via a drawn-out, week-long marketing campaign, towing behind it a website revamp and the Sentry Mix 2; with all the fanfare reinforcing the H630's launch, NZXT puts itself in the vulnerable position of living up to hype. Let's see if they do.

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This NZXT H630 silent gaming / PC case review looks at its benchmark performance, additional fans, specs, build quality, and briefly skims over noise level. We also tested multiple add-on fan configurations within the case, ideally helping interested buyers to determine the optimal fan configuration.

Enthusiast-class cases have trended toward heavier focus on ease-of-installation features, almost creating the perception that performance features were "maxed-out," so to speak. There's inarguably a place for enthusiast enclosures whose headlining acts are the likes of a 70-color LED strip (like the Phantom 820), but there's an equally-large market contingent that demands nothing but the best performance.

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SilverStone originally impressed us with their SG08 mini-ITX SFF case (which we used for an HTPC); they further impressed us at CES 2013, where we were given a pre-production look at the RV04/FT04 enthusiast-class enclosures. SilverStone's recurring message to us has been communicated as a focus on performance. At CES we asked SilverStone for thoughts on the industry's trend toward ease-of-installation and cable management perks, to which they countered: "How many times are you going to install the system? Probably once." They have a solid point.

Welcome to another edition of Mik's Picks! If you didn't find all of those hidden eggs this past weekend—fear not!—I found a few to share with you all! I found great deals on a monitor, RAM, GPU, case, and SSD.

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Another week - another discount. This week I searched the web and—as always—found some sweet deals on gaming hardware and PC building equipment, including SSD sales, GPU deals, and CPU sales. I usually just go with just five picks, but with so many deals out there, we've listed seven noteworthy deals for you! Let's get to the good stuff!

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As I've explained innumerable times this past month, the overwrought enthusiast market has clambered over itself with new hardware for 2013. It's really quite unbelievable: As the mainstream desktop market wanes—due to many factors, like prolonged usable system lifespan and minimized consumer interest—the enthusiast and gaming markets have picked up competitive interest among manufacturers. There's suddenly a much greater incentive to establish and maintain a foothold in enthusiast computing, making for undeniably excellent news for our readers; today's case review of NZXT's Phantom 630 is a testament to that, given its swath of features for a previously unachievable price-point. We originally previewed the Phantom 630 at CES, found here.

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This is also evident in other recent cases we've reviewed (or intend to review), like the upcoming Throne, Corsair's 900D (which looks amazing, by the way), SilverStone's entire line-up, and the far more affordable RAIDMAX Cobra and Armor Evolution. Quite simply put, we're seeing more features, more efficiency, and better performance at a lower cost to the consumer -- or as it's affectionately known, competition at its finest.

NZXT's Phantom 630 is the next to be reviewed & benchmarked, a particularly interesting case for its appeal to more budget-conscious gaming hardware enthusiasts. The price scale for gaming enclosures is an interesting one -- it's very heavy in the mid-range (~$100 sector) and top-end, but lightens up toward the bottom of the scale ($50~$70). The Phantom 630 is targeted at around $180, placing it firmly between mid-range full towers and hardcore enthusiast systems (like the Phantom 820 we reviewed, which was $250ish).

As always, let's start with the video review component and the hard specs.

After the thorough lashing we gave Rosewill's Armor Evolution case—even with its claim to the best cooling performance we've ever seen—we immediately benched the next two cases in our queue. Normally I'd impose a delay between case reviews for better (and more interesting) spread of coverage, but this time, we were all eager to see what the stuff we previewed at CES could offer.

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From the middle through the end of January each year, it is common for us to get slammed with cases and cooling products to review; SSDs and motherboards often get announced at the tradeshows and Q4 rallies, but tend to be held back until a March launch frame, followed closely by new GPU announcements in April/May. This means that, somewhat advantageously, we're given time to get all the cooling products figured out first, revise our testing methodology for the impending "hi-tech" products, and provide excellent research content in-between (like our SSD Lifecycle post). It's a cumbersome cycle, but it's been working out well so far.

RAIDMAX is a contributor to that cycle. Just before CES, RAIDMAX sent us their new Cobra ATX-502WB case for review, and from its $70 price-point, it's potentially in a position to be recommended in our budget gaming PC builds. Even with the surge toward enthusiast cases this year, we're still seeing as many cheap enclosures as ever: Rosewill's R5 is our long-standing sub-$90 choice, Corsair's 200R brings mid-range quality to the low-end market, and In-Win, Xion, and Zalman are all trying to make a splash in that sector as well. There's always room for good competition, though.

As always, let's hit the specs and video review first:

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