UPDATE: Rosewill has read our review and is addressing the quality issues in an upcoming "version 2" of the Armor Evolution case. We will review this case once it is complete and in our hands.
As noted in our post-CES case round-up, mid-tower and full tower / enthusiast cases were all the rage this year; in a frighteningly unstable desktop PC market—one which sees Intel's exit from the motherboard market, despite their huge motherboard push to us in 2011—we were taken aback by the fierce competition in the enclosure marketplace, each manufacturer fighting for the rising enthusiast market. As we see a move away from mainstream desktops, the market's direction is becoming clear: There will be mobile devices and there will be high-end machines; the middle-ground, mainstream desktop user is effectively extinct (or very endangered, in the least).
This is traditional of any aging market -- the same goes for cars. We went from hundreds of car companies in the mid-20th century to just a handful, and while all manner of economics plays into the merging and folding of companies, the advancement of technology and consumer demands plays an equally large role. And so as the world of desktop machines goes forward, having now given it some thought, it makes sense that competition for the gaming and high-end DIY markets would embolden itself as manufacturers prepare to grab hold of whatever small foothold they can in a shrinking marketplace. Besides, we have it on good authority that the enthusiast market is growing, even while the mainstream desktop user vanishes; this means good things for all of us.
Update: See the CES 2014 edition of this article here.
Update: Our new Buyer's Guide for gaming cases was recently posted. Check out both guides for the biggest case selection range.
CES 2013 was a killer show for enthusiast and mid-range system builders, and with all of the great new content we've posted in the past week, we decided it's time to write a round-up. This post looks at all of the best gaming PC cases due for release in 2013, as revealed at CES. For those looking for advice on how to choose the best computer case for your needs, view our "How to Choose a Gaming Case" article.
We'll specifically look at mid-tower and full-tower cases here, but a post (by popular request) covering mini-ITX and mATX HTPC-grade cases will follow. Let's get to the products and photos!
NZXT's cases have secured a reputation for their knifelike designs: the cases are sharp and emit an almost preternatural aura, using jagged, cutting elements in unique combination with rounded and beveled-out features. And in that fashion, they're almost very Alienware-like in aesthetic -- astral and radiant.
The company's offerings range from dirt cheap to otherworldly, with build quality scaling immoderately within that spectrum. We had the chance to review the crème-de-la-crème of NZXT's cases recently (including a video review, below): The behemoth Phantom 820, currently marketed at $250 for high-end or enthusiast system builders.
We were impressed.
A recent surge in fascination with integrated graphics processing technology may prove to be healthy for the hardware industry; as AMD (through Trinity) and Intel (through HD X000 IGPs) battle it out, these tiny systems have never been a more viable option for living room PC gamers. Aside from making excellent living room PCs and DIY / home-made consoles, the smaller builds we've worked with tend to be quiet and LAN party-friendly, which is great for the lite gamer who wants a discrete box.
In the coming weeks, we'll cover a wide range of HTPC topics (including video guides on how you can make the most of yours), with the goal of proving the viability of HTPCs as gaming platforms. But in preparation for those posts, we're kicking it all off with this: A review of SilverStone's SGUO SG08 HTPC case, which we'll be using for the ensuing articles. You'll find the video review below.
Our previous two HTPC build guides (a $475 option and $825 option) utilized Silverstone SUG-series, shuttle-styled cases. These cases are fantastic, but a bit pricey; in an exercise of price-slashing, we assembled a ~$300 HTPC with cheap-but-effective components. This worked out well, and as a result, we'll be posting several HTPC articles over the next month or two (based upon two different builds we did).
A video review accompnies this written review - see below for the embedded video.
This review will focus directly on the case of the cheap HTPC build. Cases are, for some reason, exceedingly difficult for me to choose; I've always debated heavily over case choice. This is, in part, because I'm a proponent of system style and like my computers to have an overarching theme. The theme of this system, though, was dirt cheap. APEX offers their DM-387 minimalistic case for somewhere in the range of $45 (it was on sale for $35 when we picked it up), so it fit the bill; it ships with a 275W PSU, even further accommodating the self-imposed price limitations.
Following up with our guide to picking the best gaming case for your PC, we went on a quest to review more cases and research the facets of system builder personalities. We recently introduced you to the affordable mid-tower Rosewill R5; today, we switch gears and take a look at a high-end gaming case, NZXT's Switch 810 full tower.
Building budget gaming PCs has become a bit of a hobby of ours -- our latest Guild Wars 2 PC build utilized Zalman's Z11 Plus, we've previously used the HAF 22 and 12 cases, Antec's renowned 300, and many more; when we first spotted the Rosewill R5 at PAX East 2012, we were blown away by its promised features and targeted price-point of $70. Things changed, though, and that prototype version had a few more features added to it (and the red LEDs removed) -- as such, the case is now an $80 mid-entry level gaming enclosure.
Evolutions in PC gaming technology make staggering, industry-driving lunges forward with each passing year; somehow, though, enthusiasts continue to demand increasingly-more from hardware companies as time drones on, and luckily, they're listening.
Or, at least, we think they are. Some of them.
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