The Perfect Enclosure (Part 1) : Cooler Master Elite 344, Huntkey T-91, Cooler Master K380, Cooler Master K380

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We pit 25 cabinets against each other in this month’s shootout, right from the cheapest cases to the pocket burning meteor-sized ones. Hold on to your thumb screws because this isn’t going to be an open and shut case

When the time finally arrives to build or upgrade your rig, you will obviously want the very best components that can be bought in your budget. So after selecting all the innards, your next big decision should be to select a good cabinet. In most cases, people focus on all the other core components and end up buying cheap and flimsy cases.

For the lack of a better word we’d call that plain silly, because a bad cabinet with poor build-quality, improper airflow will increase the internal temperature of the cabinet and decrease the life of your precious components. This is where we come into the picture, to help you make the right decision and help you choose the best cabinet for your needs.

Mini-tower and mid-tower cabinets under $150

This price bracket has the most budget-friendly cabinets including mini-towers as well as mid-towers. Some of the cases mentioned in this category have features that you may get in higher-end cabinets as well but for a fraction of their price. Let’s take a closer look at them, shall we?

Cooler Master Elite 344

The CM Elite 344’s design is inspired from its bigger brother the CM Elite 311 but the Elite 344 is a micro-ATX case. It’s simple looking with a glossy finish at the front and silver accents around its borders. The side panel has space to add a 90 mm fan to improve air-flow. But it being a mini-tower, $75 is still on the expensive side for us to be fully sold on it.

Cooler Master Elite 344

Cooler Master Elite 344

Huntkey T-91

The T-91 from Huntkey has a simple meshed design on its front bezel with some slit-like grilled accents. The power button is big and has nice feed-back to it when pressed and it lights up from the top to give it a nice look. The ports are aptly placed and easy to reach. Going to the side panels you will notice that the left side panel has a grill which can be used to mount fans. Inside the case are some plastic blockers used to close out sharp parts of the case to prevent cuts during installation. The drive caddies are well made and tool-less. But one thing which is missing from this case is USB 3.0.

Huntkey T-91

Huntkey T-91

Bitfenix Merc Alpha

The Bitfenix Merc Alpha may look Spartan, but don’t let looks fool you, because it packs quite a lot of impressive features when it comes down to functionality. It has plenty of room for mounting more fans as desired. The number of USB ports on the Merc Alpha is also an added advantage. The PSU can be mounted either with its fan facing down-wards or upwards. Modules in this case are stripped down to cut costs but it’s not necessarily cheap at $55 We didn’t like its laterally mounting hard drive cages as the cables interfere with other components.

Cooler Master K380

This case has a design which is somewhat inspired from Cooler Master’s HAF series of cases but without the HAF nomenclature. The front panel has a zig-zag design to its edges, along with a metallic CM logo and a meshed grill. Its top is raised so as to provide for an air-vent. Powering on this case, you will notice a Red LED fan with a honeycomb grill at the front which looks futuristic. A big bulging side-panel window lets you see inside the case. The niggling bit is that it’s hard drive cages are laterally placed. There is not an abundance of space in this case but it gets the job done.

This case has a design which is  somewhat inspired from Cooler  Master’s HAF series of cases  but without the HAF nomenclature.

This case has a design which is somewhat inspired from Cooler Master’s HAF series of cases but without the HAF nomenclature.

Corsair Carbide 200R

Corsair Carbide 200R has a very basic but quite a functional design. The front of this case is plain with matte plastic, and honeycombed slits are used for air intake. Installing 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch drives in this case is very easy – you just need to slide the drives in the cages and they get locked in. It even has four easy to use compartments for 2.5- inch drive installation. Though it has some nice features, but we feel its pricing at $120 is on the higher side.

Corsair Carbide 200R has a  very basic but quite a functional design.

Corsair Carbide 200R has a very basic but quite a functional design.

Zebronics Bijli 2

After the original Bijli, Zebronics has improved their design with the Bijli 2. It has a meshed front and the ports as well as buttons on Bijli 2 are all at the top for ease of access. The power button is backlit and the side panel window is nicely designed to make place for viewing the innards of the case. It also provides tool less installation for the PCI cards by using small clips. We found this case to be very cool during testing mainly because of sheer number of fans included with the case. But this case will pull in a lot of dust, as it does not come with dust-filters at all.



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