5 Awesome PC cabinets priced below Rs 3,000
| by Anand Tuliani
PC cabinets add character and attitude to a rig, just like how sports cars and superbikes are made to look cool to complement their power. You have a choice, though—you could encase high-end components in a case that looks elegant, or build a basic home PC with a mean-looking case. But leaving the style factor aside, cabinets are primarily designed with function in mind. The premise here is to make installing/removing hardware convenient, facilitate airflow and offer provisions to cool the guts of the PC. An awesome PC case doesn't just look awesome, it also fulfils the premise. After all, it’s about keeping all the hardware happy and enhancing the longevity. And that’s what you pay the premium for when you go in for a good cabinet by Cooler Master, Corsair, NZXT or Antec.
If you don’t have a budget of more than Rs 3,000 for a PC case, here are five really good options you can consider.
Cooler Master Elite 344
Price: Rs 2,300
A simple and affordable mini tower PC case
If your taste is sober and you don’t want to spend much on the cabinet, then the Elite 344 is for you. Priced a little more than Rs 2,000 it’s one of the most affordable options in its segment. Structurally, the Elite 344 isn’t too different from the run-of-the-mill cabinets priced a few hundred rupees less. The power supply sits at the top, above the expansion slots and unlike the premium offerings, the hard drive bays are oriented towards the rear and not the side. The Elite 344 comes with a preinstalled 120 mm front intake fan to cool the hard drives. The USP of this cabinet is the removable hard drive cage to accommodate graphics cards up to 14.3 inches in length, tool-less retention for 5.25 and 3.25-inch drives and a USB 3.0 port on the front bezel.
Price: Rs 2,500
The offbeat design makes this cabinet unique
The NZXT Gamma is one of the few budget cabinets to support a 240 or 280 mm radiator for enthusiast-class cooling. In addition to this, you can install a 120 mm front intake fan and two 120 mm intake fans on the side panel for cooling the graphics card. The only fan that comes pre-installed is a 120 mm rear fan. Installation aids include tool-free drive retention and cutouts on the motherboard tray for routing the cables from behind. A cutout for the CPU socket is also present so that you don’t need to unfasten the motherboard from the tray to install bracket-mounted coolers. Although quite simple, the design of the NZXT Gamma is unique with slanted surfaces on the front bezel. The I/O panel on the front includes an eSATA port, which nowadays is rare to find in cabinets.
Price: Rs 2,500
The most awesome looking cabinet in its segment
The Antec X1 deserves serious consideration if you’re on a lookout for a mean looking cabinet to build a gaming PC on a tight budget. The chiselled design on the front bezel coupled with a 120 mm red LED fan that sits behind a mesh on the front panel lends a premium feel—it clearly looks more expensive than its asking price of Rs 2,500. The interior of the cabinet could have been designed better. The only benefits you get are cutout for the CPU socket and tool-less design for drive retention. What could have been better is the orientation of hard drive bays—side orientation would have eased installation and cable routing. Also, the I/O panel on the front bezel excludes USB 3.0 ports. If these small niggles don’t bother you, rest assured you won’t be disappointed.
NZXT Beta Evo
Price: Rs 2,700
Classy looks with useful provisions
The NZXT Beta Evo doesn’t shout for attention. The design of the front bezel is minimal—somewhat between sophisticated and mean looking. The upper half of the front bezel comprises four meshed 5.25-inch bay covers and the lower half sports a large plastic grill though which the front 120 mm blue LED intake fan can be seen. The Beta Evo offers everything that you need to build a high performance machine right from smaller aspects such as provision for cable routing to key features like support for a 240 or 280 mm radiator on the top. If you don’t intend to use a liquid cooler, you can use the mounts to install a single or a pair of 120 or 140 mm fans to draw out hot air from the top. For ease of installation the 3.5-inch hard drive bays are oriented sideways and feature rail mount design. The I/O panel comprising USB 2.0 and eSATA ports is placed on the top. Consider this cabinet if you want an affordable mid-tower case with facilities to build a high-end rig.
Cooler Master N200 Advanced
Price: Rs 2,950
A mini tower PC case with room for serious cooling
The Cooler Master N200 Advanced is very different from the rest of the cabinets listed here in terms of design and provision. Note that the front bezel is devoid of a plastic frame around the edges—it’s like a single large mesh. The right side of the bezel sports a vertical brushed metal strip with the I/O panel. You get a pair of USB 3.0 ports, a USB 2.0 port and audio jacks. The N200 Advanced is a mini tower cabinet, which means the size of the motherboard you can install is restricted to micro ATX size. Even though it’s small, Cooler Master has paid very good attention to the design. The N200 Advanced can accommodate high-end graphics cards and a 240 mm radiator behind the front bezel. If you want to build a high-end PC around a micro ATX motherboard, the N200 Advanced is the best you can buy for below Rs 3,000.
While these cabinets are primarily intended for budget PCs, they can also be used to build high-end machines, thanks to some of the features borrowed from high-end cabinets like support large radiators, lengthy graphics cards and provision for cable routing.
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If you don’t have a high budget for a PC case, here are five really good
A quick guide to tell you what you get when you choose to spend more than...
Good-looking Chassis that don't burn a hole in your pocket.