Wrap Up: Making Some Picks
Although they cost well under $100, all three mid-tower cases in this review delivered the kind of quality we'd expect from more expensive models. The only area where they fall short is in stock cooling as each case comes with just one 120mm fan.
That isn't to say they have poor cooling performance, it's just that you'll have to invest in a few extra fans to see it. Anyone putting mid-range to high-end hardware in these cases will want to account for the cost of at least two more 120mm fans.
Those trying to build the cheapest rig possible without cutting corners on quality should check out the Carbide 100R. Although it's Corsair's most affordable case, it has many of the attributes that made the company's pricier cases so popular.
At only $50, we feel the Carbide 100R will be hard to pass up for folks who are building on a tight budget. The In Win 703 is harder to recommend because it's largely the same case but costs $15 more -- cash that could buy cooling for the Carbide.
Gamers who attend LAN parties will appreciate how light and compact the Carbide 100R is for a mid-tower, though this also brings limited headroom for a CPU cooler. Fortunately, there are still plenty of cooling options compatible with the 100R.
Nonetheless, if you plan to install a heatsink taller than 150mm (which includes most that use a 120mm fan), In Win's 703 might be a better fit. It's a little bigger than the 100R with bulging panels that allow for taller coolers and better cable management.
We think the 703 also looks a little more upmarket with its brushed aluminum face, while its red highlights provide a little personality, though it doesn't feel quite as nice as the Carbide 100R. Pricing aside, we'd pick the 703 for its extra space.
Of course, we can't actually put pricing aside and in addition to barely justifying its $15 premium over the Carbide 100R, the 703 doesn't hold up to Silverstone's equally priced Kublai KL05, which may be the best looking option inside and out.
The Kublai KL05 is an incredible bargain, supporting a wide range of storage devices, GPUs, CPU coolers and radiators. Along with currently being the best value case at $65 to $70, the Kublai KL05 is probably the best value overall under $100.
For this roundup we included the windowed version but there is also a quiet model with a solid front panel and padded side panels. The build quality is as good as it gets on the windowed KL05 so we assume that is also true of the quiet one.
If you're spending $100 or less on a case, we see it being difficult to find something that tops the Kublai KL05's quality and features, while the Carbide 100R is unbeatable for those looking to spend the least amount possible without sacrificing quality.
Pros: The Carbide 100R captures the essence of Corsair's higher-end cases in a surprisingly compact and affordable package.
Cons: It's a little cramped for our liking, particularly when it comes to CPU cooler limitations and routing cables behind the mobo.
Pros: The In Win 703 looks flashier than the Carbide 100R while providing more headroom for a CPU heatsink and cable management.
Cons: It's $15 more than the 100R and feels a bit cheaper -- not to mention the random green part and non-black front I/O wire sleeve.
Pros: Silverstone's Kublai KL05 is a great value for $65 between it's build quality, cable management and broad hardware support.
Cons: It's not free.