The Best Old-School PC Cases: Tried, True and Tested

Amir Shoam

Posts: 17   +3
Staff
I don't understand why the Thermaltake Core X71 was considered "not old school enough". For my new rig I've built this year, I got a Thermaltake Core X31 (more compact, mid tower version of the X71) and it has all "old school" power user features one might want (I think the only thing it's missing is an external 3.5-inch bay, but it has 2 external 5.25 bays). It's a great case that I can strongly recommend. My only nitpicks on the X31 are: 1. the USB and audio ports positioned on the top of the case without any sort of dust covering; 2. the fans are only 3-pin and fairly noisy.
Mostly the tempered glass. At that price point you could also expect more external bays, but again, we didn't say "not good enough" -- just "not old-school enough."
 

Amir Shoam

Posts: 17   +3
Staff
I can't believe that no Lian Li PC - V1000 series cases were included. Many of the features seen on current cases were pioneered by Lian-li. To this day, I use a Pc-v2120, right after using a PC-V1010 and V-1020. These can be found for $20-100 depending on the shape and spec. I'm running my 3900x and rtx 2070 and 5 hard drives and staying nice and cool with hours of gaming.
This article is about cases that you can buy new.
 
I still use optical drives, card readers, a drawer for sd, thumb drives, ect. floppy drive, sound card controller with remote, I work on computers from 3.11, w95, w98, xp, 7, and 10. I need a computer that can do everything. I think todays users have forgot to a computer is for more than gaming and internet. I use mine to copy / save old videos and photos to disc, I have never had a disc fail but I have had usb thumb drives fail. My newest computer uses a optical drive from a laptop and has two sata hard drives that are removable, all in one 5.25 front bay.
 

arrowflash

Posts: 474   +511
Mostly the tempered glass. At that price point you could also expect more external bays, but again, we didn't say "not good enough" -- just "not old-school enough."

The Fractal Design Focus G and the Phantek Enthoo Pro also have side windows and have been featured in the article (even though the latter has a non-windowed version, the windowed version was used to illustrate the article). And that's okay, I'm not a fan of side windows (mostly because they often take away the option of installing a side fan), but side windows have been around for so long that they are almost old school themselves at this point...
 
I picked up a Phantek Pro (non-window version) last week. I am building a new workstation and rebuilding two servers (UnRaid and ProxMox). The Phantek Pro impressed me so much I turned around and bought a second one the day the first was delivered.

They don't make cases like this anymore, and it's a shame.

Function is more important to me than form in a PC. I don't want RGB lighting or superfluous cooling, I want the room and features to build, organize, and expand. This case has exceptional cable management and space. I am using the first case for my workstation and the second one as a rebuild of my media server (UnRaid).

There are a few minor downsides to the cases I have encountered:

1: The power button is flush on the top of the case and is going to result in the PC getting powered down by accident. Poor placement.
2: The Amazon listing states it has eight 3.5 internal bays. It only has six (two 3 bay cages). There are three additional slots that can be had from the 5.25" bays.
3: I ordered identical cases. The second has a front panel with two USB 3.0 ports and a USB C port, whereas the first case had two USB 3.0 ports and 2 USB 2.0 ports (it does not have a USB C port).
 

Toast On Fire

Posts: 6   +0
I still use my Antec Twelve Hundred V3 Full tower case that is going on 9 years old since I purchased it. I added a front fan controller to one of the 5.25" bays as well as an optical drive and it currently houses my 4790k with a 1080ti, 2 SSDs, and 4 HDDs. It is terrible for dust maintenance, though, as the dust filters can only be removed by unscrewing the different drive bays on the front.
 

Adhmuz

Posts: 2,189   +1,005
It's why the homelab crowd ends up with recycled enterprise gear instead and never attempt a properly set up, home user network: the price is worst than just getting an actual enterprise switch that has way more ports and is rack mounted for those same 300 USD in the second hand market.
This was an option, but even these avenues are quickly getting hard to find good deals on, at least when it comes to a chassis that can hold 20+ 3.5 drives. Makes you come up with some interesting solution, currently have 22 3.5 drives in a first gen Haf 932, I think I've finally maxed it out. My next idea is to buy a cheap 12U server rack and turn it into a chassis with room to spare for a switch or two.
 

ddferrari

Posts: 534   +265
TechSpot Elite
My Antec 903 V2 served me very well. Old school style with good cooling.

Bought my Thermaltake Level 20 RGB Plus and it kicks ***, despite all the glass. It's cavernous and cools really well. Waiting for a 4xxx Nvidia series to do a custom loop.
 
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Draconian

Posts: 131   +43
Enjoyed this article on more conservative-looking cases. So many PC cases anymore look gaudy.

Good to see Antec mentioned, although it only got an honorable mention. My first build, in 2002, I used an Antec case.
 
The only reason why I hate the trend of RGB Lighting and Tempered Glass Panels in the first place is because Build Quality and Performance are often being sacrificed in favor of better aesthetics. I want the good old days of Solid Quality and High Performance PC Hardware way back 2014 and prior years to have a comeback in conjunction with LCD/OLED Panels in place of RGB Lighting.
 

dylannnnnn

Posts: 31   +22
I'm still running an Antec 900 from 2008. Great airflow, lots of versatility and all the fans still work!

No need to spend hundreds of dollars just to get a USB C port on the front :p
 

Daniel Sims

Posts: 116   +5
Staff
I had no idea these were considered "old-school." I built a PC last year in a tempered glass Enthoo Pro. Only reason I got it is because when I looked up mid towers with internal 5.25" drive cages on PCPartPicker, it had the highest rating. I got a 4K Blu-Ray drive in it now, works great.

When I read "old-school" I was thinking like, 90s-looking stuff, like casemods and stuff. Am I old? What do the kids even use nowadays?

Why can't we at least have a retro case mod that looks like a Sharp X1 or something?
 
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CybaGirl

Posts: 69   +29
Who else remembers the Antec GX 700 military case?


Or what about the Corsair C70 military case?


Wish I could still buy either one.
 

Watzupken

Posts: 339   +320
Frankly, there is nothing wrong with the older casing. I was happily using the Corsair Obsidian 450D and Fractal Design Arc Mini until I moved to an ITX case middle of this year. Despite the age of these 2 older cases, they are not lacking in airflow/ cooling in any way. In fact, the Fractal Design Arc Mini is still a great airflow case, and despite its MATX size, is able to fit an Arctic Liquid Freezer II 360mm radiator on the top without causing any blockage. "Modern" casing technically don't differ much in terms of design. The key differences are, (1) no ODD bay, (2) minimal 3.5 inch hard drive bay, (3) glass panel(s), and for some, (4) more bling.
 
I have the Phanteks Enthoo Pro as well, very good case.
A few tips:
1. USB-C can be added, there is enough space in front panel. You only need a long enough cable, a drill to make required holes, scalpel to adjust the shape of the hole and a way to secure the port in that hole - I used double-sided tape. The panel itself is made from plastic. Even USB 3.0 ports are replacable - itĀ“s just internal USB 3.0 cable with 2 female ports, held at the front panel with 1 screw.
2. bottom filters can be merged together with ordinary electrical tape and taken out from the front. No need to take rear filter from the back, as they are both in the same slide.
3. if you want to silence your case, this one fits exactly on both side panels: https://www.amazon.de/-/en/Akasa-AK-PAX-2-Paxmate-PLUS-full/dp/B000OGX548 - take care tho, once you put it there, it will be almost impossible to remove.

Such great case for improvised upgrades and solutions. Mine is currently 6 years old and still good. Very good quality of both front and top plastic panels - I lost count of how many times I removed them and put back, they still hold firmly together. A little (but evident) downside is the top mesh, which is filtered. While it can be removed, it holds together via small metal pliers and those cannot survive more than few disassemblies before the metal wears out.
Another downside is the size - that thing is massive, but the internal layout disallows using wider/longer GPUs, the metal plate on front stands in the way of cabling.

My own case has another downside - I donĀ“t know, how I managed it, but rear area around PCIE slots is bent. When mounting GPU or anything else into slots, I have to hard push the rear of the case into holes on GPU. This is worsing over time - possible cost-cutting feature, or worn rivets, as thatĀ“s the only area in the case, that is riveted - which brings me to another upside point - most of the case is being held together by SCREWS. Most of the case can be disassembled and changed into any shape needed.
Another small con - all thumbscrews donĀ“t hold well in magnetic screwdriver. Front plastic frame has holes on the side and front, making front filter a bit less effective.

Do you remember the plastic bags, you get with most cases, that contain all screws and accessories? With this one, youĀ“ll get small plastic organizing box.

I know, my comment is a bit of a mess, but I hope youĀ“ll get all main points.