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Cooler Master's popular HAF X had no trouble proving why it's still one of our favorite cases -- even in lime green (also see the standard black model, reviewed here). At its price point, we believe it's functionality, thermal performance and well-balanced aesthetics are virtually unmatched. The HAF X set a high benchmark for the Chaser MK-1 and although it's ~$15 cheaper, we feel Thermaltake fell short just as they did with the Level 10 GT.
In fact, the Chaser MK-1 even looked soft when compared to the more affordable Lancool PC-K63, which provided considerably better thermal results. Despite being Lian-Li's budget brand, the Lancool PC-K63 is an excellent quality mid-tower that's tough to beat at $100, and that's precisely why we wanted to include Cooler Master's CM Storm Enforcer.
At only $85, the Enforcer packs one hell of a punch, offering many of the internal features we love about the HAF X. Unfortunately, it had a lousy showing in our stress test with CPU and motherboard temperatures reaching north of 90 degrees Celsius -- over 20 degrees higher than the HAF X. For that reason, we'd pick the PC-K63 over the Enforcer.
On the left, the original HAF X with triple Radeon cards installed. On the right, the green HAF X Nvidia edition.
Folks shopping on a shoestring budget might be attracted to BitFenix's Shinobi, but at stock it simply lacks sufficient cooling power for a high-end gaming case with a single 120mm exhaust. Although it's only $60 ($70 with a window), you'll have to buy a couple of aftermarket fans to make up for that and thus damaging the value perspective the enclosure has going for it.
BitFenix wants $8 for its 120mm Spectre fan and $11 for the 140mm version. To match the Enforcer, the Shinobi costs about $92 (dual 140mm fans and a window) placing around the same price as Cooler Master's case. Unfortunately for BitFenix, the Enforcer has more features, not to mention that it looks and feels like a higher quality product.
BitFenix's Colossus was also a disappointment, and although it is not outrageously expensive at $170, it lacks the thermal dissipation, features and craftsmanship of its competitors. I won't make any subjective comparisons on its aesthetics, but quality-wise, the Colossus genuinely feels like it's a notch below the HAF X and the Chaser MK-1.
Those looking for an affordable mid-tower should consider the LanCool PC-K63, while the Storm Enforcer is an attractive alternative if you don't expect any miracles in the cooling department. If you can extend your budget to $150-$200, the HAF X and HAF 932 Advanced remain our top picks.
The recently reviewed Silverstone Raven 3 is another solid alternative to the HAF cases, though ultimately it is a very different product. Although we appreciate aspects of both cases, we feel the Raven 3 has no equal given its highly unique design.