Hot Hardware Holiday Buyer's Guide 2006
Peripherals - Cases
Cases - Unlike most other hardware where the fastest or most feature-rich product is easily the ideal part to purchase, items such as cases are largely a personal choice. What is an ideal case for one person could be a horrid decision for another. With this in mind, we've compiled a list of three superb cases which we feel would please just about anyone.
Full-Tower - Silverstone TJ09
With a chassis design tailored specifically around the idea of graphics card cooling, the Silverstone TJ09 is a unique case with a wealth of features. A special mid-section air duct and 120mm fan bypasses the hard drive cage and brings fresh air directly to the graphics card zone keeping hardware running stable and cool. Subtle details such as additional room for extra-long power supplies as well as pre-cut holes for mounting watercooling equipment are just a few examples of the build quality and attention to detail Silverstone has put into this case. It might not be cheap, but the $269 Silverstone TJ09 is a fine example of precision craftsmanship with an elegant and timeless design.
Mid-Tower - Antec P180
With two chambers isolating the CPU and power supply into different cooling zones, the Antec P180 is anything but your conventional mid-tower case. Armed with up to 5 configurable fans and featuring three-layer sound dampening panels, this case is able to handle a wide variety of applications while keeping components cool and noise levels well under control. For those who believe a PC should be seen but not heard, this $100 case could very well be a key ingredient in getting a handle on system noise without sacrificing thermal performance.
HTPC - Zalman HD160XT
Although priced at a painfully-high $599 MSRP, the new Zalman HD160XT looks to be the pinnacle of HTPC cases. With an integrated 7" LCD that comes with a Zero Dead Pixel policy as well as a wealth of features designed to keep the system operating cool and without any unwarranted noise. From nearly any perspective, the fit and finish of the case is exceptional allowing the HTPC to fit in amongst other high-end A/V components in a living room. Add to that the convenience of full MCE support with the included remote and you have yourself a gorgeous case for the ultimate HTPC.