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Benchmark Reviews Editors Choice Awards 2009 E-mail
Articles - Featured Guides
Written by Olin Coles   
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
Table of Contents: Page Index
Benchmark Reviews Editors Choice Awards 2009
Best in Class: Accessories
Best in Class: Cases
Best in Class: Cooling
Best in Class: Motherboards
Best in Class: Network Storage
Best in Class: Processors
Best in Class: Data Storage
Best in Class: Video Cards
2009 Editors Choice Awards

Best in Class: Computer Cases

Computer cases are a very personal decision for system builders. Unless the computer is basic workstation for the average business, most personal computer users want to have their hardware housed inside something that fits their tastes. The golden age of computer cases began on the very same day that beige box systems stopped being the 'norm', and every day since then has included windows in the side panel and colored fans lining the interior walls.

Benchmark Reviews offers a vast assortment of options in our Featured Reviews: Cases section, with the majority of the chassis we test falling into a specific form factor: Small Form Factor (SFF), Home Theater Personal Computer (HTPC), and ATX Tower designs. Of these form factors, several products have stood apart from the crowd throughout 2009.

Mid-Tower ATX Cases

Awarded: Cooler Master Storm Sniper

The mid-tower ATX computer case category is the most fiercely competitive market segment in the aftermarket industry, with literally hundreds of enclosures available to builders. Benchmark Reviews originally tested the CM Storm Sniper in January of 2009, and in the months that followed Cooler Master added several more names to the CM Storm series of mid-tower computer cases (such as the CM Storm Scout Gaming Case SGC-2000-KKN1-GP and CM Storm Sniper Black Edition). The CM Sniper SGC-6000-KXN1-GP model sells for $159.99, and delivers a wealth of premium-level components to the middle-market price segment. The cooling performance alone was enough to win our Golden Tachometer Award, and the added features at a reduced price all come together nicely in this gaming case to earn the Benchmark Reviews Editor's Choice Award for 2009.

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Honorable Mention: Antec P183 and NZXT Gamma

Benchmark Reviews evaluated the Antec P183 Mid-Tower Computer Case around April of 2009, and despite an initial price tag above its competitors we awarded the P183 our Golden Tachometer award. As we near 2010 the Antec P183 sells for only $139.99, which is an excellent price for this steel mid-tower computer case. The only drawback from my perspective is the seemingly pointless front-panel door and lack of high-volume airflow. Still, the Antec P183 is a very close runner-up for our 2009 Editor's Choice Award.

Much later in the 2009 product year Benchmark Reviews tested the NZXT Gamma Computer Case GAMA-001BK, and outstanding steel mid-tower case that sells for only $39.99 after rebate. It comes with premium features like an eSATA port and air filters for all of the fan openings. While the design may not feel natural to some consumers, ignoring the sharp-angled front bezel reveals that the NZXT Gamma offers everything a budget builder could want. For the price there isn't another case that matches value, which makes the NZXT Gamma an excellent runner-up for our 2009 Editor's Choice Award.

HTPC Enclosures

Awarded: Silverstone LC10B-E HTPC Case

Tested around June of 2009, the Silverstone LC10B-E HTPC Case earned our Golden Tachometer Award for offering an excellent HTPC enclosure with the ability to fit a full-size ATX motherboard and seven 3.5" devices inside its small chassis. Although the LC10B-E doesn't come with a power supply unit included with it, this SilverStone HTPC case sells for $104.99 (after rebate) from NewEgg. The Silverstone LC10B-E is perfect for home theater enthusiasts who would like to transfer the hardware inside their desktop computer into something more appealing for the entertainment center. Based on the relatively good price and abundance of features, the Silverstone LC10B-E HTPC earns our Editor's Choice Award.

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Honorable Mention: nMedia HTPC 8000 and 6000B

If awards were giving on the merit of originality along, the nMediaPC HTPC 8000 Wooden Media Center Case would be the clear-cut winner (pun). The HTPC 8000 is a great Media Center enclosure, which fits a full-size ATX motherboard and power supply inside the spacious wooden HTPC case for only $109.99. The rustic look of the bronze front panel and media card reader help this throw-back antique radio design fuse new with old.

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Another HTPC solution we liked very much was the nMediaPC HTPC 6000B, which offers plenty of room for full-size ATX components all for the low price of $69.99. For budget builders looking for a traditional HTPC design with all of the features they might need to make their Media Center system a success, the HTPC 6000B could be the ideal fit. It doesn't win our Editor's Choice Award, but it was good enough for the Silver Tachometer and the price has dropped significantly since it was first tested in September.

In our next section, Benchmark Reviews visits the best products for CPU cooling... something our Best CPU Cooler Performance series does every few months.



 

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