The cabinet is an essential component while building a PC, and often, the most ignored by many. This year we saw the RGB frenzy transcend to cabinets as well, with interesting implementations. We’ve always been excited to see how modularity spreads into almost every section of the cabinet, making it easier to build your system and upgrade later. Another trend we see picking up is the inclusion of a fan hub to connect the extra fans on your cabinet, because you tend to run out of ports on the motherboard. Also, tempered glass panels are increasingly becoming commonplace. When combined with RGB lights it makes DIYers nuts.
When it comes down to core performance of a cabinet, it’s all about how it maintains a cool temperature. And that’s exactly what matters in a Zero1 showdown. Here’s the best performing cabinet from the many we tested this year.
Zero1 winner: Thermaltake Core V51
Looking at the specifications and support for cooling options on the Core V51, one would wonder as to how good the cooling could be. Including support for massive 200mm fans to huge 420mm radiators on the top and front panels, is already too much to ask. Although, cable management could have been better with more cable ties. The Core V51 won the Zero1 in the factory default setting, which also means that on occupying all the cooling options, you’ll be able to achieve a cooler system. Build quality of some of the parts, especially the panels could have been better but we’re nitpicking here.
Second Runner up: Corsair Carbide SPEC ALPHA
If showing off is your thing, look no further since the SPEC ALPHA is sure to get some attention among your friends. Already coming second in performance, the SPEC ALPHA has an abstract design, something which is refreshing to see rather than the regular rectangular-box design on other cabinets. This automatically makes it the best-looking cabinet we tested this year. In terms of performance, it was quite close to the Core V51. The three-speed fan-controller on the front panel was a welcome feature, whereas one thing we didn’t like was the compromise introduced if you want to install a radiator. Installing a 240/280mm radiator on the front panel makes you remove the drive cage leaving no room for 3.5-inch hard drives.
Third Runner up: Cooler Master MasterCase Maker 5
The Maker 5 is the most high-end cabinet in the MasterCase spectrum and offers the best features in cabinets, hands down. In terms of build quality, every part inside right from the motherboard plate to the screw grooves in every corner reeks of high quality. Cable management is well thought out and thanks to the high level of modularity, you can build a neat system easily. If you’re an enthusiast and a serious system builder, then this cabinet is built for you. The MasterCase lineup has an array of accessories available that you can buy to increase functionality and looks as well.
Best Buy: Corsair Carbide SPEC ALPHA
Offering the barebones features found in most cabinets, coupled with a fan-speed controller and a decent level of modularity, the SPEC ALPHA hits the right balance between features and pricing. Thus, it bags the Best Buy for the mid-tower category.