For the budget-conscious builder, this is one of the cheapest mid-tower cases on the market, but it's still a more-than-capable housing for your next system.
Whether it's building a budget PC for your little brother, or a secondary media machine to go into your data closet, sometimes you don't want to spend $400 on a brushed aluminium case crafted by the Porsche Design group. You just want a cheap, simple case with plenty of room for components, which does the job with a minimum of fuss. If that's the case, we present the Aywun A1-X01 for your consideration.
At ninety bucks, this is one of the cheapest mid-tower cases on the market. Obviously there's no PSU at this price, but if you're like us you've undoubtedly got a small mountain of old PSUs gathering dust in the corner of your PC cupboard. It's a surprisingly spacious case, with room for five external 5.25in bays, five internal 3.5in bays and a single external 3.5in bay. Amazingly, they're all tool-less, though the flimsy plastic used for the internal 3.5in bays looks a little too brittle for our liking.
To our surprise, the motherboard tray also has a removable plate under the CPU position, allowing for easy HSF swaps, a feature usually found in cases twice the price. It's even got a small Perspex window on one side, as well as a couple of 120mm fans that light up with a subtle blue LED. Water cooler owners will appreciate the inclusion of a couple of water pipe holes, allowing for an external radiator system. The ports on the top of the case are par for the course: four USB 2.0, one FireWire, one eSATA, and the usual headphone and microphone jacks.
The entire frame is built from a combination of plastic and 0.7mm SECC. It doesn't scratch easily or soak up your oily thumbprints, though the plastic edging won't handle getting knocked about without chipping.
Considering the Black & Gold pricing, the inclusion of many higher-end features is quite an accomplishment. It might not appeal to graphic designers, Mac users or artists, but, for the rest of us, this case is a very solid basis for a budget system. Available from Aywun, retailing for $89.
APC rating: 8/10 (Highly Recommended)