This thread is a compilation of ATX cases I personally recommend, going by price ranges. I don't have personal experience with every one of these cases, but I do have personal experience with several of these cases, ones like it or in the same series, or I have just done lots of research on the case. I'll give a rundown for the features of every case. First let me make a general list of what I think makes a good case.
- Build Quality - You don't want a case that is built like crap. Now I know you won't be throwing your case around, but I don't like any rattling parts that you might break when disassembling your PC. You probably don't want paint that is easily scratched either. Aluminum is the best material for cases, it is lightweight and if thick enough, it can be very strong while weighing much less than steel. Thin aluminum isn't very good. Budget cases rarely use aluminum.
- Airflow - You probably need air movement in your case if you don't want parts overheating. Most of you reading this don't just browse the web and listen to music. You probably play games, run other sorts of 3D programs such as modelling and/or rendering, or maybe you like to benchmark. Components necessary for such computing can generate a bit of heat. You'll want to cool it down. Airflow direction can be important as well, and positive air pressure is generally preferred. Read more about chassis airflow here.
- User Friendly Design - I like my cases to not be a pain in the ass to work with. Sharp edges are a no go. Not only can you cut yourself but you can cut cables too. I don't like my cases to be too small, cable management cut outs are a must, tool free designs for drive bays and expansion slots are highly preferred, and personally I like having a cut out on the motherboard tray for the retention plate for CPU coolers. High end CPU coolers usually have bolt through mounting mechanisms which require mounting hardware to be installed on the back of the motherboard. Having a hole on the motherboard tray behind the CPU socket is beneficial since you won't have to remove your motherboard to remove or replace such CPU coolers. I also like to have decent places to tuck cables in.
- Styling - Of course you want a case to fit your style. If there is an incredibly awesome case out there that has just about every feature you could possibly want, but has questionable looks (cough), you probably don't want it since it will grow old on you very quickly.
- Portability - To those who move their computer around, you'll want handles on the case and/or casters (wheels) to move the case around. This only applies to a minority of people so I don't make this a big factor in buying cases.
First, lets have a look at known case manufacturers.
- They are known primarily for their gamer series of cases, the 300/600/900/902/1200 and now the Dark Fleet series (DF-30, DF-35 and DF-85). Their Performance One series have gained some recognition as well. Overall Antec cases are simply inferior to the competition. Their gamer cases are incredibly small, even the full tower ones (1200 and DF-85). This makes cable management a pain in the ass. They have no vibration countermeasures, no water cooling support, not many tool free designs and build quality isn't really good. The Performance One series cases are just lacking in features - again there is a lack of tool free designs and airflow. All of their cases lack PSU ventilation as well. At this point, their cases are best avoided.
- Excellent overall company in the case category. Great choices from $50 to $200. Their cases are well known for their feature lists - good cable management, CPU retention plate access holes, unrivaled potential airflow (out of stock ATX cases anyway, read below for more), great water cooling support, tool free designs, vibration counter measures, etc. They're probably the most popular case manufacturer due to their large variety. A good step above Antec, that's for sure.
- Storm Series - Their gamer lineup of chassis. The Storm Scout is inferior to its competition (690 II, HAF 922, Lancool K62) but still a good case, and their Storm Sniper is one of the best value cases. User friendly, tool free designs, excellent airflow (especially potential airflow), good water cooling support in the Storm Sniper, great cable management, carrying handles, fan controllers, so on.
- HAF Series - Well known for their distinctive looks, amazing airflow (HAF stands for High Air Flow), great water