When looking at cases for your next build, there are several ways that you can go. On the high end, you have a plethora of options and can spend hundreds of dollars on one. Then, there is the middle-of-the-road good quality case. For a budget build, there are is also a litany of options. When looking at a budget case there are some sacrifices that you make for the sake of price. Today we are looking at the MSI Raptor case, a budget case with some interesting options. Does this case’s unique options make up for the shortcomings of being a budget case, or is this another case you should skip even on a budget build? Let’s put it through its paces and find out.
Product Name: MSI Raptor
Review Sample Provided by: MSI
Review by: Wes. Chad, Adam
Pictures by: Wes
ATX Mid Tower
Color / Type
Front Bezel Material
ATX / MicroATX
USB 2.0 / 3.0
2 / 1 (Front Panel)
Yes (Front Panel)
2 (120mm Front, Back)
Up to THREE (3) addtl. 120mm fans
180(W) x 428(L) x 410(H) MM
The demo unit arrived in our office packaged in a traditional case box; however, it was wrapped extensively. After slicing open the plastic wrapping you are exposed to the case and two pieces of Styrofoam. All PC manufactures (and manufacturers in general, for that matter) are attempting to be green minded and ship in the smallest packaging possible. The smaller the box is, the more boxes that can fit on a pallet, which means more can fit on a truck / train / boat. That lowers CO2 emissions and makes it cost less to ship. All of these factor in to a lower price for the case. This case carries a MSRP of $59.99.
In addition to the case, there is a MSI Survival Pack included in the box. Inside this pack is a color coordinated manual, with extremely detailed images and directions. Also there are cable management ties as well as the mounting hardware necessary. Finally, a really cool add-on is that there is a pair of MSI dog tags included in the packaging.
The case sports a matte-black exterior finish. The accents on the case are blue in color, and consist of the rear expansion-slot ports. The fans are also blue. On the front of the case there is a front panel that has a memory card reader in it as well as a USB 3.0 port, which is rare on most cases, especially in the budget-range.
One confusing aspect of the case is the apparent use of latching handles to remove the side panels from the case; however, there are thumb screws also holding the side panels to the case. This mid-tower case also is extremely lightweight, making it easy to carry to LAN parties and other events. There is little use of sound dampening on the case as well. The case employs relatively silent running fans, which will be discussed in the Interior section of the article.
It is a good looking case; nothing too fancy and at the same time not that plain. It will not wow people or win any contests, but it is a functional design with easy access.
USB 3.0 isn't the only piece sporting the black and blue color scheme, either. Just about any part of the cooling system in the raptor is colored cool blue: PCI mesh slot covers, front in-take LED fan, and the rear exhaust fan blades. The tool-less drive bay clips are also blue, with a black contrast matching the painted interior.
MSI markets the Raptor with an advanced airflow design, which in reality is far from the norm we see with most mid-towers today. As mentioned, the case comes with two pre-installed fans, front and rear 120mm's. Optional upgrades are two 120mm on the side panel, as well as a horizontal 120mm option in front of the hard drive bay. With an up to five fan cooling system and water cooling ready, it does certainly support more than the average budget case. The included fans are also extremely silent, so as long as you invest well you can easily keep the noise to a minimum.
That cooling system compliments the Raptor's capabilities, and thankful so. The case can hold full sized discrete video cards, with a 310mm breathing room between the back panel and the hard drive bay. The power supply bay is slightly raised with four pads on all corners, as well as a mesh base so the unit can be installed fan-side down.
You may find yourself pushing the heatsink dimensions. With a limitation of 160mm in height, models such as the Scythe Mugen 3 and the Noctua NH-D14 right (158mm) may be a tight fit.
Performance in a budget case can be very subjective. It really depends on your end goal. You have to figure out if you’re looking for style, noise performance, cooling, and just plain room for all of your components. At this price point you generally can’t get all of the above, frankly you’re lucky if you get any at all lol. With the Raptor you can tell that they have taken a low budget case and packed it with features found on more expensive designs. Installing a PC into the case is going to go smoothly but because the Raptor is based on a low budget case you’re not going to have the room for wire management that you would see in cases closely priced to it. Once everything is installed you have features like the built in card reader and built in USB 3.0 with an internal connector that will more than make up for the installation.
Cooling and noise performance for the Raptor was considerably better than the last budget case we took a look at. The reason for that is simply one extra fan to push the air. The Blue fan and LED fans included with the case are surprisingly quiet for a case in this price range. Generally you are lucky to have fans at all let alone good quality fans. Because of this the noise levels are kept down. This is good because the thin gauge metal that makes the Raptor so lite weight isn’t going to do the best job keeping the noise in the case. A loud fan would be extremely noticeable.
The MSI Raptor is a little different than most other cases in its price range. Rather than build a mid-priced case with no features they have taken a low budget case and packed it full of features. The Raptor has good quality fans, built in USB 3.0, and a card reader that are perfect for someone who is looking for a full featured case. You have to put up with thinner gauge metal and a little less wire management because of its price though. This case isn’t for everyone, but if you are looking for USB 3.0 at this price point you don’t have many cases to consider. This is obviously only a starting point for MSI’s case lineup; I can’t wait to see what they come out with as they try their hand at higher budget cases.