Last year it was the main trend in the world of computer cases: tempered glass side panels. Right now on multiple sides as well, or even a nearly completely glass case. We compare twelve models we tested.
We at Hardware.Info always say: there is no accounting for taste. Because of this we do not take looks into consideration for our conclusion; whether or not a certain design looks good is up to the reader. Nevertheless, most will agree that a tempered glass side panel looks a lot better on a case than a perspex window. Until recently this was only for exorbitantly priced models such as the In Win S Frame or the Antec S10. However, now the amount of ‘glass cases’ is increasing nearly every week, with prices that do not differ all that much from regular steel and plastic models. Existing models receive an update with glass, and more and more new cases use this material.
An increase in supply usually results in a lower price; this principle is clearly visible in the market of computer cases. Last year at Computex we saw a lot of suppliers of tempered glass and as the selection of this test shows, that competition led to you not having to pay as much in order to have a luxurious appearance on your desk. (Below your desk is also a possibility, but with these types of literal showcases it makes less sense.
For this article we tested twelve cases with at least one glass side panel. Looking at the participants, we see that their prices range from more than 176 pounds / 200 euros for the most expensive models, to less than 71 pounds / 80 euros for the cheapest model.
The additional price of a case with glass panel instead of steel or Perspex is not a lot with most brands. For example, the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX with two glass panels has an average price of 159 pounds / 180 euros, while the variant with aluminium panels and a plastic window barely costs five pounds less. The regular variant of the Sharkoon DG7000 can be bought for about 57 pounds / 65 euros; the G-version with glass panels costs exactly five pounds more. The NZXT S340 Elite (with glass) does not cost more than the S340 Special Edition (with plastic). The Be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 with glass panel costs 44 pounds / 50 euros more than the non-Pro version without, but the former also has a wireless charging panel, a more extensive fan hub and led-lighting: the increase in price is not only because of the glass.
The odd one out is the Cooler Master. They supply a glass panel only as an option with the MasterCase 3 and 5, but this costs 43 pounds / 49 euros. Even with all of the extra costs for packaging and logistics this seems exorbitant.
We can imagine that you worry about the robustness of a glass panel, but with the cases we tested there is no need to worry. Without exceptions this is high quality – over 3 up to nearly 5 mm thick – tempered glass. On YouTube and Facebook you can find multiple videos of diverse companies that show their employees hitting the panels with rubber hammers or other tools: they can definitely withstand a hit or two. We did not test what happens to them when you drop them from great heights, but we cannot recommend you do this with any computer component.
In our opinion the main disadvantages of the material are mostly the installation method – usually done with the thumb screws that stick through the glass – and the sensitivity to fingerprints.
First we will cover the individual cases in short, after which we will discuss the test results.