Rosewill Ranger: All About Compromisingby Dustin Sklavos on December 14, 2011 12:10 AM EST
- Posted in
Introducing the Rosewill Ranger
When you start dipping well below an MSRP of $99 for an enclosure, you'll see manufacturers having to make compromises in the design and build quality in order to keep the price down. That's not unusual, and it gives the opportunity for smart engineering to come to the forefront in a bid to maximize value at minimal expense. We've seen a lot of exciting cases at $99 and in that neighborhood, but Rosewill's Ranger can be had for just $69.99, putting it in direct competition with crowd favorites like Bitfenix's Shinobi. Rosewill offered superior value with their full-sized Thor v2; can they repeat that success at half the cost?
We've seen a lot of decent contenders for budget cases lately, but things start to get really tight once you hit the Ranger's price tag, as you start to lose a lot of the amenities from more expensive enclosures. A good, inexpensive enclosure is a fine deal for an enthusiast at home, but boutiques would also do well to see what's available down here. I've griped about boutiques using mediocre cases for otherwise powerful builds in my desktop reviews, but there's a key difference between inexpensive and cheap. It's fine to save money on the case if the case itself is a good deal for the price, and that's what we're going to try and determine with the Rosewill Ranger today.
|Rosewill Ranger Specifications|
|Motherboard Form Factor||Micro-ATX, ATX|
|Drive Bays||External||3x 5.25", 1x3.5"|
|Internal||4x 3.5" (2x 2.5" with included adaptor tray)|
|Cooling||Front||1x 120mm intake fan|
|Rear||1x 120mm exhaust fan|
|Top||1x 140mm exhaust fan (supports 2x 120/140mm fans)|
|Side||2x 120mm fan mount|
|Bottom||1x 120mm fan mount|
|Front I/O Port||eSATA, 2x USB 3.0, mic and headphone jacks|
|Top I/O Port||-|
|Power Supply Size||ATX|
|Clearance||10.5" (Expansion Cards), 170mm (CPU HSF), 200mm (PSU)|
|Dimensions||7.88" x 18.23" x 18.98"|
Rosewill seems to be offering a decent amount of expandability for the price, but there are some odd tradeoffs here. While most users (especially users buying a case in this price range) aren't going to need more than four hard drive bays, the four external 5.25" bays are even less likely to see use. A smarter plan might have been to kill one of the 5.25" bays to add one more 3.5" bay, which would feel at least a little more balanced.
You'll also notice this is a pretty small enclosure, and while it's not quite the devil to assemble that the Lian Li PC-A05FN was, you'll see it's not particularly easy to work in either.
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Sttm - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - linkEspecially when it's molded like that on the front in. It'd look better and be just as cheap I'd wager with a cleaner design and with a matte finish.
piroroadkill - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - linkHah, that is exactly the first thing I thought when I saw it.
Then I was dismayed by the sheer number of holes all over it. It would be terrible for keeping quiet.
Spend a bit more and get yourself a Fractal Design Define R3. Who even wants that many 5.25" bays anyway?
The only thing I do like about the design on this is the ventilated back panel that extends beyond the 120mm fan and down the side where the graphics card(s) would be.
That would be nice to let the graphics card breathe a bit more, but it's not on the side, so it's unlikely it would create a path for sound directly to your ear. Fractal Design, take note of that minor point. (I also prefer ports and buttons on the front, and honestly I'd rather have the power button BEHIND the door. Ports collect dust when they're facing up!).
piroroadkill - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - linkThat said, it's almost certainly made the same OEM that Fractal Design uses. It shares a very high number of case elements, although it's done them in a slightly more half-assed way than the Define case does. Filtered fans, and so on.
It also looks like it has the same rubber grommets, which are terrible. They're too soft and they fall out of the hole if you so much as breathe on them. The ones that came on the back of my Antec P182 are perfect in comparison, you can jam your finger in, pull it out, and the grommet does not fall out.
Try that on these or on the Fractal Design cases (like I said, looks like the same OEM), and those things will pop out as soon as you push.
rrohbeck - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - linkFractal Design has fixed that. I built with a Define XL (new model) recently and the grommets stuck where they should.
ckryan - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - link... for the increase in quality their products have been getting recently. Better power supplies, better cases, better Rosewill-branded nose/ear hair trimmers too. But damn, the Ranger is hideous... not in a pseudo-good way, or a quirky way. It's first degree murder with the ugly stick.
But from a functional point of view, I guess it works. It's just not as sexy as the Lian Li PC A05NB while doing it.
marvdmartian - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - linkThey still have a long way to go, IMHO.
And asking $70 for this case is a joke. Don't be surprised if Newegg has it on sale for $40 (or less) soon, just to clear out their inventory. This is a hideous case, and I can't see any serious system builder wanting to use it.
Oh, and Dustin? There's plenty of sub-$100 cases that look good and perform well. The snobbery that exists for high prices (versus low priced) cases is just ridiculous.
Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - linkYou guys keep accusing me of snobbery when I've spent the last year testing these cases and have a big fat spreadsheet full of results.
I do have a sub-$50 case review coming up that I was quite fond of, but the reality is that you ARE going to have to spend if you want heavy duty cooling performance with good acoustics.
marvdmartian - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - linkSorry, Dustin. Didn't mean to point a finger solely at you, in the case snobbery comment.
The snobbery seems, instead, to exist in a general way among many computer building enthusiasts. Some places I've seen, it's a prevailing attitude for years now (the whole, "Oh, it's not a Lian Li case"? comment gets old, ya know?).
I will agree to disagree with you, concerning your cost versus heavy duty cooling and good accoustics point, though. To me, unless it's an HTPC case, I don't worry as much about accoustics (pushing 50 years old, with bad hearing, probably has something to do with that). My previous build was with an Antec 900 case, which offers excellent cooling, and is pretty darn quiet, but pushes the $100 price range. My current build was done in an Antec 100 case, which also offers pretty decent cooling, at half that price......and the only thing I hear from it is the hard drive winding up when it first starts up (sorry, no $$ for an SSD in my near future).
But computer cases are like cars, and we're all going to have different tastes in what we like. Personally, I'd rather have an inexpensive box, filled with good quality components.
Zoomer - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - linkAntec 300 for $30 is the hands down value winner. I do have to spend some time adding some time to the side, taping up holes and neutering the top fan. I also took a marker to the blue LED but it's still kinda too bright.
On the bright side, it is just barely audible beside hdd seek, but that sound is acceptable to me.
piroroadkill - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - linkIs an extremely bad thing when fitting the case.
My P182 lacked enough holes and space to route cables efficiently round the back of the case.
When I took my motherboard out (I was having random issues), I discovered that just the force of putting the case side on had, over time, slowly bent the motherboard tray, and thus the motherboard, which I'm now pretty certain caused my issues.
I never pushed it on with a lot of force or anything, either. It's a cautionary tale, and a HUGE point against any case when you can't fit things without a real shove.