Budget PC case on a desk, including those from Aerocool, Bitfinix, and Kolink
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Bitfenix Nova PC case

Storage galore but nothing more.

(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

A decent basis for a cheap case but its slightly wobbly fit rules this one out.

For

  • Glass side panel
  • Lots of expansion options

Against

  • Paint job doesn't match
  • HDD trays are very loose

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With two 120mm fans, heaps of space for storage, and a tempered glass side panel, the Bitfenix Nova is shooting above its weight class. It's true that this case does have a lot to offer for its size, and even manages to squeeze in support for disc drive for the dozen or so people still rocking one of those in 2022.

Our budget case group test

Kolink Inspire K8 (opens in new tab) - Interesting but underwhelming
Aerocool Hive (opens in new tab) - Keep it cool
Aerocool Zauron (opens in new tab) - The budget case champ
Kolink Inspire K11 (opens in new tab) - Look, a proper fan
Bitfenix Nova (opens in new tab) - Storage galore and nothing more
Kolink Nimbus (opens in new tab) - Styling on a budget
Aerocool Tomahawk (opens in new tab) - Good but not good enough

For its large storage capacity, the Bitfenix Nova offers a slightly less than optimal layout. A top-to-bottom storage cage takes up most of the front of the case, leaving a lot less room than some for your graphics card and no space for a liquid cooler or more than two fans. With a couple of drives installed the airflow can be restricted, too. 

That said, with only an NVMe SSD installed for testing, the CPU and GPU do run at okay temperatures. That lack of space up front is not a major issue in my testing, anyways.

It does rattle something fierce, though. The HDD trays are the main offender, as they wobble so much within the bays that they can quite easily fall out entirely. And that's without any weighty drives in them whatsoever. I wouldn't trust this case to hold up well during a move or while being transported.

Cheap case airflow test

The main ingredient for an impressive PC case is airflow, but you'd be surprised by just how many case designs don't get this quite right. Ideally, we want our case to draw in cool air from a handful of high flow intake fans at the front, over our PC's components, then out the exhaust. Cheap cases, however, don't always come with the ideal number of fans for this optimal setup, so it's extra important to find one that is smartly designed to work with limited cooling potential. 

To test the thermal properties of these six cheap cases, I built a PC into each of them. Then I ran a handful of benchmarks to put the CPU and GPU under day-to-day stress and collated the average results into this graph.

(Image credit: Future)

Nova specs

Size: Mid-tower
2.5-inch bays: 3 max
3.5-inch bays: 4 max
Max GPU length: 280mm
Max fan support: 3 x 120mm
Lighting: White LED fan
Side panel: Yes, glass
Front panel: Power, reset, audio, 2 x USB 3.0
Price: $70/£43

The lack of space for a radiator does mean there's nowhere to install a liquid cooler larger than 120mm, however. Since there's no top ventilation on this case, and the cages at the front are bolted in, it's not possible to install a 240mm radiator anywhere. That's likely not an issue if you're going to stick to stock cooling or a cheap air cooler, but something to bear in mind.

This large storage cage also means the PSU cables are a little tough to organise, which means that you might have to work extra hard to get your build looking neat and tidy with that large tempered glass window.

This isn't the prettiest case of those I've tested, even with the large tempered glass side panel or white colourway that was provided. The front of the case is plain and old-fashioned, and the white paint used on the case doesn't match across its entire construction.

The Bitfenix Nova is a case with a lot of room for storage expansion, and in that sense there are no others I've tested that are a match for it. However, it's a little bland to look at, and the ill-fitting nature of the drive bays, and the position of them, does make me wonder how practical this case will be once it's filled up with precious kit. Combined with the lack of options even for air cooling and I'm afraid this case doesn't make the cut.

Our group test: A budget PC case is a great way to trim costs on your next PC build, yet many of the brands we're used to seeing in the top case round-ups aren't anywhere near cheap enough for what we're after. That's why I asked our friends at Overclockers UK (opens in new tab) if it would lend us its cheapest cases to see which is worth your small pile of coins, and of the seven cases they sent my way, I made my conclusions.

The Verdict
Bitfenix Nova PC case

A decent basis for a cheap case but its slightly wobbly fit rules this one out.

Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog from his hometown in Wales in 2017. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, where he would later win command of the kit cupboard as hardware editor. Nowadays, as senior hardware editor at PC Gamer, he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industry. When he's not writing about GPUs and CPUs, however, you'll find him trying to get as far away from the modern world as possible by wild camping.