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

A cheap chassis that isn't quite up to standard.

(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The Tomahawk is a decent PC chassis, but other cheap cases often do the same things but better.

For

  • Two included fans
  • Worldwide availability

Against

  • Acrylic side panel
  • Underwhelming light bar

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This is the Aerocool Tomahawk, a PC case generally available in many places worldwide for around $55/£35.

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

The Tomahawk is a decent illustration of what to expect from a budget PC case. It's a mid-tower case with a boxy frame, a windowed side panel, a couple of simple fans, and some rough edges. Generally, though, it offers wide-ranging compatibility with modern PC components.

You may think you can't ask more of a budget case than a standardised home for your parts, but in testing a number of similarly priced budget cases today, I did find the Tomahawk's somewhat old-fashioned layout to be a bane on temperatures and likely not an ideal configuration for long-term use.

The Tomahawk has no top fan vents or mounts, insteading offering a spot for a PSU up top. This is something you might still see in a cheaper workstation, but rarely nowadays in a gaming PC. Since there are no vents on the top of the case, the PSU must be orientated in such a way to suck in air from the inside the case and exhaust it out the rear vent on the unit. That means hot air generated by the CPU, GPU, VRM, and other components will travel past your PSU's internal components, which may lead to these parts heating up more than usual, but more importantly does appear to lead to hotter temperatures for other key components.

The Tomahawk ran our Ryzen 5 5600X CPU hotter than most other budget cases in my testing. Unfortunately, due to the layout of the case and the Molex-powered fans, the speed of which cannot be adjusted, there's not much that can be done immediately to rectify the higher CPU temperatures. You may, however, find that a CPU with a lower power consumption may fare better in this case, and of course you can always replace the fans down the line.

(Image credit: Future)

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)

Tomahawk specs

Size: Mid-tower
2.5-inch bays: 4 max
3.5-inch bays: 1 max
Max GPU length: 324mm
Max fan support: 4 x 120mm
Lighting: Fans + indicator light bar under front panel
Side panel: Yes, acrylic
Front panel: Power, reset, audio, 1 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0
Price: $55/£35

The Tomahawk may offer only Molex-powered fans but at least it has two. These come as standard mounted in the front and rear. This configuration does help in terms of graphics card temperature, with the dual-fan RTX 3060 I've been using for testing hitting a maximum temperature of 79°C. That's somewhere in the middle of the pack versus other cases I've tested.

These fans also light up, which does make for a more interesting-looking case with the windowed side panel on the Tomahawk. This is only a Perspex side panel, however, which I suppose isn't all that surprising considering the price of this case, but actually a few other cases in this price range do come with glass ones. Surprising, I know.

There are other cases that perform better, offer more options, and are still just as cheap as the Tomahawk. I'd actually recommend the Aerocool Zauron from my testing, as this case from the company delivers that same affordability but without the old-fashioned and restrictive layout.

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
Aerocool Tomahawk PC case

The Tomahawk is a decent PC chassis, but other cheap cases often do the same things but better.

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.