Browse > Home / Strategy / Articles / Deck Box Review ($10 - $20 Premium)

Deck Box Review ($10 - $20 Premium)


Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Ultra Pro Mana Flip Box
  3. Max Protection Ion
  4. BCW Deck Case LX
  5. Dex Protection (Small)
  6. Ultimate Guard Deck Case XenoSkin
  7. Ultra Pro Satin Tower
  8. Ultimate Guard Monolith
  9. BCW Deck Locker
  10. Ultimate Guard Flip'n'Tray XenoSkin
  11. Meta-Discussion
  12. Awards

Introduction

Deck boxes might be the most important Magic accessory. If we are going to spend hundreds, or even thousands of dollars on a Magic deck, we want to make sure this investment is going to last. We want to be able to play with the cards years later, or make sure they stay in good enough condition that we can trade them to get other cards we want. Having a deck box is a crucial part of this process.

Apart from buying an actual, honest-to-god deck box, our options are limited. The classic "rubber band around your deck" technique will definitely damage your cards over time and no one wants to be the guy who showed up to a Legacy Grand Prix with his deck in a Ziploc bag. While many companies make inexpensive deck boxes, those boxes are fragile and not ideal for protecting an expensive Modern or Commander deck. 

So how do you know which deck box to buy? Many deck boxes look the same; what is it that separates one brand from another? We got our hands on seven different deck boxes, each costing between $10 and $20. These are the premium deck boxes designed to hold a single deck as well as possibly some dice and other accessories. We tested them. How many cards fit single sleeved? How many cards fit double sleeved? How comfortably do the cards fit? Is the box durable? How many art options are there and how durable are they? What happens if you drop, shake, or scratch it? Can you easily get the cards into (and out of) the box?

After testing, we ranked several characteristics of each box on a scale of one to ten and handed out an overall grade. Finally, we wrap up with some meta-comments about this group of deck boxes as a whole, hand out awards, and make recommendations. Today you are going to learn everything you could possibly want to know about premium deck boxes that hold a single deck.

If you're looking for a deck box that's not here, be sure to check our other reviews: Deck Box Review ($5 and Under Category) and Deck Box Review ($5 - $10 Dual / Twin / Double Edition).

 

Ultra Pro Mana Flip Box

Cost: $15.99

Fit: Single Sleeved - 100 (comfortably). Double Sleeved - 85 (packed full).

Special Features: Magnetic top, embossed mana symbol. 

Styles: Six colors: white, blue, black, red, green, grey.

Aesthetics: 7/10. The Ultra Pro Mana Flip Box looks pretty sharp. The outside is leatherette, but it avoids the the tacky look that sometimes haunts the material. The mana symbol on the front and back really pops, and unlike some less expensive Ultra Pro boxes, the branding is less obvious. The inside has a nice "premium" black finish.

Durability: 8/10. A solid box. Seems likely to hold up to normal wear and tear without much difficulty. The soft outer material can be scratched, but the texture of the box hides small imperfections. 

Ease of Access: 7/10. Getting cards into the box is easy. The top opens well, leaving ample room to put an entire deck into the box. While there is a cut away in the front, hidden by the top, the back is one solid piece. As such, getting cards out can be difficult if you overfill. 

Drop Test: 4/10. The magnet holding the box close isn't all that strong. When the box is dropped from an average height table, it opens about 50% of the time and the cards scatter. 

Shake Test: 1/10. Don't hold it upside down; disaster will ensue. 

Weight Test: Holds 100 pounds with no problem or signs of weakness. The Ultra Pro Mana Flip Box shouldn't have any trouble standing up to the normal wear and tear of being in a backpack — as long as it stays closed. 

Summary: Continuing the theme of magnet topped boxes, the magnet in the Ultra Pro Mana Flip Box just isn't strong enough to keep it closed under the slightest duress. While it's not as lacking as the Max Protection Ion magnet, it's still not good. Otherwise, this is a durable, good looking, easy to access deck box. Plus, you get the iconic mana symbol thanks to Ultra Pro's licensing deal with Wizards of the Coast. Considering almost every magnetic topped deck box has a similar problem with magnet strength and the positives outweigh this negative, the overall rating is solid. 

Overall Rating: 7/10.

Cost Aesthetics Durability Ease of Access Drop Test Shake Test Weight Test Overall
$15.99 7 8 7 4 1 7 7
 

Max Protection Ion

Cost: $11.65

Fit: Single Sleeved - 100 (tightly). Double Sleeved - 80 (snugly).

Special Features: Magnetic top, armored nylon interior.

Styles: Five colors: titanium, black, blue, green, red

Aesthetics: 6/10. Looks a bit plasticy, with an untextured, metallic finish. From the side there is a strange gap between the top and the sides of the box, which isn't present on other comparable deck boxes. Not a bad looking box, but not pretty either. 

Durability:  6/10. The outside of the box seems like it should stand up fairly well to abuse, although the material is soft enough that it will show scratches. The other issue is that the side seems weak compared to the other boxes in its class. While it held up to the weight test, it does seem like it will break down over time. Perhaps because the side stitching doesn't go all the way around the box. 

Ease of Access: 3/10. Unfortunately the top of the box is attached in such a way that it is impossible to pull it back far enough to fully access the cards. It also has no cut out in the front so getting the cards in and out of the box is difficult. You pretty much have to hold it upside down and shake when it is packed full. 

Drop Test: 1/10. With what is likely the weakest magnet ever put in a deck box, the Max Protection Ion opens every single time it is dropped from table height. 

Shake Test: 1/10. Again the magnet is a deal breaker. Even the slightest shaking will cause the box to open. 

Weight Test: 8/10. Easily held 100 pounds without crumbling. Should have no problem surviving in a backpack. 

Summary:  This deck box has two major problems. First, the lack of a cut away and the design of the box makes it difficult to access. Second, the magnet is just horrible. It might as well not exist. For me, this combination is a deal breaker, even though the box looks and feels nice. 

Overall Rating: 3/10.

Cost Aesthetics Box Durability Ease of Access Drop Test Shake Test Weight Test Overall
$11.65 6 6 3 1 1 8 3
 

BCW Deck Case LX

Cost: $10.35

Fit: Single Sleeved - 100 (comfortably). Double Sleeved - 80 (loosely).

Special Features: Magnetic top. 

Styles: Five colors: black, blue, green, red and white

Aesthetics: 7/10. Looks and feels exactly like the Ultra Pro Mana Flip Box. The only real difference is Ultra Pro gets to use mana symbols due to their licensing deal, while the BCW Deck Case features their dragon logo. It will show scratches, but they are only noticeable when the light catches them just right. Overall a fine looking deck box. 

Durability: 8/10. A solid box. Seems likely to hold up to normal wear and tear without much difficulty. The soft outer material can be scratched, but the texture of the box hides small imperfections.

Ease of Access: 7/10. Getting cards into the box is easy. The top opens well, leaving ample room to put an entire deck into the box. While there is a cut away in the front hidden by the top, the back is one solid piece, so getting cards out can be difficult if you overfill.

Drop Test: 2/10. Despite being advertised as having a "strong magnetic closure," when dropped from an average height table, the box opens and spills the cards about 75% of the time.

Shake Test: 1/10. Don't hold it upside down; disaster will ensue. 

Weight Test: 8/10. Easily held 100 pounds without crumbling. Should have no problem surviving in backpack or similar situation. 

Summary: The differences between the BCW Deck Case and the Ultra Pro Mana Flip Box are so slight they are barely worth mentioning. Mostly, it comes down to whether or not you want the mana symbol or the BCW dragon logo, which is a matter of taste. On a more practical level, the magnet on the BCW box seems slightly weaker, as evidenced by the slightly worse drop test. Even here, the difference is small. I gave the BCW box half a point off for the magnet issue, but really, buy whichever box is more appealing to you personally. 

Overall Rating: Overall Rating: 6.5/10.

Cost Aesthetics Durability Ease of Access Drop Test Shake Test Weight Test Overall
$15.99 7 8 7 2 1 8 6.5
 

Dex Protection (Small)

Cost: $14.99

Fit: Single Sleeved - 130 (comfortably). Double Sleeved - 115 (comfortably).

Special Features: Magnetic top, velvet interior, faux-crocodile exterior. 

Styles: Eight total. Six Creation series: Galaxy (Black), Ocean (Blue), Urth (Brown), Aurora (Purple), Carte Blanche (White), Life (Pink), Two Safari: Crocodile and Python (both pictured above).

Aesthetics: 3/10. The exterior looks like a purse my grandmother would take to the casino. Conversely, the velvet interior is quite nice, soft, and classy. Plus, due to the focus on the crocodile look, there's no branding (or text) on the outside of the box. 

Durability: 7/10. Like most boxes in this class, the Dex Protection Safari seems durable. While the outside can scratch, the textured look naturally hides small imperfections. It also survived the weight test, so I would expect the box to hold up for a while. While there are a lot of things I question about this box, durability isn't one of them.

Ease of Access: 8/10. Top opens nicely and there is a cut off for easy access. Better yet, the slightly larger size of the box means that, unless you are packing it full, there's room to get your fingers inside and pull out the cards.  

Drop Test: 1/10. The good news is when dropped from a table, if the box lands one specific way it will not open. The bad news is if it lands on any of the other million possible ways, it not only opens, but it will sends cards spewing everywhere. 

Shake Test: 0/10. I wasn't planning on handing out any zeros in these reviews, but I'm pretty sure the magnet in this deck box is actually an anti-magnet that somehow pushes the box open when you hold it upside down. 

Weight Test: 5/10. Held up to 100 pounds, but bowed slightly. Shouldn't have any difficulty surviving a backpack, but not as strong as some other boxes in the class. 

Summary: This might be the most confusing deck box I've ever seen. While I appreciate the fact Dex Protection is trying something different, the finished product isn't all that appealing to me. I really don't know who the crocodile finish is suppose to appeal to. The magnet is worst in its class, which is saying something since most of the magnets in these boxes are amazingly weak. The whole package feels a bit self-indulgent, like "look at me, I made a fake crocodile deck box with a real velvet interior." Maybe I'm being too harsh. If you like the crocodile look and have a stomach for weak magnets, there's nothing wrong with this box. It just isn't for me. 

Overall Rating: 3/10.

Cost Aesthetics Box Durability Art Durability Ease of Access Drop Test Shake Test Overall
$14.99 1 5 8 2 5 10 3

Dex Protection (Small) on Amazon.com ($10)

Ultimate Guard Deck Case XenoSkin

Cost: $14.99 

Fit: Single Sleeved - 100 (full). Double Sleeved - 80 (comfortably).

Special Features: Four-magnet top, anti-slip XenoSkin material. 

Styles: Seven colors: black, white, red, blue, green, gray, sand.

Aesthetics: 7/10. A sharp looking box. The XenoSkin exterior gives it a rugged, textured finish, and the branding is minimal and blends naturally with the box. The interior has a soft microfiber finish, in character with the rest of the box.

Durability: 8/10. A solid box. Seems to hold up to normal wear and tear without much difficulty. The textured XenoSkin exterior hides minor dings and scratches. Be warned, however, the XenoSkin will wear down after awhile, giving the box a dull look. 

Ease of Access: 7/10. Getting cards into the box is easy. The top opens well, leaving ample room to put an entire deck into the box. While there is a cut away in the front, hidden by the top, the back is one solid piece, and getting cards out can be slightly difficult if you stuff it full.

Drop Test: 6/10. While the strong, four magnet system helps a ton in the shake test, it wasn't enough to save the box from opening when dropped from table height. To be fair, it doesn't open every time, but it still opens often enough to be worrisome. On the other hand, it's also worth noting that the anti-slip XenoSkin exterior makes it less likely the box will get knocked off the table in the first place. 

Shake Test: 9/10. I can't believe I'm writing this, but Ultimate Guard has a magnet system that actually keeps the box closed. You can shake this box upside down, throw it around, and it never comes open. Very impressive, considering how lacking the magnets are for other boxes in this group. 

Weight Test: 8/10. Holds 100 pounds without a problem, and, unlike other boxes, this one will stay closed. 

Summary: If you're looking to buy a nice, single-deck box, I would highly recommend the Ultimate Guard Deck Case XenoSkin. While it is similar to other boxes in the group, it has one characteristics far above the others: a magnetic closure that actually holds the box closed. It seems like such a simple thing. If you are going to market your deck box based on its magnetic closure, make sure the magnet actually works! The Ultimate Guard Deck Case XenoSkin is the only box in its class to pass the shake and drop test. 

Overall Rating: 9/10.

Cost Aesthetics Durability Ease of Access Drop Test Shake Test Weight Test Overall
$14.99 7 8 7 6 9 8 8.5

Ultimate Guard Deck Case XenoSkin on Amazon.com ($16)

Ultra Pro Satin Tower

Cost: $10.99

Fit: Single Sleeved - 130 (comfortably). Double Sleeved - 115 (packed full).

Special Features: Snap lock, smooth satin finish, and a lower tray for holding dice or other small accessories. 

Styles: A whopping 18 colors: Black, Blue, Bright Pink (pictured), Bright Yellow, Fire, Green, Ice, Light Blue, Lime Green, Metallic Caramel, Metallic Dark Chocolate, Metallic Ocean Shimmer, Metallic Silver, Purple, Radiant Desert Mirage, Radiant Night Sky, Red, White.

Aesthetics: 5/10. Plain looking, but that's actually refreshing for an Ultra Pro box. They are usually plastered with branding, which can look tacky. While nothing about the Satin Tower really jumps out, it doesn't look bad either. 

Durability: 8/10. A really solid box which is unlikely to crack or break. Plus, it's one solid color all the way through the plastic, meaning it's immune to scratches. While you can scratch away a layer or two, since it's the same color underneath, it's really difficult to make a noticeable mark. 

Ease of Access: 6/10. The snap lock closes the box tightly enough that it sometimes takes a bit of effort to get it open. After you do, you have easy access to the cards since the box is low-cut. 

Drop Test: 9/10. If you want a box that stays closed, the snap lock system on the Ultra Pro Satin Tower is much better than typical magnetic closures. Dropped from an average height table, the box never opened all the way. However, the snap lock does loosen a bit from time to time.

Shake Test: 9/10. The Satin Tower can be shook open, but it takes a lot of hard shaking for it to happen. Unlike other boxes in this class, I wouldn't worry about this box opening in normal circumstances. 

Weight Test: 10/10. Pretty much indestructible under normal use. While the plastic is brittle feeling and would probably shatter under enough pressure, it's hard to imagine this happening from everyday use.  

Summary: I'm having a hard time finding much to dislike about the Ultra Pro Satin Tower. It holds up to all the tests as good or better than other boxes in its class. It's reasonably priced at $10.99. It comes with storage spaces for dice and other small accessories. It very unlikely to open accidentally. It is scratch proof and damage resistant. It holds enough cards to fit a double-sleeved Commander deck along with some tokens or a sideboard. If I had one issue, it would be that the box is plain looking, especially compared the flashier designs we've been discussing. But as far as functionality, durability, and size, it's a great box. 

Overall Rating: 9/10.

Cost Aesthetics Durability Ease of Access Drop Test Shake Test Weight Test Overall
$10.99 5 8 6 8 8 10 9

Ultimate Guard Monolith and Ultimate Guard Monolith Jewel Edition

Cost: $12.99

Fit: Single Sleeved - 130 (comfortably). Double Sleeved - 115 (comfortably).

Special Features: Removable dice compartment. 

Styles: Eighteen total. Twelve solid colors: Black, White, Blue, Purple, Light Green, Pink, Green, Red, Orange, Turquoise, Petrol, Sand, six "Jewel" translucent colors: Onyx, Ruby, Sapphire (pictured), Emerald, Amber, Frosted.

Aesthetics: 5/10. Very similar in design to the Ultra Pro Satin Tower, the Ultimate Guard Monolith is a solid color deck with minimal branding (just the "monolith" insignia on the front and back). Like the Ultra Pro Satin Tower, the Monolith comes in solid colors, but also comes in semi-clear colored plastics as well (labeled as their Jewel Edition series). You can see the cards or dice inside the box. Whether this is a positive or negative I'm not completely sure. It's mainly a matter of taste, so I've scored this box the same as the Satin Tower. 

Durability: 4/10. While the box itself seems quite durable, surviving the drop test and the weight test with no difficulty whatsoever, the clear plastic outside of the box is is very easy to scratch. In fact, simply dropping the box from the table 10 times severely scratched one side of the box, ruining the "new deck box" look. This sign is especially troubling because being scratch resistant was one of the upsides of the Ultra Pro Satin Tower, Monolith's main competitor. 

Ease of Access: 8/10. Super easy to access. You have tons of room to get to your deck. One of the downsides of the Ultra Pro Satin Tower is that it sometimes takes a great deal of effort to get the box open. The Monolith does just as good of a job staying closed, but it is also easier to open, so it scores extra points in the Ease of Access category. 

Drop Test: 8/10. The box didn't open once when dropped ten times from an average height table. 

Shake Test: 8/10. It's technically possible to shake the Monolith open, but it takes a lot of work. 

Weight Test: 8/10. No trouble holding 100 pounds, should survive quite well in a backpack under normal conditions. 

Summary: Basically the Ultimate Guard version of the Ultra Pro Satin Tower, the boxes score similarly in most categories. Both fit a double-sleeved Commander deck with sideboard. Both are extremely durable. They even look similar. However, the Ultra Pro build is clearly the better box, simply because the Ultimate Guard Monolith scratches so easily. While I wouldn't discourage you from buying this box, I see little reason to purchase the slightly worse Monolith over the Satin Tower. 

Overall Rating: 7/10.

Cost Aesthetics Durability Ease of Access Drop Test Shake Test Weight Test Overall
$12.99 5 4 8 8 8 8 7

BCW Deck Locker and BCW Deck Locker LX

Note: This review is based on the BCW Deck Locker, which has since been discontinued. It is now replaced with the Deck Locker LX. They are still very similar, with the difference being the LX comes with the "LX leatherette" (found on the BCW Deck Case LX) and a tray for the card component, similar to the Ultimate Guard Flip'n'Tray XenoSkin.

Cost: $18.95 (Deck Locker), $21.45 (Deck Locker LX)

Fit: Single Sleeved - 100 (comfortably). Double Sleeved - 80 (comfortably).

Special Features: Removable dice compartment, faux suede interior, embossed dragon graphic, magnetic closure. 

Styles: One (black). 

Aesthetics: 6/10. A plain, good looking box. The outer material feels and looks a lot like the XenoSkin offered by Ultimate Guard and performs similarly. The textured finish is scratch resistant, but it will wear down after a while giving it a dull look. The embossed dragon blends nicely with the rest of the box. The only other branding is on the bottom of the box, so it doesn't clutter up the look. 

Durability: 7/10. Generally a solid feeling box, although there does seem to be a weak spot along the front left side. Whereas all the other edges have the support of an outer wall, the front left of the box is where you access the cards, and it does not get this advantage. This characteristic isn't a really a problem, but it is worth being aware of. A strong, direct hit (e.g. the corner of a text book) in this area could damage the box and maybe even the cards inside. 

Ease of Access: 8/10. One of the advantages of the "flip" or "locker" design is that it's super easy to get the cards in and out of the box. You get two separate access doors: one for the deck, one for the dice tray. Plus you get a cut away on the front side, making it easy to get your fingers around your cards. 

Drop Test: 5/10. When dropped from an average height table, the box opens about half of the time, sometimes to the point of cards falling out. It mostly depends on how the box lands. If it lands flat on any side, it generally stays closed, but if it lands on an edge it springs open.  

Shake Test: 9/10. Even when shaken as hard as possible, the box stays shut. Whether this is because of the design or the magnet, I'm not quite sure, but I won't worry much about the box coming open when jostled around in a back pack.  

Weight Test: 8/10. No trouble holding 100 pounds, should survive quite well in a backpack under normal conditions. 

Summary: All around a solid deck box. It's built from a solid material, survived our various tests with ease, and seems to do its job quite well.

Overall Rating: 7/10.

Cost Aesthetics Durability Ease of Access Drop Test Shake Test Weight Test Overall
$18.95 6 7 8 5 9 8 7

Ultimate Guard Flip'n'Tray XenoSkin

Cost: $19.95

Fit: Single Sleeved - 100 (jammed full), 90 in removal deck tray. Double Sleeved - 90 (comfortably), 80 in removal deck tray.

Special Features: Two removable trays, XenoSkin material, microfiber inner layer, four magnet closure. 

Styles: Eight colors: Black, White, Blue, Red (pictured), Green, Grey, Sand, Purple.

Aesthetics: 6/10. Basically the exact same box as the BCW Deck Locker, with the only real difference being a different logo on the front and bottom. There might be a slight difference between the outer material, but if there is it's so small it's hard to tell the difference. Both are textured, solid color boxes. Both are scratch resistant but will wear down eventually, leaving the box looking dull.  

Durability: 8/10. The Ultimate Guard has one advantage over the BCW Deck Locker. While both boxes pass the weight test without a problem, the Ultimate Guard Flip'n'Tray comes with an inner, removable deck tray. The main purpose of this tray is to hold your decks, but it actually strengthens the weakness along the left side of the box caused by the lack of a supportive outer wall. As a result, Ultimate Guard scores slightly higher in durability.  

Ease of Access: 8/10. One of the advantages of the "flip" or "locker" design is that it's super easy to get the cards in and out of the box. You get two separate access doors, one for the deck, one for the dice tray. Plus, you get a cut away on the front side, making it easy to get your fingers around your cards. 

Drop Test: 7/10. Like their other boxes, the Ultimate Guard Flip'n'Tray has the strongest magnetic closure system of any box in its class. While it still opens when it lands just the right way, it doesn't happen frequently.   

Shake Test: 9/10. Even when shaken as hard as possible, the box stays shut. Whether this is because of the design or the magnet, I'm not quite sure, but I won't worry much about the box coming open when jostled around in a back pack.  

Weight Test: 8/10. No trouble holding 100 pounds. Should survive quite well in a backpack under normal conditions. 

Summary: Very similar to the BCW Deck Locker, the Ultimate Guard Flip'n'Tray scores slightly higher for a few reasons. First, you get more for your money. Since the boxes are priced comparably, getting the inner deck tray is a reason to buy the Ultimate Guard Flip'n'Tray over the Deck Locker. Even though you may or may not even use it, it's hard to argue with getting additional value for free. Second, the deck tray adds additional stability and durability to a weak spot on the box. Third, it has the Ultimate Guard magnet, which has consistently proved to be the best out of all deck box magnets. And lastly, it comes in more available colors. While I think either box is a fine purchase, I like the Flip'n'Tray a little bit more. 

Overall Rating: 8/10.

Cost Aesthetics Durability Ease of Access Drop Test Shake Test Weight Test Overall
$19.95 6 8 8 7 9 8 8

Meta-Discussion

  • The common problem with the "flip" boxes is magnet strength. The Ultimate Guard Deck Case XenoSkin demonstrates this problem can be overcome. I wish more manufacturers would follow suit. Weak magnets give me pause to buy (or recommend) some of the boxes I really liked. 
  • Many of these boxes are similar, and apart from a few really good (or really bad) ones, it really comes down to personal taste. 
  • Compared to less expensive deck boxes, buying these boxes gives you three advantages. First, the boxes look better. Second, they are made of more expensive, less brittle material. Third, they are all far more durable and less likely to break from being dropped or carried around in a backpack. Fourth, some designs have compartments for accessories like dice.
  • None of these boxes use the hinged design, which makes accessing the cards in the box much easier. 
  • While inexpensive boxes are fine for carrying around a casual deck or an inexpensive Standard deck, if you are looking for something to carry around your Modern, Legacy, or Commander deck, do yourself a favor and spend the extra $10 to get a more durable box. It's just not worth skimping on a deck box that you are going to use to carry around several hundred (or thousand) dollars worth of cards. 

Awards

Tiers


More in this Series


More on MTGGoldfish ...

product reviews

Deck Box Review ($5 - $10 Dual / Twin / Double Edition)

instant deck tech

Instant Deck Tech: Titan Shift (Modern)

against the odds

Against the Odds: Gideon Tribal (Modern)

banned and restricted

Banned and Restricted Update, April 28 2017: Felidar Guardian Banned


Next Article

Get Email Updates

Follow Us

  • S
  • S
  • S
  • S
  • S
  • S
  • S

Welcome to MTGGoldfish. We display prices for both ONLINE and PAPER magic. By default, what prices would you like to see?   

Online Paper