Thanks to the ever-growing PC building culture, PC cases have come a long way from a mere afterthought to a quasi-modular unit worthy of utter importance and value.
Sure, these protective boxes don’t really have a direct impact, per se, when it comes to bringing your PC to life. But it doesn’t make it any less important. After all, these bulky protective shells serve as an armored fortress to house ultra-sensitive computer circuitry and internal components from dust, a splash of water, and other harsh elements.
Choosing the right PC chassis is practically the same as buying your internal components. You have to meticulously assess your needs while considering the parameters of your build beforehand. Otherwise, you’ll end up scratching your head out of frustration.
With that, here are a few things you need to know before choosing a PC case:
Cases come in many sizes and form
In general, there are four common size categories of PC cases: Full Tower, Mid Tower, Mini Tower, and the Mini ITX. Both Full and Mid Tower cases are the most commonly used for a typical PC build. Meanwhile, the micro ATX and Mini ITX cases are designed for a much smaller build or as industry experts would call it, “Small Form Factor” or SFF computers.
The standard technique in identifying the right chassis size for your components is knowing the motherboard (and in some cases, PSU) size. This correlates to the informally established basis taken from the ATX motherboard specifications.
To put it into perspective, the Full Tower is the largest of the four, and it can house both the standard ATX and the extended ATX motherboard with ease. The Mid Tower is preferred by builders who utilize the standard and micro ATX. The Mini Tower and the Mini ITX come in a much smaller form with limited space that can only accommodate the mATX and mini ITX motherboards almost exclusively.
Clearance and Compatibility
We mentioned earlier the correlation between the PC case’s form factor and the standard ATX sizing basis. Unfortunately, it’s not a catch-all system for other components. Aftermarket parts such as cooling systems, GPU cards, and radiators have different sizes based on performance capacity. Thus, these parts generally have an assortment of sizes that you need to take into account when choosing your chassis.
In doing this, make it a point to note the dimension of each part, as well as to map out your components and assess if they will fit into your chassis of choice.
Airflow, Fans, and Cooling System
The size and capacity of your PC case will play a big factor in providing efficient airflow and cooling process on your computer. Make sure to examine all the vents, airflow design, and dust filters within the case if these would strategically fit your specifications. Some, if not most cases come with a set of stock fans for intake and exhaust.
Another point to account for is the provisions for your components. Most computer cases of today have built-in trays, mounts, clips, and slots for housing your SSD, hard drive, drives, and cables. You may also want to consider looking for a case with provisions for supplemental cooling.
Having a front panel port provision is far better than the ones installed at the back. For one thing, this allows easy access for plugging in peripherals and USB devices, and flash drives.
Modular cases offer the flexibility and convenience of removing certain plates to accommodate add-on parts, as well as for cable management purposes.
This is probably the first thing on any first-time builder’s list. We can’t blame you, since having a rad-looking chassis adds swag to your rig. When speaking of aesthetics, RGB lighting prevails as the go-to look for most builders. Ergo, some PC case manufacturers have taken the liberty of pre-designing their cases with RGB lighting strips accompanied by transparent acrylic or tempered glass panels to showcase the build’s interior design. But all in all, choose the one that best fits your style.