What should I look for when buying a computer case?
These questions will help to find a lot of the answers you'll be looking for. Video cards can get long, so be sure that you can fit the card that you really want, because otherwise you'll have to change either your card or your case. Computer parts aren't the kind of hardware that you can hammer in to make fit; they either fit, or they don't.
What are the basic case sizes out there?
The most popular case form factors for PC builders are ATX, Micro ATX, and Mini ITX. We are proud to feature brands such as Antec, BitFenix, NZXT, Fractal Design, and many more in our selection of personal computer cases.
What features should I look for in a computer case?
Basic features in computer cases to look for are motherboard form factor compatibility, number of hard drive bays, internal space for a video card, as well as room for your cooling systems, whether they are case fans, or CPU liquid cooling. More minimal features that are of interest are the front I/O (USB 2.0 or USB 3.0, 3.5mm Audio, eSATA, etc.), and hard drive installation features such as front 3.5 inch drive bays, and toolless internal drive bays.
What is the right computer case for me?
The kind of system you want to build is a strong determing factor in the type of case you should buy. For a gaming PC, you'll likely want a larger case with plenty of room for at least one video card and a hefty cooling system, so a mid-tower ATX Case is good starting point, the step-up from which would be a full tower ATX computer case, which some could also support E-ATX and larger motherboard sizes. For a standard SOHO (Small Office/Home Office) computer, you could go with a mid-tower, or even a MicroATX or Mini-ITX system, depending on the kind of hardware you want to install. HTPCs (Home Theater PCs) are often used as a entertainment or media hub, so you'll likely want to use a Mini-ITX case to create a discrete system that will look good in your living room. You can also save quite a bit of money if you go with refurbished or used computer towers so if that fits all your needs, that is a good way to proceed.
How to shop for a computer case?The style of PC case you choose can speak a lot about the kind of system you want to build - when you build your own PC, it's totally up to you how it looks. Make sure you get the kind of case that fits your motherboard size - a MicroATX motherboard will fit in ATX cases or MicroATX case, while an ATX motherboard will only fit in an ATX case.
Many gaming PC cases include spots for cooling fans, and feature decorative side panel windows and bright LEDs that showcase your computer's high end components. If you want a computer case with as much glow as possible, aftermarket are available.
The Complete Guide to PC Case ChooseryUnless your planning on something crazy, like installing a computer into a fish tank, you're going to need a PC case. Also called a chassis, your PC case is the metal housing which stores and protects all the geeky gizmos that make up your computer. Whether you're building a new machine or your rig's just ready for a new outfit, here are a few things you want to think about while choosing the best case for your computer.
"And now, your highness, we will discuss the location of your hidden rebel [PC Case] . . ."
A lot of the decisions you make when putting together a new computer depend on its location and purpose; the case is no exception. Cases come in lots of shapes and sizes, from massive full-tower chassis, as big as a mini-fridge, to tiny home-theater cases about the size of a bag of chips.
Big Cases"[The PC Case] and I were about as compatible as a rat and a boa constrictor"
Compatibility will be an issue in case choices as well, the biggest concern being your motherboard. When installing a motherboard into a case, the board is mounted onto risers which are designed to match up with corresponding screw holes found on the motherboard. If there are no compatible mounting points, there will be no installing the board. Granted, this is usually because there isn't enough space in the case's interior for the board, but it does illustrate the need for attention in purchasing. Generally speaking, the following case/motherboard compatibilities hold true:
-Full-Towers hold E-ATX (the E stands for extended), ATX, and mATX motherboardsAside from motherboards, you'll want to consider any expansion cards you'll be getting. Some cases require low-profile adapter cards, and some will be too short to handle the super-sized graphics cards used in tricked-out gaming systems.
"The need of [PC Case] expansion is as genuine as instinct in man as the need in a plant for the light"
Since your computer consists of much more than a motherboard, you'll want as case that can support all the other expansions you'll want as well. This spec is indicated by the number of drive-bays and expansion slots found on a case. Here's a quick explanation of drive-bays and what they're good for:
5.25" - These are the external drive slots you use for CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray drives; most cases have two, though some have as many as five. There are other types of devices which can be installed in these ports, but that would be the point of a whole other article (which I'll link here once I've written it)."You've got the stuff . . . You've got the POWAHHH [Supply]!!!!
Some PC cases come with a built-in power supply. These cases are usually mid-to-low-end and are geared towards those looking for a quick and easy build. However the PSUs built into these cases are (almost) all bottom-of-the-line units which are inefficient and not at all geared for performance PCs. If your intended build is fairly basic, you'll probably be happy with your built-in power supply. Those building high-powered or highly-efficient computers, however, will be better served by the purchase of a power-supply-less case and by choosing a more potent, separate PSU to fit their needs.
"I can take it . . . The tougher it gets, the cooler [my case] gets . . ."
In the world of computing, cool is equal to quiet. All of the noise you hear from your computer comes from the fans which work tirelessly to extract all the heat pumped out from your CPU, hard drives, RAM, video cards, motherboards, and other components. While the most direct heat removal duties fall to CPU fans and heat sinks, the more general cooling duty of keeping down ambient temperature falls to the PC Chassis. So, unless you want your computer to sound like a sick Dirt Devil, you'll want to pick a case with a decent cooling system.
Though some cases are equipped with liquid cooling systems, the general cooling duties fall to case fans. The basic thermal dynamics of a case interior are pretty simple: heat is generated from a processor or other component, captured by a heatsink, disbursed into the air inside the case by fans or heat-fins, and then pushed outside the case by the case fans. Look for a case that has several large fans and you'll have a much cooler and thus quieter computer.
"When I'm good I'm very good, but when I'm bad I'm [a cool-looking computer chassis]"
Of course, one last consideration is the way your case looks-some cases look really, really cool! LED lighting, most commonly found in red, blue, and green, is pretty easy to come by, you can even pick up extra case fans with matching lighting to improve the effect. Some cases also have a clear side panel so you can show off the case interior if that's your thing.
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