Personal Computer Case – How to Choose a PC Case

July 30, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

Choosing a PC case is one of the most important decisions to make when building a PC. the following advice will show why this is so and how to go about it.

1. Space

Your choice of PC case will depend on the type of PC you want to build and one rule applies to all types. the larger the case, the easier it is to work with. A large case will also aid cooling of internal components.

However, if you only have a small space or you want to build a discrete PC then a small case will be necessary.

2. Motherboard Compatibility

Motherboards come in various form factors and it is important to make sure your chosen motherboard fits your case (or vice versa).

The main form factors and their sizes are as listed below.

ATX 305 x 244 mm
Micro-ATX 244 x 244 mm
Flex-ATX 229 x 191 mm
Mini-ITX 170 x 170 mm

ATX form factor cases vary in size from Midi to Tower (full size ATX). if you intend to build a high power gaming system or you want to install a large number of hard drives, then a large Midi or Tower unit is highly recommended. it will greatly facilitate the installation of cooling fans, large CPU coolers and graphics cards.

Micro-ATX cases are usually used for general purpose PCs that will not take up too much room on a desktop.

Flex-ATX and Mini-ITX cases are used to build quiet, discrete systems that will blend in with their surroundings.

3. Power Supply

Most ATX cases come without a power supply. This allows the builder to choose a power supply that best fits their needs. for example, a powerful gaming PC is going to require a more powerful and maybe larger sized supply than a PC used primarily for surfing and emails.

Smaller cases often do come with a supply and this will normally suffice, since small PCs are rarely used for power-hungry applications.

However, it is wise to buy a power supply separately. This way it can be ensured that the supply is exactly what is required and is of sufficient quality.

4. Case Material

PC cases are usually made from a mixture of steel and plastic. the build quality rises with cost. Expensive cases may make extensive use of aluminum rather than steel which makes for a lighter case and is convenient if the PC is to be carried around a lot.

However, aluminum is more prone to vibration and is not ideal if the builder is attempting to build a quiet PC.

5. Cooling

Good cooling is vital. A cool system will be more reliable and components will last longer. Obviously the more powerful the system, the more cooling it will require. for example, a fast processor together with a high-end graphics card and an array of hard drives will require a case that can support multiple fans.

Support for 12cm fans is ideal as these shift more air with less noise than smaller fans. you should be able to fit at least one of these for drawing air into the case and one for drawing air out. for smaller form factor cases where less powerful components are used, there should still be provision for cooling of some kind even if it is just, for example, one small fan.

6. Noise

If you are building a PC with the express condition of keeping it quiet, then I would recommend choosing a sturdy steel unit with good ventilation and using quiet components. if the case is well ventilated then the number of cooling fans can be reduced or they can be run at slower (and hence quieter) speeds.

7. Design

There are plenty of cases to choose from. Designs vary in quality, shape, colour and complexity. In terms of quality however, you do tend to get what you pay for. Better PC cases will be made from higher quality materials. they will be easier to work with and should have no internal rough edges to cut your hands on.

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