How to Buy a Computer Case

By Dzhingarov

No matter if you are building a gaming rig or casual home PC, choosing a case that can support all the components is of key importance to its performance and longevity. This includes providing space for larger graphics cards used for high-intensity gaming applications.

Check that the case supports your motherboard form-factors and how well cable management will be managed in it.

1. Size

Full tower cases are popular among PC enthusiasts due to their spacious dimensions, expansion compatibility and improved thermal performance. Full tower cases allow more room for storage drives, multi-GPU setups and larger graphics cards than their counterparts.

Cases come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colors – even those not intended specifically for airflow devices can still have one that suits their aesthetic tastes. When picking out a case that meets both criteria for functionality and visual appeal.

If you’re on a tight budget, there are numerous affordable options out there to meet your needs. Many include attractive RGB lighting while others are more unique such as the Lian Li DK-04F which serves both as desk and computer with its opaque glass that lets you quickly view all your hardware at the touch of a button. No matter which option you select, just be sure that it fits the motherboard that will be powering it as well as providing enough space for hard drives.

2. Design

Computer cases come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. From basic boxes with windows to intricate designs featuring wooden slats and LED lighting, computer cases come in a range of forms. Most cases are composed of metal materials (mainly steel), though some cases use plastic instead for aesthetic or conductivity reasons; typically steel provides the best value while aluminum provides better conductivity of heat.

DIY enthusiasts should carefully evaluate their motherboard, graphics card and CPU before choosing a case to buy. It’s important to ensure compatibility of these components with its dimensions – tower coolers may be too big for certain smaller cases – before making their selection. Also keep an eye out for whether there are enough front bays available as well as front USB, Firewire and audio ports – these features may prove beneficial if home users frequently connect external devices like cameras and mobile phones to their systems.

3. Functionality

Computer cases provide essential protection for the internal components of desktop computers, including motherboard, processor, drives, cables and power supply units from dust, pets, kids or any other environmental hazards.

Computer cases also help ensure proper cable management, eliminating clutter and optimizing airflow to enhance cooling. Plus, they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes from compact cube PCs to spacious mid-towers!

As part of your build, it is vital that the case fits your motherboard and other components properly. Nothing could be more frustrating than to find out that your new graphics card doesn’t quite fit into its enclosure! Luckily, most ATX cases can accommodate multiple graphics cards while most mid-tower models will provide enough external 5.25″ bays for DVD or Blu-ray drives.

4. Airflow

Maintaining an airflow of cool air is vital in order to keep your CPU and other components cool, so your case must feature sufficient ventilation and fans in order to provide this flow. In ideal cases, intake fans in front should bring fresh air in through filters while exhaust fans on top should vent any heat away from your hardware to the outside world.

Some cases may feature rear-mounted fans or top/bottom fan mounts to provide for both intake and exhaust. These configurations work best when combined with vented bottom feet that raise it off the floor – this draws air from below, over your motherboard, graphics card and exhaust ports before returning it up through its vents at the top for release at its exhaust ports at the top – thus improving cooling without taking up too much case space. A good case should also include plenty of front-panel USB ports as well as headphone and microphone jacks for increased versatility!

5. Cooling

Though it may not seem significant, having high-performance GPU and CPU devices jammed into a small case can put undue strain on them and even result in overheating if their size exceeds your capacity. An adequate PC case design can prevent this issue.

As soon as you reach $100-ish price range, things become truly exciting. Many cases now feature water cooling compatibility built-in, along with additional features like tempered glass panels, tool-less drive mounts, RGB lighting support and more.

An important consideration when buying a case is its 5.25-inch bay at the front. This space was intended to house optical drives; however, with most computers now opting for wireless technology this feature has become less frequent; therefore it is vital to check if your motherboard supports such optical drives here.

6. Audio

While your motherboard serves as the focal point for most internal computer components, many cases offer front-panel ports to connect peripheral devices like printers and scanners to your computer. These may range from basic USB 2.0 ports up to superfast USB Type C connections with headphone/microphone jacks, card readers, and power buttons for super speedy connection between peripheral devices and your computer.

Some cases can also help improve cable management by offering hidden spaces for excess wires. Before purchasing a case, ensure you have enough cables to accommodate all components in your build and touch a grounded metal object prior to opening it in order to discharge static electricity, which could otherwise harm components inside. This step is especially important when working with high-powered graphics cards which tend to generate heat. Also keep in mind that different cases may have differing motherboard sizes.

7. Lighting

When choosing a computer case, look for features that can keep your components cool and operating at peak levels – such as fan mounts, radiator compatibility and PSU shrouds that reduce noise while improving airflow.

Some cases offer built-in lighting and other visual enhancements that can add an aesthetic element to your build. RGB lighting has become popular in PC gaming circles, so you are likely to come across many cases that support it.

Other popular aesthetic improvements are tempered glass panels and vertical GPU mounts. You may even find cases that allow you to control lighting with integrated headers on the motherboard or internal fans – though these cases are generally more costly but provide a premium finish to any build.

8. Storage

Many cases now feature built-in USB ports to make connecting external devices a snap, as well as FireWire connections for quick data transfers between digital devices.

Building a desktop PC should start by choosing a case with enough internal and external 3.5″ bays to house both motherboard and RAM components, SSDs and optical drives. Some cases also offer mounting points for SSDs or optical drives. If using it to store and stream media content then consider one with enough 5.25″ bays to hold media devices.

Whoever wishes to keep their computer looking neat should look for features that enhance cable management such as cutouts and grommets, rear cable runs and tie-downs; some cases even come equipped with an opaque cover to conceal power supplies from view.

9. USB ports

Computer cases equipped with USB ports help make connecting and powering various devices simple, while modern cases also feature front USB ports to facilitate mobile device charging. You’ll find cases equipped with both standard 2.0 USB ports as well as more modern USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports.

When purchasing a computer case, be sure to consider its number of expansion slots as it allows you to easily add accessories that improve performance of your setup. Some cases even provide space behind the motherboard tray to route cables neatly for cable management purposes. You should also look out for cases supporting extended ATX motherboards with more than seven expansion slot bays if possible.

10. Security

A computer case houses most of the essential components for building desktop PCs, including its motherboard, processor, memory, mass storage drives and power supply unit. Other hardware outside the case such as video cameras, speakers and USB flash drives is known as peripherals. A strong chassis is essential when creating any network as it protects internal hardware against electrical interference, physical damage and intrusion – with some cases even featuring lockable doors to safeguard even more critical information and hardware stored within.

This article details how to purchase a computer case, detailing features to consider when choosing an enclosure, as well as their impact on airflow, cooling and storage needs.