Most people will never buy a computer case. Those setting out to build a computer from scratch likely will. Buying a case is not as difficult as deciding on the best graphics card, but case buying does come with a few key elements.
First: Size and Design
A big case can hold more goodies, that’s all you really need to know. Well, that and the fact that the case size you may decide on now might not be the best future option. If you’re like most computer builders, you are probably hoping to add onto your computer in the future. Plans to add additional cards and other components are great, but none of these things will fit into a too small case. When you start shopping for a case, you will see three different size designations: “minitower,” “mid-tower,” and “full-tower.”
These terms are relatively self-explanatory, but what you really want to look at is the actual size specs of each tower. Buy a tower that will house what you intend to place inside of your computer. Then, consider adding a few extra inches for anything you may want to include in the future. If you never plan to add onto your computer, you won’t need a tower that’s massive in size. If you do plan to add many different things to your computer, don’t opt for a minitower.
Just as important as size is the interior shape of a case. Some motherboards will not fit into all cases. So, you will have to look at the size of your motherboard and shop for a case that corresponds to that size. All cases are labeled as far as motherboard support goes. If a case can’t support a certain motherboard (or can), this information will be listed clearly.
Expansion Slots and Drive Bays
Typically, large cases have lots of drive bays (usually around three). The size of these bays will correspond with what you can put into a bay (makes sense, right?). Pay attention to the sizes that are listed. You won’t be able to put a drive into a bay that’s too big or too small. Really, it’s that simple. If you’re looking for external bays, you may have to look at a specialty retailer, since external bays are relatively rare. Otherwise, most bays are placed inside a case.
Expansion slots are another important aspect of any case. Six to seven expansion slots are customary. Some serious gaming cases may have more than seven slots. Think about how many slots you will really need to have, and then buy your case based on this number, remembering not to forget about future expansion. Lastly, it’s important to remember that your computer is only as good as its temperature.
The Vital Cooling Factor
No system can function without a good number of fans. When buying a case, look for one that includes two to three fans in-box. You may also want to think about buying a case that has room for additional fans. Remember, the more you plan to cram into your computer, the more cooling you will need. Nothing can shut down a system faster than overheating!