Article 16: Computer Cases & a Place for Your Stuff

Computer Cases – A Place for Your Stuff

When you start to build a computer, it may seem obvious, but you need a case to house everything. This can be basic, can be extreme, or can be downright weird. Some custom builders make money housing computers inside awesome and cool things. So let’s have a closer look at what you need to know when you choose a case for yourself in this week’s Modern Nerd.

Bells, Whistles, and Plugs

A computer case is more than a place to put the motherboard and power supply, it can be as crazy and awesome as you want. You should decide what features you are looking for to help you narrow your search. Fans keep your computer cool, so if you are building a high-end gaming machine, you need a case with a lot of fans. You should consider the size of our case and the size of your workspace. If you don’t have a lot of space, putting in a giant monolith might not be the best plan. Cases can have a lot of extras as well, like auxiliary ports for headphones and USB thumb drives. USB 3.0 ports are the newest thing in peripherals and are substantially faster. SATA ports, SD Card readers, and hot-swap drive bays are available on the really high-end gaming and professional rigs. Deciding on what you want is a great first step.

Size Matters

The next most important thing after you decide what you are looking for, is the size of your motherboard. The case must be designed to fit the motherboard, so look at your motherboard design to decide what case you need. The diagram below outlines the sizes of the most common boards. Thanks to Wikipedia Commons for the use of the diagram to clarify.

ATX boards are the motherboards that spring to mind when you think of the traditional desktop computer. They have the most features, the best versatility, but require large cases.

ATX being the most common board means that there are several different sizes of cases for it. They start with Full Towers, which have great room for cable management and airflow. These are ideal for building a gaming computer or a professional rig with plenty of power that can stay cool. Mid-Size and Mini-Towers are more moderate. Mid Towers can still pack a lot of punch, while still not taking up the entire desk. Mini Towers can’t really handle anything that generates a lot of heat, but the space saving potential is great for a budget PC. Also keep in mind that larger cases are easier to deal with. You can much more easily connect all of your components with a lot of room to work with.

The Rat’s Nest

There is one more consideration to make with cases. You should fit all of your components obviously, but airflow is an important part of the cooling process in computers. The easiest way to improve your airflow is to manage your cables effectively. Cases with built-in side or back compartments that let you route cables away from fans and vents will substantially improve your airflow. Don’t underestimate this, as you can also much more easily change components and perform routine maintenance with a better setup.

 

Choosing a case has some real consideration points, but at the very core it is a cosmetic choice. There is as much personality in a case as in any other part of our build. Thanks for reading, and happy building. See you next week.  

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