Tips for Choosing a Computer Shell
Cases for computers used to look remarkably identical to one another, like carbon copies of a standard beige box. This is no longer the ‘case,’ thanks to the abundance of options accessible to consumers, who may now use the chassis of their computer to reflect their style and distinguish it from other computers. When looking for a new computer case, aesthetics are undoubtedly important, but they aren’t the only thing to consider.
1. Physical Aspects
Motherboards come in various sizes, each calling for a unique case. Some of the most prevalent case form factors include ATX, Micro ATX (mATX), FlexATX, and Mini ITX, all of which are named for the motherboards they are compatible with. With a maximum size of 12″ x 9.6″ (305mm x 244mm), ATX motherboards are the largest of the four. Mini ITX motherboards are a modest 6.7″ x 6.7″ (170mm x 170mm), Micro ATX boards are no bigger than 9.6″ x 9.6″ (244mm x 244mm), and FlexATX boards measure 9.0″ x 7.5″ (229mm x 191mm). Since ATX and mATX are the most common sizes of consumer motherboards, most cases are built to accommodate either form factor.
Since a micro ATX motherboard requires a more minor case than an ATX motherboard, other alternatives are on the market. In most situations, more significant issues are upward compatible with motherboards with smaller form factors, but the converse is invalid. Someone with an Amptron mATX motherboard may opt for a shorter mATX case like this one, measuring in at 14.25 inches, or go with a somewhat higher ATX case at 16.5 inches to accommodate their system.
Buying a new case for these types of motherboards can be tricky, as many branded systems (ones you may purchase prebuilt and with preinstalled software) are a combination of a standard form factor (such as mATX) with some proprietary design (usually in the front panel switches and it’s cabling). Replacement cases for some branded systems can be challenging to come by and expensive since they use less common form factors like NLX and LPX (which need riser cards for the expansion slots).
In confined quarters, a compact system may be preferable. However, more extensive form factor cases offer greater storage capacity and expansion options, and a motherboard with fewer ports and connectors may work better in a larger chassis.
Size and form factor may go hand in hand in some circumstances, although there may be some sizing differences between instances of the same form factor. The overall dimensions, the number of exposed 5.25″ and 3.5″ bays, and the number of internal bays are all scalable variables.
ATX cases need to be big enough to fit an ATX motherboard, yet some are slightly bigger than necessary, while others are enormous. Choosing the right size case is essential to do beneath a low shelf or narrow space. Two primary shapes and sizes are available for patients: desktop and tower. In contrast to tower cases, which have the motherboard standing vertically, desktop cases are more comprehensive than tall ones and have the motherboard lying flat. Tower cases come in three bare heights: little tower, mid-tower, and full tower. Tower cases are standard these days, and that’s the only one we carry at Computer Geeks.
In most cases, the number of drive bays is proportional to the size of the case. Suppose you plan on using more than one DVD/CD drive, a removable drive rack, or a fan controller. In that case, you may want an issue with a more significant number of exposed 5.25″ bays. Floppy drives, Zip drives, fan controllers, and accessories like this 9-in-1 Card Reader typically take up one of the two available 3.5″ bays in an enclosure. This case appears quite similar at first glance, but one key distinction exists. They share four 5.25″ bays, but only one of the two has any 3.5″ bays that are exposed. A customer who wanted to install both the floppy drive and the 9-in-1 card reader would need to sacrifice one of their 5.25″ bays.
Internal bays are typically used for hard drives, and many movements necessitate more than one bay. This user would have to choose between this case (with only four internal drive bays) and this one (with five) since he would need to store five hard drives but only have room for four.
When choosing a computer case, cooling is essential. To keep the system functioning smoothly, high-end systems can generate a lot of heat, and the casing must be able to dissipate that heat.
One intake fan is placed low on the front panel, and one exhaust fan is placed high on the back panel; this is the minimum for effective case cooling. Cooled air is sucked in via the front and pushed out the back to dissipate the heat produced by the various parts. Various alternative cooling setups exist, some of which may offer cooling performance and noise advantages.
Using more giant fans, such as 120mm (4″) fans instead of the more common 80mm (3″) fans, might help reduce noise and possibly improve airflow in a case. The 120mm exhaust fan this A-List Z-Alien uses has another important cooling feature. Since there will be no restriction to air movement and consequently less noise as the air rushes past the fan grill, it is pretty open. Perforating the case’s sheet metal to create fan grills is common, although the resulting holes often aren’t large enough to allow for adequate ventilation.
Increasing the number of fans is another viable strategy for more excellent heat dissipation. The Matrix case has an extra fan on the side panel, which blows cool air directly onto the processor and graphics card. In still others, a fan is installed at the top of the case to vent the hot air, much like a chimney.
Cases designed for today’s high-powered systems require careful consideration of many factors, including cooling.
4. Components for Setup
Those stuck in an endless loop of upgrades may find the time and effort required to install a new system in a case frustrating. As a result, many modern cases come equipped with features that make installation quicker and easier.
Features that make setup easier include a motherboard tray that can be removed, drive cages that can be removed, expansion card mounts that don’t require tools, tool-free side panels, and drive rail systems that don’t require tools. A toolless solution for mounting drives or cards eliminates the need for screws or a screwdriver, and removing the motherboard tray and drive cage allows for better access to the internal components. They are undeniably efficient.
This X-Blade ATX case has a removable drive cage and a toolless drive rail system, despite not being advertised as such on the Computer Geeks website.
Fifthly, Convenience Goods
A computer case’s primary function is no longer to protect a computer system; it must also perform additional functions. Many consumers appreciate having easy access to frequently used ports on the device’s face or top. USB, Firewire, headphones, and microphone connectors are conveniently situated on the top of cases like the A-Top Z-Alien, relieving users of the hassle of going around the back of their claim to plug-in accessories.
Some cases go the extra mile in terms of convenience by integrating things like clocks, digital thermometers that monitor individual components, and fan controllers that assist in striking a good balance between noise and cooling performance.
Only recently have so few design options for cases outside the standard beige box. IF YOU FEEL NOSTALGIC, the KG-200 computer case from Computer Geeks will bring you back to those simpler times. But now you can get points in various designs, from subtle to crazy, and in every rainbow hue. Some models have wide viewing panels on one side that reveal the contents of the container; others have flashy lights; and still, others have designs that could frighten young children. There appear to be few restrictions on case design at this point, however, those looking for something contemporary without being over the top can always find options in updated color schemes that borrow from historical case designs.
7. Source of Energy
Many cases come with a power supply, but it’s possible that it won’t be compatible with the system housed inside. Depending on the requirements of the system, you may need to replace the provided power supply with a larger one or choose a different case with a built-in power supply that is more powerful.
For instance, the bundled 300W power supply might not be sufficient for a high-end gaming system with a top-of-the-line graphics card, numerous disks, water cooling, and other power-hungry peripherals.
The seven stated above are just a few of the numerous considerations that go into choosing a suitable computer case. Unmentioned, but presumably addressed, by striking a balance between these variables is pricing, which may be the most crucial factor. Depending on your budget, you may have to prioritize amongst the various features available for computer cases, which can range in price from a few dollars to several hundred.
Tech support and computer guidance from Jason Kohrs and the Computer Geeks.