Space, cooling performance and hardware compatibility are just a few of the criteria that a PC case should meet, in addition to the design. We’ll tell you what to look out for when choosing a case and provide purchase recommendations.
The selection of the PC case needs to be carefully considered.
When you’re in the process of building a new PC or upgrading an existing one, there’s one component you shouldn’t skimp on: the case. Inexpensive cases usually rely on thin, poorly processed materials, which not only make it difficult to install the hardware, but can also lead to cuts on the fingers. In addition, there are often no or quite loud fans installed ex works. Longevity also speaks for a high-quality case, because you can easily use a good case for many years for several PC builds. In this article we have summarized what you should pay attention to when selecting the housing.
Our case recommendations:
1. Motherboard size
The most important point when choosing a case is the size and this does not mean the external dimensions of the respective model. Rather, the PC case must offer enough mounting space for the hardware components. The beginning makes the
Motherboard form factor
. The standard formats include ATX (305 x 244 mm), µATX (244 x 244 mm), Mini-ITX (170 x 170 mm) and E-ATX (305 x 330 mm). If you don’t know the form factor of your mainboard, you can either look it up in the enclosed manual, find out from the product name on the manufacturer’s website or simply measure it with a tape measure. The case must offer at least as much space so that you can mount the mainboard.
Cool Master MasterBox NR200P
2. CPU cooler: air cooler or all-in-one water cooling
Point number 2 concerns the used
CPU cooling solution.
In most cases, an air cooler or an all-in-one water cooling system is used. If you have decided on an air cooler, its height plays an important role. If the PC case is not wide enough, the side panel can no longer be closed. The height of the air cooler can be found out either in the manual, on the manufacturer’s website or by measuring it manually. The second variant, which is becoming increasingly popular, is the use of an all-in-one water cooling system. It must be ensured that the housing offers enough space to accommodate the water cooling radiator. The most common sizes for radiators are 240, 280 and 360 millimeters in length.
CPU cooler size of the be quiet! Pure Rock 2 Black
© be quiet!
Fractal Design Pop Mini Air RGB
3. Graphics card length and number of PCIe slots
Due to the sharp increase in power consumption in recent years, they have fairly large heat sinks in order to be able to dissipate the waste heat. In order to ensure that the GPU you have selected fits into the case, you must check the length of the graphics card on the one hand and the number of PCIe slots available on the other and compare them with the mounting options of the case.
Graphics card comparison 2022: GeForce RTX and Radeon RX GPUs in the test – with ranking
Especially with gaming PCs, it is not uncommon nowadays to install the graphics card vertically or even hanging in order to present the expensive hardware appropriately through the side glass pane. Here you have to pay attention to the function “graphics card can be mounted vertically”. You may need to purchase an additional riser card if this is not included with the case.
be quiet! Pure Base 500 FX
4. Note the number of drive bays
Even if that
Nowadays, more and more frequently installed directly on the mainboard in the form of M.2 SSDs, many PCs still have 2.5″ SATA SSDs, 3.5″ HDDs or even 5.25″ DVD drives If you want to install a lot of SSDs and/or (your “old” HDDs) in your PC, you have to make sure that the case offers enough mounting options.The same applies to DVD drives or a card reader, of course Fewer and fewer cases have an external drive bay.
5. It depends on the ventilation
On an office PC, the
of the case is not that important, since the power consumption of the components is significantly lower than that of a gaming PC. However, even in this case, the computer can become very noisy if heat builds up in the case. This is the case when either not enough fresh air gets into the case or the waste heat cannot be effectively dissipated from the case. The classic cooling concept of a case provides that the fresh air enters the case from below and at the front and the warmed-up air leaves the case at the top and back.
Fan mounting options in the be quiet! Pure Base 500DX
© be quiet!
For optical reasons, however, more and more cases are using a glass or metal front, which is usually counterproductive for the cooling performance, since not enough fresh air can get into the case. More open cases with a mesh front have a clear advantage here. Furthermore, we advise you to make sure that a fan of at least 120 millimeters in size can be installed or is already pre-installed in the front and rear. Components with a higher power consumption also require more complex cooling solutions, although the ventilation of a housing is not always ”
a lot helps a lot
” applies. If, for example, you mount a case fan in such a way that it takes fresh air away from the graphics card or the CPU cooler, this usually has a negative impact on the CPU or GPU temperature.
Housing up to 50 euros:
SilentiumPC Ventum VT2 TG
6. Front panel connectors
Especially when the PC is in front of a wall or under the desk, it is quite inconvenient to have to plug in a USB stick or a headset on the back of the PC. Almost every case has one these days
but even here there are differences. For example, the number of available USB ports and their transmission speed differ. Modern cases often also have a USB-C connection. You also have to be careful with the audio output, because some cases use a combined connection for headphones and microphone.
front panel of the be quiet! Pure Base 500 FX
© be quiet!
7. Important additional functions
One of the most important from our point of view
of a housing is an integrated cable management. This makes the construction of a PC much easier, ensures easier maintenance and upgradeability in the future and a clean structure without a lot of cable clutter. Opinions differ when it comes to dust filters integrated in the housing. Especially in households with pets or if you smoke, dust filters ensure that significantly less dirt can get into the interior of the housing. Unfortunately, dust filters also have the consequence that the airflow deteriorates, which means that either the temperatures can rise or the fans have to turn higher and are therefore louder. If you rely on jam filters, we recommend that you make sure that they are removable and of course you should not forget to clean them regularly.
The Lian Li O11 Dynamic EVO offers many customization options.
© Lian Li
Let’s move on to a few more specific additional functions. For example, there are housings with integrated card readers or with hot-swap slots so that a hard disk can be installed and removed during operation. For the quietest possible operation, there are also cases with an integrated fan control or with integrated sound insulation, which, however, influences the airflow again. For RGB fans there are also housings with integrated RGB fans, RGB stripes and even an RGB controller.
Cases for custom water cooling:
Lian Li O11 Dynamic EVO
8. Design and case type
It is well known that taste can be argued with and that also applies to the
a housing. There are closed cases with a simple exterior, open cases for presenting the hardware and those that rely on a lot of side glass windows. There is something suitable for every area of application – be it for the office computer in the office or the high-end gaming PC in your own four walls. And so that the PC shines in the right light, there are also housings with integrated RGB lighting and control. The last criteria can then be the external
of the housing, its weight and color are included in the selection, but these are also points that depend on the space available, the purpose and personal preferences.
Enclosure with DVD drive bay: