Best PC Cases for Gaming in 2013
Choosing a PC case for a gaming setup is simpler than picking the CPU, motherboard, graphics card and other computer components, but it should not be ignored. The case must obviously look good, after all it is what you will see of your computer once you've finished building it, but picking a well designed case will also make building and maintenance easier, and will help keep your components cool and dust free.
I've always preferred a simple, streamlined look for my computers, without excessive LED flashing lights and gizmos. I've also been partial to the CoolerMaster brand, I've had CM cases for the past 12 years, I can't really remember what my older cases were like.
Since i build midrange gaming rigs, I've never ventured into the world of water cooling, and I have never spent more than $50 on a PC case. My latest, which I bought about two years ago, is a CM Elite 371 midtower case I really like the spacious interior, I've never had a problem fitting any components in, including long graphics cards. The mostly screws-free design is also great, adding an extra hard drive is unbelievably easy.
If I were buying a case now, I might consider the CM Elite 430 as an alternative.
What to Consider When Buying A Computer Case
Apart from the looks of the case, what are the things that you need to consider when picking one for your new gaming PC build?
- Size and Weight: The first thing to decide is whether you want a midtower or a full tower case. There are definite advantages to a big case, with plenty of space inside, fitting delicate electronic components together in cramped conditions is quite scary. Then there is the annoying expansion in the length of graphics cards in the past 2 years. You really don't want to buy a case and find out your cards won't fit in. On the other hand big cases tend to be very heavy. Not a huge problem if you don't need to move them around much, but can still be annoying.
- Tool-free design: It's really nice to be able to build a computer without a screwdriver. Luckily cases with thumb screws and ingenious ways of fitting hard drives in their bays are becoming the norm. An pull out motherboard tray is also a plus.
- Good Cooling: Keeping the powerful components of a gaming PC is the holy grail of computer builders. The number of fans is important, but so is a design that promotes good airflow. Most cases come with only 1 or 2 fans fitted, but there should be options for additional cooling if you require it. Alternatively, if you want to go the water cooling route, you need to investigate whether the case can support sufficient radiators.
- Cable Management:http: The insides of any computer can very easily become filled with a tangle of cables and wires. Not only is this messy but it can impede airflow and result in inefficient cooling. The better cases will come with cutouts which allow routing of cables behind the motherboard tray, and rubber grommets to help manage all the wires.
- Number of Drive Bays: Obviously more is better, butit really does depend on your needs. Personally I use 2 hard drives and an optical drive, so this is not a limiting factor for me.
- Front I/O panel: Most cases come with some USB ports and a headphones jack in the front panel, which is very convenient. The more expensive cases might also have a fan control panel and other bells and whistles.
A Budget Mid Tower Case
This entry level case from CoolerMaster comes at a ridiculously low prices given its solid design. True it doesn't come with many bells and whistles, but it is a better build than many cases at three times the price.
The case is 7.5"x16.7" x 19.3" and weighs just a little bit over 10 pounds. It is spacious enough to handle long graphics cards and the majority of assembly, including adding hard drives or optical drives can be done without tools, using the slide and lock in place mechanisms.
The case has 3 5.2" and 5 3.2" drive bays. It is somewhat lacking in the wire management compartment. It comes with a front fan, but there are vents in the top, back and side, and additional fans can be fitted.
I really like the big clear side window, although I am not a huge fan of the blue LED fan, but that is a matter of taste really.
A Full Tower Case For a Water Cooled Setup
the Cooler Master HAF 932 Advanced is basically an improved version of the CM 932 case. Again it is very reasonably priced, if you are looking for a full tower case for a high performance gaming rig, or you want to water cool your PC, this would be a very good choice.
One of the most noticeable improvements in the advanced version is the inclusion of two USB 3.0 ports in front. These are fitted in the middle of the case, rather than with the rest of the I/O panel, which is at the top and consists of 4 USB 2.0 ports, a firewire and an audio jack, as well as the power and HD LED lights.
The Haf 932 even comes with a little compartment where you can put your keys or pen drives. When you remove the rubber cover, you will have access to the coolant fill port.
The case has very good airflow, and comes with 4 fans already mounted at the front, back, side and top.
Since it is made of steel, the case is fairly heavy, weighing in at 29 pounds. It doesn't have handles, but you have the option of fitting wheels which will make moving it around easier.
There are 6 optical bay drives, with a push button mechanism to release the trays for fitting in the drives. It also comes with 5 Hard drive bays. These also allow a tool free installation, you simply slide the tray that holds the disk out, then slide it back in with the HDD. Two of the trays come with pre-installed 2.5" adaptors, so it is no hassle to add SDD drives.
On the negative side, there are no dust filters, which are quite standard and now come with much cheaper cases, and there is no pull out motherboard tray. However, the case still performs extremely well, and, at the price is an excellent buy.