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How to choose a PC case

Updated on July 13, 2008
The choice in the PC case world is almost infinite!
The choice in the PC case world is almost infinite!

All you need to do is walk into any large computer components store and you will be amazed at the selection and variety of computer cases. They will be present in virtually all sizes, shapes and colors from little black square ones (Shuttle-type) to very tall rectangular ones (Full-Towers) and everything in between. The most popular case on the market today is the Mid-Tower which measures around 16 inches or so high, and is designed to fit all the electronic circuitry you require, plus a Power Supply Unit, a couple of optical drives, a couple of hard drives, and if you're really inclined to nostalgia, a floppy drive.

No matter what size or format, all computer cases are designed to do the same thing: hold your electronics safely in a metal shielded box which will keep any electronic interference which is generated inside the case from messing up the performance of other items around it, such as TVs, radios, etc. A major feature of all cases is that they must allow for proper air flow in order to keep the internal components as cool as feasible.

You will readily notice that you can pick up a case with a Power Supply Unit for $25 or one that looks somewhat similar for $600. This is not just predatory pricing, but there are many factors in a case and Power Supply Unit setup which can be worth a great deal of money to the discerning computer enthusiast.

First of all, the Power Supply Unit can vary in performance between a Mercedes McLaren and a skateboard. Cheaper units are not ever to be trusted with your valuable motherboard and CPU. Do your homework and seek out a name brand unit with sufficient wattage to run all of your electronics and have at least 50-75% extra power in reserve.

The case itself can be of varying construction and thus justify a much higher price. Some of the best cases on the market, such as the Lian Li brand, are professionally engineered and constructed to extremely high levels of quality and consistency. Some cheaper brands are just stamped out of sheet metal and can have poorly fitting parts and sharp metal edges that will leave the computer builder frustrated and most likely bleeding.

Computer enthusiasts love to modify or "mod" their cases even more than auto hotrodders did in the Fifties. It is now quite rare to find any dyed in the wool computer user who has not modded the case in one way or another. These mods can be relatively mild such as placing some specially designed cool-operating LED lights in the unit and installing black light reactive cables, all the way to custom-building a case in the shape of a toy SUV, an old TV, a microwave oven, a Lego Castle, or anything else you can think of. Google Image "case modding" and you will be amazed at the exciting and entertaining variations that you'll see.

A computer case is not just a place to park your circuitry, but an integral part of your system. It can also be a fun way to channel your creativity through modding. Your case can add an entirely new dimension to your computing experience and you can take it as far as your imagination and budget allows!


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