VIII: Make it beautiful, the case
Now it is the moment to choose where you are going to put all your new components. Let’s start saying that choosing the perfect case is a very personal selection. There are some key things that you have to look for related with the compatibility with the components and availability of front connections. Yet, at the end of the day, a huge amount of cases will be compatible with your components and if you like more one case than other one is not going to be because it has one or two USB in the front, it will be just because you like the design, and that’s a subjective choice.
It has to be said that the computer case also has other names as computer chassis, cabinet and a common one is tower. This last term refers to the general size of the cabinet, from smaller to bigger: Mini, Mid and Full tower or just tower. Not all the cases are compatible with all types of motherboards, for example, a Mini-tower is usually designed only to hold a micro-type motherboard and a bigger one won’t fit. On the other hand, you can probably put anything on a full tower, but you may not have enough space in your desk.
When selecting the case for your computer, you have four ways to follow depending on how much work and effort you want to put on your build:
- Common/traditional cases: your computer is just as any other one, but it does its job. These cases are cheap and don’t allow too much of customization. You buy the case, put everything inside and you are done.
- Cases for enthusiasts: This are the coolest cases you can buy. They allow some modification and you can add/remove some LEDs, fans and they usually have a transparent window to see your components. They are easy to build but it takes time to set everything because the high number of parts.
- Cases for modding: You don’t want just a PC, you are going to create art. The chassis is important just to hold everything in place because you are going to modify all the external part. It takes more time than the previous case because you don’t only customize the internal part, but you also modify the external part.
- Build your case: This is the hardcore version of the previous option. You don’t even buy a case to be modified, you just build your case from scratch. It is possible and there is certainly amazing builds out there but of course it takes a lot of time and plenty of thinking about how you are going to design your computer.
The key things you will look for in the case:
- Motherboard compatibility: This is the most important thing to look for. At the moment, you should know what format is your motherboard, so you just have to check that the selected case is compatible.
- Number of external bays: These are the places where you can put your optical drives as a blu-ray drive. Is not uncommon for some other components as the sound card to have a front panel with several inputs and outputs. These panels will also use these external bays.
- Number of internal bays: There are two types of internal bays depending on the size, the 3.5″ bays (usually for hard disks) and the 2.5″ bays (usually for SSD disks). Now that you know how many of these you need, you just have to choose one that has enough for you.
- Front panel connections: This is not completely necessary but is nice to have as many connectors as you can in front of your computer so you don’t have always to connect things in the back.
- Power supply included?: Is now less and less common, specially for medium/high range cabinets but it is possible to find some computer cases that include the power supply. If you are looking for a cheap computer, you probably have enough power with these small power supply units so you can get one of this and finish your build now.
Last, if you are thinking in getting a high-end graphic card, make sure that it fits on it. Modern graphic cards are huge and, although they usually fit just fine, is not completely unknown to realize that you new card doesn’t fit in your new case.
As you can see, at every step I talk about compatibility between components, that’s why is very useful to go to a place where all the compatibility is done for you, so you will not forget to check anything.