Gamers often take their computer case as far as you can imagine. From modding chopping or using legos and wood, for some gamers it becomes a part of their identity and tag. Whether you’re looking for a cheap case to fit your budget build, or an expensive case that you can modify and easily upgrade from time to time here’s a few terms you should know before you decide.
Case Materials – Should you go with Steel or Aluminum?
When you look at your case’s material you are sure to see a variety of things including SECC – cold rolled sheet steel, ABS plastic – made of acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene, SGCC Steel which is galvanized steel sheet, and for modded cases you’ll see just about any material used including wood and of course legos.
Steel and aluminum and ABS plastic are commonly used together for construction. There is a rumor going around that aluminum keeps your internal components cooler due to increased heat dissipation. According to most serious overclockers this simply isn’t the case. The biggest advantage of an aluminum case is with it’s lighter weight.
Computer Case Terms to Know
Motherboard Compatibility: One of the biggest questions we get about computer cases is whether or not a certain card will fit within a certain case. Mostly all mid to full-sized towers are compatible with ATX and micro ATX motherboards. Check with your manufacturer’s specifications for any questions on GPU size.
ATX Motherboard: ATX stands for Advanced Technology eXtended and is a standard form designated by Intel to help make motherboards and computer parts standard and interchangeable. An ATX motherboard, for example is 12 x 9.6 inches or 305 by 244 millimeters.
Micro ATX Motherboard: In order to accomodate a smaller size motherboard the micro ATX standard was designated as 11.2 x 8.2 inches or 284 by 208 millimeters.
Mini ITX Motherboard: Mini ITX cases are designated as 6.7 x 6.7 inches in order to accommodate even smaller motherboards for use with some HTPC (home theater) builds and other small builds. Most Mini ITX motherboards are not going to be compatible with cases that are meant for ATX motherboards. If you’re looking for a small case, then be sure to go with one that fits the mini ITX standard.
Types of Cases
Desktop case types that we feature on this website include micro, Mini, Mid-sized, and full-sized. Micro and mini cases are generally around 16 inches, mid at 18 inches, and full towers at 22 inches. In general, the larger the case the more external drive bays.
It’s always a good idea to choose your motherboard first before your case so you know what type of case you need. Standard ATX motherboards will fit in both mid and full-sized cases.
If you plan on overclocking, then you’ll probably need to use your cases additional cooling. Your cases specification page should show you exactly how many fans come with it, how they are interchangeable, what they can be replaced with, and how many optional fans that your case comes with.
Case fans generally come in 40-200mm sizes (some larger fans exist on full towers). Liquid cooling may also be necessary for extreme overclocking.
Expansion slots for normal-sized cases generally go up to 7 and sometimes 7+1 with an additional expansion slot on the side. Some full-sized desktop towers go to 10 or more expansion slots for enthusiast PC builders. Because your GPU will generally be installed in an expansion slot it’s always a good idea to check the manufacturer’s web page for the maximum width GPU for these slots, especially if you plan on using today’s top modern dedicated graphics cards which can be as long as 12.2 inches. It’s always a good idea to make sure you have an inch or two to spare.
External Drive bays are on the front of your case and most cases have between 3-6 of them. These drive bays may be used for 5.25″, 3.5″, or 2.5″ drives depending on the case and some are interchangeable. Similarly, Internal drive bays typically consist of 3.5″ or 2.5″ drives. If you plan on installing a solid state drive, then it’s generally a good idea to see if your case naturally supports it.
Power supplies for cases are typically top or bottom mounted. Most modern cases mount the power supply on the bottom to add additional stability to the case and be able to efficiently vent out air from the rest of the case through the rear exhaust fan.
Well that’s all for this guide. If you have a question, then be sure to let us know in the comment section below. Please allow for at least 24 hours for response and approval of your question.