Bksteve;

I’m going to be building a new PC soon and while I was in Pantip Plaza I noticed there was a huge number of cases.  What do you look for in a case?  Is it purely about looks or do some cases work better than others?

Thank you.  I’ll have more questions soon, the more I reseach building my own PC the more choices I realize there are to be made.

Phil.

 

Phil –

Timely question.  I helped a client build a custom machine just last week geared towards fast image processing.  Cases of course came up.  As we walked through Pantip ourselves we noticed literally hundreds of cases in all price categories.  Here is what I told him: 

  • The case should first and foremost be designed to keep things cool.  Airflow is key.
  • The case should be quiet, fans should be quiet, mounting points rubberized, and construction sound to minimize vibrations.
  • Power supply on top or bottom?  I prefer the bottom as the newest power supplys have large quiet fans mounted on the bottom to pull air up through the bottom of the case.. so the case should have a matching vent.
  • Toolless construction.  Ideally you should be able to put it together with no tools or maybe a single screwdriver.
  • Finish.  Not only should the exterior of the case be well finished, but the interior should have no sharp edges or exposed points to cut your hands open.
  • Material.  Steel is heavy and still usually has sharp edges.  Aluminum can way ¼ of the weight of steel and be finished with no sharp edges.
  • All fans should have a filter as should all air intakes to keep dust in the filters and not inside the PC.
  • The case should of course be able to mount as many drives as you prefer, the motherboard of your choice, the number of desired video cards, a pro sized power supply, and it should have the minimum number of switches and ports.
  • The recent trend it towards clear window sides, fancy neon lights, and other “gamer” looks that frankly I’m just not interested in.
  • Options.  Lockable hot swappable drive bays, flash drives, and much more.  Any options you want should be available from a quality case maker.

Cases can and should be an investment.  You can easily buy a $30 dollar case but by the time you get done building the machine your hands will be in shreds, it will probably overheat from lack of good air flow, and you’ll have had one heck of a time getting things to fit where they should fit.

I used the same tower case for the last ten years, and every time I upgraded I’d put in a new motherboard, maybe some new drives or new power supply as needed.  A quality case will last you 10 or more years and you won’t have any reason to replace it when upgrading your system unless you just plain get bored with it.

This case, and my new case, both came from the Cadillac of case builders, Lian Li out of Taiwan. These have the same reputation in the PC industry that a Mercedes has in the auto industry.  They’re all aluminum, toolless, excellent airflow, and everything fits where it should fit.  I’ve looked, but never found a better case.  Lian Li builds many case types from professional server cases to lightweight enthusiast cases and they all share the same exceptional quality. 

I hope this helps.  I’ll bring you a review of a Lian Li case with photos in the near future.

Steve

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