Computer Parts | Computer Case

A solid computer case keeps a PC cool and effective through every task. Hot computer parts are unhappy computer parts.

It may seem that something so small could affect your computer enjoyment, but this is something you will have to look at and admire for many years to come. You also need a desktop case that matches the  size, space and accessibility of what is inside it.

Standard is as Standard does

A graphic illustrating a computer case


Thankfully many of the features common to all computer cases are standardised.

Unless you have a specialist build then 99.9% of motherboards will have one of a range of mounting arrangements for securing to the computer case. Most computer cases have the anchor points for most motherboards. Optical drives are almost always a common set of dimensions, allowing them to be secured in the desktop computer case and accessible from the outside.

What is important is that there are thousands of different makes and models of motherboards available and there are also thousands of different computer cases as well.

That being said, there are some differences that are significant. Recent developments in size, cooling and more modern additions to computer technology means that there are some choices to make, even before the decision of what colour it must be!

Airflow: Keeping Computer Parts Cool

Computers need unobstructed cooling in order to work. If the desktop computer is not kept cool then the components can overheat and this can be catastrophic for a processor which starts to struggle at around 60°C. Anything over 90°C is asking for your computer to start melting in front of your eyes (metaphorically of course); when I am pushing my Ryzen processor it will usually start to struggle as a processor before it gets too hot. In contrast though, my laptop is designed to run hot, that is what gaming laptops are all about, and temperatures of 80°C can be had without damaging the components inside.

Cooling your computer now comes with more options than “How Many Fans Do I Need?”

A few years ago, water-based cooling methods had a foothold within the customizing and gaming communities,. It went quiet with reliability issues and soaked electrics causing concern but recently they have become popular once more. Unless you are going to be showing off a monster gaming rig though, thermal liquid cooling systems are a waste of money; you are paying through the nose.

The common method of keeping your computer cool though is drawing cool air in through the front of the computer case and pushing the hot air out the back. If you are going to using a high-powered computer which is going to be working 24 hours a day editing video, a big computer case with lots of room for air to circulate is going to be more effective than any water cooling system.

Space – Keeping Room for Everything

Making sure that everything you want to put in your new computer will fit is an important factor. Motherboards come in all shapes and sizes, so make sure what size motherboard you are going to be installing into your case. I might sound like a common-sense approach but if you want to install dual graphics cards, a custom PCI sound card and lots of other customisations; do not expect it to fit in the smallest cases.

The space that you require will all come down to the amount of hardware that you need. If you are building a computer that will surf the internet, serve as a business computer or play Angry Birds, then you will find that a micro-ATX motherboard which fits into a case like this will be perfect with a pair of hard drives and a single DVD-RW or Blu-Ray drive.

Accessibility – Your Added Extras

Finally we come to something which often gets overlooked, the extra ports or features located around your case that make that difference to your computer experience. If you have a very plain case then you can always buy expansion units for your desktop tower. The one pictured here fits in a CD-ROM (5.25″) bay which most towers have a few of, giving you USB2 and USB3 ports (if your motherboard supports it) memory card readers and sockets for headphones and microphones.

A feature that I am always thankful for is the computer case are those USB connectors that are accessible at the front of your computer; I have a BlackBerry, a digital camera and a TomTom Sat Nav and they all need plugging in. I like my computer cases at ground level, so reaching around to plug in the devices would mean pulling out my monster computer tower while it was still switched on, risking knocking it and causing the needle within the hard drive to scratch the surface of the hard disk plates….. or cracking them completely.

With my favourite tower I simply plug my devices into the top of the case; two USB ports are available for my use and although they are only 1st Generation USB; the speed is not an issue when what I am doing is usually confined to small update files or pictures being transferred or my BlackBerry is updating my diaries and phone book. The only problem with using these ports is that while you are constantly plugging and switching the cables the connections are likely to become damaged much quicker than a USB port set into a solid motherboard.

Does Your Computer Case Need a PSU?

A lot of desktop computer cases now come with a power supply to get you started. The problem with this though is that they are often very basic and this means that if you have a graphics card, extra hard drives and a few USB connections then you will find that it will soon be struggling. Again if you are going to be building a very basic computer with integrated graphics on your motherboard and a single hard disk drive then these very small and simple power supplies are going to be enough; if you really like your computer tower though it is not a reason to buy something else though because almost all power supply units are removable and you can swap it out for something a bit bigger.

My Favourite Computer Case – The Antec 900

I like my cases to be big, dark and bright. Some of you will be thinking that I am a confused man but in fact the Antec 900 Ultimate Gamers caseis the perfect way for me to space out my system to keep it cool and make it look good. It is not generally available anymore, but you might be lucky to pick one up on eBay or Amazon second-hand.

The cooling is provided by a standard 3 120mm fans front and rear and a 200mm fan on the top of this monster; add into the fact that the fans can all be independently controlled by switches in the case and you can have a quiet hum or a cooling hurricane. My system is never close to being a worry for overheating, the fronts are drawing cool air directly over the hard drives and the rear fan extracting everything near it.

There are some subtle changes between this and other computer cases though. The power supply mounts at the bottom of the Antec 900. This should not actually be a problem as long as your PSU has long enough power lines to run any optical drives at the top; I actually find that the PSU being at the bottom of the case gives added stability thanks to it’s weight – although my PSU is a sturdy 450W beast.

Your Tower – Your Way

When you come to buy your desktop computer case then you will find that there are so many out there that you will probably have a tought time choosing between 2 or 3. I find that I always have one that is slight more practical whereas the other is slightly better looking. I can never decide on my favourite computer case but when I do it is with me for years.

If you want to see MY current computer build to start off your own idea to Build Your Own Computer then see my About My Computer page.