How to choose a PC case
One of the most fun aspects of building a PC is choosing a case. The case is often the clearest representation of your build’s aesthetic and can say a lot about your personal taste. Besides looking cool, however, the case also serves several important functions and should include certain features to ensure your build is the best it can be. Let’s dig into the case selection process and what you should keep in mind while deciding which case is right for you.
How to Choose the Right PC Case
The first thing to consider when choosing a case is the form factor. There are many differently sized PC cases that are designed to work with various kinds of parts. Before considering the internals, however, consider the external. What size are you looking for? Do you want a particularly large tower that has room for multiple GPUs? Or are you working with a small space and need something as compact as possible? Once you know what size you want your build to be, you can start considering specific form factors.
On the smaller side there are mini-ITX and micro-ATX cases. These cases work with specific motherboard sizes. A mini-ITX build is the most common small form factor, with cases coming in at about half the size of a standard ATX case and with very different dimensions from any other case. If you are looking to save space or make use of a case that doesn’t fit in with the look and dimensions of more standard cases, mini-ITX may be a good choice, e.g our NR200P series, though it comes with some disadvantages. The small size of the mini-ITX means there isn’t much flexibility in terms of build options and expansions.
Micro-ATX case are more like standard ATX cases in both look and size but are still quite a bit smaller than other ATX cases. They are shorter than a standard ATX case but otherwise the same, meaning they allow for more compatibility and flexibility than a mini-ITX. They are still limited by their relatively small size though, so if you want unlimited build options and expansion paths, micro-ATX may not be a great choice.
If you want something a little bigger than a mini or micro build but still not too big, then a standard ATX mid-sized tower is the way to go. These cases are very common and are likely to be the form factor you are already most familiar with. They work with most motherboards and other parts and are thus likely to be compatible with almost anything you want to put inside, save for perhaps some especially large GPUs or liquid coolers.
Finally, there are the large case form factors, ATX full and ATX super towers. Unlike the other case sizes, these do not correspond with specific motherboard sizes. Rather, these cases are for when you want to put extra components, or extra-large components, in your PC. Extra fans, dual GPUs, and custom AIO liquid cooling solutions are all possible in these larger cases. HAF 700 EVO is the perfect example for this kind of ultimate PC case. If you really want to go all out with your build, one of these larger form factors might be right for you.
Once you’ve got the size and form factor sorted, the next thing you should be considering is features. How you determine what features you need mainly comes down to what you will be using your PC for. Will your PC be a gaming powerhouse that requires the best in cooling performance? Will it be an everyday machine for light work and internet browsing? Or will you be building a stream machine and video editing workstation? Think first on what you want your PC to do, and then consider what features you need.
For example, if you are going to be using your PC primarily for gaming, especially for playing the latest and most demanding games, you are going to want to focus on areas such as a strong GPU, a CPU that can keep up with your GPU, comprehensive cooling, and enough wattage in your PSU to support those components working at high loads. In this situation, you’ll want a case with plenty of breathing room so you can ensure optimal cooling, but also, you’d want to keep an eye out for things like additional GPU slots so that you can upgrade and expand when the ever-changing graphical demands of gaming require you to do so.
Generally, the most important case feature might be the air flow. If you are going with air coolers, your case should be built to allow as much air as possible to flow into and out of the case with the assistance of well-placed fans. If you are going to install an AIO liquid cooler, then you need to make sure your case has the real estate to support such a system. The more intensive your applications are, the more important cooling is. Pretty much no matter what kind of machine you want, though, you should be prioritizing airflow. Ensure the case you want has proper ventilation in the front, back, and top of the case along with several locations to mount fans.
Another thing to consider is cooling. Air cooling is common and if your case has sufficient fan install locations, air cooling should be no problem if the case provides sufficient clearance for RAM in conjunction with the CPU air cooler of your choice. However, if you want to get a little fancier and set up a sleek liquid cooling system, then you will need to look for a case that has the proper openings and support. For more information how to choose the Air or Water cooling , you can check AIO Liquid Cooling or Air Cooling? Which Should You Choose? | Cooler Master.
In addition to airflow and cooling, you may want to consider a few other areas. What size is your GPU going to be and can the case support it? If the GPU is too big for your case things like cables reaching where they need to go and RAM clearance can become an issue and whole build will fall apart. How is the case’s cable management system? Having a confusing mess of cables in your case not only presents an aesthetic problem but can make things like cleaning or replacing components more difficult than they should be. Where is the PSU bay? You need to make sure that the PSU will sit in a place relative to the other components that allows every cable to reach, also taking the size of your build into consideration. Ensure each of these things fits your build requirements and personal tastes before making a final decision on a case.
Finally, how does the case look? Does it reflect your personal style? Do you want a flashy, all-RGB gaming case like Masterbox 500, or a more minimal blackout build like Masterbox NR600? Is a white case or a black case more your thing? How about a tempered glass side panel? These are all aspects to consider when thinking about how you want the case to look, and there are a wide variety of aesthetic options out there to suit the tastes of just about any builder.
So, when choosing a case for your PC build it is important to consider the form factor, features, and aesthetics of your desired build. Ensure that all components will work and fit together properly, and that the case you have selected can support the kind of tasks you want your PC to perform. For a look at some of Cooler Master’s own cases, please visit our website.