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How To Choose A PC Case – PC Case Buying Guide

It’s easy to choose an incompatible casing that does not suit or work best with your setup. Many pc cases can be categorized into different types. Therefore, you have to ensure that you are Choosing an excellent case that works well with your system.

There are a few factors to consider when trying to understand how to choose a pc case.

Computer cases do not directly affect your system’s performance, but it plays a crucial role in the overall order and the workflow. Adding more to that problem, there are many casings to choose from. Making it even harder to make a decision. This computer case buying guide will help you to choose the best case you can for your build.

In short, a good PC case can make your hardware work better, allow your hardware to be installed, and stays intact for a long time.

I have divided this procedure into three main categories, that are Build, Performance, and Design. If you have seen my other articles, you can guess that I use this testing procedure before recommending them to my audience.

Casing Build

How To Choose A computer Case

Casing build is a section where we test the manufacture of the casing. It consists of durability, form factor, clearance, drive bays, interior, and other factors.

Form Factor

What is the first thing you should decide when building a PC? Is it CPU, GPU, or Ram? No, When you hop into the internet and start selecting the parts, Start with the form factor. The form factor is the most critical factor and the first thing to decide.

Trust me; It will make all your next decisions easy.

Now, What is the form factor? In the PC world, motherboards can be of different sizes, which are their form factors.

Four main form factors are Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX, and Extended ATX. The smallest size is Mini-ITX, and the biggest size is E-ATX. You might be wondering that you should go with the biggest size.

Well, don’t make your choice right away. The small motherboards can be installed in a small PC cases with enough space for standard hardware. The bigger motherboards allow more hardware like GPU, RAMs, Expansion Cards, and Hard Drives, with more room for upgrades.

PC Cases are also divided into different sizes.

  • Full-Tower; Large Size.
  • Mid-Tower; Medium Size.
  • Mini-Tower, Small Size.
  • Small Form Factor Tower; Smallest Size.

Small cases are excellent for a small and compact build and take a small space. At the same time, the more oversized cases provide more space for extra hardware.

Moreover, Full-Tower casing can support all form factor motherboards, while the Small Form Factor casing supports only Mini-ITX motherboards.

Choose the motherboard’s form factor and PC case size first, and everything else can be decided accordingly. It will narrow down the list of thousands of products and hardware.

You can see their exact sizes and compatibility in the table below.

Casing SizeForm FactorMobo Size (in)
Small Form Factor
  • Mini-ITX
  • 6.7x6.7
Mini-Tower
  • Mini-ITX
  • Micro-ATX
  • 6.7x6.7
  • 9.6x9.6
Mid-Tower
  • Mini-ITX
  • Micro-ATX
  • ATX
  • 6.7x6.7
  • 9.6x9.6
  • 12x9.6
Full-Tower
  • Mini-ITX
  • Micro-ATX
  • ATX
  • E-ATX
  • 6.7x6.7
  • 9.6x9.6
  • 12x9.6
  • 12x13

Durability

Durability is also an essential factor to look at. The durability of a casing can be assessed with the material used for the manufacture. I have come across casings with different build materials in my journey of testing different PC case.

Indeed, you cannot judge the durability of a case before testing it. But, you can get a good idea by checking the material used for the manufacture.

The casings made with aluminum material are generally robust. Moreover, Alloy Steel and Steel is also a sturdy material for cases. Another type of steel used to manufacture casings is SGCC steel, which is also very durable. Moreover, the SPCC material is also one of my favorites when it comes to durable containers.

Furthermore, there are several casings made from polymer or plastic material that are durable. However, be careful when choosing a plastic made container.

Clearance & Compatibility

You also have to check the compatibility of different parts before confirming your casing. Components like Power Supply Unit, Graphics Card, and CPU Cooler needs to be fitted correctly inside containers.

There is no casing that can support all the components. That is why we have to make sure that we choose the right parts.

However, you have fewer worries when you go with the full-tower cases. Because they generally provide more space to work with.

Following are a few things that you need to check before buying a case.

  • Graphics Card: The clearance of a graphics card is measured in terms of length in most cases. Some graphics cards are long, so you need to confirm before making a purchase.
  • Power Supply Unit: Power Supplies come in different sizes. You have to make sure that your chosen casing has enough space for your desired Power Supply Unit.
  • CPU Coolers : CPU coolers come in many different sizes, just like PSU. There are two parts to the CPU cooler; Fans and Heatsink. Make sure that the height of your desired CPU cooler can fit inside your casing.
  • Radiator: The radiators used for liquid cooling can get troubling to fit in a small case. The most commonly used radiator is 360mm in size. If you plan to go with a liquid cooling system, make sure your casing supports your desired radiator size.

You can check all these compatibilities in the specification sheet provided on the casing’s product page on their respective websites.

Drive Bays

Just like clearance, drive bays are equally important. Most PC cases have enough drive bays for average builds. However, if you want more hard drives to work with, you need a casing that supports them.

Moreover, the drive bays are of different variants. Some drive bays are removable, which makes it easier for installations. At the same time, other drive bays stay stationary inside the case. Some drive cages allow you to hot-swap the drives (hot-swap= Mount/ Dismount drives while the PC is running), while others are hard to access.

It all comes down to your personal preference. Most good cases provide more drive bays that are easy to access and feature hot-swap.

I have tested a few casings that allow users to mount the drive cages anywhere in the container. It enables you to optimize the space inside the case according to your likings.

The hard drives can be divided into three types based on their size and types.

  • 3.5″: Bigger Sized Drives.
  • 2.5″: Smaller Sized Drives, Used Mostly in Laptops.
  • SSDs: They are usually 2.5-inch drives.

Interior Optimization

We have done enough talking on the compatibility and hardware support. It is time to talk about the interior itself. What is the benefit of the space inside the casing if it is not utilized correctly? Well, that is my point.

A small casing with optimized space is better than a large casing with unoptimized space. All the casing manufacturers try to get practical and creative with more space optimization.

It makes it easier to install and fit the components. Drive cages, Motherboard trays, fan slots, PSU area, and cabling area need to be placed to use the interior space in the best way possible.

I have seen more optimized interior in cube PC cases. Their dual-chamber design sets a priority on different PC components. For example, PSU, Hard Drives, and Cables are moved to the secondary chamber while the essential parts like Motherboard and GPU are on the primary chamber.

An optimized also enables for an easy assembly of the system. Moreover, if you need to disassemble the PC, it is easy in such cases.

Cooling & Performance

Balanced Air Pressure Diagram

Things that can have a more direct effect on the performance of your system are covered in this section. These are cooling, airflow, water-cooling, fan support, and radiator support.

When we talk about the direct impact on performance, cooling the hardware remains at the top. Naturally, all the components of your computer generate heat. And, if a proper cooling system is not ensured, they can get damaged due to overheating. Moreover, overheated parts tend to perform less.

There are two main types of cooling systems; liquid cooling and airflow cooling. It would be best if you decided on your cooling system before confirming your build.

Airflow Cooling System & Fan Support

The configuration in which a setup utilizes airflow to cool the components is an airflow cooling system. There are three main PC airflow configurations.

The configuration in which a setup utilizes airflow to cool the components is an airflow cooling system. There are three main PC airflow configurations.

  • Positive Air Pressure: In Positive Airflow, a system takes more air for intake and exhausts less air.
  • Negative Air Pressure: In Negative Airflow, a system exhausts more air than intake.
  • Neutral/ Balanced Air Pressure: In Balanced Airflow, a system exhausts the same amount of air as the intake.

And, to achieve these airflow configurations, you need proper fan support. Most PC cases support a couple of fans on the front that is used for the intake.

Almost all PC cases have at least one fan at the rear for exhaust. Some casings also have slots for few fans on the top that are usually used for the exhaust

Moreover, the PC fans come in different sizes that are 120mm, 140mm, 200mm, or more. The bigger the fan, the more area it covers. On the other hand, a smaller fan covers small space, but the airflow is fast.

The most ideal size for fans is 140/ 120mm fans. They work exceptionally great for an extreme cooling system if the configurations are done right.

Another aspect to look upon is the airflow blockage. If parts are blocking the path of the airflow, it can lead to overheating issues. Things like CPU cooler, PSU, or GPU can get in the way. Make sure that is not the case, and do thorough research.

Before confirming your order, you need to ensure that enough slots are available in the casing for your desired airflow configurations.

Water Cooling System & Radiator Support

Liquid cooling is another significant type of cooling system in PCs. As the name suggests, it uses liquid to cool down the components. However, it takes more internal space as compared to the airflow cooling system.

It utilizes large tubes that flow the liquid, a reservoir, a pump, and radiators. Like a car’s engine, liquid cooling uses hoses to transfer heat from different PC parts into the liquid, which moves that heat outside the system.

Most PC cases tell us on the product page if it is water cooling ready or not. If you decide to use a liquid cooling mechanism, ensure that your desired casing supports the necessary parts.

As for radiators, they are used to dissipate the heat from the liquid (in the tube) and dispel it into the air using the fans on it. These radiators are more oversized in size when compared to the standard fans.

The most commonly used radiator size is 360mm. Moreover, these radiators can be installed at the rear, front, top, or bottom, depending on the casing’s manufacture.

Make sure that the casing you choose supports your required radiators.

Design

rgb atx case

In this section, I will cover the design aspect of the casing. Although some of you might not agree with me, the looks of a system matter a lot.
Anything related to the looks and aesthetics of the casings, like Cable Management, RGB, Side-Panels, PSU Shroud, are covered in this section.

Cable Management

As the name suggests, cable management features the ease of managing the cables in a system. In some casings, managing the wires can get challenging, especially for newbies.

However, if you think you can manage the trouble, you can go with a container that saves you a few bucks.

Cable management helps you manage cables to look good on any casing if you are up for work. The only difference is that it is accessible in some cases and challenging in others.

In most cases, there is a little area on the side where you can place all the unused length of the wires.

However, beautifully working your wires is strongly recommended as it enhances the overall look of your system. According to your skill level, ensure that your casing allows you to work & hide your cables efficiently.

Transparent Side-Panels

Transparent side panels is one of the best things that happened to PC cases. It increased the productivity among PC builders and enhanced the urge to beautify their builds.

Back in the days, around a decade ago, nobody cared how the system looked from the inside. But now, it matters for most people, and I am talking majority.

The space optimization, cable management, cool-looking hardware, liquid cooling system, and RGB setups match their roots back to transparent or see-through side panels.

If you prefer a tempered glass side panel, be sure your case includes good cable management features to minimize cable eyesores.

Most computer cases nowadays feature at least one see-through side panel. It is your job to decide the overall look of your system and achieve the said goal.

The best transparent side panels are 4mm thick tempered glass. It provides the best quality and robust material that makes it stay intact for a long time. Except for a few exceptions, you must always try to find a casing with tempered glass.

RGB Lighting

If you plan to build a gaming PC, you must have seen cool RGB setups before. While some people don’t like RGB setups, including me. But, it can enhance the look of your setup for better.

For a basic understanding, RGB stands for Red, Green, and Blue. It indicates the colors that an LED strip or hardware can change into. Moreover, RGB lighting can achieve different color contrast with the combinations of these colors.

Now, an RGB setup can consist of different materials. First of all, RGB fans are used in most builds. Make sure you save enough budget for RGB fans. Moreover, your casings need to be good enough to look excellent with your RGB setup.

You can also use RGB strips inside your casing. These RGB strips can be controlled with the controller box, which is provided with the strips mostly.

Ensure that you are keeping this factor in mind when buying a casing.

PSU Shrouds

PSU shrouds are also the best thing that happened to the PC builds, just like side panel. When see-through side panels came into action, they opened many different aspects of design and looks. And PSU shrouds are one of them.

For your basic understanding, PSU shrouds are customized covers placed on the PSU to make it look good.

In the start, people used to make their PSU covers to hide the basic looks of their power supply unit. When it became a trend, PC casing manufacturers started including these with the casing.

If you purchase an expensive casing, ensure that the container provides a PSU shroud with the package. It will enhance the look of your setup without spending extra on it.

You can also make your own DIY PSU shrouds if you are up for the task.

Upgradations & Price

What is the main difference between a gaming laptop and a gaming setup? Well, you can easily upgrade your gaming pc setup to stay relevant to the current technology. But, is it the case with your PC case?

Now, that is the question you should be asking yourself before confirming your container. Can your casing support future upgrades?

Because, from my personal experience, we always crave to stay relevant with the current technology. So, your casing should have enough room for future upgrades

As for the price, it will decide all the factors I have talked about earlier. A casing should satisfy the price. In comparison, you cannot expect wonders from a cheap case. So, it all comes down to the price.

Things like warranty, factory fans, PSU shrouds, cables, and dust filters can justify the price of a casing.

Conclusion

There are many factors to keep track of when it comes to choosing a pc case. You have to keep all of your internal hardware in mind before making a choice.

As I have said before, this is my criteria for testing the casings. However, I may omit some factors while prioritizing more on others, according to the given circumstances. You have to understand your needs first, then choose the elements suitable for you.

For example, if you are a newbie, you need a casing that is easy to understand, build, and manage cables.

In most cases, there are some cable management features included.

Therefore, it all comes down to your taste and needs. In the PC world, you can quickly end up getting a crappy casing or a good casing that is not suitable for you. That is why it is crucial to understand the logic behind these things.

Anyways, Good Luck & Happy PC Building.

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