However, the process certainly is not as simple as it may sound but at the same time is not an impossible task, instead a very challenging yet appealing job. In this guide, we are going to jot down the types of PC cases you will come across and their features, and how they are different from each other. As a result of which, it becomes easy for you to pick one for yourself and start building your own PC at home.
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How to choose the right PC case for gaming – A complete guide
Q1. What types of PC cases are there?
There are four popular PC cases distinguishable based on their sizes.
- Full PC case
- Mid-tower PC case
- Mini tower
- Small form factor
To start learning about each of these cases, first, you need to know the types of motherboards. From there you can easily understand how these cases are different from each other. There are four types of motherboards, namely, ATX, E-ATX, M-ATX, and M-ITX.
- ATX motherboard (Advanced Technology Extended) is a standard MB, mostly used in gaming PCs. Having 12 inches of height and 9.6 inches of width.
- EATX is known and written as Extended ATX motherboards, they are a little bigger than standard ATX MB, having 12 height and 13 inches of width, normally.
- M-ATX is also called Micro-ATX. They are small in size compared to a standard ATX motherboard, having a 9.6-inch height and 9.6-inch width too.
- M-ITX is referred to as Micro-ITX motherboards. They are smaller in all four motherboards, with only 6.7 inches of height and 6.7 inches of width as well.
Now back to the types of PC cases of PC we have today.
1. Full PC case
This type of PC case comes in 22 to 27 inches in height. Capable of accommodating any ATX, E-ATX, Micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX motherboards. However, there is no sense to fix micro or mini MB into such a big tower, this case is more friendly with standard ATX and Extended-ATX MB.
2. Mid-tower PC case
This type of chassis is 17 inches to 21inches tall, it is compatible with ATX, Micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX motherboards, but is not able to house an Extended-ATX board in it. Technically this mid-tower is the most popular size of chassis for gaming among professional players, as they fit perfectly well in their gaming setup.
3. Mini tower
This is another popular form factor, very demandable by gamers who have little space on their desk but a huge possibility for gaming near them. This tower is 14 inches to 16 inches tall and is compatible with Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX motherboards. Though not suitable for a standard ATX or E-ATX MB.
4. Small form factor
This is the most compact size of the PC case, particularly a space-saving desktop though at the cost of “not so open for upgradability”. Its size varies from 14 inches to digits lower than this. They are capable of accommodating only Mini-ITX motherboards.
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Features of a PC case you should pay attention to:
After knowing the types of cases you will come across and their relation with the motherboards, let’s put some light on the rest of the primitive aspects you must look forward to.
A. Cooling system
Gaming computers tend to become hot due to the intensive heat production secreted from the powerful hardware. This excessive heat causes deterioration in the functioning of the PC. In order to protect the hardware, you need to choose a proper heat dissipation system.
There are two ways to adapt to keep the tower cool. The water/ liquid cooling and air cooling mechanism.
Q2. What is liquid cooling in the PC?
Liquid cooling, also known as water cooling, is the most popular method among gamers used to dissipate heat and also effectively reduces the noise of the PC too. Instead of depending on the air to cool down the components, water is being used through the pipes targeting the major hardware responsible to generate heat extensively.
Gamers who want to build their PC at home instead of buying a prebuilt computer, need to look for a PC case that supports liquid cooling with a specific layout for this system.
For example, look at the MSI MPG Velox 100R mid-tower PC case with up to 360mm water cooling layout at the front and top, and 240mm layout at the rear end of the case. For this type of tower, the gamer needs to choose an All-In-One liquid cooling system (that is sold separately).
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Q3. What is air cooling on the PC?
This is more likely a traditional method to cool down the PC. It is based on various fans situated in different locations within the tower, accelerating the air passing from the case. Although it is an affordable yet effective way (depending on the number of fans) but is not potent enough to complete a liquid cooling system.
Many PC cases come with pre-install fans, though the user has the authority to increase the number of fans according to his wish. For example, take a look at Thermaltake View 71, it comes with 3 pre-installed 140mm ARGB fans and still allows 3x 120mm (at the front, and top) or 2x 140mm fans (at front and top), 1x 120mm or 1x 140mm at the rear and 2x 120mm at the bottom of the case. Including 1x 360mm (at front, top, side) or 1x 420mm (at front, top, side), 1x 120mm or 1x 140mm at rear and 1x 240mm at bottom radiator support.
In short, even getting a case with pre-installed fans you still can add as many fans as you want. Moreover, both the cooling system can be added simultaneously to let the PC perform optimally. For this, you must have to see the manual of the case you intend to purchase.
Expanding is basically another way of upgrading. Whatever you add or replace to increase the outcome of the PC is upgrading/expanding. The things you can upgrade are, drives (optical, SD card, HDD/SSD), memory (slots for RAM sticks), and external drives or open bays. For this, you need to check the specification section of the manual. For example, normally a full tower contains 5.25 inches drive bays at the front of the case and 8 or more 3.5 or 2.5-inch bays within the case, and 8 or more slots for memory (case might differ depending on the type of case and brand).
In addition, the user can also upgrade its motherboard, CPU, graphics card and PSU. Usually, full and mid towers are more acceptable to make any changes for these components. And because mini towers and small form factors are less spacious, they are nearly impossible to house anything bigger in size.
C. Material of the case
There are four different materials used to make a PC case by the manufacturer. Aluminum, Alloy steel, Stainless steel, acrylic, and tempered glass.
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Q4. Which material is best for a PC case for gaming?
Gaming or not, steel is preferred as it benefits the user in terms of durability. Aluminum is quite easy to bend and deteriorate by the passage of time, tender for hits and bumps, but steel is a bit rigid and stands firm especially when you get into the tower with a screwdriver aggressively. So if you are new to building a PC, then it is suggested rather go for steel material.
Whereas talking about the Acrylic PC case, this material is mostly used in the side panel to allow the hardware to showcase. This tolerates hits and bumps and doesn’t break easily. However, if you are mainly looking for gaming, then we would recommend you go for a mix of steel and tempered panel. As this glass tempered is resistible against heat, and sound and also fulfills your desire to show off the innards.
This section includes what size of PSU, CPU cooler, and GPU a particular PC case may house. You will find this information in the manual of the case. It is crucial to check if the graphics card can fix vertically or horizontally and what can be its maximum size to get into the chassis. Similarly, the CPU cooler and PSU length and height should be known before starting to buy the rest of the components.
For example, if the user intends to buy a mini PC or small form factor case, then unluckily the only option the user is left with is a mid-range or low-profile GPU (because of the short length). Whereas for a full tower, not just the user is having wide upgradability, but it can also have the latest graphics card, a processor with a nice cooler, and a bulky PSU to fulfill the power requirement nicely.
E. Miscellaneous features
This part contains elements of the case that may not be mandatory but if given, can be a great add-on. Such as dust filters, headphone hangers, rubber feet, handles to lift, LED lights, front port accessibility (latest generation), etc.
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Q5. Which PC case is best for gaming?
There are three main perspectives by gamers on which the scope of these chassis relies. Firstly, gamers are more attracted to the ability of their computer to get upgrades in the future. Apparently, full towers and mid-towers are more likely to fulfill this wish. Whereas, the mini PC and small form factor cases are prone to get any latest upgrading so they are less feasible to last you years.
Another popular stance is the space-saving perspective. Gamers are extremely serious about their space to play games, there are several peripherals stationed on the table. A professional gamer, who needs a beastly performance, also needs a computer that takes as little space as it can. For this, mini PCs are an ideal choice.
There is a third idea hiking up nowadays. That is the cooling mechanism of the PC. If you too belong to this aspect, then full towers and mid-towers could be your ultimate pick. As they are more adaptable for liquid cooling and even air cooling by adding several fans to keep the hardware under tolerable temperature.
Furthermore, gamers also want their PC to sync with the overall setup of their gaming station. It should have RGB lights glowing the case and the room under the darkness pumps adrenaline. This certainly pulls attention towards the aesthetics of the PC, which usually comes into consideration for full and mid towers more than mini PCs.
Now looking back at your question. The best PC case would be what is important to you the most.
Q6. How much does a PC case cost?
There is a wide variety of different cases including full, mid, and mini towers. Some of them are plain looking and some have caught the envious eyes of the lookers by adding tempered glass panels. One of the best PC cases we have seen is one with 3 sided panels giving up a panoramic view of the interior, under the name of HYTE Y60, that costs you $200.
On the other hand, moving towards some popular PC brands, we have some amazing desktop chassis like Thermaltake Core V71 with a price tag of $164. Then we have the $269 Corsair 7000D and a mid-tower PC case with RGB Aura Sync and 420mm radiator i.e. the Asus Rog Strix Helios EVA Edition that will cost you up to $400, suitable for a serious intensive level of gaming.
So the nutshell is, the cost of the case depends on not only the brand/company but the additional features attached to them as well, and of course the quality too. The more specs you want in the case the more you have to pay for it. Though the minimum price of a desktop case is around $50 to $60 and the maximum goes up to $500 in a blink of an eye.
We always recommend buying a PC case first before anything else, if you want to build your computer yourself. Though keep an ideal perspective of the hardware whether it should be something latest or belong from the last generation. Check out the features that will tell you the maximum possibilities a specific case is ready to adopt. Following this, a manual is extremely important to read thoroughly to avoid any misleading and unwanted purchasing of the components later.