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What to look for in a case

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November 10, 2006 7:09:18 AM

So, fairly simple question. When buying a case (no PSU) what should I look for. Thankyou for any and all responses.

More about : case

a c 158 ) Power supply
November 10, 2006 7:19:03 AM

Quality.

You really need to provide more details. What components will you be putting in the case? Water/Air cooling? Price range? What type of look do you prefer? How can we give good recommendations, if know nothing of your situation?!
November 10, 2006 8:02:11 AM

Rugger nailed it on the head ask the question what is it going to be used for, do you want
1.) an all singing all dancing God Box with flashing lights that runs 2 water cooled 8800s and 5 HDDs that sounds like a hurricane when turned on but you dont care because Fear will run at 80FPS with soft shadows enabled
2.)an HTPC that is so quiet that you are constantly worring because you think the fans are broken
3.) a server that hey you dont care what it looks like it'll be in the loft but so long as i can upgrade it easily i dont care
4.) Lan box Kind of a Balance between 1 + 2 but it must have a handle!!!
5.) you get the idea

anyway firstly i think what type of comp i want then i think whats going to be in it number of drives (HDD + CD/DVD and whether or not i want a floppy) then i look at any specific hardware (8800 are 2 inches longer that any card brought out thus far) finally once i have my spec i think well where is it going to go? will it be moved a lot? will you be exopanding it in the future? what colour do i want? then i look at the criteria head down to the comp shop and compare.

then comes the quality question. my first build 5 years ago now i used a cheap case (£20) i loved it for a while but the panels started to bend screws broke etc so my build afterwards i spent a fair amount on the case £80 and i love it Parts fit much better inside it the case is solid as a rock and its a joy to work with.

basically put when i look for a case needs come first then i look straight to quality then other options such as aesthetics come after
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November 10, 2006 8:49:09 AM

In regards to yakyb, I just want a basic case which has room for a ATX mobo, C2D (air cooled) 2 optical drives & 3-4 HDD's. I was just wondering about how you could tell if it is quality, you know, stuff like panel thickness, construction material etc.
a c 158 ) Power supply
November 10, 2006 9:20:33 AM

You still haven't answered some of Yak's questions, but some things to look for:
1. No sharp edges on exposed metal.
2. Good airflow. Hard to judge without empirical data from a review that lays out temps for different cases using the same components.
3. Good quality fans - preferrably adjustable.
4. Ample room for your components. This may take you doing some measurments in order to gauge how much spare room you will/won't have when the components are installed.

A good, basic case w/out PSU is something like this Coolermaster RC-534 (review) or the RC-531 (link contained on the first page of the RC-534 review).
November 10, 2006 10:28:59 AM

Quote:
In regards to yakyb, I just want a basic case which has room for a ATX mobo, C2D (air cooled) 2 optical drives & 3-4 HDD's. I was just wondering about how you could tell if it is quality, you know, stuff like panel thickness, construction material etc.


As a rule of thumb (pun intended) its a cheap case if you start bleeding while mounting your hardware.
November 10, 2006 11:26:01 AM

To reiterate - a case is a personal choice - however there are some technical drivers which may assist with your decision.

First - know what you want to put into it - For example if you have a very small case - you will possibly have difficulties getting the new 8800 installed - it's 11" long. If you can't install what you want, it is not the case for you.

Secondly - know that some designs are better than others - above and beyond the neon glow of some cases and the minimalistic approach of others - overall design is important. For example - airflow impacts just about every design. Some cases are designed with a couple of 80mm fans, wheras others have 120mm fans or even higher. The size and number of the fans impace the airflow and noise of the case (HS fand, graphics fans and hard drives also impact noise).

Finally - you generally get what you pay for.

I chose the Antec P180B - I liked the looks, pleanty of space for my needs, washable air filters, and tons of large 120mm fans. For me it works - for others it won't.

Cheers.
November 10, 2006 12:53:11 PM

For some people, quietness, or even silence, is important. A lot of cases that are excellent for gamers are loud since ventilation and quietness tend to be at cross-purposes. Only a few high quality cases have both.

Quiet cases have few openings and the openings are indirect (not line-of-sight) and toward the back and bottom.

The fans for the case and PSU are large, slow (or speed adjustable) and thermostatically controlled and do not have grills close to the blades.

They have soft rubber fittings to hold hard drives, and weatherstripping around doors and panels.

The case walls are thick and heavier and made of steel instead of aluminium. Some have sound absorbing foam pads inside the side panels, but you can add some yourself if they don't.

A case has to be specially designed to be quiet. If the advertising or specs don't say that a case is quiet, it probably isn't. Check reviews in either case.

Also, keep in mind that you need more than a quiet case to have a quiet computer. All the various coolers must be quiet or silent.

There is a website devoted to quiet and silent PC's. It has reviews, forums and guides:
http://www.silentpcreview.com/

Fuzzy
November 10, 2006 6:43:32 PM

Antec, Cooler Master and Lian-Li make excellent cases. You probably won't go wrong with any on them. I've used all three, plus a few cheap cases.

The cheap cases will have sharp edges and punch-out expansion slot covers. They may lack thumbscrews.

The good ones will have rolled edges, removable expansion slot covers, thumbscrews; the ability to take ALL the panels off (both sides, the top and the front)

Of all the cases Ive used, Lian-Li is the one I prefer most:



Antec is nice too:



And so is Cooler Master:

November 10, 2006 7:53:32 PM

When presented w/ an open ended question like this, rather than demanding more info, I would opt to answer from a personal standpoint. Let the poster figure out what applies to himself. In other words, what woud I look for in a case.

Peronally I have no use for windows, lights, or any bling bling. A case is to hold you componants and to protect them from the environment. If you think a plain case looks ugly, just tuck it under your desk away from prying eyes. Choose function over form.

Should be solid to the point that it doesn't have any rattling or generate any more noise than the case fans. Beyond that, as long as it's sturdy enough to hold the weight of a few drives, a mother board, and a power supply is all you need. And that's not a lot of weight.

Metal edges inside the cases should be smooth and not sharp... although this isn't a deal breaker. If you are careful, you can use a less expensive case without bodily injury... but you HAVE to be careful.

Good air flow. Luckily, CPUs are running a bit cooler these days, but we still want enough fans in the right places to get cool air in and hot air out. Side vents over your CPU and graphics cards are nice.

Air filters are good too... air flow will eventually dump lots of dust on your precious electronics. Filters can help reduce that.

Easy access to the insides. Preverably without any screws, but if it has screws, preferably thumb screws. You don't want to go hunting for the screwdriver each time you need to add or remove a memory stick or replace a defective fan.

Easily replaceable side panels. It's frustrating as hell getting all the little tabs and slots lined up just right and still not ever being sure that the case is closed up right. The seems and gaps should all be tight and uniform. Hopefully there is a nice positive "click" when you pop the panels back on. Should not have to BANG anything in place.

NO DOORS. Who was the idiot who decided that there shoud be a doors on the front of your computer? The only purpose of a door is to add one more step between you and your CD/DVD drive, and to make it that more dificult to fit into a tight space (i.e. need space to swing the stupid door open). It's perfectly useless.

Easy access to USB/FireWire/Mic/Phone jacks. (read: should have USB/FireWire/Mic/Phone jacks) I like the Centurion V which puts them on the top. I believe the new Antach does that too, although maybe set back a bit further than I would like. (Didn't really get a good look at it, so don't quote me.) This way you can park the case under the desk and still have access to these ports without crawling on the floor. If you plan on putting the case ontop of the desk, then probably DON'T want these ports on the top.

Also consider a small form factor (if you use a microATX motherboard). There are those "cubes" (like the X-Qpac) or the flat "home theater" style (looks sort of like a throwback to the old desktop design). Towers are NOT the only choice.

BTW: I like the CoolerMasters. They're not the sturdiest, but the entire front is made of a metal material w/ thousands of holes. It looks nice and allows lots of air. They make the Centrurion which I mentioned.
November 10, 2006 8:54:23 PM

Thanks for that SciPunk, I was looking for other people experiences and opinions with cases as well as any reccomendations, so thanks all of you, you answered my question. :D 
!