How To Select The Right Case

What Makes A Good Case? Continued

Drive rails are another area where people tend to disagree. It seems the norm now among most of the more expensive, high-end cases is the use of rails to support the drives in the device bays. This can be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on your perspective. If you have multiple cases of the same type that all use drive rails, it makes it easy to swap parts from one case to another. The use of drive rails also means that, in most cases, you only have to remove one side panel, rather than both. In general, drive rails are a matter of preference, but a large majority of the high-end cases that we looked at do use them.

Drive rails are a matter of preference, but many cases use them in the mounting of 5.25" devices. Rails allow for quick removal and changing of your 5.25" devices, but also add to the initial build time. Here are two Asus 32X CDRW drives flanked with drive rails from Antec and Enlight.

When looking at the overall construction of the case, our readers have come up with a few interesting ways to evaluate the quality of a case that they are considering purchasing.

The twist test is one of our personal favorites and one that we use as well. To perform the twist test, place the case on a table, place one hand at either end of the top of the case, and then proceed to attempt to twist the case apart. While this might not seem the most scientific of methods, it is a sure indication of the thickness of the metal used in the construction of the case.

The step test is one that most cases companies will not allow you to perform, because normally it leads into the top of the case caving in. Set the case (the victim) on the floor and proceed to apply pressure with your foot to the top of the case. The vast majority of cases available today could not pass the step test, and many of the cases that are built from lightweight aluminum, in particular, could not pass this test.

The weight test was one test that we found interesting as it was not something that would have occurred to us. One of our readers suggested that most cases have the weight of the case and box printed on the outside of the box in which it is packaged. When looking for cases, he separates the wheat from the chaff by looking at these weight numbers. The heavier the case, the better the construction - or so his theory goes. In general he does have a point, because the majority of the cases that we liked the best tended to weigh the most. However, the aluminum cases throw this theory out the window.

All of the above suggestions will meet with various degrees of success. we have found that a very complete visual inspection of the case with a variety of pulling and pushing on various parts can often times reveal the most about a case.