In May 2002 we took an in-depth look at computer cases in our article How To Select The Right Case . In that article, we covered a variety of factors that should be considered before deciding which case to purchase. The responses that we received from our readers indicated that you would like to see us review more cases, and perhaps even some of the more "exotic" cases, as well.
As we discussed earlier in great detail in the "How To Purchase The Right Case" article, computer case purchases are often based as much on personal preference as they are on any other factor. We covered the basic features and the `bells and whistles’ options that make a good case, but our recommendations may not necessarily hold true for everyone.
A variety of options is important, since some computer users may want a more customized, unique look while others may want a computer that has a more functional design, for example. Also to be considered is whether the design is `lightweight’ and thus, more portable, or whether weight is not a factor for you and you’d rather just have a performance beast. With all of these options to consider, it can be difficult to choose or even to determine what might be the best case for you.
We collected fifteen cases for this review. We have attempted to present a fairly wide variety of cases in different formats, designs, and price ranges, so that you can better compare and understand the differences among these cases. In this review we’ll see products from Antec, Atech, Enermax, Enlight, Impression, LianLi, LilliComputers, Startech, Tradex, and Thermaltake. Several case manufacturers that we contacted and wanted to include in this review were unable to meet our review deadline, or they were in the process of rolling out new models. This review does not cover all types of cases and is not presented as a comprehensive industry review. We will review additional cases from other manufacturers as soon as we round up the next `batch,’ so stay tuned.
There are many more cases beyond the ones that are covered here. Just because you don’t find a case in this review that satisfies your requirements does not mean there isn’t a case that will meet your needs. In most cases, the manufacturers in this review do offer a variety of designs beyond the ones that are reviewed here, which are built on the same internal foundations as the cases we reviewed here, but have modifications (e.g., the front panel has been changed).
Since our last case review, manufacturers have begun including unique features as standard with their cases. For example, every case in this review offers some type of mounted (front, top, or side) USB port solution. Many offer 1394 (Firewire), as well as audio input/ output solutions. While these designs are not as sophisticated as the Enermax Transfer Panel or the FrontX (as covered in the May 2002 case review), the options that are now included with these cases indicate that manufacturers are paying attention to the features that users are asking for. Again, this is a new trend. Not all manufacturers have begun to follow this trend, which explains the variety of solutions that we found in doing this review.