Selecting the Best Gaming Computer Cases
Selecting from the many computer cases available on the market can be a difficult task. With so many choices out there, how do you know which is the right one for you? Here are some simple guidelines to follow when shopping for a computer case. For information about preparing a case, please see our Case Preparation Guide.
Things to Look For
First, each case is designed to support a particular form factor. As you shop for cases, be sure that cases you are looking at support your motherboard's form factor. The most common is the ATX form factor and has been around for quite some time however there are others out there as well, namely BTX and micro-ATX. Also, if you are planning on using the computer for gaming purposes (and I hope you are if you are reading this), you'll want plenty of room for adding case fans to help keep the computer from overheating, especially in times of continuous gaming.
Case fans are available in several different styles and sizes. The most common sizes being the 80 and 120 millimeters (mm) variety. Most computer cases have at least 2 locations for case fans and this is important for maintaining good air flow. We recommend at least 3 to 4 locations for adding case fans and some of the best computer cases accommodate the larger 120 mm size fans. If you are planning on installing several 120 mm case fans, be sure the case you intend to buy can accommodate them.
Case fan styles can also differ from one another. The most common type is the sleeve bearing followed by the ball bearing. Either one is an excellent choice and there are plenty of manufacturers available to choose from.
One of the most important details about case fans aside from their size is their flow rate, which is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). The flow rate is the amount of air they move over a given period of time. For example, a case fan with a flow rate of 30 moves 30 cubic feet of air in a minute's time, a pretty impressive feat. For a gaming computer, we recommend using fans with a CFM rating of over 30. By using fans with a high CFM rating, your computer will stay at a cool operating temperature as your continue to game away. Rosewill, Cooler Master, and Antec are quality case fan manufacturers and you can find great deals on these products at www.TigerDirect.com
Side Windows and Lighting
Many cases feature side windows allowing you to peer into the case and show off all of your impressive hardware on the inside. These are great if you who want to show your friends how awesome your gaming computer is (and make them really jealous). This type of customization involving LED lighting and transparent cases has led to an entire modification movement. Please see our Computer Modification article for more details.
If you are concerned about your computer being loud when in use, be sure to check the case fan's decibel (dBA) rating. Essentially, decibels are used measure the "loudness" of sound with the higher the number signifying the louder the sound. Case fans produce different noise levels and this is where the dBA rating comes into play. If you are looking to build a quiet computer, you'll want to select case fans that have a low dBA rating. A good, quiet fan will have a dBA value of 15 or less. The Silenx IXP5414 iXtrema Pro 80mm Fan
is a case fan that we highly recommend. For more information about building a quiet computer, please see the Quiet Computer Guide.
Other Case Considerations
If you use USB devices quite often, shopping for a case that has many USB ports, even ones located at the front of the case, is a good idea. This will save you the hassle of constantly having to reach behind the case to plug in your camera, iPod, or other USB powered devices.
Case Buying Tips
Often times manufacturers will sell their cases paired with a power supply and offer discounts. The Raygo R12-40835 ATX Mid-Tower Case
includes a 450W power supply. This is a great way to save money by bundling items together.
There are many computer case manufacturers on the market and in our experience, three top quality brands come to mind. Antec, Coolermaster, and Thermaltake are all brands that produce the best computer cases on the market. For a detailed guide on the best budget computer cases, please see our guide listed here. Also of interest might be our micro ATX computer cases article.
The bottom line when selecting a case is functionality. You want something that can take the heat (literally) as you play your favorite games and yet keep the computer cool. As USB powered devices have become more and more popular over the years, having these ports available on the front of the case is almost a necessity. For all the people out there who like to customize their cases, look at a computer case the way a painter views a canvas; and customize away to your liking!
Other Articles of Interest
1. Selecting the Best Memory for a Gaming Computer
2. Selecting the Best Video Card for a Gaming Computer
3. Selecting the Best Hard Drive for a Gaming Computer
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