How To Choose A Computer Case

Things to Consider When Choosing a computer Case

In the past, computer cases were all very similar?Clones of the same boring, beige box.With all of the choices available today, this is no longer the 'case', and people can use their systems' chassis as a means to express themselves and to set their system apart from the rest.Although appearance may be a big one, it isn't the only factor in the selection process and the following items should be considered when shopping for a new computer case.

1.Form Factor

There are different sizes of motherboards, which in turn require different cases to house them.Case form factors share the names of the motherboards they support, and some of the common ones include ATX, Micro ATX (mATX), FlexATX and Mini ITX.ATX motherboards are perhaps the most common, and the largest of the four, measuring at most 12" x 9.6" (305mm x 244mm).A Micro ATX board is at most 9.6" x 9.6" (244mm x 244mm), a FlexATX is 9.0" x 7.5" (229mm x 191mm) and a Mini ITX comes in at a tiny 6.7" x 6.7" (170mm x 170mm).ATX and mATX are by far the most popular motherboard sizes for consumer motherboards, and hence, most cases are made to support one or both of these sizes.

A mATX motherboard can obviously fit in a smaller enclosure than an ATX motherboard, and therefore there are different size cases available to match.The larger cases are generally downward compatible with smaller from factor motherboards, but the opposite is not true.For example, someone with this Amptron mATX motherboard could save a few inches and install it in this 14.25" tall mATX case, or pick something like this black ATX case that stands just a bit taller at 16.5".

Many branded systems (ones that you may buy prebuilt and with preinstalled software) are usually a combination of a standard form factor (such a mATX) with some type of proprietary design (usually in the front panel switches and it's cabling) and buying a new case for these types of motherboards can be tricky.Some branded systems also use lesser used form factors such as NLX and LPX (which employee riser cards for the expansion slots) and finding replacement cases for these type of systems can be a very difficult and pricey endeavor.

A smaller system may be desirable where space is tight, but larger form factor cases provide more room for multiple drives and other peripherals, and a smaller motherboard may be better suited to a larger case in a system such as this.


Size may go along with form factor in many respects, but even while considering cases of the same form factor, there can be variations in size in a few respects.Areas where size can vary are in overall dimensions, the number of exposed 5.25" and 3.5" bays, and the number of internal bays.

ATX cases obviously need to be large enough to hold an ATX motherboard; some are just large enough, while others seem cavernous in comparison.If a case needs to fit under a low shelf, or between items of a certain width, it is important to choose an appropriately sized case.Cases come in two basic configurations when it comes to their size and shape, either desktop or tower.Desktop cases are wider than they are tall and are oriented so the motherboard lays flat, while tower cases have the motherboard standing upright, and come in three basic heights?mini tower, mid tower, and full tower. Tower cases are more common these days, and currently the only style in the computer Geeks case inventory.

The number of exposed drive bays is generally in direct proportion to the overall size of the case. A higher number of exposed 5.25" bays may be desirable for those with more than one DVD or CD drive, removable drive racks, and fan controllers.Exposed 3.5" bays are generally occupied by floppy drives, Zip drives, fan controllers, and things like this 9-in-1 Card Reader, and in most cases you may get one or two of these bays, maximum.This case is very similar in appearance to this other one, but they have one difference that may prove to be a huge factor.They both have four exposed 5.25" bays, but one has two exposed 3.5" bays while the other only has one.If a user had a floppy drive and the 9-in-1 card reader, they would either have to choose to install only one, or use an adaptor and take up one of their 5.25" bays.

Internal bays are generally reserved for hard drives, and systems with multiple drives require the necessary space.