The case (or chassis) is the foundation of any system. Its obvious purpose is to support the power supply, motherboard, drives, and other components. Its less obvious purposes are to contain the radio-frequency interference produced by internal components, to ensure proper system cooling, and to subdue the noise produced by the power supply, drives, fans, and other components with moving parts.
A good case performs all of these tasks well and is a joy to work with. It is strongly built and rigid. Adding or removing components is quick and easy. All the holes line up, and there are no sharp edges or burrs. On the other hand, a bad case is painful to work with, sometimes literally. It may have numerous exposed razor-sharp edges and burrs that cut you even if you’re careful. It is cheaply constructed of flimsy material that flexes excessively. Tolerances are very loose, sometimes so much so that you have to bend sheet metal to get a component to fit, if that is even possible. Using a cheap case is a sure way to make your system building experience miserable.
Use the following guidelines when choosing a case:
Choose the proper size case, taking into account the original configuration and possible future expansion. For a general-purpose system, choose a mini- or mid-tower case. For a small PC, choose a microATX case. Choose a case that leaves at least one drive bay—ideally a 5.25" external bay—free for later expansion.
Get a case with supplemental cooling fans or with enough space to add them. Heat is the enemy of processors, memory, drives, and other system components. Cooler components last longer and run more reliably.
Case For the last several years, we’ve used and recommended Antec cases almost exclusively. Antec (http://www.antec-inc.com) offers a broad range of cases in sizes from microATX to full tower. Every Antec case we have used has been well designed, solidly constructed, and finely finished. Less expensive Antec cases include a midrange SmartPower power supply; higher-end Antec cases include their excellent TruePower Series power supplies. Antec cases are readily available at Best Buy and similar retailers.
Avoid cheap, no-name cases, which are poorly constructed, have sharp edges and burrs, and come with terrible power supplies.
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