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Gaming PC Cases - How to Choose The Right One?

24 January 2023

how-to-choose-the-right-pc-case


 

Finding a quality PC case is the crucial starting point for building or upgrading your gaming rig. The best computer case will not only affect how your custom-made computer looks but will provide essential protection against overheating and dust – ultimately making or breaking your gaming experience. And some cases are focussed on reducing noise. 

There are many gaming PC cases on the market today, with different features, accessories and prices. Choosing the best one for your custom-made computer is no easy feat. That’s where we can help! In this article, we will get into the nitty-gritty details on what to look for when buying a computer case so you can feel confident investing in the best value case for your gaming PC build.

 

Why do you need a computer case?

You might be thinking: Do I even need a case for my gaming PC? While you can run a computer without a case, it’s not ideal. A case will house everything in your setup, from your CPU, PSU, graphics card and motherboard to RAM, SSDs and/or HDDscooling. Many of these components are sensitive and can be considered the brain of your computer; think of the case as the skull keeping your expensive PC parts safe and protected.

Another reason PC cases are recommended is to keep all components working at peak performance with enough airflow. A gaming PC case will allow all your computer parts to breathe better through well-placed vents and fan mounting options. But that’s not all computer cases do. Some computer cases come with noise-dampening internal panels to reduce the amount of noise your rig makes. Plus, many cases also feature dust filters to reduce dust ingress to your components to improve cleanability and maintenance.

On top of keeping your PC protected, providing airflow, and reducing the noise output, the computer case you choose matters because its size and specs will determine what and how many and what type of components you can fit in your gaming PC. Let us take you through all the most popular sizes below.

 

The starting point – a computer case size guide

Size is one of the first things you want to look at when buying a gaming PC case.

First, you need to know where you’re going to put the computer. This will tell you both what size you can buy and what features you want to look for — why grab a compact Mini-ITX case if your rig will be sitting on the floor? Conversely, if you have a compact gaming setup, a Full Tower Gaming PC Case may not be the best choice if you want to place it on your desk.

Next, you will need to choose your motherboard. The size of the motherboard is a crucial factor for how much space you will need in your case as the motherboard form-factor should not be larger than the maximum supported by the case - only then can you choose a gaming PC case.

While we can’t help you measure your space at home, we can certainly help with motherboards and case sizes. Let’s get into it.

 

What are EATX, ATX, MATX, and Mini-ITX and why it matters

A motherboard is the central component of a computer which connects everything together. Motherboards for gaming PCs typically come in EATX, ATX, MATX and Mini-ITX sizing.

 

ATX motherboards — the standard size

ATX stands for “Advanced Technology eXtended” and has been the standard-sized motherboard since the 90s. Many gamers choose to go with an ATX motherboard for its ability to expand. Some ATX-sized cases can also hold smaller motherboard sizes so if that’s you, check the case specifications to see if it could work with your motherboard.

 

Level up with an EATX motherboard

The size up from ATX is EATX. This stands for “Extended Advanced Technology eXtended” and is the largest form factor you can buy. EATX motherboards have the most functionality and usually have many ports and options for upgradeability. For rigs with an EATX motherboard, you’ll need a larger computer case.

 

Make room for the mini motherboards

MATX, which stands for Micro-ATX, typically has 3 or 4 expansion slots. Mini-ITX motherboards are smaller again and will only have 1x expansion slot - for Gaming PCs, this slot is usually occupied by a high-performance graphics card. Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX options are great if you want a smaller, more portable computer. Keep in mind that a smaller motherboard means fewer ports and options to upgrade, so they may not be the best choice if you want to add additional components to your rig in the future.

 

Computer case sizes

Now that you have a clear idea of the key factors determining the dimension of your computer case, let’s look closely at all the different sizes available.

 

Full-tower computer cases 

Full-tower computer cases are the largest option on the market and will generally hold both EATX and ATX motherboards. Full tower cases are great if you plan to load your rig up with extensive cooling systems, storage, extra fans, more than 2 graphic cards and other add-in-cards (e.g. sound cards, capture cards or more). 

Full-tower computer cases generally run about 55 - 61 cm tall, 45 - 51 cm long and more than 25 cm wide, so carefully consider your available space before investing in one. 

Examples of Full Tower Computer Cases include: Cooler Master HAF 700 EVO, Corsair 7000D/X and the Lian Li PC-O11 Dynamic XL

 

Mid-tower computer cases 

Mid-tower computer cases are the most common size and fit a standard ATX motherboard. At about 45 - 51 cm tall, 43 - 51 cm long and 15 - 20 cm wide, a mid tower computer case can usually hold a setup with a few hard drives, one or two graphics cards + cooling system.

Examples of Mid-Tower Computer Cases include: Corsair 4000D/4000X, be quiet! Pure Base 500 and the NZXT H5 Elite

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Corsair 4000X

 

Mini-tower computer cases 

Mini-tower computer cases are the smallest size available, designed to fit MATX or mini-ATX motherboards. They are compact and portable, usually running about 35 cm in height and 17 cm or less in width. Mini-ITX cases can vary greatly is design from sandwich layouts, to mini-towers to special designs like the Antec Striker or vertical cases like the NZXT H1.

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NZXT H1

Micro and mini-ITX case builds don’t leave much room for error and should be meticulously thought out with a carefully planned cooling system and cable organisation. You will need to take into consideration the size of your CPU Heatsink or Liquid Cooler, Graphics Card, PSU, storage options and more. For an improved building experience, it’s typically recommended to only use M.2 storage to reduce cable clutter. Recent graphics card launches have meant that some mini ITX cases are no longer an option should you wish to run the latest and greatest graphics cards due to their immense size.

Examples of mini-tower and other mini-ITX computer cases include: Cooler Master NR200, Lian Li Q58, SIlverStone Sugo SG16 and the In Win A1

 

A bigger computer case isn’t always better

People ask us why they should go smaller when they can go bigger. Well, money, of course, it’s an important factor. Not just for the actual cost of the PC case but also for the rig you’ll put inside.

While a larger case may simplify your cooling setup, it is still possible to build an extremely high-performance and power dense mini ITX PC by carefully selecting your components (e.g. utilising low-profile coolers or liquid cooling + small SFX PSUs). Large cases will usually allow you to upgrade in the future, but they may not be the best choice if your gaming space is particularly compact. Cases such as the Lian Li Q58 and Cooler Master NR200 series support both a 280mm radiator + a high-end triple-slot graphics card (still pay attention to height and length of the graphics card though). If you choose to use a sandwich case, be careful about the use of PCIe risers as you may need to select PCIe 3.0 or 4.0 in your BIOS depending on the graphics card + riser and motherboard PCIe slot to ensure stability. 

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Cooler Master NR200 series

 

Gaming PC case features you should consider

Computer cases for airflow and cooling

Heat is the mortal enemy of the gaming computer. Overheating can cause throttling and poor performance – the last thing you want when you are in the middle of a game. Airflow and cooling are some of the most important factors in keeping your PC running smoothly.

The best computer cases for airflow are full-tower and mid-tower form factors since they usually are equipped with 2 or 3 (or more) case fans from the factory. Having more intake fans than exhaust fans in your system will allow for positive air pressure, which can prevent dust from getting inside your computer and damaging its components.

Some cases come with fans preinstalled, while others don’t, allowing you to select exactly which case fans you want. Whichever option you choose, you’ll want to ensure that you have both intake and exhaust fans on the front and back of your computer - except for maybe compact specialised mini-ITX cases where a unique set-up may be required.

Another option is to choose a case that natively supports custom liquid cooling. It may cost you a bit more, but liquid cooling is a state-of-the-art way to ensure your rig doesn’t overheat. Water can carry more heat than air, and this system also has the added benefit of reducing noise linked to cooling down your device.

 

Noise-reducing computer cases

If you want to reduce the amount of noise coming from your rig, you may want to look into a quiet case. Quiet cases incorporate noise-reducing elements like internal sound-dampening panels, vibration minimisers or couplings and silent fans to help keep your focus on the game at hand.

Examples of noise-optimised computer cases include: Fractal Design Define 7 and Cooler Master Silencio

define-7-black-pc-case

Fractal Design Define 7

 

Cool-looking computer cases

Many of the computer cases on the market today come with attractive features to make your rig look as good as it performs. Considering your budget, it can be tempting to invest in cases that feature Tempered Glass side panels, ARGB lighting, vertical GPU support and more. 

A case with RGB lighting and fans add a cool pop of colour to your gaming PC. Some cases that feature ARGB can offer improved lighting effects that can be controlled via software in your operating system. 

Cases with tempered glass panels show off the internal components of your computer from the outside. Glass panels look especially good if you have LED lights on your CPU or GPU. If you do go for glass, keep in mind that the material restricts airflow, and you may need extra fans to make up for this - particularly if your case features tempered glass panels at the front and top sides of the case.

The material your case is made out of will also affect its appearance. Cheaper materials will show more dings and scratches. Premium materials like steel and aluminium cases are both strong and aesthetically pleasing for years to come. Some case manufacturers like Fractal Design also offer unique features like wooden front panels for a natural finish. 

be-quiet-pure-base-500fx-black-case

be quiet! Pure Base 500FX

 

Cable management is important

Cable management is a source of pride for many gamers and is definitely something that is noticed and appreciated in the community. If clean cable management is important to you or if you are building a desktop computer, consider purchasing a case with cable routing accessories and features. Extra space around your motherboard tray, power supply shroud and extra grommets and holes can keep your case looking smack and up your cool factor. An additional option is to order custom cables like these.

 

How much should you spend on a computer case?

There are cases on the market at every size and price point. For a big, sturdy case at a lower cost, you may need to forgo some of the fancy extras like noise reduction or appealing cable management. 

In some instances, a high-end computer case alone might cost you as much as a new laptop. And don’t forget that you’ll need to fill your brand new computer case with components too. Since you are less likely to replace your computer case than the internal PC components, make sure to keep an eye on the future and don’t sell yourself short. At the end of the day, you need to decide what level of investment is right for you at this moment in time. In saying that, replacing your gaming PC case can be a cost-effective way of changing the aesthetics of your gaming setup.

 

Your PC case choice matters

Depending on how important the PC case design is for you, choosing a computer case at the end of their build can be a mistake. Once you have set your gaming PC build budget, start looking at computer cases first and decide at least what size and accessories you want — it will determine almost everything else about your setup.

Since your PC case matters just as much as your GPU and other elements of your build, make sure to buy from trustworthy stores. Check out Mwave’s huge range of gaming PC cases, sourced from all the best PC case makers and brought to you at the best prices. With options for mini, mid and full-tower and specialised PC case designs, we have something to suit any setup and budget. Find the best computer case to house your rig online today and your gaming PC will stay looking and feeling cool while kicking butt.

 

 

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