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How to buy the best PC cases and cabinets

Protecting all your components

One of the most long-lasting components of your rig is the case, and buying one requires a lot of considerations based on your components. When you’re building a system, it’s always best to know exactly what components you’re going to install. Based on your configuration, you can look for a case that can accommodate all those components comfortably with some headroom for future upgrades. You will find cases selling from 1K to20K where budget cases will allow you to build a powerful system inside it. It all falls down to what kind of features you want inside the case that will make the build process easier including support for upgrades. So, before you get enamoured by all the tempered glass side panels and RGB lighting, make sure you go through the following points.

Component clearance
Component clearance is an essential factor for choosing a cabinet

What to consider

  • Component clearance: Most of the PC cases will support many motherboard sizes including ATX, micro-ATX and mini-ITX. However, there are small cases that don’t support ATX, so you need to look out for that. If you’re going to install stock CPU coolers from AMD or Intel then you don’t need to worry about clearance. Third-party CPU coolers tend to have tall heatsinks that can go way past the width of certain cases. You need to check if the height of the CPU cooler will fit inside the case. Sometimes the heatsinks tend to also hinder the height of memory modules, something which needs to be considered when you’re buying these components.

    Next, we come to graphics card clearance. High-end graphics cards tend to be longer and beefier which means they’ll need a lot of space inside. In the lower segment of cases, drive cages are usually placed behind the front panel and they can be a problem for long graphics cards. If you already own a long graphics card, then you should definitely look for a case where there’s enough clearance in front of the card. Some cases also have removable drive cages which can be considered. Liquid cooling requires radiators to be installed and some of them can be thick.

    Wherever you plan on installing the radiator, you need to ensure there’s enough clearance so that they don’t interfere with other components. The final component that needs to be checked for clearance is your power supply unit. The standard length of an ATX power supply is 150mm and most of the cases will support it. However, if you have a longer PSU with a higher wattage, the length can go up to 220mm or more. The recommended length, in this case, will have slightly more clearance but that extra space will be required for the cables. Hence, we would recommend you to buy a power supply which is a few millimetres shorter than the specified one.
Take GPU clearance especially into consideration when picking a PC case
  • Cooling support: Your case needs decent airflow inside. Whether you opt for air cooling or liquid, the case needs to accommodate enough fans or radiators. At the lowest segment, you’d find cases that include only a single exhaust fan. This isn’t alarming if the system inside isn’t going to generate a lot of heat. As your system becomes beefier, the amount of heat generated rises and you’ll definitely need good cooling solutions. Your goal should be to establish balanced air pressure inside the case, which, in a simpler way, means that the number of intake fans should match your exhaust. A more technical explanation is that the amount of the air going inside and coming out of the case should be balanced. If you plan on going the liquid cooling route, you need to ensure that the panels have enough slots for the radiator to be mounted.
  • Dust filters: Initially, you wouldn’t consider dust filters to be that important. However, if you rarely clean your system, say, every six months, you’ll be subjected to a lot of pain. Depending on where the fans are installed, the concentration of dust inside or on the panels will differ. Fine dust filters will do an incredible job of stopping dust from entering inside. This means you’d hardly have to beat your head around blowing away all the dust accumulated on the bottom of the case. It’s essential that you check whether the front, bottom and top panel house a dust filter. Otherwise, if you don’t have options, you should consider building your own dust filters and installing them in your case.
Going with a dust filter from the start will save you
a lot of trouble later
  • Cable management: We are mentioning cable management at the end since it’s a borderline luxury for most of us. However, there are times when poor cable routing can lead to reduced cooling performance of the components. Without enough cutouts on the motherboard plate, you’d have to cram in the thick cables from the limited cutouts or directly connect them without routing behind the plate. Sometimes, the CPU power cutout is too far and you are forced to connect it from the inside. This could hinder the CPU cooler and exhaust fan on the rear panel. Before buying a case, you should verify whether there are enough cutouts and cable tie points on the motherboard plate to comfortably connect all your components.
  • Latest ports: Your front panel allows you to quickly connect frequently used devices to your system without having to stretch and flex to reach the back panel. It’s always better to ensure that the front panel covers all your required ports such as USB 3.0, USB 3.1 Type-C, audio out and mic in. And since your case is going to stay with you for a long time, it’s best to take future friendly ports into consideration.

What not to consider

  • Tempered glass panels: This has a been a rage for a couple of years to the point where now, even the budget segment has gotten a tempered glass update. Of course, they make all your components stand out in a beautiful way while expanding the scope for RGB lighting. However, they are fragile and don’t do anything to improve performance. They lower the build quality of the cabinet and it poses a potential for additional costs in case it breaks.
Looks cool, doesn’t work
  • Fan connector hub: Your motherboard might have up to three to four case fan headers which are usually enough for a regular rig. Fan controller or connector hubs allow you to connect many more fans and even give you speed control. If you aren’t building a crazy rig with more than four fans, then you really don’t need to consider it.
  • Modularity: A luxury that certainly makes life easier when you’re assembling your rig, it isn’t necessary. Removable parts do allow you to route the cable better and keep a cleaner build with low obstructions for airflow. Without modularity, you’ll only be losing out on convenience and maybe a shorter assembly time.
  • Vertical graphics card mount: Recently, high-end cases have been including the option to mount the graphics card vertically. This is directed only for aesthetic purposes since it actually increases the temperature of your graphics card. Since the card is facing the side panel, there isn’t much room for air intake from the fans.
You don’t really need a fan connector hub

The best place to get it

  • Amazon India
  • Flipkart
  • PrimeABGB
  • MD Computers
  • The IT Depot
Abhijit Dey

Abhijit Dey

While indulging deep into conspiracy theories surrounding comic book movie plots, he can be found rewatching them looking for easter eggs. Otherwise, his weekends are spent on gaming and browsing memes.