For a long time you’ve probably thought it was just a black box. A big, ugly and very boring black box. Little more than an afterthought, and probably quite a cheap one at that. Or, at least, it was something you didn’t spend any serious time thinking about when you bought your computer, or when you had your PC system built.
Why bother giving your computer case too much thought? It’s just something buried out of sight beneath your desk, so it’s not important – right? It’s only what’s on the inside of it that counts – right?
Well, if that’s your thinking then you’ve missed a whole truck-load of potential, and your PC case has probably never been much more than that big, ugly and boring black box. Even though it contains all of the important stuff, all of the actual essential components of your computer, there’s a lot you can do to make the outside as interesting as the inside.
Computer cases have come a long way in recent years. No longer is a PC case just something functional and easy-to-forget. And no longer is a case just something that is easy to ignore. It’s something you have choice over, and something you can put a bit of thought into. These days, PC cases are bright, vibrant and colourful. They’re made to be displayed and not hidden away.
Yes, they are obviously functional – they need to be, because for computers it’s still what they do and not how they look that ultimately counts. But PC cases have become an attractive part of the whole computer experience, and something which it’s possible to spend a bit of time considering.
These days cases are more compact yet still able to accommodate the ever-burgeoning array of hardware a PC builder needs. But if you’re new to computing or a are looking for a new case why has this piece of kit, which is still basically a box, become so important and what are the options you have when choosing one? Our beginners guide to computer cases tells all.
Put simply, what is a computer case?
Put very simply, a computer case is the box which contains all of the electronic bits that go together to make up your computer. If it helps to visualise it this way, think of a PC case as a sort of shared house in which all of the computer’s parts live together. It’s a convenient enclosure containing everything that makes the system work (but excluding those ‘hands on’ things the user needs to be able to operate that system – the display, the keyboard and the mouse).
Most often cases are manufactured using a combination of steel, aluminium, plastic and tempered glass. Some cases feature an acrylic window so that users can see into the inner workings of the device, and showcase any special lighting (specifically the RGB-style lights which gamers like). But in almost all instances you’ll find that computer cases are black in colour – though there are sometimes versions on the market which are available in different colours. Modern cases feature a wider range of variation in shape than used to be standard. Other names for a computer case include chassis, tower, system unit, or cabinet.
What are the different types of PC case?
There are different types of PC case, and those differences reflect the variety of computers available. The size and shape of a case is influenced by the form factor of the motherboard (which is the largest component in a computer). Cases which have been built to house an ATX motherboard and power supply are likely to have external forms such as a vertical tower (where the height of the case is more than the width), a flat desktop (where the width of the case is more than the height) or flat box (where the case is designed to sit on the user’s desk, immediately underneath the display monitor).
Full-size tower cases
Full-size tower cases are typically larger in volume than desktop cases, and this is because they are built with upgrades in mind. There is more room available for drive bays and expansion slots, meaning you can add to or replace and upgrade the components of your system as your needs change. Full tower cases are usually approximately 2 feet in height and are intended to stand on the floor. Full tower cases can have upwards of six externally accessible drive bays. Due to their relatively imposing size and dimensions, these days full tower cases are often the format used by computer enthusiasts as the ‘raw material’ for unusual custom modifications.
Mid-tower and Mini-tower cases
Mid-tower cases are the most common type of chassis used in the office environment, where space is almost always at a premium. These cases are approximately 18” high, and they feature less drive bays (approx. two to four external bays). A mini-tower case is slightly smaller again, and will typically have only one or two external bays. This means mid-tower and mini-tower cases are much less adaptable or ‘future proof’ than full-size tower cases.
Mid-tower cases are designed to stand on a desk, possibly next to the display monitor. It’s wise to be aware that the dimensions and specifications of mid- and mini- computer cases will probably vary from different manufacturer to manufacturer, so you’ll probably need to make sure that you check your exact needs. And also don’t forget to seriously consider how those needs might develop in regards to future computer use (and therefore capability for expansion of components etc).
So what are the coolest PC cases?
Even within the world of general PC cases there are many differences in design aesthetics. You might find that one ‘boring black box’ is not quite the same as another ‘boring black box’. Little design touches here and there, such as the way the case has been molded or formed. However, the coolest ‘standard’ PC cases are usually sleek and simple, and exude an air of quiet efficiency. They will seem to give the impression that the computer itself is designed to cope with tasks in a straightforward and no-nonsense manner. They will be very simple in design – all clean lines and unblemished surfaces.
In the wider PC world, the coolest cases are probably those which have undergone some form of modification. If you fancy a modified case but don’t feel confident about doing the work yourself, don’t panic – you don’t have to as some cases come ‘ready-blinged’, and are complete with RGB lighting. But for those who are a little more adventurous, or a bit more confident in their ‘DIY’ skills, case-modding has become something of a boom pastime over the last decade or so. Many users have done some weird and wonderfully inventive things to their computer cases to make them stand out from the pack. Some people might base their case modification efforts on characters from their favourite computer game, while others might use the iconography of their favourite band, TV show or film.
Some case modds might also include internal lighting, custom paint-jobs, and impressive-looking liquid cooling systems. Imagine a complete and utter ‘one off’ computer case for your home system. Something unique, specially designed and then built (or, rather, rebuilt) with your own personal aesthetic preferences in mind. You’d go for that, wouldn’t you? Check out this blog, where we featured some of the more interesting and unusual computer case-modding projects by inventive PC users across the world.
What are the best PC cases?
Deciding which is the best case to upgrade system (or to build a new one) is a matter of personal preference, but always bearing in mind what we mentioned earlier – the need to consider components, and any future use. There are many different types of PC case available should you decided to upgrade (or build your own PC). Ebuyer stocks a vast range of computer cases – so there is a chassis to suit every serious PC buff. The choice for gamers is also really interesting.
Quite often gamers will be totally focused on the task in hand – defeating the enemy in the game they are playing, or completing their special mission, or taking a sports team to the very brink of success – and beyond! Along the way to achieving those goals, serious gamers like to equip themselves with all of the right peripherals to help them with their task. They’ll be into upgrading their keyboard, mouse, headset, monitor, sound system… maybe even their desk-space itself. But one area which is obvious and which has been ripe for reinvention is computer cases for gaming.
A few paragraphs ago we discussed the idea of completely cannibalising your PC case (more commonly known as case-modding). But it’s also possible to not venture quite as far into the aesthetic otherworld, and just upgrade your computer case to something ‘a bit flashy’. You can easily find yourself something visually impressive without hacking a case to bits to reshape or rebuild it.
The AlphaSync range of PCs, for instance, is pre-built with not just the best internal components, but with the best externals. The specific idea of the case itself is to give off super-serious gamer vibes. AlphaSync achieves this by using high-quality cases which have different lighting systems built-in. So a choice of colourful cases on pre-built gaming systems is within easy reach from AlphaSync and Ebuyer.
Where can I buy PC cases?
The answer is obvious! Ebuyer, of course!
Not only do we stock a range of high quality cases at the more expensive end of the market, we also have a selection of high value computer cases for those who are watching their pennies a little more. You can still improve the look of your computer system by investing in a reasonably-priced case as, despite a budget price-bracket, some of them still have a host of amazing features (such as multi-coloured lighting).
Ebuyer also stocks a vast range of cases suited to whatever system you already have, or type of system you are setting up. Whether you’re a serious gamer or a business worker, or someone who likes to keep a spread-sheet hold on your home, or just someone who likes to tinker about on the internet, Ebuyer can provide a computer case suitable for you. We have full-sized tower cases, mid-tower cases, mini-tower cases and ATX cases. Whatever your PC’s form factor, whatever its purpose, or whatever your intention is for your computer in the future, Ebuyer has something for you…