Surprisingly, PC cases are not as simple as they may seem. Like a car or a house, the best PC case should have the right features to make it age well and stay competitive for long.
The ATX standard was introduced in 1995 by Intel to supersede the earlier Baby-AT standard, which was incompatible with modern motherboards. By ensuring that your chosen case is compliant with this standard, you are guaranteed that motherboard sizes and mounting holes will be compatible with most ATX boards.
There are a few features that every gaming PC case needs to offer to be a good fit for your gaming rig. If you’re buying ATX PC cases, here’s what you should look for:
1. Size/Form Factor
Sizing up a good case is most important for the functionality of your build, as well as improving airflow. Whether you’re building a full-size or mini ITX PC, the chances are that there’s a good amount of indicators on what cases will best suit your needs.
Take note of which components you will be using and whether or not they will need more room to breathe. For example, will you use larger graphics cards like the NVIDIA GTX 1080? If so, the chances are that you’ll need a spacious PC case with front/top USB 3.0 expansion ports and sufficient cooling for your airflow needs.
2. Shape Of The Case
The shape of the case is generally determined by its intended use. When building a gaming PC, you typically want to get one that allows for maximum airflow and quick access to the inside (or remove panels such as the top panel). It is especially the case for gamers because you need to clean and maintain your rigs regularly.
A good tip for finding out whether or not any case you’re looking at would work well with your build is to check out the front panel. You can also find cases with panoramic glass to see inside.
3. Front Ports And Expansion Slots
It is probably one of the essential features to look for when buying a case. A good gaming PC case should have decent front panel USB slots for you to connect your thumb drives, gamepads, and headsets easily. Expansion slots are usually available through the rear panels of ITX cases. Still, full-size towers come with expansion bays that would make for easier installation of GPUs, sound cards, and other components.
Unlike building a gaming desktop, you can’t easily upgrade or add components to ATX PC cases (unless that’s your sort of thing). Most computer cases come with front USB 3.0 ports for faster file transfers, but dual USB 2.0 should be enough for most gamers. If you want to get even more out of your case, look for one with front panel audio ports and additional USB 3.0/2.0 headers if necessary.
4. Internal Hardware Coverage
Computer cases comprise several internal components meant to support the motherboard, drives, power supply module, etc. These components should be able to protect your valuable parts from damage, especially when you’re transporting your build between LAN parties.
Computer cases usually come with one or more dust filters to keep the internals clear of dust while also offering thermal insulation for better cooling performance. Some models even have removable covers that can be taken off or put back on whenever necessary.
5. Cable Management
Cable management in computer cases has become a hot topic in recent years and one that users should be aware of. While most PC cases come with space behind the motherboard tray for cable management, some do not. If you’re someone who prefers keeping things clean and neat inside their PC case, look for one that gives you full access to the back of the motherboard.
There are several options for cable pass-throughs depending on your motherboard’s layout, component configuration, and available space inside the case.
6. Cooling Support
Your PC needs to be cooled if you’re aiming for an all-out overclocked build with powerful components. While many users may not need to use it, cold floor cooling has become a solid choice since it offers better cooling performance than air-based fans. Some computer cases are even designed to specifically fit cold floor cooling setups, while others are built with the option of adding external radiators (usually on top).
PC cases that can accommodate more than one cooling solution are also a plus. It’s called “maximizing your options” for a reason.
You can’t go wrong with most computer cases since most of them are already up to par with what you need for your gaming PC build. What’s important is that you prioritize your needs and their corresponding features to look through the best PC cases possible.