There are a lot of guides on how to buy the best graphics card or the best cpu for gaming, but a few sites talk about how really you can get the best case for your build. I am personally fond of good looking cases because a high end build with a cheap case or a poorly designed case looks nothing.
Many gamers are enthusiast and they want the best case that has a lot of lightings, space, ventilation, custom fans and a unique designs. And I agree with them as traditional cases with the same design don’t fulfill our needs now a days. But still it really doesn’t mean that you should invest hundreds of dollars in case only.
But there are some factors which you should consider before buying a good case for your build. If you buy all the parts by doing a lot of research and dedication, remember I have seen that when it comes to buying a case, many people buy cases that aren’t compatible with there components.
And that should not happen. You don’t want your newly bought graphics card or a cpu cooler incompatible with your case. For these small and unnoticeable reasons I have decided to write a complete guide on how you can buy a great case. And from reading this guide only you don’t have to wander on different forums asking what should you buy?
I have done a lot of research and by my personal experience of buying a lot of cases, I have put those factors that unfortunately you will not find anywhere on internet. If you think I am joking, just go ahead and read what I mean.
#1. Form factor
On number one comes the form factor which means how big should be your case. Should it be a mini ITX case, a micro ATX case , an ATX mid tower, an ATX full tower or an E-ATX full tower.
What these mean actually depends on your components. And these components include the motherboard, cpu cooler, graphics card and power supply. The first among these comes the motherboard. The motherboards have also the same form factors as these cases.
Depending upon the COMPONENTS you have to buy the most suitable case. You can’t do it the vice versa or you will end up buying bad components. For these different types of motherboards the cases are designed as following:-
|Case Type||Motherboard Type|
|Mini-ITX/Micro ATX/Mid ATX/Full ATX tower||Mini-ITX|
|Micro ATX/Mid ATX/Full ATX tower||Micro-ITX|
|Mid ATX/Full ATX tower||ATX|
|Full ATX/E-ATX tower||EATX|
It’s easy to get a simple idea of how you can get the required case for your build. But before that you should know what size each type of motherboard has. In simple words, the Mini-ITX motherboard is the smallest one having only one PCI e x 16 slot for graphics card and no other PCI slot below or above it.
For these types of motherboards you can get a case with any form factor. Be sure you check it’s description before buying as there are many Full towers that don’t support the Mini-ITX motherboards but many do. Gamers also build a Mini-ITX build with these motherboards that use cases like Cooler Master Elite 130 and Thermaltake V1. These cases only support Mini-ITX motherboards and can be used for a budget build as well as a high end build and that of course depends upon the components you use.
For most of Mini-ITX cases you can’t buy too long graphics cards and cannot upgrade them by adding too much components because of lack of space. These are small, compact and can only support one graphics card and a few storage devices. Optimal ventilation is always provided with them so you don’t have to worry about heating. For the best Mini-ITX cases you can check my article.
For Micro-ATX motherboards
Now coming to the bigger motherboards we have Micro ATX motherboards which have more slots like PCI slots, PCIe x 1 slots and upto 4 DIMM slots for Ram. These are bigger and are stuffed with more storage devices ports, USB ports and Display ports(HDMI/DVI/DP/VGA etc.). Therefore they require bigger sized cases.
Now there are three choices for you here: Micro-ATX case, Mid tower case and full tower case. I never recommend a Micro-ATX case unless you are on a very tight budget as there are a lot of limitations to it. You will regret after some months or a year because you will not be able to upgrade your pc to higher end components as the case doesn’t have the compatibility.
I had a cheap zebronics Micro-ATX case two years back and it hardly supported a simple small one fan gtx 650 ti and assembling would easily take me an hour whereas in my new ANTEC mid tower case it takes just 20 minutes in all. The thing which was going wrong was that due to the compact size of the case it was harder for me to install a graphics card, hard drive and optical drive as the wires would come in between and installing one component made it difficult for me to install the other one as a lot of area was covered already.
Wiring was a headache and after connecting every cable, the extras were just lying above the cpu cooler fan and sometimes would come into it making it stop or producing a lot of noise. But still there are some good Micro-ATX towers you won’t be having that much problem with like Rosewill FBM-01 which is priced for $30 and is highly rated for budget builds. But still it’s better to get at least a mid tower.
Also I don’t recommend a full tower as you will end up wasting your money for some basic requirements that you can fulfill with a mid tower. But if you are planning to upgrade your “motherboard” to a ATX or an EATX in future , there is no problem in getting a full tower.
For ATX and E-ATX motherboards
An ATX motherboard has 4 DIMM slots, at least 2 PCI e x 16 slots for graphics cards and a few PCI e x 1 or PCI slots. These are even bigger and has more ports for hard drives, ssd’s and USB drives. E-ATX motherboards are even bigger having a total of 8 DIMM slots and at least 4 PCI e x 16 slots for graphics cards and may or may not have PCI e x 1 slots as a lot of them have all the inbuilt sound and lan cards.
You need at least a Mid tower or a Full tower for these motherboards. All mid towers support the ATX form factor motherboards but only a full tower can support an E-ATX motherboard. So remember it before buying.
#2. With or without Power supply
Generally good cases don’t come with power supplies but there are some which come with 400w or more. But these cases are cheap and generally cost around 30-40 dollars which makes them already crap for use. Seriously, $30 for a Micro-ATX case can be explained but getting it with a pre-installed power supply in the same price makes no sense. These power supplies are a NO NO for a gaming pc.
Yes they can be good for normal day to day use but there are two disadvantages for using it in a Gaming pc. First: The power supply doesn’t have a 6pin/8pin power connector for graphics cards.
Second: Even if it has, it really doesn’t matter as the power supply uses cheap components which aren’t safe for protecting your components from Overvoltage or Overcurrent.
So I recommend buying a case without a power supply every time. Because you get a good quality and sturdy case and a choice of selecting your power supply.
#3. Storage Facilities
Storage devices like Hard drives and SSD’s are used more than one in quantity in almost every gaming build. As many want to use Hdd’s and SSd’s together, they want the installation to be simple and easy as possible. For this your case should have at least two mounts for Hard drives and two mounts for SSD’s.
Many cases have 4 or more mounts for storage devices and they are combo for both HDD’s and SSD’s. So you can install either a HDD or a SSD according to your need. I prefer these types of cases as you are free to use what ever you want to.
Your second preference should be Tool FREE mount bays as these are easy to use and don’t require any screw driver for installation. Generally good quality mid towers and full towers from renowned brands like ANTEC, Corsair and NZXT have this feature.
You can also opt for the cases in which there are separate mount bays for SSD’s and are hidden either at the back of the motherboard mounting plate or even behind the HDD mount bays just like the following Corsair Obsidian Series 750D case.
#4. PCI expansion slots and Front panel ports
PCI expansion slots are very good factors for determining how much big motherboard and graphics cards your case can support. A simple micro-ATX motherboard has 4-5 PCI expansion slots which is enough for a budget build with a micro-ATX motherboard. But a full ATX tower may need more than 5 PCI expansion slots as the PCI-e x 16 slots and PCI x 1 slots may have a big gap between them in order to support bulky graphics cards.
For this there are full towers which may have upto 9 PCI expansions slots. They can support as many as upto 4 graphics cards in SLI/CrossfireX.
Before buying a case see your motherboard how it’s PCI slots and PCI e x 16 slots are aligned. If you need to add another graphics card then you should be able to do it easily in your case. Also check whether your power supply (If at the bottom in most of the cases now a days) doesn’t disallow you to add these graphics cards/sound/wifi cards.
#5. Cable management and grommets
Sometimes even checking the above 4 steps isn’t enough. You can make mistake just like I did when it came to checking cable management and grommets. This is the most important factor if you want a cleaner build. You don’t want your wires to be spread all around the case and fall into your cpu fan.
Check whether your side panel at the side of the motherboard mounting plate is concave. It will ensure easy and clear wiring without putting pressure at the side panel. When I bought my case, I just forget to check it and now I use to force the wires by pressing them with the panel or the panel won’t fit properly.
Check the grommets of your case. It’s very important that your case has several grommets. Some cases don’t have adequate amount of grommets or don’t have them at right places. You should make sure that your case should at least have a big grommet for 24 pin power connector for your motherboard.
Grommets at the bottom of your motherboard mounting plate at the left and right side for front headers and USB/Audio jacks are also important. Or you will have to make their way from the front rather than the back which will result in unclean build and will put difficulties in installing graphics cards.
#6. Custom fans and coolers compatibility
Now comes the ventilation which is second most important thing after components compatibility. It depends upon you how much ventilation you want. Many casual gamers prefer normal cooling and install two or three fans max. But if you are an enthusiast gamer and have a high end components with overclocking capability then you must choose a case with honey comb mesh at different places along with 4-7 custom fans support.
The fans slots should be at the front bottom/ rear/ bottom and at the top. For adequate cooling I have already explained the 9 steps for proper cooling and you can also read my article on The best custom fans for Cooling.
On the other hand it is necessary to cool your cpu more than the other components. CPU’s like i5 6600k, i7 6700k and other high end processors require a custom aftermarket cooler for overclocking above 4.2Ghz. Now there are two choices for CPU coolers. One is air cooler and the other is liquid cpu cooler.
Here is the list of Best Air Cpu Coolers you can get for your cpu.
Air coolers need need more height than the stock coolers. A good cpu cooler like Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO needs at least 159mm of space to be installed. Other coolers like Noctua NH-D15 needs even more. So you should make ensure that your case has this much compatibility by checking the specs at it’s official website.
As far as Liquid cpu coolers are concerned, they require one or two fan radiator space which can have fan size of 80mm or 120mm. Height is not a factor here and many mid towers/full towers have this feature already.