How to Choose A PC Case: 7 Things to Consider – The Ultimate Guide

When building or upgrading a PC, one of the most important decisions you'll make is what case to buy.

There are many factors to consider when making this choice, from the size and shape of the case to its cooling capabilities.

You can stop wasting time and energy searching for the best information. I did it all for you!

This article walks you through the seven most important features of cases and how they can affect your computer.

1- Budget
2- PC Case Form Factors: 4 Shapes and Sizes
PC Case Based On Size
PC Case Based On Form-Factor
3- Clearance and Compatibility Issues When Buying a PC Case
Graphics Card Length
Air CPU Cooler Height
Liquid Cooling Radiator Size
4- Computer Case: The Key to Cooling and Air Flow
5- Case Build Quality
6- PC case aesthetics and Cable management
7- What Features to Watch for in a PC Case
Drive bays and SSD mounting points
Front-panel connectivity
Dust filters
Graphics card facing direction
Pre-built PCs
Side fan location
See-Through Side Panels
RGB lighting
What to do next?

1- Budget

The first thing you need to consider is your budget. Cases come in a wide range of prices, and it’s important to find one that fits your needs without breaking the bank. There are definitely cases out there that will fit any budget, so don’t feel like you have to settle for something that’s too expensive.

2- PC Case Form Factors: 4 Shapes and Sizes

PC cases come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they can generally be classified into one of four categories based on their form-factor: tower, desktop, all-in-one, or mini. Each form-factor has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to choose the right case for your needs.

Tower cases are the largest and most versatile type of PC case. They typically have more drive bays and expansion slots than other form factors, making them ideal for high-end builds. They also tend to be the most expensive option.

Desktop cases are smaller than tower cases, but still offer plenty of space for building a powerful PC. They’re a good choice for people who want a powerful machine but don’t have a lot of room to spare.

All-in-one cases are the smallest and most compact form factor. They combine the motherboard, processor, and storage into a single unit that sits on or under your desk. All-in-one cases are ideal for small office or home setups.

Mini cases are even smaller than all-in-one cases and are designed for ultra-compact builds. They typically have limited expansion slots and drive bays, so they’re not suitable for high-end builds. However, they’re perfect for building a budget PC or a media center PC.

PC Case Based On Size

Now that you know about the different form-factors, let’s take a look at some specific case sizes.

Small form-factor cases are typically less than 10 inches wide, 10 inches deep, and 4 inches high. They’re perfect for building ultra-compact PCs, and they often have a mini-ITX or microATX motherboard form factor.

Mid-tower cases are the most popular type of PC case. They’re between 10 and 18 inches wide, 10 and 18 inches deep, and about 5 to 7 inches high. They can accommodate both large and small builds, making them a good choice for most people.

Full-tower cases are the largest PC cases available. They’re typically more than 18 inches wide, 18 inches deep, and 8 inches high. They offer the most room for expansion, making them ideal for high-end builds.

PC Case Based On Form-Factor

Now that you know about the different size options, let’s take a look at some specific form-factors.

Tower cases are the largest and most versatile type of PC case. They come in both small and large sizes, and they can accommodate a wide range of motherboard form factors.

Desktop cases are smaller than tower cases, but they still offer plenty of space for building a powerful PC. They come in both small and large sizes, and they typically have a microATX or ATX motherboard form factor.

All-in-one cases are the smallest and most compact form factor. They come in both small and large sizes, and they typically have a mini-ITX motherboard form factor.

Mini cases are the smallest PC cases available. They come in both small and large sizes, and they typically have a mini-ITX or microATX motherboard form factor.

Now that you know about the different case sizes and form-factors, you can choose the right case for your needs. Keep in mind that each type of case has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, so be sure to choose the one that best suits your needs.

3- Clearance and Compatibility Issues When Buying a PC Case

When you are choosing a case, make sure that all of the other parts will fit inside.

The most common problems with a PC case are clearance and compatibility. Make sure the PC will fit in your space, and make sure it has

  • Graphics card length
  • Air CPU cooler height
  • Liquid cooling radiator size

Let’s talk about these three things below.

Graphics Card Length

Your graphics card length is important because you don’t want it to hang out on the back of your PC. Most cases have a limit on how long the graphics card can be, so make sure you check before you buy.

Air CPU Cooler Height

If you plan on using an air CPU cooler, make sure it’s shorter than the height of your case. Most cases have a limit on how high the CPU cooler can be, so this is something you’ll want to check before you buy.

Liquid Cooling Radiator Size

If you’re using a liquid cooling system, make sure the radiator size will fit inside your case. Some cases have limited space formators, so this is another thing you’ll want to check before you buy.

4- Computer Case: The Key to Cooling and Air Flow

One of the most important factors in keeping your computer cool is selecting a case that is designed for good airflow. The front and back of the case should have plenty of ventilation, and the case should be roomy enough inside to allow air to circulate freely around all of the components. Cases with multiple fans are ideal, as they create more airflow than cases with a single fan.

If you are building a gaming computer, it is also important to select a case that is large enough to accommodate your graphics card and other components. Some high-end graphics cards are larger than standard cards, so make sure to measure the card and compare it to the dimensions of the cases you are considering.

5- Case Build Quality

The build quality of a computer case is what determines whether the case will fit together well, be easy to work on and last for years. A good computer case has strong seams that are mated together well. Screws should fit tightly into their mounting holes (though not so tight that they strip), and metal should be thick enough that the hardware is strong but not so thick that it makes working with it difficult or causes gaps in adjoining pieces of metal. The type of material used to make the case also contributes to its strength; stronger materials like aluminum can support heavier components than plastics, for example. Plastic cases often have some flex when you hold them by one corner, which can cause problems if your system is placed on an unstable surface.

The build quality of a case is also important for the ease with which you can work on it. Cases that have multiple panels that need to be removed in order to get to the internal components are more difficult to work on than cases with fewer or no panels. Good computer cases also use screws instead of rivets, so that all of the screws can be removed if needed.

6- PC case aesthetics and Cable management

PC case aesthetics matter a lot to some people. Cable management is as good as the ability to hide away cables as much as possible so they don’t interfere with airflow or look terrible.

PC cases have different cable management features, but most include some spots for cable routing and tie-downs at least on the top and bottom of the case, if not both sides. Many provide a cutout behind their motherboard tray for easy access to backside ports like USB 3.0/3.1 or audio jacks too (a common spot where you could stuff extra cabling), while others may offer dedicated spaces built right into their HDD trays for example for tucking away excess long SATA power/data cables (or even SSD mounts), plus this can be great for hiding/protecting your cables from accidental snags.

There are also aftermarket accessories to help with cable management, like:

-Cable combs which keep your cables tidy and all the same length – these can be especially useful if you have a lot of cables or very thick ones;

-Cable ties which are plastic (or metal) straps used to bundle cables together, usually with a little hole in one end so they can be fastened closed;

-Velcro ties which work the same way as cable ties but use Velcro instead of a hole;

-Cable ramps are little pieces of silicone or rubber that you place under your cables to help guide them over obstacles and keep them well away from fans or other hot components.

-Cable extensions are usually small connectors that you plug into your motherboard’s PCIe slots to give you extra space behind for routing cables between another device and the case, so you can connect things like front panel USB ports without needing a bunch of wasteful extenders.

This is also useful if you have a GPU with large heatsinks, near the bottom connector(s) there might not be enough clearance for using an extender/adapter to attach it directly to the case instead.

Some manufacturers include some kind of covers over their power supply mount to help keep it clean (e.g. Corsair Carbide Series), but this is rare; most opt for simply covering them in a shroud (which can also hide indicator LEDs).

Cable management can be a real pain, but it’s worth taking the time to do it properly. Not only will your components run cooler and quieter, but you’ll also be less likely to experience any stability issues. And, if nothing else, your PC will look a whole lot neater. 

In conclusion, cable management is an important part of building a PC. By following these tips, you can help keep your cables organized and out of the way, which will lead to better performance and a more aesthetically pleasing computer. 

7- What Features to Watch for in a PC Case

Drive bays and SSD mounting points

Many PC cases have drive bays and/or SSD mounting points on the front, top, or side of the case. This can be really convenient if you want to add an extra drive or two, especially if they’re of the 2.5” variety since those don’t take up much space. However, it can also lead to more cables being visible. If you’re not too worried about how your case looks, then feel free to place drives wherever is most convenient for you. But if aesthetics are important to you, try to use as few drive bays as possible and put SSDs on the motherboard instead. This will help keep cable clutter down and make your build look a bit neater.

Front-panel connectivity

It’s a good idea to plug in front-panel connectors before you put your motherboard into the case. This includes items like USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 jacks, as well as audio ports (either optical or analog), and there are usually at least two of each on the front of a PC case. If you wait until after the motherboard is in, it can be difficult to get at the connectors, and you might have to remove the entire front panel of the case.

Dust filters

Many cases have dust filters that slide out from the front or top of the case, and most manufacturers recommend you clean them regularly to keep your PC running optimally. However, if you’re going to put a drive in one of the bays near these filters, it will be difficult to get at them. Furthermore, the drives might block the airflow of your fans, which will raise both your CPU and GPU temperatures. So try to avoid putting drives here if you can.

Graphics card facing direction

If your graphics card sits near the top or bottom of the case where you’ll be able to see it through a window (which is quite common for microATX or ATX cases), you might want to have it face the other way so its ports are more easily accessible. This will keep all of the cables leading from your GPU hidden, and you won’t need to worry about whether they’ll fit where you want them when you install the card in your case.

If you have a large graphics card with heatsinks on the back, it can be difficult to attach it directly to the case using an extender or adapter. In this situation, try putting it in one of the drive bays and using a shorter extender. This will help keep the card cooler by giving it some breathing room, and it will also make cable management easier.

Pre-built PCs

If you’re building a PC from scratch, it can be difficult to make sure your cables are out of sight. If at all possible, choose an open-box pre-built system instead of buying one with a side panel or window that might obstruct your view; otherwise, you might have to get creative with how you route your cables.

Side fan location

Some cases have a side-panel fan mount, but if the case only has the mount on one side of the panel, it can be difficult to attach fans there without them being visible through a window. This is because most PC cases are designed with a gap between the case and the side panel to accommodate for things like handles or ventilation grates. This can be resolved by putting your fans on another mount that’s more centrally located, such as a drive bay, or you could just remove the side panel entirely if it’ll make your PC look better.

See-Through Side Panels

If you have a see-through side panel on your case, it’s a good idea to tidy up your cables as much as possible. One way to do this is to use cable combs, which can be purchased from most major retailers. These will help organize and straighten your cables, making them less visible from the outside. You can also try tucking them away behind the motherboard or using zip ties to attach them to the frame of the case.

In conclusion, there are a few things to keep in mind when building or choosing a PC case. Make sure you plug in all of the front-panel connectors, install any dust filters, and choose a graphics card that faces the right direction. If you have a large graphics card, you should try to use an extender instead of attaching it directly to the case. If your case has a side panel fan mount, make sure your fans will fit before attaching them there, and if you plan on adding RGB lighting, do so after installing any front panel connectors. All of this will help keep cables out of sight and ensure that your computer looks as good as it runs!

RGB lighting

If you want to add RGB lighting to your PC, it’s a good idea to install your front panel connectors before attaching the lighting strips. Otherwise, they might get in the way of where you attach them on your case or won’t have enough slack if you have a particularly long cable. If you do put the lighting on the motherboard, make sure to install the included RGB header if your board has one. This will usually be near the CPU socket and will have a few more pins than a regular LED header.

What to do next?

Choosing a PC case is an important decision, but it doesn’t have to be daunting. We hope that the information in this post has helped you narrow down your options and get on the right track towards finding a case that suits your needs while also fulfilling some of your personal preferences.

Check out our next post about how to choose a CPU cooler for your rig!