There are several advantages to upgrading your existing computer case. You might want additional room for expansion or you may want to have more ventiallation implemented into the PC's design for overclocking purposes. You might desire some fancy features such as clear side panels or glowing fans and lights; or you might be interested in upgrading your front-panel connectors to support the latest and greatest connection types.
Whatever your decision for upgrading to a new chassis, this section will outline the various types of case designs / case form factors that are available for your upgrading needs.
Questions To Answer
Before making any purchasing decisions, you might want to answer yourself these questions:
- How many internal storage devices do you have or plan on implementing? Ensure the case you upgrade to has room to accomodate all of your storage drives.
- How many expansion cards do you run in your existing setup? Ensuring that the case supports at least 5 expansion cards is a good guideline that the case you are buying is adequate for the peripherals you plan on installing.
- What type of motherboard do you own? Ensuring the new case supports your motherboard should be the first question you need to answer. Remember that Micro ATX cases will fit into ATX cases but ATX motherboards won't fit into Micro ATX cases.
The most common form factors for motherboards are ATX and MicroATX.. Any case that supports ATX motherboards will also support microATX boards. ATX cases are very easy to find and very common.
There are many other form factors but they are all much less common. Measure your motherboard or look in your motherboard to determine your motherboard form factor.
- What type of power supply unit do you own? The power supply unit powers on all devices within the computer. There are different sizes and classifications of power supplies, so you will need to ensure the PSU fits adequately into the new case. Much like motherboards, a PSU designed for MicroATX motherboards will not fit properly into a case made for ATX motherboards. The power connectors and form factors are different.
- Can the parts in your exisiting computer support an upgrade? If you own a proprietary system (one that is pre-built by a major manufacturer such as Dell, IBM, or Acer), then chances are the parts inside cannot support an upgrade to a new case design because of the limitations imposed by proprietary technologies.
Choosing A Suitable Case For The Upgrade
The size and shape of a component is called the form factor. The most popular case form factors are as follows:
■ Mid- or mini-tower
■ Low-profile (also called slimline)
These are not official form factors like those for motherboards and power supplies; however, each specific case is designed to accept a specific motherboard and power supply form factor. You have to
ensure that the particular case you choose will accept the type of motherboard and power supply you
want to use.
After you have settled on a case form factor, you need to choose one that supports the motherboard
and power supply form factors you want to use. The smaller mini-tower or slimline cases often accept
only microATX, FlexATX, or even smaller motherboards, which somewhat limits your choices.
Within the ATX and BTX families, a larger case always accepts the smaller motherboards. For example,
if a case accepts a full-size ATX motherboard, it also accepts microATX and FlexATX motherboards.
The case you choose is really a matter of personal preference and system location. Most people feel
that the tower systems are roomier and easier to work on, and the full-sized tower cases have a lot of
bays for various storage devices. Tower cases typically have enough bays to hold floppy drives, multiple
hard disk drives, SSDs, optical drives, tape drives, and anything else you might want to install.
However, some of the desktop cases can have as much room as the towers, particularly the mini- and
mid-tower models. In fact, a tower case is sometimes considered a desktop case turned sideways, or
vice versa. Some cases are convertible—that is, they can be used in either a desktop or tower orientation.
When it comes to the power supply, the most important consideration is how many devices you plan
to install in the system and how much power they require.
Economy / Budget Cases
These cases are extraordinarily ordinary and don't offer much in way of bells and whistles. Expect to pay anywhere between $25 and $40 for this type of case. The upgradeability is limited although the front panel connectors make it easy to connect USB devices, and audio cables to your computer speakers.
Mid Range Cases
These Mid Range cases offer more room for expansion typically in the amount of storage drives they can hold.
Expect to pay anywhere from $75 - $200 for a midrange case of this class.
These cases may have or be missing a number of features that suit your needs. The most important variable to consider is the dimensions of the case since you'll want to know at the outset that your new chassis can hold all of your system's components without difficulty. Problems may arise if, for example, you have an extralong video card that won't fit into a case because of its internal components. If you have multiple cables, liquid cooling tubes, or huge CPU coolers to accommodate, double-check that your PC parts will fit comfortably within the prospective new case before buying it.
Exterme High End Cases
These high end cases (with a dollar value in excess of $200) offer extreme upgradability. Cases at the high end of the spectrum may come with a ton of cooling, fan controllers, and other switchable features built directly into the chassis. Some may cover every inch of the inside surface with soundproof acoustic foam; others may come with water-cooling loops built into the chassis.. And finally, some cases may be expensive simply because they're huge.