So we’ve been over the benefits of choosing a quality case for your PC, but it’s only when someone really gets into buying a case that they realize a very obvious but often overlooked factor.
That factor is, case size.
So obviously factors like looks, quality, practicality, dust protection and air flow are essential to making your choice. But there is no point in focusing on any of those if you’re going to get stuck with a case that simply doesn’t fit where you want it to fit, or is a pain to move around if you do that a lot.
Naturally, like I’ve said before, if portability is your main priority, you need a laptop. But what if portability is important but not your main concern.
What if you just want a small PC case that will fit into a living room and house a home theater PC, or if you want a powerful desktop PC that you can easily carry around to either a gaming LAN party at a friend’s house, or transport it back and forth from your house to a cottage where you like to spend your holidays.
On the other hand, what if you want a PC that has an imposing presence and can house all your super expensive and high end components, like double graphics cards, with plenty of room to spare for airflow, modifications and any additional components you might want in the future. Needless to say, this computer is not to be moved around. It’s the main pillar of your high end gaming/work station.
We can understand that those two users cannot possibly be looking for the same kind of case.
The first user should be looking for a mini or micro case and the second user should be looking for a full tower.
Then there is the third user, who is the average user and just wants a computer case of normal size that will sit on his desk or under it, house all his components comfortably and be capable of getting moving around if necessary. This user is looking for a mid-tower case, which is the most common form of PC case.
In other words, size matters. Perseverance and technique can only get you so far.
Alright maybe I should clarify that point.
Sure you can try to stuff your super high end stuff, like your massive graphics card/s into a small case, you can try to regularly move around a full tower, you can get clever and mod your case or find the perfect components to make your life less miserable, but that’s not really what you want.
You don’t want to be stuck with the wrong choice and have to put up with it for eternity, while staying in denial and drooling over other.. cases.
So now that I’m done punning around, let’s take a look at the main sizing of cases and what they are good for. They are organized from smallest to biggest.
The smallest cases you can find(apart from custom made PCs)
Those are perfect for those that have limited space to place their PC in. They are easy to store and easy to move around. They have one big drawback and that’s that they required special components (mini motherboards, mini graphics cards, small CPU coolers etc.) Another drawback is that they can be pretty hard to work with, making taking stuff in and out a potential nightmare.
The second smallest cases you can find.
They are a compromise between mini towers and mid towers.
Therefore, you can expect them to take less space and be easier to move around, while being less cramped and potentially less complicated than a mini case.
One benefit they have over mini towers, is that they can take in regular components. You just have to use a micro motherboard, which are very common in average PCs, potentially even more so than normal sized motherboards. Just be careful when finding a graphics card or a CPU cooler, because the massive ones might not fit.
Those can also be a pain to work with, depending on their layout. Many of them have a normal layout which is easy and straightforward to work with, but some of them, like the Bitfenix Prodigy, have an odd layout and very tight spaces, which can make placing and removing components an absolute nightmare (talking from personal experience).
This is the most common form of computer case. It is not a compromise in anything, because it’s the standard size that most components are created for. Everything but obnoxiously big stuff will fit in most of them. They are recommended for all kinds of regular builds. Extreme gaming PCs that have two or more graphics cards and serious workstations or servers, might have to use larger kinds of cases to fit everything comfortably and with good airflow.
Due to them being so common, mid towers often vary a lot in specific characteristics that might determine whether components like large graphics cards will fit in them or not, so always take a look at dimensions if it seems that there is limited space for installing a component you’re looking for.
Those are the most impressive cases you can find. They are mostly used by people with extreme gaming rigs that need something to both fit their components comfortably and visually complement their build.
Serious workstation PCs and servers can also use those types of cases, although servers often use special cases.
Their main advantage is that they are very roomy and will fit pretty much any component.
Their disadvantages are that they are typically very expensive and that they are hard to store and move around.
Overall there is no real reason to choose one if you don’t need the extra space. They are likely to have great airflow due to all the space available too, but any quality case can have great airflow so that’s not really a benefit over other categories.
Those are the weirder kind of pc case that is pretty useful for places with limited space, or for living rooms where they need to blend in. They can be put in the same category as mini towers, since they also often require mini hardware. Their advantage is their shape, which might be ideal for some users and the location they want to place their computer in. Naturally though, they are more complicated to build than regular PC cases and cooling can be a problem.
Custom ultra-small PCs:
The final category are ready made PCs that are extremely small and often try to replace gaming consoles and laptops as portable machines used for entertainment or gaming. Those are often cubes, but they can also take other shapes. They are obviously extremely portable and easy to store, but they more often than not suffer from high temperatures that limit their performance.
If you have any questions, suggestions or even disagreements, please comment them on here and we can talk about them. You can also email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Thanks for reading!
*All pictures are taken from the web*