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Computer Cases

What is a Computer Case?

The computer case is often thought of as simply a decorative "wrapper" around the outside of the actual computer components. In reality, it is much more than that. It's main functions include the following:

  • Protecting the internals
  • Securing / anchoring the internals, so they cannot move about
  • Facilitating efficient cooling of the internals
  • Allowing easy access to ports and removable media

Computer Case Sizes

Computer cases are available in a number of different sizes, depending on your preference, notably:

[The larger] Tower cases normally support all the popular motherboard form factors, but you should always confirm this before purchase

  • Micro Tower/desktop : these are the smallest cases, able to take only microATX or miniITX motherboards, normally with a single drive. They are designed to fit discreetly on the desktop, taking up minimal space

  • Mini Tower : these used to be the smallest tower cases before the micro ones came along. They are designed to be stored on their end, under a desk, and typically have room for two internal drives and one removable media (-e.g. CD/DVD burner)

  • Midi Tower : these are probably the most popular case size. They are designed to be stored on their end, under a desk and they fall inbetween mini and full tower units in height. They typically have room for three or four internal drives and three or four removable media (-e.g. CD/DVD burner)

  • Full Tower : These are the largest cases and are also designed to be stored on their end, under a desk. They typically have room for several internal drives and several removable media (-e.g. CD/DVD burner)

Mini/Midi/Full tower cases normally support all the popular motherboard form factors, but you should always confirm this before purchase.

The pictures below show a typical example of a midi tower case, front, inside and rear:

A typical Midi-Tower case The interior of a tower case A typical Midi-Tower case rear panel

Note: that in the internal view, a mini-ITX motherboard is shown. The PSU is shown at the top and the rear-facing case fan is shown under it


Choosing a Computer Case

A quick search on "computer case" on the web will yield a surprising spread of prices; in general, it is best to avoid the cheapest and most expensive and go for a mid-price unit. Here are a number of points to consider when buying a new case:

  • Always verify the case will accommodate the size of motherboard that you are using

  • Always verify the case has enough drive bays to accommodate the number of drives you require

  • If you are going to be packing a lot of hot electronics inside it, check the case comes with -or can accommodate- additional fans. Cases aimed for high-end gaming machines can be bought which focus on keeping the innards as cool as possible to avoid potential problems

  • Be sure to check the web for reviews posted by other owners of your intended case before parting with your hard-earned cash


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