When building a PC, choosing a case and working out what features you need your case to have can seem more complicated than it sounds, This article will simplify the process of choosing a case by explaining what terms like ATX and ITX mean and what you should look for in a case.

Sizing

The first thing to consider is size: motherboards come in different sizes and these correspond to PC case sizes. Mini ITX is the smallest, then MicroATX, then ATX and finally extended ATX or eATX. Always choose the right size case for your motherboard, if you have an ITX motherboard and you use an ATX case then you’re wasting space and pushing the components on your motherboard closer together than necessary. You should always match the motherboard size with the corresponding case size.

Small cases are great if you need to travel or really want to save space but larger cases have more space and are generally easier to build in. Another thing to consider is that not all motherboard chipsets come in all sizes, you won’t find a premium board that’s capable of SLI in the ITX size because there simply isn’t enough space for two graphics cards.

You should always look at the specifications of the case you are looking at as some, especially the smaller ones, have restrictions on the size of the cooler, the power supply and the graphics card that can fit inside while some cases have more hard drive or SSD bays than others. Some cases also features removable hard drive bays so that you can fit a larger graphics card inside.

Features

If you’re going down the custom water cooling route, it’s important to ensure that the case supports this and has space for pumps and custom loops to be mounted. Another thing to take into consideration is the number and type of fans included in the case. You can always replace the fans is you’d prefer fancy lighting or better cooling power but it works out much cheaper to choose a case which comes with adequate fans. Another great feature to look out for is a magnetic dust filter, you don’t want dust getting into your system and causing thermal issues and magnetic dust filters not only prevent this, they are also very easy to remove, clean and replace.

Cases with cable management gromits or shrouds help organise and conceal the guts of your PC so that’s another feature to look out for in a case. Another thing to consider is the case front IO, whether it has features that you need such as USB 3 or USB type C. Most cases these days come with 2 USB 2 and 2 USB 3 ports as well as a power button and headphone and microphone jacks for front I/O.

Finally, make sure to look at reviews for whatever case you’re thinking about buying because the build quality is very important when it comes to the ease of using the case and its longevity.