As I said in the first part of this article component choice is one of the most confusing elements of building a PC. In future articles I will outline every component you will need when building a computer along with the different options for each component with budget, mid-range and enthusiast in mind. This part will start with the case.
Probably the most overlooked “component” when building a computer, the case is actually very important not only because it is the part of the computer you have to look at everyday but also because it has a key part to play in deciding what components to buy. For example a micro atx case will probably be unable to house a large graphics card or hold that many hard drives. On the other hand a full tower case will take up a large amount of room. Case choice is probably one of the harder areas to make suggestions for, as aesthetically every case is different and will appeal to different people. In general though most people will go for a mid-tower case.
Budget: Antec Three Hundred
Made from metal and costing just under £50 the Antec Three Hundred really is the best budget case available today. The front panel contain two USB 2.0 ports as well as space for three 5.25” drive bays. There is also space for six 3.5” hard drives. The case even comes with one 120mm fan and one 140mm fan. All in all it is an excellent case for the price and although you miss out on some high end touches such as anti-noise measures or watercooling friendly features the Antec Three Hundred is certainly the budget case to beat.
Mid-range: Fractal Design Arc Midi
There are an absurd number of cases around the £70-100 range and for this reason it is almost impossible to make a single recommendation for a case in this price bracket. However, at the lowest end of this price spectrum the Fractal design arc midi represents astonishing value for money. I personally have the arc midi and found assembly in the case to be very straightforward. It comes with a couple of front USB 2.0 ports and a USB 3.0 port. Not only that but it has space for two 5.25” drive bays as well as eight 3.5” drive trays. It also comes with three 140mm fans. The fans are of high quality and are relatively quiet. Indeed rarely are so many fans included in a case of this price. Finally it should also be noted that the case is made from steel with a plastic front panel.
Enthusiast: Corsair 600t (mid tower)/ Coolermaster HAF X V2 (Full Tower)
The Corsair 600t is an ATX/mATX mid tower case that comes in both white and black and costs £130-140. The design of this case is both simple yet beautiful and offers all the features you could want from a case of this price. It comes with both mesh and windowed side panels as well as two 200mm fans. Most cases either come with a couple of 120mm fans or a 140mm fan and so the inclusion of two 200mm fans certainly implies that this is a premium product. It also has space for up to six 3.5” drives along with eight expansion slots. Expansion slots are important as they allow you to have more graphics cards in your system as well as other components that take up PCI express slots such as sound cards. You may not feel you will need so many slots when you are first devising your system but it is important to note that the case is one area of your system that doesn’t need updating every year or two and can outlast many different builds. Therefore it is always nice to have the space to expand in the future.
The Coolermaster HAF XV2 is the only full tower on this list and represents great performance in a large and customisable case. Being a full tower case the HAF can fit in it every size of motherboard, although to take advantage of all its features you really should be looking into fitting it with an ATX board. With nine expansion slots and plenty of space for watercooling the HAF exemplifies the features expected in an enthusiast level case. The front panel also includes the most ports of the cases covered. It has two USB 3.0 , two USB 2.0, e-SATA and Firewire ports as well as a microphone and headphone jack. Finally the case includes one 230mm front intake fan, a 200mm roof fan, a 200mm side fan and one 140mm exhaust fan. Overall it is a fantastic case, well worth the £130 price, and although it is probably too large for the average consumer it is well worth considering if you have the money and the space.