Choosing a case is just a starting point for building your dream PC. But the market offers many designs which, despite their hot looks, can cause air flow issues. Air flow is essential for maintaining a high level of performance for the entire setup: when problems appear here, power ratings have to be decreased for many components.
A good example here is the NVIDIA graphics card range, with their dynamic automatic overdrive options strongly depending on core temperature. The higher the temperature, the lower the clocks are set, thus lowering GPU performance.
The problem is similar with CPUs – when these reach the maximum temperature, core frequencies will be decreased, too, for failure prevention reasons.
In this guide, I will show you what is essential for choosing a PC case, so that you can avoid getting an ‘oven’ and paying for it too much.
Mesh is everything!
The best way to keep a PC case well ventilated is to implement a mesh at front. This type of material protects the machine from larger particles and at the same time lets a lot of air in and out. Hence, your fans will not have to struggle with resistance, becoming more quiet as a result.
Also, a mesh is easy to clean. Just use a toothbrush and a vacuum tube to take off all dust.
If a front panel of a case is solid, whether made of glass or plastic, pay attention to the side inlet widths. The larger they are, the less resistance they generate. If the air needs to get in through a smaller opening, it will generally require higher pressure and, for that, higher performing and often louder fans. This is what everyone wants to avoid.
Filters, filters, and then some more filters
Dust filters are installed by default today at the front, rear and top of PC cases. If there are none on a case beyond the PLN 150 threshold, you should reject the product right from the start. Why? Because isolating PC components from dust extends their life.
After all, any kind of electronic parts wear off sooner if they operate at higher temperatures. The presence of dust particles in CPU or GPU cooling reduce the risk of heat emission, thus increasing these temperatures.
Hence, you should take some time twice a year to clean up your PC, vacuuming the filters, fans and cooling ribs. I am not talking about thermal paste replacement – these need refreshing about once a year.
Cable management and service openings
If you intend to switch to a different case by yourself, or if you are building your own PC from scratch, you can make use of a simple and well conceived cable management scheme. You will recognize it when you see a nice layout of service openings for routing cables from power supply to the right motherboard and graphics card connectors.
Some cases feature integrated rails, other have special velcro loops added. There are lots of ways to do this, but with cheaper designs, you have to do with tiny anchors only for the attachment of ties.
Indeed, anyone building a PC should buy a whole pack of plastic ties. Otherwise, you should expect some really hard time. Another item that will make your life easier is a modular power supply, where you can get rid of unnecessary cables.
You should consider removing a drive cage in smaller cases, such as the MSI Forge 100M, unless you are still using 3.5” HDDs. When you get rid of that, you have more space for power supply cables and more compatibility with front-mounted watercooling options.
Large fans that may rotate slowly
If you find quiet PC important under load, pay attention to fan sizes and speeds. The rule is simple: The larger it is, the fewer revolutions are needed to push the same quantity of air into the case.
In cheaper designs, you will usually find 120mm parts, yet when you move further towards the premium segment, 140mm or even 200mm components are more widespread.
To see the latter, look at the MSI SEKIRA 500X as an example. To boost this edition, the Dragon team added ARGB lighting to their large fans, but it is the size that is actually doing the job here.
For most products available on the market, it is ideal to keep fan speed below 1000 rpm. If your fans are fitted with 4-pin PWM, you can set their curves manually from your motherboard BIOS. I also recommend syncing them with CPU temperature (if air cooled) or wth GPU (if you’ve chosen watercooling for CPU).
People often choose PC cases when they love the looks. Unfortunately, it does not always come together with performance; so you should first cover the four areas I discussed above.
Otherwise, you risk getting a hot oven, decreasing your PC life by a few years and taking away some FPS in any game you play for more than 20 minutes. So I sincerely recommend
to look for front mesh PC cases, as they are the safest choice in this extensive market.