Computer Cases – a new kid on the block.

My recent problems with my main computer, detailed in another post, has allowed me to compare enclosures from different manufactures, and get a better idea of what I prefer in computer cases.

Computer cases come in four basic sizes.  A microATX Desktop size, either horizontal or vertical, for those who perfer tiny computers to put on their desk.  These require microATX motherboards.  And then there are three full ATX motherboard sizes: a miniTower, about 8.3" high; a mid tower, about 17" high, and a full tower, about  24" high.

I only use full towers, yes, I know they are big, but I have the room in my office, and more important, my fingers are not the most dexterous.  I need the extra room to squeeze my fingers into the tight holes to plug-in all those cables.  As an aside, I highly recommend magnetic screw drivers when assembling computers to retrieve dropped screws.

I have recently worked with two different  brands of full tower computer cases, the older Antec P180 case, and the newer Gigabyte 3Dmars enclosure, by uninstalling and reinstalling components multiple times, I have some comparisons, and recommendations, if your purchasing a new computer case.

I purchased my original Antec P180 case about two years ago.  I was trying to build an extremely quiet, fast, graphic computer.  That meant I would have a lot of heat from the power supply,  graphic card, and the computer chip.  I wanted a large case with quiet,  120mm fans, there are three in the Antec case, and I decided the heavy steel enclosure would help deaden the sound.

The Antec case had problems.  There was a separate bottom compartment for the power supply.  I don't like separate compartments, where non-standard size components cause major headaches.  I had purchased an extended, in length,  750W power supply that caused me to reconfigure the power supply auxiliary fan out of the compartment.  The power supply then barely fit into the compartment.   And I don't know why Antec put the power supply compartment  at the bottom, so heat would rise into the rest of the computer.

The most anoying problem was the power switch was hard to operate.  Apparently steel and plastic don't fit well together causing separation in the power switch.  It wouldn't come on, you had to jiggle it, keep it pressed in, and then maybe it would come on.  In the end, I had to resort to shorting the power contacts on the motherboard with a screwdriver to start the computer, ugh.

The drives used screw-in rubber grommets that matched up to holes in the detachable drive compartment to suppress noise.  The DVD's required you to mount rails to the sides of the DVD that clicked into the case.

The Gigabyte case was the newer case.  It had one big, huge enclosure.  There is plenty of room for easy assembly.  The power supply went in smoothly, in the top of the case, so heat leaves the enclosure without passing across the motherboard.  A better layout.  The case was a very sturdy aluminum, so it was lighter, but just as sturdy as the Antec steel case.  The power switch worked, oh joy!   One of the design features was scratch-resistent edges, so no cut fingers.  It had holes for liquid cooling, if I wanted to go that route.  There was a flip lid to anchor the plug-in boards, no screws.  Anyone who has had to screw in audio and video boards, knows what this means in not having to fish around for dropped screws.

The DVD slid in on the case rails without any screws, and was held in place with slide pressure pads, easy.  The hard drives had their own enclosure and were screwed into the side of the enclosure with big thumb screws.  Everything went into the case smoothly.

The Antec case arguably was quieter, but there's something to be said for easy assembly.  The Gigabyte case gets outstanding reviews from users, including myself, it makes computer assembly a joy.  For years the name in computer cases has been Antec.  I'm here to report they have lost some of their luster, and I've switched.   My next case will be Gigabyte case.

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