Let's start off our computer building purchases with the computer case. The truth of the matter is, you don't need a computer case. Huh? If push comes to shove, you could just place the parts of the computer out on your living room rug, plug the parts together, and theoretically, you could run your computer. Of course, if the cat ran across the motherboard, he could get electrocuted, and it could start a fire in your rug, and certainly it would take up a lot of space on the floor that visitors would have to be careful to step over. The purpose of the computer case is to enclose all the computer parts, and that's why it's also called an enclosure. It encloses all you computer parts in a nice, aethetically pleasing, neat, and safe environment. Put a power switch and reset button on the case, a couple of connector ports on the front and wahlah!. We have a computer case.
What are some of the things you should look for on the front of the computer case. You want a power switch to turn the computer on and off, and a reset button to push to reboot your computer if your software hangs up. And it's nice to have a USB port for a mouse or jump drive, audio port for your speakers, and mayby a 1394 firewire port for fast data transfers. Maybe a seta external hard drive port for external hard drive back ups. Some cases have doors on the front to hide all these switches and ports, I personally think, there just a pain, as you're constantly openning and closing the door. On one case, I finally got fed up, and took the door off, aesthetics be dam.
Some cases are steel and some are aluminum. The steel cases are billed as more rigid and less noisy, They are definitely heavier. I prefer the lighter aluminum, and find the well constructed cases just as rigid.
Computers put out a lot of heat. Computer cases come with fans to push air across the computer parts to cool them. The smaller the fan, the louder the fan. Fans are measured in width in millimeters, mm. Some fans are 80mm and some are 120mm across. The larger 120mm fars are quieter, so I prefer them. I like quiet in a computer.
Computer cases are made to easily mount the motherboard. The two most common types of motherboards are ATX and Micro ATX. Make sure your case is compatible with the type of motherboard you select.
Cases come in several form factors. A full tower, the biggest, usually is about 22" high, mid-tower cases are usually around 19" high, and then you have speciality horizonal and micro cases that have about 12'' in height or width. Be careful with the micro and horizonal cases, they only take a Micro ATX motherboard. One other consideration is how big our your hands. Hooking cables up in a small enclosure can be frustrating. You may want to order the bigger case to make like easier during assembly.
Finally, you'll want to mount your hard drives and DVD drives in the case. Cases should have enough room for these drives. Hard drives are usually 3.5" across and DVD drives are usually 5.25" across. If you want 3 hard drives and two DVD drives, you'll need at least three 3.5" bays and two 5.25" bays. It's nice to have extra bays, to spread things out in the case and helps to keep things cooler inside. Some cases come with the power supply, some don't. I prefer buying the power supply separately.
What separates one case manufacturer from another, attention to detail. Does the inside of the case have sharp edges that nick your hand when installing parts, are there little convenient labels on the holes to show you where to mount the motherboard screws, and are hard drives easy to get in and out with special cages. Realistically, the only way to know this is to read the reviews about the cases and see which are highter rated. After a while you'll settle on a manufacturer you like. Currently, I favor Gigabyte computer cases.