Choosing a PC case can be a daunting task. Especially with all of the available options out there. You may get lost and feel frustrated. You just need to read this guide and once finish, you’ll find your way out of this confusing state. Without further ado, here are the things you need to take into consideration when choosing a budget PC case:
1. Form factors & Sizes
The size of the case determines the form factor and number of components that can fit into it. The bigger a case is, the more variety of motherboards it can house. For example, full tower cases like Phanteks Enthoo Pro can accommodate multiple motherboard form-factors.
There are mainly three common case sizes:
Full tower: The largest option available and is compatible with Mini-ITX, MicroATX, ATX, and EATX motherboards.
Mid-tower: The most common type and can work with Mini-ITX, MicroATX, and ATX.
Mini-ITX: The most compact form factor with great portability and can work with Mini-ITX, and MicroATX.
As mentioned above, the form factor of a case determines the compatibility of components you can fit into it, not just motherboard. Some of the things you need to look out for include: graphics card length, CPU cooler height, radiator size, etc.
Another thing you need to keep in mind is future upgrades. You don’t want to choose a huge case for a small build or a small case without room for additional components. Therefore, mid-tower cases like Cooler Master NR600 or NZXT H510 are the ideal choices.
2. Cooling & Airflow
Airflow is the most important thing you need to pay attention to when choosing a PC case. With good airflow, your PC will operate more quietly with better cooling effectiveness and power-efficient. What’s more, a cool case will give you higher performance and lengthen components’ lifespan.
It is wise to choose the case with multiple fan mounts. You can never have too many fans. Check out this MUSETEX MESH Micro ATX Tower which has a total of 6 fan mounts. Another thing you need to take into consideration is the water-cooling support. Therefore, you need to check not only the number of fan mounts but also what radiator size your case supports.
If airflow and cooling options are your top priorities, I recommend taking a look at these two cases: MUSETEX MESH Micro ATX Tower and Cooler Master MasterBox NR600.
3. Cable Management
Cable management means keeping your cable neat and tidy within your PC case. Attentive cable management makes adding a component or maintaining your machine a breeze. Upgrading is greatly simplified thanks to not having to find your way to the ports through unkempt cables and wires. Another advantage of proper cable management is easing the airflow. Tangled cables restrict airflow and may lead to higher temperatures.
NZXT H510 is the prime example of a budget PC case with excellent cable management. It features a patented cable management system, allowing rooms and options for managing cables your way. Cooler Master MasterBox MB320L is another worth checking model. It provides you with all the space you need to oversee cable management. LANCOOL 205 also has extra space behind the motherboard tray to hide your cables.
PC cases come in all sorts of colors and designs. You’re going to stare at your case for years to come, so make sure to pick one that you like looking at. All in all, it eventually comes down to your personal preferences.
While most of the budget PC builds are often simple and minimalist in design. You can still choose one with a more sleek and modern look such as DeePCool MATREXX 55, Cooler Master MasterBox MB311L, and Thermaltake Versa H18.
1. Is it easy to swap PC cases?
Eventually, at some point in the future you will want to upgrade to a new PC case. I have good news for you: switching PC cases is not a complicated task. You just need to take every component out of the old case and put them into the new one. It’s simple, maybe a bit time-consuming, but you will get it done without much effort nevertheless. Here’s some tips for swapping PC cases:
Always unplug and disconnect all the wires from your PC
Make sure to ground yourself
Don’t let the screws of old and new cases mixed up
Take pictures of where everything goes before unplugging them
Once finished, if the computer doesn’t boot up, check your connections
Be extra careful and patient, don’t panic, everything will be fine.
2. Do I need a PC case? Can I use my computer without one?
Your PC can run without a case. But in the long run, your PC will get damaged from environmental issues, such as moisture, spills, humidity, pets. A case will protect your components from all of that. Especially dust, it gets everywhere, covers your parts and drives your computer parts to the point of malfunction.
Another reason to use a computer case is to reduce the noise the components make and maintain proper airflow. For the latter reason, without a case, fans are just blowing in a random direction and all over the place; thus, cooling effectiveness is reduced.
3. Should I remove the side panel of my PC case to keep it cool?
Removing the side panel of your PC won’t really solve your cooling problems. One of the most important functions of a case is keeping the airflow. The gist of how airflow works is: bring cool air into the case, heat it up and let it out. When you remove the side panel, you disrupt the whole airflow process of the case. Furthermore, your components will be prone to dust.
I recommend you to take other cooling measures such as adding CPU coolers, fans, water cooling options, etc.
4. How do I clean tempered glass PC cases?
Tempered glass allows you to look at your rig’s components without opening it. It’s gorgeous but fragile, you need to handle it with extra care. You can clean the tempered glass part on your case like how you clean normal glass. Glass cleaner and cloth towels are good cleaning tools.
First you spray cleaner on your cleaning cloth then wipe the glass down. Be careful not to let any liquid cleaner get into the sheltered components. After that, you wipe the glass surface dry with another clean lint-free cloth. Another extra step you could do is let the glass dry.
5. Are there any other features I should look for in a case?
We’ve listed all of the major factors you need to look for in the buying guide. But there are other handy features you need to take a look at for better using experience. They’re not much but they can make all the difference. Here are some of them:
The best budget PC case of our choice is Corsair Carbide 275R. It is visually appealing thanks to a clean and minimalist design. With a modest price tag, this case is a good choice for beginners as well as advanced users looking for a case with a sleek look.
If you are on a tighter budget and prefer a case with high airflow, then you can’t go wrong with Fractal Design Focus. It’s a silent, compact, and decent looking budget case. The Fractal Design Focus comes in five different color options. This is a great case for gaming PC without costing you an arm and a leg.
Thermaltake Core V1 is a no-brainer for budget compact cases. This Mini ITX chassis features a cube design and symmetrical panels. Despite its compact size, it offers great expansion capabilities, you can fit even a mini RTX 2070 into this case.