How to Choose a PC Case

When it comes to building a PC, you’ve probably made up your mind about what type of graphics card you’re going to install or how much RAM your favorite game requires. But if you haven’t thought about the case that’s going to house all this hardware, you should probably start your list over again. Choosing a PC case should be the first thing you consider when building a PC because it will set the tone for your entire build.

This is how to choose a PC case:

How big (or small) do you want to go?

Before your start loading up your PCPartPicker list with a bunch of hardware, you should know exactly what size of case you’ll need. This will alleviate the hassle of running out of space or, if you want a smaller PC, having too much space. It also makes it easier to choose parts if you know what sizes you should be looking for.

There are many different case sizes you can choose from when building a PC. The most popular of these options is the mid-tower case because it’s compact yet has many of the features found on larger designs. It’s a great option for those who need space for a lot of hardware but don’t have space for a large PC.

If space for your PC is not a concern,  full tower and ultra tower cases are the way to go. These sizes allow you to install just about all the hardware you can throw at and you’ll never have to worry about size compatibility (for the most part). These are also good options for builders who demand a lot of features, which leads me to the next thing you should consider when choosing a PC case.

How to Choose a PC Case
The Noctis 450 is a mid-tower case with full-tower functionality.

How many features do you need?

Nowadays, not many people use optical drive bays. But if you’re still burning DVDs to backup files or ripping CDs into MP3s, you’ll definitely need a case that allows you to install accessories. Otherwise, you’ll have to modify your case and install accessories into unused drive bays or find ways to improvise.

Disc burners are not the only accessories you may want to consider when choosing a PC case. Card readers, LED controllers, and fan controllers are just some of the many options you have. If you think you’ll use any of these, definitely go for a case with optical drive bays or areas where you can install them.

If you’re like me (and more and more builders), you’ll have no use for optical drive bays. This is where smaller, more minimal, case designs come into play. A good example of this is our new NZXT S340 Designed by Razer case, which only has the bare essentials for a sleek and modern look.

How to Choose a PC Case
The S340 Designed by Razer proves high quality doesn’t always mean high price.

How much can you spend?

Last but not least on the list of things to consider when choosing a PC case is the price. Like every piece of PC hardware, prices for cases can vary from very cheap to very expensive. However, “cheap” doesn’t necessarily mean bad.

Take for example the NZXT S340 Designed by Razer case mentioned above. At $99, this case has many features you will only find on much more expensive designs. It also has a few features you won’t find anywhere else. And with 90% steel construction, a one-of-a-kind cable management bar, and an integrated PSU shroud – the price can be misleading for those who think more money means better quality.

However, if you have more budget for a PC case, there are definitely high-end options to choose from. For these builders I would recommend something like the NZXT Phantom 820 which is designed for maximum cooling and performance – it’s also really, really big.

How to Choose a PC Case
The Phantom 820 in all its glory.

Which case should you choose?

Ultimately, the PC case you choose for your next (or even first) build will depend on all three of these factors but there are also more things to consider. Color coordinating, upgradeability, and even your office furniture can all play a role in selecting the right case. The important thing is that you don’t wait until the very end and think about the case before it’s too late!