Question Why should I go for a more expensive case?

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
15,550
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136
I've been building PCs for over twenty years, and I'll typically go for a known branded low end case for about £30-£35 UKP. I'm currently using a Cooler Master Elite 330 from my last complete re-build, I've used the 335 for customers' builds, and since switching to mATX for most customers' builds I've been using the Antec VSK-3000B or VSK 3000 Elite (as it has a bit more depth and so allows a beefier HSF than my common choice being the Be Quiet! Pure Rock Slim 2 HSF).

From what I've seen and understand, more expensive cases typically are deeper, allowing cable management techniques that minimise room used on the business side of the board as well as rotating HDD bays to have them supplied with data and power to make use of the greater depth.

To give you an idea of my present spec:

Core i5-4690k
12GB RAM (all four slots used)
Be Quiet! Pure Rock Slim 2 HSF
AMD R9 380X (two fan graphics card that requires 2 PCIE 6-pin connectors)
2x SATA SSDs
1x 3.5" HDD
2x SATA optical drives
Seasonic Focus GX 650W
Be Quiet! Shadow Wings 12cm chassis fan
Cooler Master Elite 330 ATX case

I'm not planning a build soon, but if I were then a slightly more upmarket CPU (say the 5700X) would probably catch my eye, I'd certainly replace one of my SSDs with an M.2 as my Win10 gaming install needs a bit more SSD room, and I'd replace that graphics card with another two-fan job. Especially with GPU prices as they are, the typical cost of a 3-fan graphics card is just obscene IMO. I think I've max'd out my storage needs as well, so I highly doubt I'll be adding any more internal storage devices.

Personally my feeling is that if it's mainly a question of tidiness then I'm not overly fussed about it. I'd probably pick a case that's capable of housing a suitable chunky HSF as silence is one of my priorities, but I think that's the only argument I can think of that would sway me towards a significantly more expensive case than I typically use.

I'm also highly unlikely to go for liquid cooling.
 

Tech Junky

Golden Member
Jan 27, 2022
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Do you really need the ODD's? I haven't used one in a system since W98. My laptops haven't had one in quite awhile either. if you delete the ODD from the equation you have more options for modularity.

For a mATX I like the Node 804 and a little chunkier the Meshify 2 for ATX. They both breathe well and keep things cool. The 804 is nice that it segregates the MOBO completely from storage to have better cooling in the smaller compartment. The storage side has room for 8 drives hanging from the top in brackets.

These are both higher end options when it comes to price but, they're a middle ground considering how wide of a spread there is with prices. Both cases though are silent with the right fans. Both offer tons of fan spots for mounting which means using the Arctic PWM PST fans to daisy chain 3/header to max the airflow. You can put 7 on the CPU side of the 804 and another 3 on the storage side to keep everything cool.

With the Meshify though it has a nice layout for the drives in the front w/ ~13 mounts on the rack which allows to either pack it completely or space them out to allow better airflow from the front.

It all depends on the goals you want to achieve though when it comes to a build . I like performance / space / storage / noiseless. Even under load in the Meshify w/ tons of fans it's virtually dead silent when they spin up. The 804 is soundproofed as well when it comes to noise. Theses are both mostly geared towards "NAS" builds with tons of mount points for drives in either format.
 

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
15,550
5,747
136
Optical - just an odd set of progressions from my 2010 rebuild - my first DVDRW drive seemed hit and miss so I added one (I can't remember why I didn't just replace the original), then I got a BR writer drive whose read general performance seems a bit on the slow side so the spare DVDRW is handy. I rip my BR and DVD movies to movie files so optical is here to stay for me.
 
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mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
15,550
5,747
136
How about an external ODD and skip the open front? How often are you really ripping discs?
Not terribly often, but if it's a choice between throwing away ~£70 of kit for no advantages at all and picking a case that can house at least one ODD, I'm definitely going to pick the latter.
 

DeathReborn

Platinum Member
Oct 11, 2005
2,528
454
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It might be worth considering the new Fractal Design Pop (+Mini), it's around £80+ and has silent, black, white & RGB versions plus it has support for all your hardware & decent cable management.

Silent: https://skinflint.co.uk/fractal-design-pop-silent-black-solid-fd-c-pos1a-01-a2760656.html?hloc=uk
Black, Green RGB: https://skinflint.co.uk/fractal-design-pop-air-rgb-green-core-tg-clear-tint-fd-c-por1a-04-a2760699.html?hloc=uk

and so on... https://skinflint.co.uk/?cat=gehatx&xf=539_2~599_Fractal+Design
 

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
15,550
5,747
136
@mindless1

I'm not responding to peer pressure at all, my question was more practical than anything - for example, once upon a time I used no-brand cases (remember the ones with the Nokia-style look at the front?). At some point I changed to a branded case, partly because I started using branded PSUs and non-branded cases often came with rubbish PSUs, and at the same time I noticed that the branded cases were finished better internally in that the non-branded ones had razor-sharp edges and the branded ones didn't.

I have absolutely no interest in the aesthetics, aside from not wanting disco lights on my case or say a My-Little-Pony motif.
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
7,173
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I guess it depends on what you're coming from, I just need enough ventilation and that it not collapse if I put things on top.
 

mv2devnull

Golden Member
Apr 13, 2010
1,419
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Was there a question? To me it did look like a statement that in your experience the cheap cases have all the necessary features (that you do tend to need). That is probably true for many, yet some still choose to pay more for non-technical reasons.
 

Spydermag68

Platinum Member
Apr 5, 2002
2,573
56
91
I am build a next generation computer. When I saw the Lian Li 011 Dynamic Evo I knew I have found my case. I was able to buy it at its pre-release price. I have flipped the case because it will sitting to the left of my desk.
 

Hotrod2go

Member
Nov 17, 2021
184
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Non cheap cases have better quality power switches on or near to the front panel - depending on how they are designed for placement of course. If your an overclocker, be glad this switch is not garbage quality cause' you know - reboots can fail sometimes if one wants to fine tune & experiment... :oops::D
Also, a quality case should last several builds.
 

Stuka87

Diamond Member
Dec 10, 2010
5,826
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Those are some old cases that you list. Even the newer Antec VSK 4000 is an ancient case design. Its basically unchanged from the early 2000's when it comes to the internal design. I mean, it has a huge area dedicated to 3.5" spinner drives that is fixed in place.

Pretty much any modern case will be an improvement. My current system cannot have any 5.25" drives, and it technically can fit two 3.5" on the backside.

But with the advent of M.2 drives, and SSD's being 2.5" drives, and optical drives being a thing of the past, there just isn't much need for them.

BUT... if you require an internal 5.25" drive, that really limits your case options. And almost forces you to use a case that is stuck 20 years in the past. Which means you will be missing out on a lot of the great improvements in case design since then.
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
89,105
11,468
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Why buy when you can reuse ? :colbert:
IMG_20191222_181855.jpg

That used to house my Opteron 165.

It is under my IKEA cardboard table from 1990.
 

aigomorla

Cases and Cooling Mod PC Gaming Mod Elite Member
Super Moderator
Sep 28, 2005
19,665
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Why buy when you can reuse ? :colbert:
Because 2019 and beyond has a mandatory requirement of RGB.
If your computer gear can not chroma change LED colors, its obsolete.
Also the more colors your LED can change into = more GHZ your overclock can attain, and having a cool color LED also reduces overall temps to below ambient even, by somehow breaking every law of thermodynamics we know of, hence why RGB is mandatory.

(sarcasm on epic level)

But i try to use new cases because:

1. I like temper glass, as its harder to scratch then poly acrylic.
2. I like having type C port, and new cases are a lot more radiator friendly, then older ones.
3. Cable Management has improved on a very large scale with new cases.
4. They all now have integrated fan filters, so it helps keep your insides clean.

What i do not like about newer cases tho:
1. They all lost the 5.25" drive, which i use for fan controllers, but i guess that's all controlled via software now.
2. They are all HEAVY as hell, using rolled Steel + Tempered Glass. (I miss the Anodized Alu.)
3. Since its Steel, they rust, so even if it can handle that pretty Radiator, it will rust because of the water-cooling.
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
89,105
11,468
126
Because 2019 and beyond has a mandatory requirement of RGB.
If your computer gear can not chroma change LED colors, its obsolete.
Also the more colors your LED can change into = more GHZ your overclock can attain, and having a cool color LED also reduces overall temps to below ambient even, by somehow breaking every law of thermodynamics we know of, hence why RGB is mandatory.

(sarcasm on epic level)

But i try to use new cases because:

1. I like temper glass, as its harder to scratch then poly acrylic.
2. I like having type C port, and new cases are a lot more radiator friendly, then older ones.
3. Cable Management has improved on a very large scale with new cases.
4. They all now have integrated fan filters, so it helps keep your insides clean.

What i do not like about newer cases tho:
1. They all lost the 5.25" drive, which i use for fan controllers, but i guess that's all controlled via software now.
2. They are all HEAVY as hell, using rolled Steel + Tempered Glass. (I miss the Anodized Alu.)
3. Since its Steel, they rust, so even if it can handle that pretty Radiator, it will rust because of the water-cooling.

You can add RGB to anything of you want to. I would rather not.

I don't use my computer for weight lifting so I don't care how much it weights. Plus it really isn't all that heavy.

Do you take sandpaper to your case? I don't.
 
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mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
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Pretty much any modern case will be an improvement. My current system cannot have any 5.25" drives, and it technically can fit two 3.5" on the backside.
A lot of people, simply don't care. Take a look at the pic below. My second most used system (for the moment) is built in that. It's been reused at least twice.

Changes made include putting a USB3 pair of ports on the bezel, and slapping a filter panel behind the center bezel. I would have no benefit whatsoever using a modern case, in fact if someone sent me their dream case, they'd have to pay me money to even bother spending the time to swap the components over.

The power switch works. The two optical drive bays aren't causing any problems. The OEM 3.5" drive bays work fine for SSDs in $1 adapter sleds. It takes a full sized ATX PSU (fits because 5.25" bays aren't populated with optical drives, or else only the shorted available would fit), and ultimately it is compact enough to fit under a desk, nearly against the wall, where frankly I couldn't care less what it looks like.

It's not used for gaming, so doesn't have a few hundred watts (conversion, watts aren't a unit of heat) extra load there.

I think this case cost me $5, or maybe I traded something with a buddy of mine that worked at a computer shop, about 15 years ago. Either/or was a way I acquired quite a few cases for nearly free or just offloading something else I didn't need, in trade.

You cannot improve over this case for its purpose. It *gets the job done* which is the point. Hypothetical advantages in some exotic case, have to pan out as a real world need, or else it's just a waste to keep buying new cases when many of us, myself included have gotten rid of too many to count and still own too many spare cases to count.

This example is merely the smallest I had that was big enough to do the job, hold standard ATX PSU, standard mATX mobo, full height and length video card, etc.. I maybe could have ended up with something 1" narrower, buying a new case, but it really wasn't worth the bother or expense, plus going as narrow as possible, limits your choices in quiet(er) heatpipe CPU 'sinks.

It seems to me like marketing tricks a lot of people, yet not too many because most people buy OEM systems.

I suppose my summary is, don't buy a new case unless you really need one. It's a silly waste of money and materials and ultimately, what gets put in landfills.

If baffles me. Why do you need to see into the side of your PC? I don't want to see my PC at all. They are all, stuck deeply under a desk or otherwise out of the way, just close enough to hit the power button, and a USB hub on the work surface/desk/etc if that is needed.

HP_Case.jpg
 
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Tech Junky

Golden Member
Jan 27, 2022
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don't buy a new case unless you really need one.
And that's where the issue lies for some.

I was running mATX and then ADL came along and no mATX options were available which forced my hand to moving to ATX again but, that wasn't such a bad thing as I ended up selling the mATX system as a whole working system which paid for all but ~$200 for the complete rebuild from the ground up.

The other caveat is appearance if it's front and center and visible. If that's the case then using a case from the 90's might not blend in too well however the same case makes it for less of a target during a break in. Everyone has different goals though when it comes to cases. I know I would have a hard time fitting 5 x 3.5" drives into that little beast though a Node 804 holds 8 of them and is more of a cube than a tower.

Airflow is another consideration when you come up in horsepower and need more fans to keep things from throttling due to heat soak. The second you add a GPU you have to rethink things a bit to make sure you don't shoot yourself in the foot with your new $1000 GPU putting out the same BTU's as a space heater inside your case.

There's always something to consider when building though as you add more to the system the design might need to change. I hate spending money on cases as they're over priced but a necessary evil if you want things to work well under load and be durable. There are tricks though that can reuse things like those 2 x 5.25" bays as a 3.5" x 4-5 setup with hacking out the bays and putting a cage in as a replacement or even a host swap cage with back plane. Most people wouldn't be up for the task though to Dremel out the rivets and put something in the space that's more useful.
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
7,173
1,080
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^ But why would I put 5 x HDDs in a client? That's what a fileserver or NAS is for. I think that was more important in the 100Mb ethernet era. Not as much GbE and thereafter. I mean sure, we could dream up exceptions like if this machine is about video processing where ample SSD storage costs too much, but for most people today, if you need the bulk storage of more than 1 HDD in the system, you've gone with a networked solution.

If I wanted a high power video card in it, I would simply put a fan or two on the side panel.

I do agree that some people are too closed minded or lack tools or space to mod cases, while I have built 3.5" drive racks for old cases as needed, back when I did want a few 3.5" HDDs in cases. I think this example was a 1999 Gateway case. It's a tight fit but there is room behind the drive bay for a full sized ATX board. You just have to settle for 92mm pusher fans in front of a setup like that, instead of 120mm, due to the width of the 3.5" bay when mounting to the case front wall. but the fans can run at minimum RPM (if even needed, notice how the HDD were spaced out), so no real noise penalty over 120+ mm.

prepped for use.jpg
 
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Tech Junky

Golden Member
Jan 27, 2022
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Well I do run my system as multi function and I wanted to consolidate multiple devices into a some case.

Router /switch / firewall / AP
NAS
Plex / OTA tuners

These change periodically though and require different space requirements vs a normal desktop setup. It can serve as a backup when I'm messing with my laptop if needed or add more functions if something comes to mind.

In the last couple of years I've rebuilt this setup in 4 different cases before settling down and using my current setup which isn't even a year old at this point. I have some ideas though but highly doubt they would require another case swap as this one has plenty of space to accommodate anything I would put into it.

Everyone has different needs and uses for the components that make up a working PC. Everything from an ultra sff nuc sized pi up to a rack of blade servers. Some even opt for the monster cases that fit two mobos into the same case to run dual systems. There's a thousand ways to build and there's obviously some demand or there wouldn't be so many designs for sale.
 

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
15,550
5,747
136
Why buy when you can reuse ?
I'm definitely a 're-use rather than replace' kind of person. With my current case though, if I end up going for a more upmarket CPU than my 4690k was then I think this case's room for HSFs is likely to be a problem. When I looked into improving the noise level of my current PC some time ago, I found that the Noctua D15S can fit but not the D15. Maybe I'm worrying over nothing though.

@aigomorla has a point about USB-C, though I'm definitely not going to chuck out my optical drive(s). At the moment I'm making do with a USB2 hub on an extension lead and a USB 3.0 extension lead (which admittedly is only good for USB3 flash drives). I've looked into replacing the 3.5" IO panel that comes with my Elite 330 case with something that at least has USB 3.0 ports, at the time I didn't fancy the prices they were asking when I can make do with what I've got.

@Stuka87 The last time I researched cases for customer PC builds, I was still prioritising 3.5" bay space (I avoided anything that could only house one drive), which is possibly why you think I'm using 'ancient' cases. The customer PC builds will almost invariably always be M.2 primarily going forward when I need to pick a new case. I'm quite happy with the VSK3000/Elite for customer builds in general though.

---

My current case is a little crowded around the graphics card with 2x SATA SSD in 3.5" brackets plus the 3.5" HDD. My plan to switch one SSD for M.2 should help with the crowding. I think my main concern with the crowding isn't so much tidiness as it is temperature related - I've noticed the nearest SSD to the graphics card warms up considerably during gaming.
 
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solidsnake1298

Senior member
Aug 7, 2009
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....
That used to house my Opteron 165.
....
Woooooow. Opteron 165. Brings me back. I even went as far as seeking out a stepping that was known to be a particularly good overclocker. With a jank, but high performing, custom water cooling loop, lapped water block and IHS, I OC'd waaaay past the stock 1.8Ghz. 3.0Ghz, I think?

Anyway. If you don't care about aesthetics, as you stated, OP, the only reasons to pay more for a case are:

1. Quality of life improvements
a. Better thought out lay outs​
i. Cable routing​
ii. Cable tie down points/included cable straps​
iii. Cable grommets​
iv. Better placement of drive bays, drive mounting points​
b. Removable fan trays​
c. Captive thumbs screws, tool-less drive sleds, panels, etc.​
2. Size
a. Larger cases for more drives, HDD or ODD​
b. Larger cases for E-ATX motherboards​
c. Cases that make efficient use of space. Smaller cases while still allowing for high compatibility​

But I'm also in the re-use-as-much-as-possible camp. Until it gets in the way of performance, compatibility, or practicality.
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
7,173
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I don't use my computer for weight lifting so I don't care how much it weights.
Heavy for the sake of being heavy, no, but of the cases I've kept vs gotten rid of, most are heavy for their interior volume, are 1.0mm thick, or 0.8mm metal sheeting at the very least.

If you have greater case wall thickness, it vibrates less, and if it's not got so many factory holes that it looks like they were trying to make swiss cheese, you can better control the airflow for a filtered setup, and have more options for where to add fan mounts where you want them instead of the current most popular choice which is just make it wall to wall fans, which past a certain point, makes a system louder because there's no baffling and a direct shot to the user's ear. Depends on the heat load, can't really make a universal statement about something like that.

At the same time there is maintenance. If you have all pusher/exhaust fans, then dust is drawn in every nook and cranny that you did not seal well enough, because certainly, the case manufacturer didn't. If they tried to, then that gets sucked in the USB ports or card reader, etc., whatever is upstream of the exhaust. If you have puller intake fans, then easier to implement an effective filter panel for one area, where you just have that front filter panel to pull and clean, which is especially convenient if your front bezel pops off to pull it, sealed by sticky sided foam insulation strips, then magnets to attach to the case front steel wall, no screws, no opening the side panel, can clean the filter panels without tools or even powering down the system.

Examples, this full tower bezel was held on with rare earth magnets from old HDDs, but only one magnet put on so far in the pic. It's the only filter panel so the whole bezel just comes off by pulling, swap or clean the panel, or even replace it as it was some random cheap wall A/C filter at the hardware store, cut up to make the right size.

SV300076.jpg


SV300082.jpgSV300084.jpg

I wonder if I still have this case, lol. Probably, and would have been using it still except that USB external HDDs became cheaper than internal HDDs, and I became more of a fan of offline backup storage.
 
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Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
6,270
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Heavy for the sake of being heavy, no, but of the cases I've kept vs gotten rid of, most are heavy for their interior volume, are 1.0mm thick, or 0.8mm metal sheeting at the very least.
I'm currently running 2 different cases... as noted in my sig. I actually have 2 Define Minis, along with the Arc Mini. The cases are roughly the same size, mATX, both with 2 optical drive bays, and room inside for 4 HDD's, and have the same basic external features/ports. The Define is definitely made with heavier metal, along with the sound damping material... it's a pretty heavy case compared to the Arc, and it's just made better. In many ways they are quite similar, interior room, for example, but the Define is a better case, quality-wise. I've also built a PC for a family member in a Core 1000... that was even lighter than the Arc, and did not have the interior features (think drive mounting, cable routing...) the Arc or Define had. They are about as small as a mATX case can be, while still allowing optical drive space, with a conventionally mounted mobo and PSU.

Everything I've seen that would be smaller, but still fit an mATX board, is much more expensive. It seems like... as soon as you go smaller than a traditional PC case, you lose something along the way, as a concession to the smaller size. Some of them really look like a bear to work in, too...

I really want to build a small footprint ITX PC... but I have enough money invested in my current conventional cases and parts to continue on with mATX. I like the Define cases so much, and they are so well built, I don't really see any reason to replace them... and they are going on 10 years old. I will likely replace the Arc when I rebuild my game rig, probably swapping my main desktop Mini case to that, and finally building the ITX PC I've always wanted to build...

Anyway... I think you get what you pay for. Spend the money on the case if it's going to be intergal to the PC itself, or go less expensive if you don't need the functionality.
 

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