When buying a computer case, the single biggest consideration will be the form factor of the motherboard being used. This is because its form factor has a bearing upon how faceplates line up with the case and the position of holes that mount to the motherboard. Below we run through the most popular options available today, describing typcial usage scenarios and the advantages / disadvantages of each form factor.
Often, when shipped, many cases include screws for motherboard, PSU & FDD/HDD installation, along with cable ties and mounting bezels (please refer to the product page of each item for specific details). For more expensive cases, additional features such as a Kensington security slot & intrusion alarm may also be included, while customers should also check if an internal PSU (or for mini-ITX cases an external PSU) is included, or just the cabinet itself.
Suited to media center & Home Theater PC (HTPC) builds, small form factor cases are ideal for discrete home cinema installations where space is at a premium. With such a diminuative size, SFF cases allow for the unit to be located wthin small a AV cabinet, hidden cupboard or on TV shelving. Moreover, designer HTPC cases are available to blend in with high-end AV equipment - although the downside is that the core hardware components are likely to be less powerful and expansion options limited.
A Mini-ITX case also makes sense for small office users, so long as day-to-day operation usage is limited to basic surfing and productivity applications (also being light enough to be portable if necessary, as this type of PC weighs around 3-7 kg when fully configured).
Mini Towers have bcome more popular in recent years, serving as a good base for a budget PC where expandability is not as important as the ability to be located on a desktop or small space. With MicroATX motherboards, the only real disavantage to full ATX is that, being physically smaller, they have three less expansion slots (ATX can acccommodate up to seven PCI/PCIe expansion slots vs. four slots for micro ATX).
Long regarded as the standard size for a desktop computer case, while Mini Towers and SFF cases have gained ground in recent years (particularly with media center applications) ATX remains the best option for most gaming enthusiasts and PC builds that require high-end graphics cards and components (not least because an ATX case allows for greater airflow and better dissipation of heat when used in conjunction with larger case fans and CPU coolers).
Also, in terms of the build itself, managing data connectors, power cables and extra drive bays is easier with an ATX case. With this case size, both Micro ATX & ATX motherboard form factors can be accommodated.
While full towers remain the preserve of dedicated enthusiasts, overclockers and hardcore gamers, for builds that require components above and beyond those accommodated by a standard ATX motherboard, a full tower is the best option (especially when it comes to cooling - incuding larger case fans and dual tower CPU coolers).
EATX (Full Tower) computer cases often support up to nine PCI-E expansion slots, double and triple GPUs and multiple case fans (with cases for the most demanding gaming PCs supporting installation of up to eight fans).
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