77 months ago
I need your help, I would like to build a list of the "general" features a buyer can expect at a given price point. Please reply with your suggestions. Make sure you mention the price point you think it applies to.
Rough feature list per price point. As you go down the list every "good" feature from previous brackets are generally included. This feature list applies to standard desktop cases. Not the "special" ones like mini-itx or an HTPC cases.
- 1 x 120mm fan (usually)
- Small stature means mATX and ATX motherboard compatibility only.
- Few (if any) tool-less mounts
- 2 x USB 2.0 front panel connections
- front panel headphone and mic connections
- Top mounted PSU (You do find some bottom mounted ones in this segment as well).
- Ventilation holes that can accept more fans.
- "normal" mounted HDD's (wiring comes out toward the rear of the case.
- It will be rare to find room behind the motherboard to route cables. This means cable clutter on the floor of your case.
- Most cases look the same. The ubiquitous "little black box".
- Expect to see more case fans included (2-3)
- Bottom mounted PSU becomes the norm
- Most have rotated drive cage with tool less mounting to reduce wire clutter and improve airflow
- Interior painted as well
- Some compatibility for dual 120mm water cooling radiator mounting.
- Start having more space behind motherboard for cable routing.
- 2 x USB 3.0 front panel becomes common
- Some individualism in case style starts to show here.
- LED lighting helps in this regard.
- Start to see dust filters on some intakes.
- Larger case fans come standard (140mm and 200mm)
- Many times these fans have LED's. In that case LED on/off controls become common in this segment.
- Case will probably have very good airflow out of the box.
- Some drive cage swapping capabilities (maybe, rare in this segment)
- Side windows start showing up to show off internals.
- Special feature cases like "silent" or noise reducing start to show up in this segment.
- High airflow specializing cases start to show up.
- Larger radiators supported (Dual 120mm to dual 140mm)
- Rubber Grommets on wiring holes to clean up looks and possibly improve airflow
- Special compatibility for 2.5 inch drives. Mounted in special cage or mounting brackets behind MB.
- Most have rotated drive cage.
- 2 x USB 3.0 front panel from here on out
- More dust filters and better fans to pull through them.
- More case fans (4-7)
- Integrated fan controller for at least the included fans, possibly one or two more that you add.
- You start seeing compatibility with larger motherboards from this segment up.
- Color Change LEDs.
- Larger cases for more drives and larger motherboards.
- Huge side windows to show off beautiful internals.
- Rubber grommets standarad.
- 2 x USB 2.0 front ports (in addition to the 2 x USB 3.0).
- Dust filters on more intakes, even higher quality fans can be found.
- Common to see many options on drive cage mounting.
- Most things tool-less.
- Advanced LED control
- Much larger cases in this segment.
- Huge fans (200mm) the norm in most fan mounts.
- Support for multi-radiator water cooling setups.
- Some have a hot swap drive bay for 2.5 or 3.5 inch hard drives.
- Rare to not see dust filters on every intake fan mount.
- Multiple transformable drive cages.
- Specialty cases.
- Fit HUGE motherboards.
- Superb integrated fan controllers that can fit every fan port.
- Some brands: All aluminium frame.
- 4 x USB 2.0 front ports (in addition to the 2 x USB 3.0).
- Many have some form of hot swap bay.
- More compartments in main case area allowing for "cooling zones".
What you want to do is get a case that is on a deep discount. Sometimes they sell cases that sell well at $120 for $90 or even less. Snatch those opportunities up. Or save some money and find a $90 case on sale for $70. Either way you should get a good mix of features.
- Front Panel USB 3.0: This is the newer and much faster version of USB that started as rear panel ports on motherboards and have since graduated to front panel connectors on cases that connect to a special USB 3.0 header on the motherboard. Each header supports 2 USB 3.0 ports. Some really high end boards have 2 internal headers. You can add these connections to an existing case by way of a 3.5 inch drive bay adapter like this: Amazon Search. If a case has USB 3.0 front panel connectors, but your motherboard does not have the proper header to plug it in, there are a couple of solutions. If your Motherboard has rear usb 3.0 connectors, they sell converters that will allow you to basically convert the 20 pin internal connector on your case to two USB 3.0 "male" cables. You then plug those two ports into available 3.0 "female" ports on the back I/O panel of your motherboard. If you don't have 3.0 in any capacity, you can get an adapter that converts the internal 20 pin USB 3.0 connector to an internal usb 2.0 connector. Your motherboard should have several of those.
- Bottom mounted PSU: Some genius figured out that heat rises. With that knowledge they looked at case design and said, huh, we have this power supply that HATES HEAT and we are sucking all the heat generated in the case into its intake fan, wonder if that is a good idea. In addition, the power supply is the heaviest single component in the case, installing it at the top of the case basically ensures it has a really high center of gravity and makes it more likely to tip over. Upon further reflection they decided to move it to the bottom with a dedicated cool air intake. Beware of "high pile" carpet that could impede airflow!
- Side Windows: These allow you to see all those beautiful internals you spent so much money on. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them completely replace the side panel (basically), and others only allow a small view spending the rest of the space on venting or fan mounts. If the window does take up the entire side, make sure the rest of the airflow is above average. (Which it generally is at that level). Side windows mitigate any sound dampening material so you will not find it on silent cases.
- Case Fans: The 80 and 92mm case fans of yesteryear are gone forever. Thank god, those things were loud! Now we have 120mm as the "standard case fan size". Almost every case will have support for them in some capacity. The larger the fan is, the slower it can turn and move the same volume of air, the slower it turns, the quieter it is. There are many styles of fan, some are optimized to move air through radiators or dust filters or sound dampening material. These fans have fat blades and high static pressure. Other fans are made to function in places of no resistance, like a rear exhaust fan. They have more, smaller blades. Keep in mind how expensive fans can be when buying a case. A $50 case that you buy $50 worth of fans to go with had better have more value than stock $100 cases on the market.
- Hard Drive Cage(s): The standard or "original" locations where 3.5 inch drives are mounted was front to back. If you are lucky on cheap cases there are shelves in place you can put the drives on before you screw them in. Some have quick mount features that don't require screws to attach a drive, though you may still want to if you are shipping the computer or transporting it some other way, and there will be mounting holes to facilitate that. Better cages tend to be rotated 90 degrees. All this does is points the back of the drive toward the side panel behind the motherboard. Why this is important is for cable routing. It looks so much cleaner when there are no wires showing because they are all routed behind the side panel nobody looks at. Most cases > $50 have hard drive "sleds". You generally mount the drive to the sled, and slide the sled into place. Some of them are better than others, some support 2.5 inch drives (like SSD's) and some don't. Pay attention to this if you are planning on having an SSD, otherwise you will be mounting it somewhere with double sided tape, and it probably won't look as clean. Really high end cases can sometimes even have special 2.5 inch drive cages in a separate location. Other times they can mount to the TOP of other cages. These features are really neat, especially since the 2.5inch form factor is here to stay.