PC Case & Cooling Fans
Upgrading to a new computer case is a good idea if your current case lacks the room for extra drives or if you want to improve cooling by having a larger case with more fans. If you intend to build your own computer then a decent case along with a good Power Supply Unit (PSU) is a good start.
The case that you choose depends on the size (form factor) of your motherboard. The most popular motherboard form factor for a desktop computer is the microATX and ATX. If you buy a case that is compatible with an ATX motherboard then it will also house a microATX motherboard but if the case is smaller and designed for a microATX then it will not be big enough for an ATX motherboard.
Zalman Z9 Plus Computer case
Which PC case should i buy?
The Zalman Z9 Plus is a mid tower case which will house a standard ATX or a microATX motherboard.
The specifications include:
Dimensions 207(W) x 464(H) x 504(D)mm
3 x 5.25" drive bays (Optical Drives)
5 x 3.5" drive bays (Hard Drives)
Tool Free HDD Installation
1 x 2.5" drive bay (Floppy Drive)
Mounting plate for Solid State Drive (SSD)
Room for 290mm long graphics card
7 x Expansion Slots
Supports up to 7 System Fans
Includes 4 x 120mm System Fans (2 x blue LED)
Front I/O ports: 4 x USB 2.0, Mic, and Headphones
2-Channel Fan Controller and Temperature Display
First you need to make sure your motherboard will fit the case. The most common motherboard form factors are MicroATX, and ATX (see the Form Factor page
). There are generally three types of Tower case - Mini-Tower, Mid-Tower and Full-Tower. The Mini-Tower case is very small and is used for MicroATX motherboards with limited expansion, Mid-Towers cases are very popular and usually are big enough for a standard ATX or MicroATX motherboard with decent expansion and cooling capabilities, and the Full-Tower case is very large with a great deal of room for a standard ATX motherboard along with lots of expansion and cooling capabilities.
Good computer Case brands include: Corsair, Antec, Coolermaster, Lian Li, Zalman, Thermaltake, and Silverstone.
Make sure that the case you select has enough drive bays for your Optical Drives, Hard Drives, and Solid-State Drives. Ideally you will want spare drive bays for future use. Will your graphics card fit the case? Do you want a case where the Power Supply Unit is mounted at the top or bottom of the case?
The case should be well ventilated and have enough fans for air cooling. Provision to add more fans will be useful for future use. If it allows you to use larger fans then they will be more efficient and quieter in operation. If you intend to use water-cooling then make sure there is enough room inside the case.
Does the case have enough USB ports on the front and do you need USB2.0 or USB3.0? Does the case have microphone and headphone sockets on the front? Is the Power Switch located in a good place and lit up with an LED? Does it have a reset switch on the front?
Lastly, choose a case that you find aesthetically pleasing. You can improve the appearance by using LED Fans or maybe select a case with a temperature readout which looks good and also gives you an idea of the temperature inside the case.
PC Case Cooling Fans
A PC case needs fans to remove the heat that is produced from all the components inside your computer. Usually you have a fan on the front-bottom of the case that draws in cool air (intake fan), and because heat rises, you have a fan that expels the hot air (Exhaust fan) out of the top-back of the case. The Power Supply Unit (PSU) may also include an exhaust fan to remove hot air from the case. Additional intake fans may also be used to bring cool air onto the motherboard.
Case fans come in different sizes such as 80mm, 120mm, or 140mm. Note that a larger fan spinning slowly can produce the same airflow as a smaller fan spinning quickly but the larger fan will usually produce much less noise.
A case fan will have a small 3 pin or 4 pin connector and your motherboard should provide headers called CHA_FAN (Chassis Fan) and/or PWR-FAN (Power Fan). The extra pin is for 'Pulse Width Modulation' (PWM) which provides variable speed control. A fan with a 3 pin connector can also be plugged into a 4 pin header and a fan with a 4 pin connector can also be plugged into a 3 pin header but they will not include PWM. If you have a lot of case fans and only one or two fan headers on the motherboard then you can can use a fan cable splitter to connect up to two fans to one fan header. Alternatively, you can connect the case fans to a fan controller or directly to the PSU using an appropriate adaptor.
Intake fans should include removable filters to stop dust from entering the case. These filters can be periodically removed and cleaned. You should also occasionally clean inside your case even if you have intake filters on your fans as dust will always find a way inside over time. Information on cleaning inside your computer case can be found here.