Which PC case to choose?

the 1990s, as the PC became a must-have in the gaming world, there was little concern about the case. Under the pressure of a few precursors adhering to mounting their own machine In , the question of the housing began to arise. It was no longer necessary only a “beast” turn, it had to be able to take into account the needs of each other.

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Thus, depending on whether you decide to make a high-performance gaming setup or if you want to reduce your grip on or under the desktop, the choice will be quite different. A PC to play can also have its place in the living room, but certainly not in turn format. What about cooling? Perhaps you have the idea of mounting a watercooling as discreet as possible? So many questions that can and even that you have to land before simply saying “40 euros, it will be fine for the case”. Choosing the enclosure actually conditions many other elements of your configuration.

Our selection of PC gaming cases

Cooler Master MasterBox Q500L: beautiful finishes for this low ATX price

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Cooler Master MasterBox Q500L > €60.99 on Amazon

As the name suggests, Cooler Master first specialized in cooling solutions before offering a lot of accessories and other peripherals with, always, the online video game of sight. For its cases, the manufacturer has a wide range of products covering almost any style, every budget. Here we chose the MasterBox Q500L for its low price and the fact that it goes to the basics while keeping a nice, rather elegant design. Cooler Master has also given it a special touch with its filters (front, top side) with pretty patterns. We appreciate that ATX compatibility does not take place at the expense of compactness, but this implies a somewhat special position of the power supply and a not always obvious cable organization. Nothing dramatic however and it is appreciated that the front port panel can be moved while the case is as functional standing as it is lying. In order not to spoil anything, ventilation is of a good level: your components will be treated well.

WE LOVE ✅ Simple assembly, convenient design ✅ Low price without (too) sacrifices ✅ Relatively compact for ATX ✅ Well-seen magnetic filters ✅ Adjustable front port panel

WE DON’T LIKE ❌ Not always obvious organization of cables ❌ Perforated structure that does not sound sound

Phanteks Evolve X: two systems in a single enclosurenot

Phanteks Evolve X > €229.99 on Amazon

Imposing and relatively expensive, the Phanteks Evolve X is just one of the countless choices possible when it comes to a “high-end” tower enclosure. We could not retain all available models in this category and at this price level. We had to choose one. The Phanteks Evolve X has several advantages to tilt the scale in its favor starting with the ability to mount not one, but two motherboards. The idea is to have a very powerful E-ATX configuration, for example, for video games, but also to put in place a more modest configuration based on a mini-ITX motherboard for office automation, Internet browsing or watching some videos. The combo is not obvious to set up, but Phanteks still has very well done things with, among other things, remarkable cable management. The support of watercooling is also simplified with the presence on the front of a location dedicated to the fillport. In order not to spoil anything, fans of aircooling are not forgotten with, as standard, the presence of three fans 140 millimeters. In the end, Phanteks will mainly be blame for the number of options and their price to take advantage of, for example, the dual configuration.

WE LOVE ✅ Outstanding design ✅ Up to two systems at the same time ✅ Highly efficient cable management ✅ Multiple storage locations ✅ 5 years warranty

WE DO NOT LIKE ❌ Unobvious mounting of both systems ❌ A little expensive still ❌ Cooling perfectable for its size

Antec VSK10: a nice small price that goes to the essentials

Antec VSK10 > €69.82 on Amazon

Known and recognized manufacturer for many years, Antec has always had high-end models and more “basic” products, which are more accessible too. The VSK10 unambiguously belongs to this second category and it is therefore not necessary to look for the revolution of the Micro-ATX case in this product. On the other hand, it is a well-thought-out model, with all the essential features and rather cheap. Of course, one can find even cheaper than this VSK10, but few are the cases under 70 euros that will be as flexible as regards the cooling of on-board components: if it comes with only one 120 mm fan on the back, it can receive two on the top and up to three on the front. It is also possible to turn to the watercooling with what to put in place a 120 mm radiator at the rear or a 240/ 280 mm front radiator. Mounting is easy and the whole is very pleasant to handle. We will regret all the same funny savings: why not have a filter placed in the front as it exists on the top and below? Why did you put only two USB ports on the front side?

WE LIKE ✅ Rather simple mounting ✅ Well-thought out ventilation ✅ Relatively compact for ATX ✅ Capable of converting to watercooling

WE DON’T LIKE ❌ Only two front USB ports ❌ Why not a front filter? ❌ Low noise insulation

Corsair Crystal 280X: watercooling on all floors?

Corsair Crystal 280X > €111.99 on Amazon

In the gaming case world, the “Corsair” design may tend to divide. The American manufacturer was indeed one of the first to adopt the two-chamber system in order to disassociate the “motherboard” part from the “power/storage” part. It is obviously the main feature of the Crystal 280X that declines this strategy on a (a bit) more compact product than the big brothers. Designed to accept cards in Micro-ATX format, it can obviously work with mini-ITX. Sharing in two chambers involves some gymnastics in the assembly of the configuration, but also allows to free up a large space. In addition, Corsair has arranged for his machine to accept just about anything cooling side. Up to six fans can be installed or three radiators with almost all sizes (120, 140, 240 and 280 mm). The Corsair Crystal 280X is not free of reproach and regulars of the most ambitious cooling solutions will be a bit disappointed by the performance of the double chamber, not so remarkable. Another review concerns the price because let’s keep in mind that this is just a micro-ATX model. It remains that it is beautiful, practical and very well thought out.

WE LOVE ✅ A remarkable aesthetic ✅ Simple and pleasant assembly ✅ Lots of internal space ✅ Exemplary finish level ✅ Practical filters everywhere ✅ Aircooling/Watercooling Potential

WE DON’T LIKE ❌ Corsair quality pays ❌ No USB Type-C ports ❌ Relative efficiency of both chambers

Cooler Master Elite 110: the mini-ITX that goes to the essentials

Cooler Master Elite 110 > €48.50 on Amazon

Not really a novelty, the Elite 110 signed Cooler Master is rather what to call a safe value. For more than five years now, it has enabled its manufacturer to offer a compact model — intended for motherboards Mini-ITX — and cheap. So necessarily, at more or less 50 euros, one should not expect a case with the latest refinements or a ventilation “to break everything”. It remains that its silhouette is rather successful with a sobriety that will allow to integrate it into the majority of interiors. Limited to a single 120mm fan located at the front of the housing, the general ventilation is satisfactory and can be completed with two side fans (80 mm) or opt for the installation of a 120 mm radiator-based watercooling system. The mini-ITX format often goes hand in hand with a compact power supply which limits options, but not in the case of the Elite 110 which accepts standard ATX models. There is however a small trick: Cooler Master makes the said power supply exceeded by a few centimeters on the back. It is not very aesthetically pleasing, but it makes it possible to have a correct space for mount the configuration. Configuration that by the way can turn to a 21cm long graphics card. Pretty not bad for such a small machine.

ON LOVE ✅ Simple and simple design ✅ Compact Mini-ITX format ✅ Good general ventilation ✅ Graphics card up to 21 cm still

WE DON’T LIKE ❌ A front opening attracts dust well ❌ Not so many options for cooling ❌ Power that comes out a bit on the back

Fractal Design Era: a silhouette of rare elegance

Fractal Design Era > €139.90 on Amazon

We have chosen one of Fractal Design’s newcomers for the excellence of its design: it’s of course a matter of taste, but in our humble opinion, it’s probably the most elegant PC case currently available, regardless of the format retained. In order to perfect this, the manufacturer markets five different colours — black, gold, silver, cobalt, grey — and two finishes for the top of the case. Very honestly, the result is superb. Alas, Fractal Design seems to have fallen a bit asleep on his drawing board and even if he remains very capable, the Era has some somewhat annoying flaws. In the first place, it is expensive, very expensive even for a model simply mini-ITX. The basic ventilation is limited to a simple 80 mm rear side which is not enough while a 29.5 cm graphics card can be combined with the processor. It is of course possible to add fans (2x 120 on top, 2x 120 on the bottom). Problem is then the noise nuisances that are clearly perceived. Finally, despite its high price, it has no internal innovation and, for example, cable management is not obvious. You will have understood it, the Era is not the most functional case in the world, but some will override and, after all, once the configuration is mounted, we do not have to change it every day.

ON LOVE ✅ Undoubtedly one of the most elegant cases ✅ Multiple colours, several finishes ✅ A USB Type-C port on the front

WE DON’T LIKE ❌ Deficient heat dissipation ❌ Noisy with multiple fans ❌ Cable management not obvious

SilverStone ML06-E: a perfect desktop case for the living room

SilverStone ML06-E > €98.89 on Amazon

The SilverStone ML06-E is an “out of the ordinary” case. Rest assured our idea did not move and it is always a matter of offering you video game enclosures. In the case of the SilverStone, our lens is significantly different since we want you to develop a kind of competitor to the living room consoles: a PC that can throne in the living room without swear with the rest of your equipment. A PC not too bulky, rather flattened and still relatively open side configuration. At this level, it should be pointed out immediately that the motherboard is still a mini-ITX solution in the best case and that the graphics card must be a low-profile model. Inevitably this limits the possibilities, but by taking a look at various Youtube videos about the “exploits” of this case, you will find something to do, like GeForce GTX 1650. We especially note the very good quality of finish of a model that SilverStone finishes year after year. Combined with a modular SFX power supply, it won’t be very difficult to mount and it accepts up to three hard drives in its small rack that can be removed if needed. Better, considering the purchase of one of these promising AMD Ryzen 7 Pro 4750G, one should even be able to do without the graphics card and use the space earned to bring a little bit of freshness by mounting two additional side fans.

WE LIKE ✅ A PC desktop very comfortable in the living room ✅ Room for an SFX power supply ✅ Correct cooling is possible ✅ Very successful design, good finishes ✅ A slot for optical drive

WE DON’T LIKE ❌ Low-profile graphics card only ❌ Clamped with a graphics card and all hard drives ❌ More or less 100 euros, it stays expensive

How to choose your gaming box?

From the format of the motherboard

While we are the first to say that the choice of a casing should not be neglected when preparing for its new configuration, however, we should not put the plow before the oxen. Of course, before you even look for the right components, it is important to know whether your housing will have to take place in the living room or in a bedroom, whether it is going to be transported regularly or whether it will have to make as little noise as possible. These are elements that will guide your configuration choices in a more general way.

However, before choosing precisely the case of your dreams, it is important to have a clear idea of what configuration it will have to house and, in particular, to know which motherboard will be the heart of your new machine. Why the motherboard? We have more or less already said when discussing the different cases: some are designed only for Mini-ITX format for example with what this assumes of fewer features. Similarly, if you opt for a Micro-ATXFrom left to right, the most common motherboard formats on the market: E-ATX, ATX, Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX. card, it may not be worth looking from the side of the super-tower enclosures.

Materials, strength and finishes

We now enter into the choices more related to the case itself and we will start with the structure of this case. Not so long ago, a few manufacturers offered fully aluminum enclosures when others were betting on all-steel. This is no longer really the case today and aluminum is only used for a few panels, some inserts. However, the issue of materials has not disappeared because many manufacturers offer walls made of plexiglass or tempered glass or even inserts. made of wood. Be careful, these artifices can ensure some elegance in your turn, but they also tend to heavily weight the beast.

The issue of strength is one of the most difficult points to assess when you cannot directly test the case. That said, even in this case, we’re not going to have fun dropping it a meter to see how it resists. However, the fireworks mentioned above are “weak points”, elements of fragility. So it’s up to you to see. Finally, the quality of the finishes is not to be neglected. The internal finishes are all elements that will allow a quick and safe assembly while the exterior finishes are especially there to give it a look… but it also matters!

The question of cooling

hard it is to tell you in what order check the features of your future housing. We put cooling in third, but in reality, this is probably as important as the strength of the case: after all, we are talking here about the good health of your configuration. To avoid overheating of the components it is possible to rest on only the fans. There, therefore, it will be necessary to monitor the number of units supplied as standard and their quality. It will also be necessary to pay attention to the position of the “optional” fans. Placed in a corner of the tower, the fan will have little impact. Give preference to front/rear fans and fans on top. Also pay attention to their size: the 80 mm is a bit outdated and 120/140 mm fans How seem to be much more suitable.

What is called however, aircooling is not the only solution and more and more users are turning to watercooling especially since the AiO kits have made the installation procedure so much simpler. Here we will not judge the effectiveness of the waterooling kits. On the other hand, you should know that these kits are necessarily accompanied by imposing radiators. The smallest ones will need a 120 mm slot available on your case while the larger ones may require 240, 280 or even 360 mm slots! Finally, some cases go further by integrating directly what to set up a custom watercooling kit. However, we will not be piloting on this subject, which alone justifies a complete article.

Attention to nuisances: noise, dust…

One may tend to forget it, but the case can be causing particularly troublesome nuisances. Of course, it is not directly responsible for this, but, by its design, it can mitigate these nuisances or, on the contrary, multiply their implications. Take the case of noise nuisances , they obviously depend on the cooling system in place, but some enclosures with a particularly open structure will do nothing to minimize its spread. In other cases, the walls may also start to vibrate and these vibrations lead us to talk about hard drives: the SSD is silent, but this good old hard drive can also start vibrating, if the housing manufacturer has not thought of these small rubber washers to mitigate nuisance.

Another problem that should not be overlooked when buying a new case is dust. Of course, it is always possible to hire a person to maintain the home and thus the PC, but you can also look at the side of the models pre-equipped with dust filters . The principle of these filters is simply to capture dust to prevent it from getting into the PC causing excessive heating of the components. The presence of filters is therefore an excellent thing, but it is also necessary to think about their cleaning. A dust saturated filter prevents ventilation in the housing. Here, it is necessary to ensure that the filter is easily retractable, as some manufacturers have even opted for magnetic fasteners. The ideal.

Storage space and internal layout

We now return to the question of configuration. It seems to us that this is not as important as the motherboard, but the capacity and nature of the storage system you will need to make you think about the right housing. Let us take the simple example of optical drives : few modern enclosures still allow one to be installed. If your PC needs to be a Blu-ray player, it may be important. More generally, PC manufacturers have abandoned external bays whether they are slim, 3.5 or 5.25 inches.

Fans, LEDs and internal bays completely took over the external bays. To the point that today you really have to look for external bays on a gaming box. Internally, there is more choice, but you still need to know if you’re going to opt for 2.5-inch storage drives that have the wind on the rise with the SSD revolution or 3.5″ drives to keep some good old hard drives. These elements are not so trivial because their number and their positioning can clearly condition the internal space of your tower.

There, we must not be wrong with the target. Regularly players are disappointed and bothered because they wanted to go to the most compact of the cases. Alas, then it is complicated to simply set up the different components. So do not hesitate to question the internal design of a tower before proceeding to checkout. Note by the way that a compact housing can be better thought of than a large tower and, finally, that the issue of cable organization is not to be overlooked: too large a case will be able to play tricks for you — without bad pun — and complicate connections.

Because the devil is in the details…

Let us conclude, as usual, with small remarks probably not as important as the points previously discussed, but which can still tilt the scale in favor of this or that case. For example, we have a small weakness for cases with multiple USB ports on the front . This is a detail of course and it is always possible with a simple hub to multiply all this: however, to organize multiplayer parties locally, being able to connect four controllers directly to the PC is very convenient.

Other players will appreciate seeing a USB Type-C port on the front of their machine and you should never forget the audio connectors. There are few cases that do deadlock on the two 3.5 mm jack ports, but that remains to be checked. More and more cases are also giving protest to illuminations. The presence of multiple LEDs can give a certain stamp to your configuration, but it remains the realm of the gadget: it should not be that the extra cost caused compelled you to miss an important option.

For example, housings have a ventilation modulator at the outset. Here, too, this can be perceived as an accessory and more and more users trust the regulation of the motherboard. It’s a matter of choice, but it’s better to be aware of all the possibilities. Finally, we cannot warn you too much of the (very rare) enclosures to offer an integrated power supply. If it is a “trusted” manufacturer, there is probably no problem, but for years it has been mainly used to sell poor-quality and even dangerous power supplies.

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