Part seven in a series on the basics of building a computer to prepare for the A+ certification exams.
A computer case is the enclosure that contains most of the components of a computer. Computer cases are also referred to as the chassis, system unit, or tower. Computer cases can come in many different sizes, shapes and colors as well as be made from different materials such as aluminum, steel, or plastic. The size and shape of a computer case is usually determined by the form factor of the motherboard.
When buying a computer case, it is important to remember that the motherboard generally determines the overall size of the case as well as which parts you can put into it. The form factor of a motherboard dictates the specifications of the computer case you choose: physical dimensions, type of power supply, and location of mounting holes. It is important to remember that the motherboard also has to properly fit into the computer case that you choose.
- P1 Power Connector (20- or 24- pin connector for motherboard)
- CPU Power Connector (8-pin for high-end CPUs)
- Molex Connector (older hard disk drives & optical disk drives as well as some high-end graphic cards)
- Mini Connector (floppy disk drives)
- SATA Connector (newer hard disk drives & optical disk drives)
- PCI Express Power Connector (8-pin connector for high-end graphic cards)
When choosing a PSU, don’t be cheap. A good PSU will deliver stable and clean power. Look for affordability without sacrificing quality and the potential for future upgrades. Furthermore, when you’re choosing a PSU, look beyond the total output (e.g. 500 watts) and make sure it has a combined +12 Volt continuous current rating of 24 Amps or greater. If you are having trouble deciding what type of PSU you need, there are online power supply calculators that will give you a general idea on what to consider while selecting a power supply for the computer you are building (or upgrading).
What I picked
For the case, I choose the In-Win Z589T Black Steel MicroATX Mini Tower Computer Case. This case comes with a 350 watts power supply unit. The front I/O panel provides access to two USB 2.0 and two audio ports. The case has bays for two external 5.25″ drives, an internal 3.5″ drive and two external 3.5″ bays. More importantly, this particular case has a screwless design for drive bays and expansion slots for convenient, quick installation of components without any type of screwdriver.
Even though the computer case that I chose came with a 350 watts PSU, I decided to swap it out with a Thermaltake TR2430W PSU. The PSU that comes with the case is decent but very basic. I usually prefer purchasing a more robust one than the stock models that come with some cases. The Thermaltake TR2430W not only is 430 watts but also includes industrial-grade power protections such as Over-Voltage Protection, Over Power Protection and Short-Circuit Protection.