How to choose a case for a computer: the main criteria

A good case is a key to the stable performance of your computer. We will tell you what to look for when buying so as not to encounter an inaccurate fit of the motherboard or rattling of the entire structure when the PC is running.

The main criterion when choosing a case is the form factor. It depends on what size components you can install inside. And the dimensions of computer hardware directly affect operating temperatures and performance. For standard desktop computers, ATX MidiTower enclosures are best suited. If you plan to place your PC directly on a desk, the compact Mini-ITX case is fine.

Power supply location

In some cases, the power supply is located at the top: it draws air from the case and discharges it back. This leads to the fact that the electronic components of the PSU, being under the influence of warm air from the case, are poorly cooled, which is why their service life is reduced.

From the point of view of heat dissipation, the case is more successful when the PSU is located in the lower part of the case: it draws in fresh cooling air from the bottom through a dust filter, and the case fan removes the air heated by the central and GPU through the upper part of the rear panel.

The bottom position of the power supply is not suitable only if the PC will be standing on a soft, long pile carpet. It is also best to consider models that separate the block with a special metal shell. This allows the PSU to be isolated from the rest of the components, thereby reducing their heating. Of course, in this case, you will not be able to enjoy the RGB lighting of the power supply, but this is the most practical option. For example, the Zalman i3 Black implements just such a method.

If you are building a home computer with a long life expectancy, we do not recommend taking a case with a pre-installed power supply. It is better to separately purchase the power supply unit that will meet your requirements. You can read more about the choice of power supplies in our material.

Cooling system

What is the case for, if you can install all the components in a tangerine box? The main reason is to create a suitable temperature regime. It is achieved using case fans that are installed in the appropriate seats.

In budget models, as a rule, there is only one such place – in the upper part above the video card. In premium solutions, there can be a lot of seats: several for blowing in the front and below, several for blowing in the back and top. The more turntables in the case, the better. However, not all coolers are created equal. We have already discussed how to choose a cooler for a processor. By similar principles, you can also choose a device for the case.

What to choose: a case with built-in fans or buy them separately? Buying coolers separately is the most practical, but also the most difficult option. Choosing a good model is guaranteed to get a better cooling system than what manufacturers equip their cases with. You can also save a little because cases with built-in turntables are more expensive. However, you will have to disassemble the case: remove some panels, connect coolers, and so on. Everyone decides for himself: economy and efficiency or “buy and forget”.

But it should be understood that not all cases with built-in coolers are bad. Many case manufacturers also provide case coolers. Therefore, you can find information on turntables in the specifications. If they suit you, why not buy a ready-made kit?

Body dimensions

Any case has such characteristics as the maximum height of the processor cooler and the maximum length of the video card. Be sure to pay attention to these parameters if you don’t want to pick up a hacksaw for metal later. It is best to buy models with large dimensions: they will be able to accommodate almost any hardware. This is convenient, because in the future when upgrading, you will not have to think about dimensions: you just bought and installed a new video card to replace the old one. However, as the size of the case increases, so does its weight. This should be taken into account if you plan to periodically transport the system unit. Below is one of the most spacious models on the market.

Hard drive bays

Another important point is the fastening of hard drives. During operation, HDDs vibrate and make noise, which in simple “boxes” turns into an annoying hum. In good enclosures, hard drives are separated from the structural elements by vibration-isolating rubber pads and washers. Also, a good case can accommodate a large number of hard drives. They, of course, can be connected and left hanging, but in this case, they will not receive proper airflow. And this will shorten their service life. All these advantages are embodied in the Zalman Z11 Plus HF1 case.

If you are planning to initially assemble a computer, which will include 1-2 hard drives, then we recommend that you familiarize yourself with the results of our HDD testing, according to which we identify the best representatives of the XXL format.



One of the mandatory stages of PC assembly is the selection of a drive. This is where the choice arises between a hard-drive and a solid-state drive. HDD vs. SSD: Which Type is Better? It is impossible to give a definite answer because both types of drives are designed for different tasks and are suitable for different use cases.

In this article, we will select a drive for your use case and figure out what is the difference between them.

What is a hard disk drive (HDD)?

The HDD consists of a circular disk where the system is installed and your files are recorded. The disk rotates, the read-write lever moves on it and reads or writes information. The faster the disk spins, the faster the PC works – the system boots faster, applications open, files are written and read.

Due to the fast rotation, the hard drive makes noise and vibrations, but this is not so noticeable against the background of other PC sounds. The hard drive is also more massive than the solid-state drive. It is sensitive to vibration and shock. In general, writing to a hard drive is an older technology: therefore, hard drives are cheaper than solid-state drives at a cost per gigabyte ratio.

What is a Solid State Drive (SSD)?

Solid State Drive (SSD) is a newer technology. There are no moving parts here: information is written to NAND (Negative-AND) memory chips. The more chips, the larger the disk capacity.

The main advantage of SSD is that the solid-state drive significantly speeds up the PC. Replacing your old hard drive with a new SSD is one of the easiest and most budget-friendly upgrade methods. Solid-state drives are smaller in size than hard drives, so they are often used in laptops. Also, the solid-state drive is not so sensitive to vibration and shock.

For SSDs, a factor such as the type of memory is important – MLC, TLC, or QLC. MLC memory is faster and more durable, but more expensive. TLC is correspondingly slower and withstands fewer rewrite cycles, although the average user is unlikely to notice the difference. The most accessible, but also the slowest type of memory is QLC.

Both hard drives and solid-state drives are connected via the SATA interface.

The newest technology on the market is NVMe SSD. This is a solid-state drive in an unusual format: in the form of a module that plugs into the M.2 port on the motherboard. These SSDs are even faster than conventional SSDs, but in most cases, the difference is not noticeable.

Difference in price, capacity and speed

The first thing to pay attention to is the difference in price, and memory size.

In terms of price-per-gigabyte, hard drives are the most profitable – they are the maximum capacity for the least money. Solid-state drives (SSDs) are smaller and more expensive, but the price difference is rapidly closing. The most expensive option is SSD NvME.

It may seem like the most profitable thing to buy a hard drive, but this is not entirely true. If you need to save money at the stage of PC assembly, it is better to choose a 256 or 512 gigabyte SSD.

This solution will not cost much more than a hard drive, but it will be faster and more convenient to use. You will install the operating system and the most used programs on the SSD. If over time there is not enough space, then you can buy a hard drive for storing files.

Why do we recommend installing an operating system on an SSD? It’s about speed: solid-state drives are much faster than hard drives – this difference is very noticeable to the user.

Solid-state drives have no moving parts, so their speed does not depend on the speed, but on the data transfer technology.

A solid-state drive with a SATA III connection operates at speeds of about 500-600 megabytes per second, which is significantly higher than that of hard drives – their speed is about 100-150 megabytes per second.

HDD advantages

  • Price and capacity: HDD is much cheaper than SSD of the same size;
  • Ease of data recovery;
  • Greater reliability and service life under heavy loads;
  • The service life does not depend on the number of reads and rewrites;
  • Less chance of data loss due to sudden power outages.

SSD advantages

  • Higher endurance due to lack of mechanics – SSD will withstand table drops or vibration.
  • Quiet operation – SSDs have no moving parts, so SSDs run quietly.
  • Low heating even at high loads;
  • High speed – 2-3 times faster than HDD.


How to choose a CPU cooling

When assembling a computer, little attention is paid to the choice of cooling for the central processor.

After spending the allocated budget for the main components – the processor, graphics card, memory, motherboard, cooling for the processor selected by a residual principle. This is often a flawed approach and can lead to various problems.

Let’s take a look at the main points to look out for when choosing a CPU cooler. And also we will designate small nuances that are overlooked at the same time.

Types of cooling

First of all, you need to decide what type of cooling you need. This choice is primarily influenced by the budget allocated for the purchase of the cooling system.

Air cooling

BOX versions of processors are often equipped with simple coolers, which are enough to cool the processor. But it may be more profitable to purchase an OEM version of the processor and a separate cooler.

If you buy a budget or mid-budget processor with a low TDP value, then there is no point in buying a CO equal to it, and a simple cooler similar to a boxed version is suitable here. Most often it is a prismatic or cylindrical aluminum radiator with an 80 or 90 mm fan. In more advanced models, copper cores can be inserted, or an all-copper base with one or two heat pipes is preferred.

Tower coolers are more efficient for cooling the CPU.

Heat pipes emerge from the base, which is pressed against the processor’s heat-distribution cover. Ribs are strung on them, significantly increasing the heat exchange surface area. The tower itself is blown by a fan.

Tower models can be small and affordable, as well as oversized flagship models with multiple fans. The efficiency of the latter will already be sufficient to cool any processors with high TDP, including overclocked ones.

For compact cases, special models of efficient top-design coolers are provided. This design is similar to the towers discussed above, but the entire system of pipes, radiators, and fan is horizontal. Such a cooler takes up little space in height, the fan additionally blows around the space around the socket.

Liquid cooling systems

In recent years, LCS has become widespread. Many companies produce a variety of models. Their prices are comparable to efficient tower coolers.

A number of advantages can be noted in the use of LCS. Less stress on the PCB of the motherboard, in contrast to the heavy tower radiator. More free space in the case, which improves air circulation. The fans not only cool the heatsink but also blow warm air out of the case. You can also note the aesthetic side of the spread of cases with huge transparent windows and fashion for RGB backlighting, LCS looks preferable to a tower cooler.

The designs of maintenance-free LCS are not very different. Usually, it is a water block combined with a pump. It is connected with flexible hoses to the radiator, on which the fans are installed.

The radiator can be of standard size 120, 240, 360, 480. The larger its size, the more efficient the cooling, but the more space is required for it in the case, and the choice will depend on the specific case.

Main selection criteria


First of all, the cooling system mounts must fit the motherboard socket.

AMD uses the same mount for all generations of AM and FM sockets except AM4. But any cooler for AMD processor is also suitable for AM4 if it is attached to the clamping brackets. To mount models with a backplate, you will need other AM4 mountings. Almost all manufacturers have equipped their new and old models with such a set, at least they sell them separately. The TR4 socket stands apart, it needs its own cooling, special size, and mounting option.

Easiest with intel sockets, platforms with LGA 11xx use exactly the same mount, and all cooling systems will be compatible. LGA 2066 and LGA 2011-3 sockets have the same mount and are also compatible.

Most often, modern tower coolers and maintenance-free LCS are equipped with universal mounting kits suitable for the most popular mounting systems.


The next important point when choosing is the dimensions and dimensions of the cooling systems. The tower cooler should fit into your case without any problems. Typically, case specifications indicate the supported maximum cooler height.

Also, the specifications of the cases indicate support for the sizes of radiators of liquid cooling systems. It is worth considering that not every case can even be equipped with an LSS radiator.

An important nuance for a tower cooler is compatibility with RAM heatsinks.

If the radiator is high, then it can be blocked either by the fins of the cooler or by an installed fan. This indicator is not indicated in the characteristics of coolers, and you can see it in the reviews.

TDP characteristic

The characteristics of processors and cooling systems indicate the value of TDP (Thermal Design Power). This is the maximum amount of heat that the cooling system must handle to effectively cool the processor cover.

This value for CO should at least coincide with the value of the processor and preferably exceed it.

It is important to bear in mind here that overclocked processors will generate significantly more heat during this overclocking. For such processors, a cooling system with a high TDP value is also required.

Noise level

For many users, it is important not only that the CO copes with cooling, but also its noise level is important.

To a greater extent, the noise level is influenced by the characteristics of the fans used. This is where the efficiency margin, which we talked about above, comes in handy. For clarity, let’s give an example: a processor with a TDP of 90 and a cooler with a TDP of 90 W; to cool the processor under load, the fan will run at 100% rpm, creating a lot of noise. If you use a more efficient 180-200 TDP cooler, then it will work up to 50% rpm, and you will not hear it.