Build Your Own Computer : What to Look for in a Case

By: Stephen Bucaro

Build Your Own Computer : What to Look for in a Case

By Stephen Bucaro

Why would you want to build your own computer? Not to save
money. With a decent manufactured computer costing less
than $400.00, it will cost you more to buy the parts to
build your own. There are five advantages to building
rather than buying.

1. Most manufactured computers are build using proprietary
components. When (not if) your computer breaks down, you
can’t use off-the-shelf replacement parts. You have to pay
a lot more for the manufacturer's proprietary replacement

2. Low cost manufactured computers use the cheapest
components. These components are marginal or below
specifications. When you build your own computer, you
select the quality of each component.

3. When you have built your own computer, you are more
knowledgeable and capable of performing your own
troubleshooting. You don’t have to pay $75.00 per hour for
a service technician.

4. When your computer becomes outdated, you can easily
upgrade it yourself. You will be a better judge of when
its more logical to build a new computer from scratch, or
to update the old one.

5. You will feel the pride and confidence of having built
your own computer. And, you will have proof that you
really are smarter than your friends!

Yes, you can build your own computer. Today’s
plug-and-play mother boards with on-board video, sound,
and network circuitry make it easy. You can build your own
computer in 90 minutes. 30 minutes to build the computer
plus an hour of waiting while installing the operating

When I build a computer, the first component that I
consider is the case. Here is what to look for in a case:

* The form factor

Make sure your case style matches the form factor of
available motherboards.

Most motherboards today are the
ATX form factor. You should buy an ATX style case. Do not
buy an AT style case. The AT style case has been obsolete
for years. Some computer component providers are trying to
unload their obsolete AT style cases to inexperienced
computer hobbyists.

* The power supply

Don’t buy a case with only a 200 or 250 watt power supply.
A 300 watt power supply should be sufficient, but if you
plan to install a lot of expansion cards like 3D graphics
accelerators, multiple hard drives, CD burners, etc. then
you need to consider a case with a more powerful power

A Pentium 4 motherboard uses an extra four pin connector
to provide extra 12 volt power required for the CPU. If
you plan to build a Pentuim 4 based computer, make sure
the case has a "pentuim 4 ready" power supply.

* Drive bays

The minimum drive bay requirement is; one 5.25 inch
external bay, one 3.5 inch external bay; and one 3.5 inch
internal bay. This allows you install a CD-ROM drive,
a floppy drive, and a hard disk drive.

However, I would recommend purchasing a case with; two
5.25 inch external bays, one 3.5 inch external bay; and
two 3.5 inch internal bays. This gives you a little extra
expansion capacity.

* Side Panel

Get a case with a removable side panel. This gives you
easy access to the inside of the case. Some cases come
with a one piece inverted U shaped cover. It’s a real pain
to wrestle this type of cover into place.

* Floppy disk slot

I prefer to avoid cases with a built-in floppy disk slot.
With RW-CD’s becoming more common, the floppy disks days
could be numbered. When they become obsolete you will be
stuck with a funny slot on the front of your computer.

* Beige case

Avoid cases that are not the standard beige color. Off the
shelf floppy drives and CD Drives only come in beige, and
it looks nicer if they match the case.

* Desk-top or tower case

I don’t think you can find a desk-top style case today. If
you do find one, consider the amount of desk area the case
will cover. You will most likely have to place your
monitor on top of the case. If you have a heavy 19 inch
CRT monitor, make sure the case is constructed solidly
enough to support the monitor.

Although you can’t save money, there are many other
advantages to building your own computer. This article
points out some important things to look for when
selecting a case for your computer.
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