Many readers have asked us to make new guides dedicated to those components and parts of the PC. that receive less attentionbut which are also important when building or upgrading a new PC. We have listened to you, and today we are going to share with you this guide dedicated to five important keys that you should consider before choosing the chassis to assemble a PC.
The chassis is a fundamental component when assembling a PC because. important things depend on it such as internal space, compatibility with certain components, its expansion possibilities and the different mounting options available to us. It will also determine how much space our new equipment will take up and where we will be able to place it. It’s not hard to understand, a mini chassis may fit in the living room cabinet, but a tower will not.
For all these reasons, we must be very careful when choosing the chassis to mount a PC, and it is important to follow a series of basic guidelines that will help us to make the right decision. without having to spend a lot of money, and without being forced to limit ourselves to a series of specific models because we think that design, aesthetics and functionality cannot go hand in hand.
As always, if you have any doubts after finishing reading this guide. I invite you to leave it in the comments and we will help you to solve it.. Without further ado, make yourselves comfortable and let’s get started.
1.-The chassis to assemble a PC will be “the home” of your components.
I wanted to make that analogy because I think it will help you to be clear from the beginning why it is such an important part of the PC. All the components will be located inside the chassis, and in fact some of them will be mounted directly on it. (motherboard, fans and power supply, among others), which means that it must meet a number of basic requirements to provide a good user experience:
- Structural robustness: must be able to withstand without problems the weight and load that all the components we are going to assemble will entail.
- Component protection: the chassis must also provide good internal protection for the components, and it is important that it has filters to limit the impact of dust and dirt.
- Easy to clean and maintain: these filters should be easily removable, and the chassis should allow easy access to the interior for basic cleaning and maintenance.
- Good air flow: a good chassis must allow us to create a good airflow, even starting from the basic configuration of cold air in from the front and hot air out from the rear, and it must have the minimum space required to avoid serious heat transfer problems between components. In more advanced chassis we must be able to add fans at the top to help remove hot air.
Nowadays most chassis comply without problems on all these fronts, but it is possible to find low-cost models that. do not always reach an acceptable level and therefore should be avoided. For your reference I confirm that my bad experiences in this regard have been limited to very inexpensive chassis, with prices of 20 euros or less.
2.-The importance of size and internal space.
Before choosing the chassis to assemble a PC we must be clear about the size of the components we are going to use, and the internal space we are going to need.. If we do it the other way around, it is very likely that we will reach a point where we find that the graphics card we had chosen does not fit in the chassis because it is too long, or because we have taken up too much space on the front with the cooling system.
Every chassis is differentthere are even models that have a different internal space even though they fit into a specific category.. Thus, there are half towers that are larger than others and have a larger internal space, and we can also encounter others that are more compact and thus can accommodate larger components.
The same is true for other formatssuch as super-towers, which are huge chassis with space to accommodate virtually any type of configuration you can think of, and ITX-type chassis which, in turn, are divided into a mini-ITX version that is really small and uses motherboards of only 17 x 17 cm.
Even starting from the basis that gives us the classic division into ATX, ITX and HTCP formats we must be clear that, in the end, each chassis can present important differences in terms of internal spaceTherefore, it is essential to make sure that the model we are going to choose really has enough internal space to mount the components we have chosen. Do not rely blindly on the format, as you run the risk of finding a component that does not fit.
I can give you a recent example that perfectly illustrates this key. An acquaintance asked me for help to choose the components for a PC, and he followed all my recommendations to the letter but in the end he changed the chassis for a “nicer” one. When the components arrived and he started to assemble it he asked me if I could help him, I went to his house and I realized that the graphics card he had ordered did not fit in that chassis because It was bumping in front of the 360mm radiator of the CPU’s AIO liquid cooling system. He couldn’t mount it on top because only a 240 mm one would fit, so in the end he had to return the chassis and replace it with another one.
3.-Manage wiring and components: the chassis makes the difference.
Not only do we use the chassis to mount a PC, it also allows us to. manage the position of components and cabling. This will depend, for example, on whether we can mount a 360 mm radiator at the front and at the top, only in one of these two areas. or perhaps in neither of them if limited to a 240 mm.
You may also have such a tight space that we have to manage the placement of certain components in a way we had not planned, or we may be forced to assume less good wiring management than we had planned. If we do not have much experience and we are starting to assemble PCs it is better to use larger chassis, even if these exceed the space we really need, as they will allow us to work more comfortably and in the end this will help us to execute a more careful assembly with less effort.
Cable management is also critical for two reasons. Firstly, a team with a well-managed cabling has superior aesthetics and is more attractive, and secondly it reduces the impact of the cables on the airflow we need inside the chassis. We must not forget also that by preventing the cables from hanging and very visible, we also prevent them from hindering the correct operation of certain components.
Nowadays all chassis have dedicated spaces so that we can pass the wiring through different areas, and with fastening systems that will prevent them from moving. However, not all chassis are at the same level in this matter.so it is advisable to take this into account. If we are going to make a basic assembly with little wiring, a simple chassis will be enough, but if we have in mind a more complex assembly with a lot of wiring, it is advisable to go a little deeper and look for models that take more care of this aspect.
4.-Component compatibility and cooling.
Not all chassis are compatible with the same components, and not all chassis are compatible with the same cooling systems. For example, mini tower chassis are limited to micro-ATX motherboards, while semi-tower chassis can use ATX motherboards.. Interesting, isn’t it? But that’s not all, as the former are also usually limited to medium-sized graphics cards, while the semi-towers can accommodate very large graphics cards exceeding 30 cm in length.
But this is not all, the chassis may also limit the compatibility of other components, so I want to share with you a complete and clear list to serve as a reference of all the components that may be incompatible if we choose the wrong chassis to mount our PC:
- Cooling systems, both liquid and air. The size of the radiator and fans is key in this regard, and also the height of the air cooling system we are going to use on the CPU.
- Custom liquid cooling systems. They usually take up quite a bit of space, since we have to mount the pump and the tubing framework.
- Large base plates which are not compatible with small chassis. The reverse is not true, i.e. smaller motherboards can be mounted in large chassis without problems.
- Large graphics cards, thickness and height.. Keep in mind that all these measurements may end up determining an incompatibility with a smaller chassis, and that we must be clear about them before choosing the chassis.
- Storage units using the 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch form factors. Not all chassis have dedicated mounting spaces, although it is more common in those that are very small.
- Certain add-ons that take up quite a bit of space.such as fan controllers and RGB LED lighting controllers. These may not fit in certain chassis, especially in small chassis where space is often very limited.
Connectivity and included components
Another important issue when choosing the chassis is the connectivity it offers and the components it includes. When I talk about connectivity, I am talking about the front connectors that it integrates, and by components I mean both the fans and the controllers of these and RGB LED lighting.
Although this is an issue that depends on the actual needs of each user, I recommend that you choose a tower that features. at least two USB 3.0 connectors on the front and a 3.5 mm jack, although it would be ideal to also have a USB Type-C connector in that area, as it will make our life easier if we need to connect peripherals and other devices to the computer (we won’t have to go to the back of the PC).
As far as the included components are concerned, to create a basic airflow we only need to have. a front fan pulling in cool air and another at the back pulling out hot air.. Choosing a chassis that includes both fans is a good idea, although we can always buy them separately and mount them on our own.
In high performance equipment that generates a lot of heat it is advisable to. to reinforce with at least two fans on the front.and we can improve the airflow inside the equipment with fans on the top that should work by pulling out hot air. A chassis that includes fans will represent an added value over one that comes without fans.
On the topic of fan controllers and LED lighting. I have conflicting opinionsThere are chassis in which they are very worthwhile and others in which they have an almost anecdotal role and are rather filler or even a nuisance because of the space they occupy and the wiring to be connected. The most expensive and highest quality chassis are the ones that usually mark the highest value in this regard, so keep this in mind.