How much to spend on a computer case?

Computer cases can cost as little as $15 and as much as thousands. So what exactly do I get if I spend a lot of money? Let’s examine what the computer case does. On its most basic level it holds the components for your computer. It has a mounting plate to install your motherboard, some type of a rail system to hold your drives and an area to install a power supply. Even the most inexpensive cases offer the option to install an additional fan. If one can accomplish all of this for the minimum, why would anyone bother spending more? What exactly do you get if you spend more money? In my experience the single biggest difference involves the inside edges of the case. Cheap cases are notorious for very sharp edges. If you were not extremely careful even the most experienced builders will cut themselves. The cases are usually very lightweight and require the actual computer components to add rigidity and strength. In theory the more expensive cases will offer better sound insulation for a quieter running computer. The fit and finish are also going to be of a higher quality. They will usually include an additional fan to help facilitate better air flow. Expensive cases always include some type of drive bay mounting kit. Usually including some type of a rail that installs to both sides of your drive and allows easy removal. If you are continually changing and updating drives this is a helpful feature.

What I have listed in the previous paragraph are facts, but people who buy expensive cases alone aren’t concerned with facts alone. For some computer owners bragging rights are top of the list. For these buyers only the perceived best will do for them. For other users there is the cool factor. My son is nine and his computer case includes a variety of LED lights and an almost face like front. He and his friends get a kick out of it. But having lights and cutouts do not add any additional functionality. For my readers I recommend you spend $40 or less for your case. If you are looking to achieve a quiet computer the case will unfortunately offer little in accomplishing that.

The only instance that I feel justifies additional computer case cost, would be for a home theater setup. Here, you would want the computer to match your existing AV equipment. These types of cases offer a much higher end look with brushed aluminum faces and LED readouts. They generally use a proprietary power supply because of the size and shape of the case and are included in the additional cost. Typically these computers sit in a cabinet without the best airflow, so additional cooling fans are also included.

 In keeping with my basic philosophy that computers are a terrible investment, don’t feel pressured to spend more than is required. In a relatively short time your gleaming new computer is nothing but a worthless boat anchor. And I don’t know anyone who takes pride in having a garage collection of expensive boat anchors.

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