PC case – cheap or expensive?

At first glance, an expensive computer case seems like a waste of money. The invested funds will not increase productivity, but only assemble the components in a decent look. It seems that by overpaying for the case, we are giving money only for a beautiful exterior. But in reality this is not so – let’s figure it out.

Materials and construction
Inexpensive cases are usually made from sheet steel with a thickness of 0.4-0.5 mm. More expensive models use 0.6-0.8 mm metal. Wall thickness affects rigidity – cheap cases behave like cans. The side walls bend easily, because of their insufficient thickness, they “lead”, and during operation, the entire structure can rattle.

This is not the case with massive variants. As Boris Razor from the movie “Big Jackpot” said, weight is reliability. On the other hand, if portability is important, then cheap models weighing 3-5 kg ​​are better suited than monsters with 10-15 kg of mass.

Body Cougar PANZER MAX-G [106AMK0015-00] black

The side walls are sometimes made transparent, and in rare cases, even on both sides. Inexpensive cases use thin plexiglass, which easily collects scratches. Premium models are equipped with tempered glass with a thickness of several millimeters. First, leaving a mark on it is much more difficult. And secondly, although it is a little, it improves sound insulation.

Case Lian Li LANCOOL II MESH RGB [G99.LAN2MRX.R0] black

In cases of the same standard size (for example, the popular Mid-Tower), expensive models often outnumber cheap ones. This is understandable: the cost of materials, especially sheet metal, strongly affects the price. This is important when installing tall tower coolers or video cards with a large cooling system – they simply may not fit into an inexpensive case .

MSI GeForce RTX 3070 Ti GAMING X TRIO [RTX 3070 Ti GAMING X TRIO 8G]It should be borne in mind that ATX format power supplies can also be of different lengths. For example, the Corsair HXi 750W has an overall size of 180 mm instead of the standard 140 mm. In some budget cases, it will not fit.

Corsair HXi 750W Power Supply [CP-9020072-EU]

The location of the power supply itself is in most cases lower. The PSU installed in this way will be colder and quieter , and the upper position is used mainly when assembling office PCs. Built-in blocks are suitable, again, for low-performance machines. Their quality is poor. If possible, even in an economical assembly, it is better to buy a power supply separately.DEXP DC-101B case black

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Sound insulation and anti-vibration
Some models have additional noise isolation. For example, a company with the self-explanatory name Be Quiet specializes in this! (translated as “be quiet!”). Their cases have soundproofing on the front, top and side panels. The cost of basic versions of such cases starts from 6-7 thousand rubles, and in the budget segment you will have to put up with increased noise.

HDD is the main source of vibration in a PC, as it has rotating elements in its structure. Anti-vibration mounts and baskets were specially designed to extinguish them. There are even some inexpensive cases, but they are not provided in most models of the inexpensive segment.

Plastic cage for HDD with rubber holders

If such fasteners are not available, special screws with rubber washers can be purchased separately.

Cheap and expensive cases are distinguished by the number of fans included, as well as their quality. Inexpensive models can be without fans at all or with one 80mm on the back. Premium models are equipped with 3–4 120–140 mm fans with speed control.

Fan be quiet! PURE WINGS 2 [BL040]

But sometimes they may not exist. It is assumed that the user will select the suitable fans himself. But the places for installation should be present: usually two or three in front, two on top, one in the back and sometimes one on the bottom or side.

Case Lian Li PC-O11 Dynamic [G99.O11DW.00] white 11 999 *
There is enough space for coolers even in cases that cost from 3 thousand rubles. Models cheaper than this amount are usually intended for the office segment: there is simply no need for so many cooling holes.

The aesthetic moment is also important when choosing. The backlight is also found in inexpensive cases, but most often it is one-color. For example, in the Cougar MX330-F, only red is available.

Cougar MX330-F Black Case

Expensive models are distinguished by the presence of RGB backlighting , which can be synchronized with the rest of the PC components: video card, RAM and motherboard.

Case Aerocool Tor Pro [ACCF-PB11043.11] black

Comparison of cheap and expensive case
For clarity, let’s compare cases from different price segments. Take two Mid-Tower models from Zalman. S3 will play an inexpensive role.

At the time of this writing, the Zalman X3 costs almost four times as much.

First, let’s look at the dimensions: 412 × 189 × 451 mm for the S3 and 459 × 210 × 430 mm for the Z3. The more expensive body is longer and wider, and weighs 9.1 kg at all against only 3.8 kg. This is understandable – the thickness of the sheet metal in the X3 is 0.75 mm versus 0.6 mm. The tempered glass on the side wall also adds weight – against the usual thin plexiglass at the S3.

The premium case supports the installation of video cards up to 350 mm long versus 330 mm for the budget one, coolers up to 175 mm versus 156 mm. In practice, the Zalman S3 will not fit, for example, the MSI GeForce RTX 3070 Ti SUPRIM or the be quiet! DARK ROCK 4.

MSI GeForce RTX 3070 Ti SUPRIM [RTX 3070 Ti SUPRIM 8G]

The S3 has only one 120 mm fan included, versus four for the X3. At the same time, the expensive model also has mounts for 140 mm fans.

Zalman X3 with front panel removed

It is not recommended to use liquid cooling systems with more than one fan for the Zalman S3, while a three-fan model will fit in the Z3.

MSI MAG Core Liquid 360R Cooling System

The side panel of the S3 is fixed with regular screws, which can be inconvenient if you frequently remove the cover. The X3 has special latches – you don’t need a screwdriver. Also, the premium case has a cutout in the CPU cooler mounting area, which is very convenient. When upgrading the processor or replacing the cooling system, there will be no need to remove the motherboard.

Zalman X3 CPU cutout

The cheap model has only one high-speed USB 3.2 connector on the front panel versus two on the expensive one.

Front panels Zalman S3 (left) and X3

This is where the differences end. We will not consider design, since it is subjective. Which case to choose is up to you. Are the benefits of the expensive models worth the overpayment, or is it better to save money? The answer to this question depends on the budget, the specific configuration of the computer, and the tasks that it will have to perform.