Tempted by the draws of upgrading your personal computer, you bring home a shiny new graphics card and are eager to install it into your computer tower only to discover that the card will not fit in the case.
“No worries,” you think.
“I’ll just purchase a new case.”
When you begin to browse your options, however, you are struck by the realization that computer cases are much more costly than you imagined, and you begin to wonder why.
Why Are Computer Cases So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
Computer cases are expensive due to a variety of factors including production cost, the functionality of the case, and the design.
1. The Types Of Materials Used In Producing A Case Are Costly
Computer cases can be made of a variety of materials including aluminum, plastic, glass, wood, and acrylic.
Most cases, however, are made of some form of steel, either cold-rolled, electrolytic, or galvanized.
SPCC is basic cold-rolled steel without any other treatment process applied to it.
This type of steel is prone to oxidation and is not a common choice for computer cases.
Electrolytic (or SECC) steel is cold-rolled steel that has gone through the additional process of electroplating with zinc and other post-processing procedures, which increases its resistance to corrosion as well as its aesthetic appearance.
SECC steel is the most common choice for computer cases.
Galvanized steel (or SGCC) is electrolytic cold-rolled steel that has also undergone hot-dipping and chemical treatments to increase the durability of the steel.
No matter which material is chosen for the computer case, the raw materials are typically costly.
2. Making A Case Is Time-Consuming
Computer cases are highly precise containers with numerous openings and connection components which require time to execute properly.
Machine manufacturing can be used in case production, but more specialized cases require more precise machines as well as experienced operators.
Cases for computers can also be made by hand or in small batches, which increases the amount of time it takes to complete the construction of a case as well as the cost of the final product.
3. Computer Cases Are Specialized
Computer cases are not one-size-fits-all products.
While there are different types of cases, such as desktop cases, tower cases, Small Form Factor cases, ATX cases, and Mini cases, many are produced with a specific type of form factor and size in mind.
The form factor is the size, shape, and specifications of the hardware components the computer case will house.
Also, some computer cases are designed not only for a specific form factor but also for specific brands and manufacturers.
4. A Computer Case Must Protect What’s Inside Of It
The internal components that the computer case houses are highly specialized and reactive to environmental factors.
The computer case must not only house the components but also protect them from dirt and dust, which can impede the functionality of the computer.
When dirt and dust are allowed to enter and build up with the case, the computer’s performance can be affected.
The primary concern with dust buildup is the retention of heat within the case as well as the degraded effectiveness of fans compromised by the weight of the dirt and dust on them.
5. Keeping A Computer Cool Is Highly Involved
Keeping the working components of a computer cool is also a very important factor of a computer case.
The computer case must be designed to ensure proper airflow or be designed to include an internal cooling system, such as heat sinks and fans, in order to keep the working components cool.
This is especially true with more advanced machines.
A more powerful CPU or GPU requires more energy to function.
This energy releases heat, which can impede the functionality of the computer, even causing it to compute incorrectly or crash completely.
Have you ever noticed how your laptop gets hot when it is on your lap?
This comes from the heat generated by the CPU.
Have you ever wondered why GPUs have large fans on their sides?
This is to combat the heat produced by the component.
The computer case must be designed to cater to the cooling needs of the internal components of the computer.
6. Computer Cases Can Be Seen As An Investment
With foresight, a computer case can be an important investment.
You can purchase a computer case which will not only fit your current needs but also your potential future needs.
Well-designed computer cases anticipate the future needs of the market as well as potential technological developments in computer components.
While a computer case may seem to be more expensive at the moment, the investment into a good computer case will save you money in the future by not requiring the purchase of a new case when the computer components are upgraded.
7. Computer Cases Are Built For Durability
A good computer case is designed to withstand significant wear and tear.
The materials chosen for the case, such as SECC steel, are designed to resist corrosion and oxidation as well as heat and physical contact.
For example, if a user places their computer case in a less-than-perfect location such as in direct sunlight or a damp basement, a good computer case is designed to minimize the effects of these less-than-ideal circumstances.
The case is also designed to protect against unforeseen incidents such as being tipped over or bumped.
Some cases are also designed to offer the internal components some protection against liquid damage.
8. Computer Cases Can Be Customized
In the world of computers, building a specialized computer is a computer junkie’s dream.
Computer cases can be customized to fit the specific needs of the end-user by allowing room or space for things such as additional CPUs or GPUs.
Customized computer cases can also be designed to fit in with a user’s aesthetic in the shaping or color scheme.
Some users even request novel cases like ones that are shaped like robots or fish tanks.
9. Some Computer Cases Have Limited Production
With more specialized computer cases, the production number is limited, leading to scarcity, and increasing the cost of the case.
Computer cases can also be special productions for promotional purposes or as advertising ploys.
These limited production cases can be a status symbol for the customer who is fortunate enough to get one.
10. Aesthetics Cost Money
Like in all other aspects of consumer products, aesthetics plays a major role in the cost of a product, even computer cases.
Computer case manufacturers take advantage of this market trend by crafting eye-catching designs.
Consumers gravitate towards these eye-catching designs, resulting in higher end-user prices.
Does A Computer Have To Have A Computer Case?
No, a computer does not have to have a computer case.
All the components required for a computer to run can be connected outside of a housing and will still function properly, for a time at least.
However, a case is highly recommended.
A computer case is designed to protect the components of the computer from being compromised by things such as dust, fluids, bugs, humans, or any other environmental factor that can damage or dislodge components or connections.
A case also provides properly channeled airflow to the appropriate parts to ensure adequate cooling and reduce the likelihood of overheating.
The case also acts as a ground for the electrical components of the computer as well as protects the outside environment from potential damage from electrical shorts which can potentially cause fires in certain conditions.
Finally, a computer case just makes life easier for the end-user.
A case provides cable control as well as clean aesthetics and space-saving functions by bundling all the components into a tidy box.
Are Computer Cases Worth It?
Yes, computer cases are, in general, worth the money.
While it may seem to be a money-saving trick to purchase a cheap case and invest the saved money into higher-performing components, this savings method can actually harm your computer.
Cheaper cases are not as well designed as more expensive cases, especially when it comes to airflow and cooling the internal components of the computer.
Less expensive models limit the location and the number of fan mounting locations as well as having inadequate ventilation.
High heat generation can reduce the efficiency of the computer or even damage the internal components of the device.
More expensive cases also typically offer more compatibility options as well as additional expansion slots and port openings.
Some computer cases even offer such design perks as carrying handles.
Finally, high-end computer cases from reputable manufacturers offer higher quality combined with pleasing aesthetics.
Should I Upgrade My Computer Case?
If you are looking to invest in upgrading your computer components or increase the speed, efficiency, and longevity of your computer, then yes, upgrading your computer case would be a wise investment.
One factor to consider when upgrading your computer case is the size of the case you might need.
A larger computer case will give you more room within it to add additional components such as a larger motherboard.
Upgraded cases are also adapted to handle more efficient cooling mechanisms and fans as well as offer better ventilation for the internal components.
The extra expansion slots provided by upgraded cases give you more options for later upgrades in conjunction with well-placed input and output slots.
Upgrading the computer case is not limited to just custom computers.
Prebuilt computers can also have their cases upgraded with time and patience.
If you decide to upgrade a prebuilt computer’s case, keep in mind the type of cooling system the computer uses since liquid-cooled systems are much more difficult to case swap than fan-cooled systems.
Also, it is helpful to photograph each component in its proper place before you remove it from the original case to ensure proper placement in the new computer case.
What Are The Different Types Of Computer Cases?
Computer cases, also called the housing, a cabinet box, a tower, a computer chassis, enclosure, or system unit, are designed to hold the internal components of a computer.
There are four main varieties of cases based on the form factor and size of the motherboard encased within them.
1. Full Tower
A full tower case is typically between 55 and 75 cm tall and 22 to 32 cm wide.
It is designed to hold the E-ATX and the CEB motherboard.
The large size of a full tower case offers better cooling for high-performance components as well as numerous expansion slots for multiple GPUs, and RAM bars.
Full tower cases are designed to hold the E-ATX or CEB motherboard.
One potential drawback of the full tower case is its sheer size and heft.
2. Mid-Tower Or ATX Format
The mid-tower or ATX format case is between 35 and 55 cm tall and 15 to 25 cm wide.
This case is designed to be compatible with most motherboards.
The mid-tower or ATX format is currently the most popular case in production due to its versatility, moderate size, and expansion capabilities.
The mid-tower case is also able to hold full-size components as well as powerful fans to cool itself.
The mid-tower format also includes the mini ITX and the micro ATX standard.
A mini-tower case is designed to be compact at just 30 to 45 cm tall and 15 to 25 cm wide.
The small size of the mini-tower is convenient for users who do not require high performance or upgrade options but prefer a functional computer that can be easily hidden for a clean aesthetic.
Mini towers do not offer the cooling capacity that the larger cases do and are also not voluminous enough to house high-end graphics cards.
The mini-tower case is only compatible with a mini ATX motherboard and requires a lower power supply.
Home Theater PC Or Small Form Factor
This case can go by either home theater PC (HTPC) or small form factor (SFF) and is the smallest case available on the market.
These cases, due to their minimal size, are often used in the home entertainment sector.
Their small size and whisper-quiet running make them ideal for streaming music and videos while also being powerful enough to handle all multimedia formats.
The HTPC or SSF case is also capable of housing a mini ITX motherboard with an embedded sound and graphics card.
The combination of the motherboard with the sound and graphics card reduces the heat generation of the device.
Who Makes The Best Computer Case?
A great PC case will combine good looks as well as functionality, and while opinions vary as to the best PC case manufacturer currently on the market, some companies do stand out from the others.
Corsair Gaming, Inc. was founded in California in 1994 and is a highly recognizable name in the computer industry.
The company currently holds the title for the most diverse and abundant offering of computer cases and manufactures cases of all sizes and types including custom designs and dual-chamber setups.
Popular Corsair cases include the Obsidian 1000D which is known for its massive size and dual chambers.
For full tower cases, the 275R Airflow is a great option and offers superior cooling and airflow design.
The iCUE 5000X RGB is one of Corsair’s mid-tower options that offers a sleek design and quality airflow as well as a solid frame for durability.
NZXT has made a name for itself by offering eye-catching case designs at an affordable price point.
This company is also based in California and offers computer cases as well as computer components and gaming peripherals.
The NZXT H510 is one of their most popular case designs.
This mid-tower ATX case is made of durable SGCC steel and tempered glass and boasts seven expansion slots and an impressive internal layout.
The exterior is available in white, black, or custom options in a matte finish.
While not as well known as Corsair and NZXT, Lian-Li Industrial Co., Ltd. is a computer case and accessories manufacturer based in Taiwan that has been offering well-made computer accessories since 1983.
Lian-Li’s PC-011 Dynamic is arguably the best mid-tower computer case on the market today offering superior quality at a reasonable price.
The PC-011 Dynamic has sleek windows on both sides of the case and offers eight expansion slots, six total drive bays, and room for a VGA card up to 420 mm in length as well as a USB3.1 Type-C port on the front of the case.
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