Choosing The Right Parts For Your Build (Part 5) - Choosing your case & Picking the right storage

5/18/2012 5:25:30 PM

Choosing your case

A good case is a essential part of any PC build, and you don’t need to shell out a small fortune to get a high-quality chassis with excellent cooling. The first thing on your check list is that a case is roomy enough to hold the rest of your components. Confirm that it has a motherboard tray of the right dimensions (ATX, micro-ATX or mini-ITX) and that it’s deep enough to accommodate your chosen video card. Almost any case will accommodate a mid-ranged or entry-level card, but some high-end models are the best part of a foot long and only specially designed cases will fit them in!

Description: a good case with big space

All good cases have mounting points for multiple fans. These all should be of at least 120mm in size, though several case manufacturers now have models supporting even larger 140mm or 200mm models. As a rule, the larger the fans, the quieter they can operate while still shifting the same airflow. Cases from well-known manufacturers usually come with fans of a decent quality included. These include Corsair and Antec, as well as Cooler Master and Fractal Design. Thermaltake has a great range of chassis if you want your gaming rig to look as aggressive as its components, while a special mention has to go to Lian Li – arguably the manufacturer of the most beautiful PC cases in the world. If you opt to go for a cheap and cheerful unbranded case, double-check that you don’t need to buy fans as well, otherwise you’ll probably end up spending just as much as you would have done for a decent branded case with them included as standard.

When picking a case, you should also double-check that it has enough bays to accommodate your storage solution. If you need a system that can accommodate plenty of hard drives, double-check that your chosen model has enough 3.5” and 5.25” bays. It’s also worth paying a little more for a case with some form of anti-vibration technology for the hard disk bays. There’s nothing more annoying than a badly designed case that transmits resonance from your hard disk and amplifies it into a loud distracting buzzing sound!

Picking the right storage


Description: Corsair AX850

Corsair AX850

You might be tempted to reuse hard disks from a previous build, and truth be told you probably won’t cost yourself a great deal of performance if you choose to do this. Hard drives have not exactly evolved at the lightning pace, and with a few exceptions like the Western Digital Raptor, they are still variants on the same 7200rpm design we’ve all been using for the past decade, just with ever larger capacities. With that said, today’s high-density drives are capable of performance faster than older models, with sustained transfer rates of over 130MB/s. If using a mechanical drive for your OS, insist on a 7200rpm model and don’t be tricked by ‘Intellipower’ spin speeds or any other nonsense; there are just cunning ways of hiding a lousy 5400-5900 spin speed that will cost you responsiveness and performance.

We would argue that one of the most noticeable and valuable investments you can make is a solid-state drive, or SSD. These drives are capable of a sustained transfer rate of as much as 5x that of a conventional disk, but truth be told this actually paints them in a rather unfavourable light. When tasked with small file random reads and writes – operations that are actually far more likely when running an OS volume – they can be as much as 200 or 300 times faster than a hard disk. If you’re spending more than $1,500 on your new build and have not factored in an SSD, you’re doing yourself a disservice; you have overlooked the single most noticeable performance-determining upgrade that money can buy.

Description: Force GT 120GB SSD

Force GT 120GB SSD

Given the fairly minimal differences in cost, we recommend buyers limit their searches for a new SSD only to the latest 6Gbps models. These are dominated by two internal controllers, one made by Marvell and another by SandForce. The vast majority of the solutions on the market, be they from Crucial, Corsair, OCZ, Patriot, Plextor or Kingston, are based on one of these two options. When coupled to a suitable 6Gbps controller you can achieve more than half-a-gigabyte per second in transfer rate, and response times of less than 0.1ms. A 60GB capacity is enough for Windows and a decent smattering of programs, and with such drives available for $120 or less, you should certainly factor in an SSD boot disk into any moderately-specified PC. Larger capacities are obviously more expensive, but will allow you to access more of your data at ultra-fast speeds.

  •  Case Modding: simple case modding techniques
  •  Bundle Up To Save Some Cash!
  •  Samsung Series 5 13.3-inch Ultrabook - The Meatier Choice
  •  SteelSeries Kinzu V2 - Reacquainting With The Kinzu
  •  Lenovo ThinkCentre Edge 91z - Centre Of Thought
  •  Fuji Xerox DocuPrint M205FW - It's All Black And White
  •  ASUS Radeon HD7870 DirectCUII Top - Power For Price
  •  ASUS Essentio CM6850 Desktop PC - Essentio-ly Essential
  •  New products - First looks, May 2012 (Part 3) - MSI Z77-GD55 Motherboard, Motorola Atrix 2, NVIDIA GTX 680
  •  New products - First looks, May 2012 (Part 2) - Sony Xperia Sola, ASUS ROG Tytan CG8565, WD Thunderbolt My Duo dual-drive storage system
  •  New products - First looks, May 2012 (Part 1) - Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47, Hewlett-Packard Z1
  •  MSI Wind U180 - The Cedar Wind
  •  ASUS U32U - For The Budget Conscious
  •  Western Digital My Book Live Duo - Full, Double Lives
  •  HP LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw - Print from The Clouds
  •  Corsair Vengeance K90 Gaming Keyboard - Aluminium and Cherry Keys
  •  Armageddon Alien II G7 - For The Ones New To The Game
  •  Toshiba Portege Z830 - Slim Cut
  •  Samsung Series 7 CHRONOS - Time, Space And Power
  •  Kingston SSDNow V+ 200 - SSDs for The Budget Conscious
    Top 10
    Nanoxia Deep Silence 1 - Low Noise Chassis
    Toshiba THNSNF512GCSS 512GB SSD – Take Advantage Of 19nm MLC NAND
    In Win H-Frame - All-Aluminium, Fanless Chassis
    Lian Li PC-CK101P - The Best Motorized Train PC
    OCZ Vector 256GB - Stunningly Fast Drive With Indilinx Barefoot 3 Controller
    Palicomp Alpha Blade – Affordable overclocked Gaming Rig
    Roccat Kone XTD – Great-Looking Mouse
    Simplicity and Precision: Test Planning In Agile Projects
    10 Most Attractive Android Smartphones – Jan 2013
    Plantronics BackBeat Go - Incredibly Small, Amazingly Light
    Most View
    .NET Enterprise Services Technologies : Application Blocks and Software Factories
    Implementing Security in Windows 7 : Set Up Parental Controls
    Build A Water-Cooled Mini-ITX Monster (Part 2)
    Microsoft Content Management Server : Building SharePoint Web Parts - Creating the Web Part, Defining Custom Properties for the Web Part
    Learning jQuery 1.3 : The journey of an event
    Business Intelligence in SharePoint 2010 with Business Connectivity Services : External Content Types (part 1)
    Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra 4 - Bulletproof backup
    Surviving Changes to the Definition of a Primary or Unique Key
    Programming the Mobile Web : Widgets and Offline Webapps - Platforms (part 5) - Windows Mobile & BlackBerry
    Buyer’s Guide - Inkjet printers (Part 2) - Epson WorkForce 545 All-In-One-Printer, Epson WorkForce 845 All-In-One-Printer, HP Officejet Pro 8100 ePrinter, Kodak Office Hero 6.1 All-In-One Printer
    Adobe Illustrator CS5 : Setting Graphics Options, Previewing Color Separations, Setting Output Options
    The games that we play (Part 2)
    Microsoft Surface With Windows RT - Not Yet a Game-Changer
    Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 : Building Lookups - Picking a color
    Get More Out Of Windows 7 (Part 3)
    Livescribe Sky 4GB Wi-Fi Smartpen
    Mobile Phone Update Fever (Part 2) - Social integration, Multitasking & Tablets
    Complete Guide for Your PC & How to Buy It (Part 1) - Choose PC System
    .NET Compact Framework : Drawing Text
    ASP.NET AJAX Extensions : Selective Page Updates with Partial Rendering