A lot of changes have happened with computer cases since I bought my first real computer case back in 2006 – Antec NSK6000. Had gone thru a few terrible cases before figuring out what I really needed. That case is now in a shed – the newly ‘Retired’ ‘Antec Sr.’ could probably have me thrown into prison if the mask wearing ‘Woke MOB’ ever found out ‘how meanie’ it was of me to put ‘Antec Sr.’ there half naked.
I’ve been testing cases for a couple years now, mainly since starting this Linux Newbie blog, and was focusing on the Small Form Factor cases…until just the other day.
That InWin mini-ITX case in the pic cost me $71.68 w/ tax ‘n free shipping (9/10/19), but it’s just not suited for me, i.e. just too limiting. ‘InWin’ is great little hard working computer, but I like to test new hardware, and make changes, upgrades, etc. to my test computers (less so for main computers). It’s listed @ 3 x 8.9 x 7.6 inches, but with stand ‘n a cover that has a ¼” rise it’s really closer to 3.25” W x 9.25” H x 8.25” D. Too small for me either way, and that mini-ITX MoBo is probably going to end up with the ‘Antec Jr.’s Intel® i9-9900 CPU at some point, and definitely in a different case.
- How *FAST* are ‘Thangs moving in the computer cases area? Faster than I can keep up with…glass windows!?!? Handles!? Stackable?!? Lots of great cases coming out every day, but it takes patience ‘n lots of research to find what you ‘Might’ be looking for. 😉
The Apevia case cost me $59.99 w/ no tax ‘n free shipping. Great case to work in, with a micro-ATX MoBo, but the 10.25” W x 13.75” H x 15.25” D (w/ legs/feet) measurements can be difficult to find the right space for. My Antec Sonata Proto is easier to find space for, and it’s 8” W x 16.5” H x 18.5” D…it’s a perfect fit as a main computer – for me it’s on the right side ‘n down below. Great cases, but the Antec Sonata is easier to reach, and offers many more options with the 3 External 5.25″ + 2 External 3.5” Drive Bays. Newer cases seem to have more 3.0 USB Top and/or Front ports…I like more for my test computers, but two 3.0 USB Front ports work fine for my main computer, ‘Antec Jr.’.
- Shape, measurements, fits, use, ports, bays, MoBo form factor, easy reach, etc. are all important factors to be considered.
The InWin case was too small, but I wanted to test another Small Form Factor case. The Cooler Master Elite 130 mini-ITX was $79.98 w/ no tax ‘n free shipping. Excellent mini-ITX case to work with, but it still has limits to the GPU’s that can be used, and also will need Liquid Cooling for any CPU’s that need a fan/heat sink taller than 2.5 inches. The PSU sits right over the CPU area…so a 2.5” fan/heat sink is probably going to touch PSU which will block air flow. The case was actually designed for a 120mm Liquid Cooler, and the one I installed easily cools the Ryzen™ 9 3900X. The measurements – with legs/feet and a 1” rear extended area for PSU – are 9.5” W x 8” H x 15.75” D. It fits perfectly on the ‘Mobile Wagon’, but finding a space for a good fit could be difficult. Personally, my ‘Desktop Real Estate’ is just too valuable for any computer, especially with a ‘footprint’ like the Cooler Master. The case is also too short to be under the desk anywhere, so it just wouldn’t work there…unless it had a platform area like the ‘Mobile Wagon’ provides or a convenient shelf or shelving unit on the left or right side, IMHO.
- GPU needs ‘n size, CPU cooling, location-location-location, shape, measurements, fits, use, ports, bays, MoBo form factor, easy reach, etc. are all important factors to be considered.
- NOTE: a lot of these Micro ATX cases also support mini-ITX MoBo’s…can’t find the docs for verification on this Rosewill, but that Apevia case (above) supports Micro ATX / ITX / Mini ITX boards, and I’m pretty sure this Rosewill supports micro-ATX ‘n mini-ITX boards.
The Rosewill case is 6.75” W x 14” H x 15” D, which is pretty much one of the smallest cases as you jump into micro-ATX boards. I have a DVD-Rom, an added 3.5-inch front panel 2 Ports USB 3.0 USB Hub, added Kingwin KF-251-BK Dual-Bay Internal Tray-less Rack for 2.5” SATA HDD or SSD, and the stock 2 x USB 2.0 / Audio In / Out front ports. It has the GeForce GTX 1660 XC GPU, which fits easily, but needed a NH-L12S CPU cooler or other type of low-profile cooler. Not really setup for Liquid Cooling, but Noctua will have a cooler for *ALMOST* any CPU you put into the case, i.e. I can’t imagine putting a Ryzen™ Threadripper™ 3990X Processor into this case. 😉
‘Rose’ is back to being my #1 Linux Test computer…again. AMD’s are just too problematic, IMHO, and the old (Q4′17) Intel® i7-8700 CPU performs as well or better than the Ryzen™ 9 3900X in most all categories other than Workstations:
I also rate the Rosewill FBM-01 case as good *OR* better than all the above cases…other than the Antec Sonata Proto ATX case. Much more flexibility than the other mini-ITX or micro-ATX cases mentioned above, IMHO.
All this is actually prep work for when I downsize my next *MAIN* computer’s MoBo to micro-ATX. I don’t really need a full size ATX MoBo ‘n the mini-ITX is just too limited for my *MAIN* computer. I am looking at some nice quiet cases that also provide good dust filtering ‘n airflow, but many of them are about the same size as my Antec Sonata, so am in no rush to ‘Retire’ ‘Antec Jr.’ yet. My next *MAIN* computer case requires “patience ‘n lots of research,” so to repeat myself.
LINUX IS LIKE A BOX OF CHOCOLATES – you never know what you’re gonna get!