Your Computers Case
Your computer's case plays
a large part in the overall expandability, protection, cooling
and lifetime of your system.
At one time or another you may decide to add something
to your computer. Maybe a CD Player, Zip Drive, a second Hard
Drive, Floppy or Tape Drive. These fit on shelves in your computer
called Bays. If there are no extra bays, then theres no
place for these devices to go. These bays can be 3.5 inches
or 5.25 inches wide. There are internal and external bays. You
can notice the external bays by looking at the front
of your case.
like floppy drives and CD-ROMs slide into external bays and
can be seen (and accessed) from the front of your system case.
If you have unused bays, they will
have a plastic faceplate over them (or at least they should
have). If you see that you have empty external bays, then you
know that at least there's room to add another of this type
of device. Remember however, that hard drives are sometimes
hidden behind these faceplates, so a look inside the case will
tell you for sure. Hard drives are generally
situated in internal bays because there is no need for physical
outside access. You must look inside the case to see if you
have any free internal expansion bays.
Any device added to your system
requires power, and your power supply has to have enough juice
to supply that power. If you have a 150 or 200-watt power supply,
your system may be limited to the amount of devices that can
be added. Most cases come with a power supply, but make sure.
Getting Your Hands in There
You may at
one time or another, have to remove, change or check a device
in your computer. You want to be able to access that device
without too much difficulty. It would be nice if you didn't
have to remove the ribbon cables and expansion cards just to
install another DIMM, or replace a battery. Or, if you're the
type that likes to just jam his hand in amongst all that stuff,
it would be nice to be able to remove it without accidentally
loosening or removing other connections.
On some cases you can loosen a
single screw, and completely remove the drive bays for easy
access to the drives and their mounting screws. Others have
access ports for the screws on the back plate of the case. However,
Ive seen some drive bays that are spot-welded in place
without access ports, and you just about have to remove the
motherboard to access the screws for the drives. Think about
what you want to put inside and make sure there's enough room
A good, rigid, well built case can protect
the internal components from dust, vibration, foreign objects,
ESD and EMI. Electromagnetic interference is not always an easy
one to nail down. My computer has a good solid case, but when
you watch TV, you can tell if the computer is on or not.
You can find cheap cases that fit together so
poorly, or are so flimsy, that they actually rattle when the
computer is turned on. One thing that can be bad for your system
are vibrations caused by outside sources; whether its
a panel or cover that rattles, a desk drawer being closed, or
a printer that doesnt operate the smoothest. The stability
of the case makes a big difference.
Some of the case frames are
left unfinished, resulting in sharp edges, burrs and metal slivers.
Ribbon cables and wires (and your fingers) can be nicked or
cut by these sharp edges just by removing or replacing the outside
cover. Companies that actually put some research and development
into their product will address these issues. You should think
about them when you purchase. As with just about everything,
you usually get what you pay for.
the life of electronic components. The
different devices and components inside your case need room
to breathe and release heat build-up. Sometimes, things are
packed so tightly inside your system case that you cant
even get your hand in to remove a cable or an expansion card,
let alone allow for any kind of air flow. Air flow is needed
to cool down the components and devices inside the case.
The cooler that your
computer operates, the longer it will last. The fan on the power
supply is made to help cool the power supply as it operates.
The way the case is built should allow the intake of cooler
air through vents, draw it over the different components inside
to help cool them, and push the heated air out. Some cases come
with auxiliary fans that fit over the intake vents to add to
the airflow inside.
Its important not to interrupt this flow.
Dont pack things around the case or obstruct the intake
vents. Keep the intake vents clean and clear of grime and dust
balls. Also, by leaving the expansion slot inserts off the back
of the case, or the faceplate off unused external bays, you
could possibly be changing the way the air flows through your
case and reducing cooling efficiency.
If you have a system that seems to run fine,
then just shuts itself off after a half hour or so, check out
the operating temperature of the CPU. See that the fans are
working on the power supply and the CPU's heatsink.