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Choosing the Case

The computer case is as much an aesthetic choice as a functional one. The functionality and attractiveness of cases have improved, while costs have dropped. You want to pick an ATX case that has plenty of room, including expansion bays and front-mounted USB and audio ports. Removable motherboard trays are a plus. For this machine we want to put in your own high-power, quiet power supply, so order a case without a built-in power supply.

We also want a very quiet case. So opt for the aluminum Antec P160W. This model is one of the quietest stock cases you can buy. It has good airflow, which is crucial because we are going to limit the use of small loud fans on the internal components.

The "W" in the P160W case stands for a windowed model. When you put this much under the hood, you want people to see it. We’ve chosen a silver- and blue-lighted theme for this case, so brushed aluminum will be a good choice for the outside. (Note: A complete parts list, along with prices, will appear at the end of the article series).

The case has three large intake vents across the front, framed with chrome colored insets. The front bay panels have brushed aluminum optical drive controls, so you can conceal the ugly DVD-RW drives underneath. The side panel uses thumbscrews, which are also attractive aluminum. The windowed side panel has an easily detachable hinge. So you can either fold it down like a tailgate, or simply remove it for full access (see Figure 1).

Inside, the case is roomy. The case fan is large and quiet, with soft silicon mounting plugs instead of screws; this helps to reduce fan vibration noise. It was considerate of them to put in a couple extra plugs, because we tore one of them while installing it. Other nice touches include built-in vibration dampeners for every hard drive mount screw, thus further reducing a major source of vibration noise.

The mildly reflective aluminum inside this case will light up well with white and blue case lighting. It is clear from this masterpiece that the art of case manufacturing has taken several steps forward, while prices have meanwhile dropped considerably. It is a high-performance luxury case to fit your budget.

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