Another category of PC hardware where looks matter is PC cases. There are certain options which are popular not just because they do the job well (i.e., they promote good airflow inside the case, as well as house and protect the hardware), but also because they look great. Many Lian Li cases are praised for their beauty as well as their innovative and effective engineering; the PC-V1000B comes to mind. (I've nursed a hardware crush on this case forever.)
Ditto the Antec 900.
You can argue, though, that the Enermax Uber Chakra is just as effective at keeping the innards cool as either of these examples, but it seems I'm the only one on OCN who owns one of these.
Nobody ever recommends the Uber Chakra, partially because it doesn't have the classically beautiful looks of the Lian Li PC-V1000B nor the chiseled, rugged macho sensibility of the Antec Nine Hundred. I've got hot hardware installed in the Enermax Uber Chakra, and I can categorically state that it works very well indeed in terms of air cooling performance.
(How well? It kept an Opteron 170 @ 2.72GHz with 1.45V VCore cool enough to never exceed 58 degs C. That's in a bedroom with summertime ambient temperatures of around 32 degrees C...)
Of all PC hardware types, the case is undeniably that which depends on the most on beautiful aesthetics to generate interest, especially amongst the enthusiast set.
(To be continued in Part Three - Fans)