2. What features should I look for or avoid when evaluating a beige case?
Choosing the right beige case:
Not all cases are created equal. Some cases are a better choice for your build than others, what makes one case better than another depends mostly on what you plan to do with it. There are, however, some things that will help regardless of your project, so we'll talk about those here:-Panels:
metal and bending and cutting metal costs money. Cheaper cases are ingeniously designed to use as little material and involve as little metalwork as possible. Many cases are built using one piece of metal for more than one panel:
Here you can see that the front and bottom Panels are made of one Piece of metal, as are the top and right side Panels.
With this case the top, back side, and a small portion of the bottom are all a single piece of metal and is riveted on. The Mobo tray is permanently attached to the back side panel with no space behind it at all.
This can limit what mods you can carry out or make your planned mods harder to carry out. Ideally, each panel should be made from a different piece of metal.-Metal Thickness:
thin metal panels, can cause problems with stiffness and stability, when, for example, you cut a window in the side Panel or hang a Radiator from a cut-out in the top. Thicker metal is better, but only if you have the Tools to cut it. If all you have is tin-snips you may want to target cases with thin metal Panels.-Front Panel:
the front panel won't have anything to help airflow, (because 'airflow' wasn't a thing back then!
) so you'll probably want to modify it in some way, again, what makes for a good front panel depends on what you want do but it is something to think about when choosing a case.-Size:
naturally the size of the case is important, you'll know which size is right for your build, but if you're planning on watercooling I would recommend going for a 'server' case, that makes sure you've got plenty of space to play with!-ODD & HDD Bays:
making sure your new case offers enough bays for your ODDs and HDDs may sound obvious but it's easily overlooked.
If your new beige case dosen't have enough bays, it's not the end of the world, you can always make your own HDD Cage/5.25" bay Cage!-Cable Management:
just like airflow, cable management often wasn't a consideration back in the day. However, many cases have space behind the MB tray, which, with a bit of modding, can make for some good cable management options. How much space is behind the MB depends on the case but if cable management is important to you then you might want check.
If Cable Management is important but you just can't find the right case, you could mod a 'Bump-Out' to add some extra space behind the MB tray:
This is still a work-in-Progress but you can see how the bumpout was made using a baking tray!
The next article will be about which Tools are needed to turn your ugly beige box into a masterpiece to be proud of! Stay tuned!