This article is presented by be quiet!
New year, new PC? With exciting new hardware available to buy, it may feel like it’s time to upgrade your rig. And if you’re undertaking serious PC surgery this year – or if you just want to make your PC run cooler and quieter – the case is a great place to start.
We’ve got some fine PC case recommendations from the cool and quiet obsessives over at be quiet!, but first, here are a few things you need to consider when picking a new chassis for your rig:
Why now is the perfect time to upgrade your PC case
There’s one big reason why it’s the perfect time to give your PC a bit of a spruce up: a whole line of new, next-gen GPUs designed to give you the ultimate gaming experience.
Both AMD and NVIDIA have new graphics cards out now. And while the former’s Radeon RX 6000 series and the latter’s GeForce RTX 30 family are like gold dust at the moment, if you aim for one to sit proudly in your PC at some point, you might need to make a bit of space in your rig.
Both GPUs are designed to give your gaming rig a shot in the arm, with substantial improvements over the previous generation of already powerful cards. AMD’s CES event showcased the new RDNA architecture offering between 1.8x and 2.2x the frame rate in 4K games against its previous generation 5700XT cards, while even the $400 NVIDIA RTX 3060 Ti comfortably beats the (previous) heavyweight RTX 2080 Ti in performance tests (launch price: $699). This kind of power opens the door for stunning ray tracing effects, where each beam of light is individually mapped for realistic light, shadow, and reflections.
Now, how does that all tie back to your PC case?
What to look for in a PC case
The first thing to consider is the size of the case you’re looking for. Theoretically, most people would agree that a smaller footprint would be better, which means your new case will take up less space and be easier to move around.
In reality, there are more factors at play, though: the smaller the case, the less room you have for chunky graphics cards. And even if you did somehow manage to squeeze the RTX 3090 into a tiny case, the lack of airflow would, at best, make it extremely noisy. At worst, you could be looking at serious overheating problems that could damage your expensive components.
Fortunately, you’ll find cases tend to come in four sizes. In descending order, these are: Full Tower, Mid Tower (or ATX), Micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX. This corresponds to the size of the motherboard that will fit: Extended ATX, Standard ATX, Micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX.
While you can get top of the range hardware for all form factors (MSI, for example, makes an ITX version of the brand new GeForce RTX 3060 Ti), as a rule of thumb, the more space you have, the more choice you’ll have. Some of the RTX 30 GPUs are real chonksters, with RTX 3090 cards coming in at nearly 12 inches long and taking up the space of three motherboard slots.
Size also plays a factor in terms of cooling. Not only do you want plenty of space for airflow if you’re going to be working with hardware that turns up the temperature, but you need space for cooling equipment – be it fans or liquid cooling.
You should also pay attention to what options a case offers for cable management. Otherwise, you’re making a bit more work for yourself and possibly setting yourself up for a messy PC which looks bad and doesn’t help your cooling situation, either.
Finally, of course, you’ve got to consider your budget. While we’d never suggest cheaping out on a flimsy case (you’ll likely end up buying another when you discover it’s a hot, noisy mess) money saved means more cash for top-tier internals.
Fortunately, the PC building experts at be quiet! have considered all of the important concerns highlighted above, and bring something for every budget. The German company has been making PC hardware since 2002 and knows a thing or two about keeping things quiet and cool – hence the name.
Here are the company’s best picks for every budget:
Entry level: Pure Base 500DX ($100)
The Pure Base 500DX is a compact ATX case that’s focussed on keeping things cool and quiet, even when you’re trying to push your framerates hard.
Despite its relatively small frame, the Pure Base 500DX has plenty of room inside, with support for water cooling radiators of up to 360mm and five SSDs (two of which can be displayed in the main chassis and viewable through the tempered glass panel, while the other three can be neatly hidden away behind the motherboard tray). There’s space for large GPUs and coolers, and it comes with three 140mm Pure Wings 2 fans preinstalled.
In short, be quiet! has really thought of everything – there’s even a removable dust filter to keep your components from getting gunked up. But the tempered glass side panel will let you keep an eye on things anyway – assuming you’re not too distracted by programmable RGB lighting, that is.
Performance level: Silent Base 802 ($170)
Available with or without a window, depending on whether you want to see your PC at work, the Silent Base 802 is a great foundation for your gaming PC.
A large mid-tower chassis, it comes with everything you’d expect for quiet and cool operation, including three pre-installed Pure Wings 2 140mm fans as well as support for water cooling radiators of 420mm in length and up to seven (!) SSDs out of the box. The sides pop up at the press of a button too, saving you the need to track down a screwdriver every time you want to tinker.
But the real trump card of the Silent Base 802 is the option to switch between silent operation and performance depending on your needs. The case ships with a closed front panel and sound dampened top cover, but either or both of these can be swapped out for bundled high-airflow versions to bring down the internal temperature.
Enthusiast level: Dark Base Pro 900 Rev. 2 ($270)
The top of the range Dark Base Pro 900 wowed gamers when it debuted in 2016, and be quiet! has refined the formula for the second revision.
Its modular design makes it extremely adaptable for enthusiasts who want to use water cooling and overclocking. It supports water cooling radiators of up to 420mm in length, comes complete with a full circuit airflow system and noise-dampened vents, and has a multifunctional PSU shroud for neatness.
It improves on the 2016 original with more ways of hiding messy cables and drives, double the number of fan controllers with two channels for different fan speeds, and a new front I/O panel with USB 3.1 Gen. 2 Type C connectors. There’s even a quick charging option for smartphones. For power users, this is the ultimate choice.
Have any other questions about be quiet!’s range of PC cases, or how to choose the right one for your build? Let us know in the comments!