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5 ideas to improve and breathe new life into your old PC case

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If your PC case is several years old, you may feel like you no longer cut it. It may not have USB-C, or even USB 3.0. It may not offer enough airflow for your current hardware or enough space for all of your internal drives. Some of your front connectors may no longer work. But when you look at today’s most popular cases, you realize that none of them are right for you, or just not worth the expense. Perhaps, you still love your old case, but feel like you could use a new feature or two that you don’t currently have.

For many years now, a tempered glass side panel has been a standard feature in most cases. That marked the end of side vents, just as M.2 drives that could benefit from them started to catch on. That also limits the number of external drives (usually zero) and 3.5 “internal drives, both for aesthetic reasons and because filling the front of the case with drives when it doesn’t have side vents would destroy their thermal capacity.

Maybe you don’t want a tempered glass panel because you often take your PC with you everywhere. Maybe you still use CDs and don’t want to clutter your desk with an external drive. You may need multiple hard drives for an affordable RAID configuration. Plus, replacing a case is roughly the same amount of work as building a new PC from scratch. You may not have the time or confidence to replace it yourself. If any of the above is true for you, updating your current case in a way that cannot be done with most new cases may be just what you need. So where do you start?

New front connectors

The lack of modernity and functional front connectors in one case it is certainly not a reason to replace it. For only $ 19, you can get a 5.25 “bay with two USB 3.0 connectors, two USB 2.0 connectors, and headphone and microphone jacks. The best part is that the USB 3.0 connectors plug directly into your motherboard, with no intermediate points of failure. The USB 2.0 and audio ports use a circuit board, like the one built into their case.

You may also see the need for a connectivity hub for a different reason – if your box has them in the middle or near the bottom, possibly because you thought the tower box would rest on your desk, but now it’s on the floor. .

If you have a 3.5 ”external bay and you really want USB 3.0 in the middle of the case’s front panel, where those bays normally are, the Tek Republic two-USB 3.0 connector is just $ 12and excelity is $ 1 more. C-Zone has a similar product with audio connectors for $ 16.

If your motherboard has an internal USB-C connector, Hima has a very similar product to USEC with an additional USB-C connector for $ 29. Once again, the USB-C connector connects directly to the motherboard.

Moving the fans

If you are considering replacing your case for its thermal performance, you may want to check other options first. For example, Corsair’s Carbide 200R was among the most popular cases in the first half of the last decade. It was praised for its tool-less design, but criticized for its thermals, at least when it came to graphics cards and storage drives.

However, as long as you have the windowless version, the problem is not with the case itself, but with the default fan settings. The front panel of the 200R greatly restricts airflow, and with vents throughout, most of the air enters and leaves the case without reaching the graphics card.

In that case, the solution may be simpler than you think: move the front fan to the lower side vent, right in front of the graphics card. If you are afraid that connecting the left panel of the case to the motherboard will make it difficult for you to open the case, you can purchase a 12 “4-pin extension cable to less than $ 5or a 5-pack for $ 7.

You may also want to add a filter for the side inlet. Amazon has Many options, with prices that reflect the quality, size, shape and whether the frame is magnetic and / or painted. Just make sure the filter is made from a real net and not just a perforated piece of metal that blocks air as much as dust. With most of the air entering the case through a filtered intake, very little air will be able to enter the case through unfiltered vents and holes.

Since 2017, AMD has once again popularized top-down CPU coolers with its mostly decent Wraith series. If you have a top-down cooler, you may also want to move the rear case fan to the side. You can buy an extension cord for that fan, but a more elegant solution would be to use a 4-pin splitter ($ 6 for a pack of 2).

With the move towards M.2 storage drives, which are typically placed close to the graphics card, the windowless 200R may actually be a better case than it was in 2012.

A drawer for your USB devices

Another reason not to replace your old case is the ability to use one of its 5.25 “bays for a drawer. After all, what better place to store your USB devices than near your computer’s USB ports?

The cheapest item of that type is currently Cosmos’, priced at $ 9. It may just be a small plastic device, but it is cheaper than the “essential” RGB strips. If you want a higher quality product, with a metal casing, Enlabs has one for you. $ 20.

A physical fan controller

If your fans are connected to your motherboard with 4-pin connectors, you can control the spin speed through the software. The problem is that usually during games you find that your PC is making an uncomfortable noise due to the fans of the graphics card spinning almost at full speed. Your PC will be quieter with larger case fans spinning a bit faster to provide cooler air to the graphics card.

If you have a 3.5 “external bay to spare, the KKmoon 4-channel controller with physical buttons is a good choice in $ 15, and Kingwin sells a possibly identical product for $ 1 more. If you only have external 5.25 “bays, the Vantec adapter is $ 7. If you prefer a touch screen, Kingwin has a relevant 5 channel model for $ 32.

Well ventilated drive bays

If you need more 3.5 “storage drives than your box supports, you can convert any 5.25” bay to a 3.5 “bay for $ 5. As long as the 5.25 ”bay covers on your case are vented that’s great, but if they’re not, you might not want to put multiple hard drives in a potential hot spot.

If you want to add multiple hard drives, or just want the ones you have to have more air, Evercool has the solution for you. The Armor case converts two 5.25 “bays to three 3.5” bays with its own 80mm fan and filter for $ 25.

If you have 3 available 5.25 ”bays and want to make the most of your space, Icydock’s Black Vortex supports 4 drives and comes with a 120mm fan. Due to the location of the 5.25 “bays, that fan can also help cool the CPU, especially if you have a tower cooler. $ 60, it costs as much as a decent case, but it should not be purchased in conjunction with a new case. Rather, it is intended to save you the need to switch to a different case or purchase a NAS.

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  • If your job involves recovering data from SATA drives, Kingwin’s $ 18 support it can convert a 5.25 “bay to a hot-swap bay for 3.5” and 2.5 “drives.
  • If you need to copy data between 2.5 “drives, IcyDock has some interesting options: to less than $ 35 you can get a hot swap bay for two 2.5 “devices and a 3.5” bracket, where you can add the 3.5 “version of the device ($ 24).
  • For $ 60, you can buy a four 2.5 “drive bay with its own tiny fan. A six 2.5 “drive bay with two fans is $ 71.

If all else fails, here are the best options for under $ 100
  • Phanteks Eclipse P400A Digital Ignition Amazon
  • Lian Li LanCool II in Amazon
  • NZXT H510 ignition Amazon
  • Meshify-C fractal design in Amazon
  • Corsair Carbide 275R ignition Amazon
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