The last article explained that powerful computers generally require large cases, but that users who don’t push the envelope can get by with a smaller case. Now this isn’t necessarily the way to go: if your computer is going in a home office and you have the space, a Mid- or Full- Tower has a few advantages. Most obviously the larger cases give you more room to work when you are building or upgrading your system. If you are new to building your own PCs or lack manual dexterity, you may be more comfortable working in a larger case. It is also worth noting that towers have been around forever (in computing terms) and that there is little change from one to the next insofar as how one goes about building a system in them. The smaller cases we discuss below require more careful attention to instructions as they aren’t as standardized and often include a few extra steps, such as removing and replacing a structural brace at the beginning and end of assembly.
The other advantage of Mid- and larger Towers is that they can fit both standard ATX and the smaller μATX (pronounced and sometimes written Micro-ATX) motherboards. There is a far wider selection of ATX boards available, and some features, such as Wi Fi, are much easier to find on ATX boards.
If you can find the features you need on a μATX board however, and you are willing to have less room to work while inside the computer in exchange for more room to work at the computer, you can get not only a smaller case, but forgo the Tower altogether. Smaller, non-Tower cases are loosely grouped under the banner of Small Form Factor (SFF) cases. One of the most common configurations is a “cube,” a term that some people use interchangeably with SFF. Not actually a cube, these are about a foot high, a couple inches more than that across, and several inches deeper than they are across. Though they have a bigger footprint than towers, the diminished height means they can often be placed on a shelf or slid under furniture more easily. Make sure you leave plenty of room for ventilation though: all those components in a small case need air to stay cool.
Since they can fit a decent sized (though not massive) power supply and video card while being easier to transport than a tower, they are often used to build gaming systems, meant to be taken to LAN parties, in which case the PC can be referred to as a LAN Box.
As a result of their being meant for gamers, many cube cases are flashier than their tower counter parts, but there are also many targeted to people looking for a discrete solution, both in terms of aesthetic and fan noise, for their bed and living rooms. People building Home-Theater PCs can avail themselves of specialized enclosures that are meant to look good and fit well in an entertainment cabinet. People who don’t use their computers on the road and would rather adjust their screens and keyboards than neck and wrists might prefer a Mini-PC with a stand alone screen and keyboard to a laptop.