SOS: broken computer
December 8, 2012 6:39 PM   Subscribe

What computer tower do I need to buy to fit my new motherboard?

I am asking for my teenage, gamer brother.

He recently bought an intel i5 processor and a motherboard (Intel Desktop Motherboard LGA1155 DDR3 1600 ATX - BOXDH77KC). He hasn't tried to put it in, but just by taking the motherboard and approximating where it would go in the case, he says it won't fit in either his current dell tower which, from reading the label, is: HP Pavilion P660 8f PC or his old, much larger one, which appears to be a Dell, Model DCD0.

Does anyone know of an appropriate case to buy that would fit the motherboard and processor? The size of his old Dell Model DCD0 would fit the motherboard, but the plugs/adaptors would be in the wrong position if he were to install it.

I know almost nothing about all this, and he's trying to get his computer working again after taking it apart, so I'm hoping someone knows something about this.

posted by madonna of the unloved to Technology (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Pretty much any off-the-shelf case you can buy is going to be ATX compatible. The problem here is that many of the big OEMs don't use the ATX standard. Dell is a particular offender here, though I've seen HP do the same thing.

As far as the plugs etc. not being in the right place, your motherboard should have a plate that fits the motherboard and the back of the case. The case itself should just have a big rectangular hole at the back. The piece that fits with all the plugs is actually something that comes with the motherboard.

Head down to your local computer parts store and drop a couple-ten bucks on a case. Or drop fifty-odd for something you might actually like. Browse Newegg or something.
posted by valkyryn at 6:45 PM on December 8, 2012

Any case labeled ATX would work just fine. I recommend this ONE.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:46 PM on December 8, 2012

This is an "ATX" style motherboard, which means any standard ATX case will work. Computer manufacturers often create their own proprietary case designs, which is why the Dell and HP ones won't work. But if you do a search on for ATX Case, anything there should be just fine.

I like this one.
posted by JDHarper at 6:47 PM on December 8, 2012

Manufactured PCs often have boxes that are not standard sized for other boards. They contain boards made for the most part up to the specs of the PC maker's models.

However these are not just floating about on the internet or anything in excessive numbers (though they exist). An easy search for computer cases (of "ATX" size) will give your brother all of the types of cases he can look at. Some brick and mortar stores also carry some cases as well.

There are smaller then ATX sizes however so please be sure to read the descriptions. Also if your gamer brother plans to install a big sized video card eventually, the room toward the far end of the board and how much space there will be around will be an issue. But of course if your brother is only intending to replace the Processor/Motherboard of his older manufactured machine, then that is not too much of an issue.

One issue he may find even if he gets a case, is that the manufactured PC's PS may also be limited... He will want to double check all his power connections are available before he goes shopping.
posted by Bodrik at 6:47 PM on December 8, 2012

Most cases come with a power supply. On the power supply, check:

1) number and types of included power connectors

2) total power supply wattage (the needed amount will depend on all the other components -- especially the video card)

The Antec case linked to above does not include a power supply at all. You might be able to reuse the one from one of the existing machines, or you might have to buy your own (usually $40-50 on its own).
posted by miyabo at 7:18 PM on December 8, 2012

Is the the part where the plugs stick through a removable plate? The new motherboard should have come with one that snaps in. Any standard ATX case that you would buy would just have an empty, tall, rectangle there to put the correct plate in (check out the rear view of the case that JDHarper linked and you'll see what I mean.

It could be that the dell case you have is some non-standard form factor (and I think it's likely) but it could just be a matter of pulling the existing face plate and putting in the new one (though it isn't uncommon for that part to be non-removable on OEM cases).
posted by VTX at 7:32 PM on December 8, 2012

I recommend checking Craigslist and local PC repair/recycling for used ATX cases. If you're not particular about the style or condition you can almost certainly get something free or very cheap.
posted by camcgee at 9:46 PM on December 8, 2012

Yeah, the motherboard configuration isn't compatible with the Dell box, looking at pictures of both. The I/O area that would face out the back of the case (and where you'd plug the monitor, etc. in) is in the wrong spot. That case looks like a nightmare to work in anyway, it's so cramped and cluttered with weird struts and stuff.

But, like noted above, pretty much any ATX case will do the job. (Not micro or mini ATX. Just ATX. It'll be a bigger case, similar in size to the Dell one you already have.) Just make sure, if the case you choose comes with a power supply, that it's enough power to run the board + the CPU + the graphics processor + however many storage and optical drives you're hooking up to it.

Also, in case it hasn't come up in any of your brother's research, make sure you use spacers between the motherboard and the case. If you screw the one directly onto the other, without spacers, and turn it on? That's the fastest way to fry your brand new motherboard, and maybe even melt your CPU solid.
posted by carsonb at 2:03 AM on December 9, 2012

Just popping in to tell you that you don't have to spend $90 on a case. A $30 ATX case is fine. If your brother is a big gamer and wants to get a powerful video card, you might have to get a slightly better power supply, but otherwise, you don't really even need that.
posted by cnc at 2:09 PM on December 9, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks so much everyone! My brother has decided to get a new, case-compatible motherboard. He says that'll be easier than pulling everything out of his current case.
posted by madonna of the unloved at 6:50 PM on December 10, 2012

Thanks so much everyone! My brother has decided to get a new, case-compatible motherboard. He says that'll be easier than pulling everything out of his current case.

It's a bit late, but I'd bet money that he's wrong about that. Two reasons.

First, buying non-ATX motherboards is almost impossible. If you buy a retail-packaged motherboard, it's ATX or one of the ATX variants (micro, etc.). Period. Further, it's likely that his non-standard form factor only supports one or two motherboards, made for a specific manufacturer, i.e., the motherboard in his original Dell is probably the only thing that will fit.

Second, replacing the motherboard, any motherboard, almost always requires taking everything out of your case anyway. It's the first component to go in, and almost everything is installed either directly into it, or in such a way that you have to remove it to get at the motherboard.
posted by valkyryn at 3:38 AM on January 5, 2013

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