Learning Resources
 

Chassis Components


Computer cases usually include sheet metal enclosures for a power supply unit and drive bays, as well as a rear panel that can accommodate peripheral connectors protruding from the motherboard and expansion slots. Most cases also have a power button or switch, a reset button, and LEDs to indicate power status as well as hard drive and network activity. Some cases include built-in I/O ports (such as USB and headphone ports) on the front of the case. Such a case will also include the wires needed to connect these ports, switches and indicators to the motherboard.

Major component locations

  • The motherboard is usually screwed to the case along its largest face, which could be the bottom or the side of the case depending on the form factor and orientation.
  • Form factors such as ATX provide a back panel with cut-out holes to expose I/O ports provided by integrated peripherals, as well as expansion slots which may optionally expose additional ports provided by expansion cards.
  • The power supply unit is often housed at the top rear of the case; it is usually attached with four screws to support its weight.
  • Most cases include drive bays on the front of the case; a typical ATX case includes both 5.25" and 3.5" bays. In modern computers, the former are used mainly for optical drives, while the latter are used for hard drives, floppy drives, and card readers.
  • Buttons and LEDs are typically located on the front of the case; some cases include additional I/O ports, temperature and/or processor speed monitors in the same area.
  • Vents are often found on the front, back, and sometimes on the side of the case to allow cooling fans to be mounted via surrounding threaded screw holes.


Internal access
Tower cases have either a single side panel which may be removed in order to access the internal components or a large cover that saddles the chassis. Traditionally, most computer cases required computer case screws to hold components and panels in place (i.e. motherboard, PSU, drives, and expansion cards). Recently there is a trend toward "screwless" cases, in which components are held together with snap-in plastic rails, thumbscrews, and other methods that do not require tools; this facilitates quick assembly and modification of computer hardware.