How to install an app for a single user on Windows 10

Apps on Windows 10 normally all install to the same folder i.e., the Program Files or the Program Files (86) folder in the C drive. When you’re going through the initial installation steps for an app, it will offer to create a folder in one of these two folders. You may also have noticed that it allows you to change the location which means you don’t necessarily have to install apps to the C drive. In fact, if you’ve installed a UWP app, you can move it to a different drive whenever you want. If you’re installing a desktop app and would like to install it for a single user, you only have to change where it is installed.

Install app for a single user

Most desktop apps allow you to choose where an app is installed. There will be some exceptions where an app must be installed to the Program Files folder but in that case, the app won’t allow you to change where it is installed.

In order to install an app for a single user, it needs to be installed in the user’s AppData folder. It is located in the following location;

C:\Users\YourUserName\AppData\Local

This folder is normally hidden so make sure you have hidden folders set to be visible or you won’t be able to select it. Once the hidden items are set to be visible, run the app installer.

When you get to the install location screen, click the browse button and go to the AppData folder. Select the Local folder and create a new folder in it for the app. If you don’t create the folder, the app will be installed to the Local folder and that will leave you with a mess of files in it.

Proceed with the installation like normal. When it is complete, the app will be added to the Apps’ list in the Start Menu. If you chose to add one, there will also be a shortcut for the app on your desktop.

You can run the app like you normally do. If you need to uninstall it, you can do so from the Control Panel. Go to the uninstall programs screen, and the app you installed will be listed among the programs on the system. Select it, and click the Uninstall button.

In most cases, the app will run without any problems but if you have other apps that rely on it, it is possible they may not be able to find it since it is installed in an unconventional location. Keep that in mind when you choose to install an app for just a single user.

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How to Change the Last Modified Date, Creation Date, and Last Accessed Date for Files and Folders

Every file you create or modify on Windows 10 has file attributes attached to it, telling you (or somebody else) when the file was created, modified, opened, and possibly more. It doesn’t matter if you’re late submitting an assignment or you’re just trying to cover your tracks—the information will always be there unless you change it.

If you want to change file attributes like these, you have a few options. You can use the new Windows PowerShell to change or remove this data, or you can do it using Windows File Explorer or another third-party app like Attribute Changer. Here’s how to change file attributes on Windows 10 using these methods.

Removing File Attributes Using Windows File Explorer

If you want to change the last modified date or other file attributes on Windows 10, your first thought may be to do so using the Properties menu for a file in Windows File Explorer.

Unfortunately, this isn’t possible. You can view certain and change certain file attributes in File Explorer, but you can’t change the last viewed, edited, or modified dates. It will remove other personal data, however, such as author name for documents, ratings for media files, as well as set a file to read-only or hidden.

To change other file attributes like your last modified date, creation date, and other essential file information, you’ll need to use one of the methods listed later in this article—in particular, using the Attribute Changer app.

  • To remove certain personal file attributes, open Windows File Explorer and locate a file. Right-click the file and press Properties.
  • In the Properties box, press the Details tab, then click the Remove Properties and Personal Information option link.
  • As we’ve mentioned, you can’t remove or change the file creation date or other essential file attributes here. If your file has other personal information attached, you can create a copy of the file with that information removed by pressing the Create a copy with all possible properties removed option, then press OK to save and perform the action. A copy of your file will appear in the same folder as the original file with your chosen attributes removed.
  • To remove this information from an existing file, select the Remove the following properties from this option instead, then choose the properties you want to remove. Press OK to save and remove this information from your file.
  • You can also use File Explorer to change or set other file attributes, such as whether your files are hidden or read-only. In the Properties box, switch to the General tab, then press either the Hidden or Read Only checkboxes to enable or disable those settings, then click OK to save.

To change the last modified date and other attributes, you’ll need to use another method listed below.

Change File Attributes Using The PowerShell

The attrib command from the Windows PowerShell allows you to view and change file attributes for Windows 10 files. It’s included as standard, so you don’t need any additional software to use it.

This is a fairly complex method, but also quite limited. If you want an easier way to change file attributes, use the Attribute Changer app listed below.

  • To start, open a PowerShell window—preferably with administrative privileges. To do this, right-click the Windows start menu and press PowerShell (Admin) to launch a new PowerShell window with admin privileges enabled.
  • Use the cd and ls commands to move folders and list file contents. Once you’re in the correct folder, you can list all the relevant attributes for your file by typing Get-ItemProperty -Path file | Format-list -Property * -Force, replacing file with your file path.
  • You can use the Set-ItemProperty command to change file attributes such as read-only access. To do this, type Set-ItemProperty -Path file -Name IsReadOnly -Value True, replacing file with your file name. For a full list of possible variables for this command, see the full Microsoft PowerShell documentation for more details.

A successful change will result in the PowerShell returning no response, but you can check whether it was successful by typing the Get-ItemProperty -Path file | Format-list -Property * -Force command again, or by viewing the file properties using File Explorer.

This isn’t the easiest method to change file attributes, as we’ve mentioned. Third-party apps like Attribute Changer exist to make this far easier, as well as allowing you to change the last modified date and more.

Using Attribute Changer To Change Windows 10 File Attributes

Attribute Changer offers the best way to change file attributes on Windows. Along with typical hidden and read-only attributes, Attribute Changer allows you to modify file access and file creation dates, as well as other options.

  • An advanced properties box for your file will open—this is the Attribute Changer software in action. Check (or uncheck) to enable or disable various system attributes like hidden file or read-only access at the top of the File Properties tab.
  • If you want to change the last modified date or change the file creation data, press to enable the Modify date and time stamps checkbox. This will enable you to change the created, modified, and accessed timestamps—change these using the options provided.
  • Once you’ve made your changes, press the OK or Apply buttons. Attribute Changer will ask you to confirm the changes, so press the additional OK button in the Processing Confirmation box that appears.

Attribute Changer will switch to the Reporting tab and, assuming no issues, will list the progress of the changes and apply the changes you’ve requested. You can double-check this by right-clicking your file, pressing Properties, and viewing your file attributes in the General and Details tabs.

File Management On Windows

As the above methods show, there are plenty of ways to change file attributes on Windows 10 and which will, hopefully, get you into the habit of better file management on Windows. You could start by switching to a replacement for Windows Explorer to make it easier to sort and manage your files.

If you’re worried about losing your files, don’t worry—you can prevent Windows files from being deleted, too. Let us know your tips for file management in the comments section below.

How to extract text from a screenshot on Windows 10

Optical Character Recognition has been around for years and it’s improved so that photographs of printed text e.g., from a book, can be read accurately. Most OCR apps target scanned documents or PDFs that do not allow users to copy text. That said, if you ever need to extract text from a screenshot, an OCR tool is what you need.

OneNote OCR tool

If you have OneNote 2016 on your Windows 10 PC, all you need to do to extract text from a screenshot is insert the screenshot into a note/page, right-click it, and select ‘Copy text from picture’ from the context menu. Newer versions of OneNote still have this feature but it is cloud-based. What this means is that you will have to insert an image, wait a few minutes, and then the ‘Copy text from picture’ option will show up.

Once copied, you can paste it anywhere, including on the same OneNote page.

PhotoScan OCR

OneNote works great but it makes you wait a while before you can extract text, and you have to insert a screenshot into a page first. The process is basically much longer than it needs to be. If you want a quicker solution, give PhotoScan a try. It’s a free app but it has advanced features that you need to buy. For OCR, the free version is enough.

Install PhotoScan from the Microsoft Store.

Open the app and go through its brief tutorial. Click ‘Browse Photo’ and add the screenshot that you want to extract text from.

The app will automatically show you all the text it found in the image and you can copy it to your clipboard, and paste it anywhere you like.

The text will be read left to right but the app won’t care for any ‘borders’ or ‘dividers’ that separate text. What this means is that text that is in an app window will not be differentiated from the text in the system tray. In the previous screenshot, the app has found and displayed text from the Command Prompt window and, it has also displayed text from the system tray i.e., the language button, and the time and date. The time and date are not displayed together. Instead, the language button’s text is inserted between them.

If this is a problem for you, and you need the app to keep the text separate, you can crop an image into smaller parts so that each part contains only a specific text which the app will read. It’s a little time consuming but it’s easier than typing the text out yourself.

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How to get free Pokèballs during the lockdown

Pokèmon Go is a game that requires you go outside to play it which is a bit difficult given the lockdown in most places. You can turn on Adventure Sync and have your at-home movements count towards steps taken but that doesn’t allow you to visit Pokèstops or gyms which means you’re low on supplies. You can buy supplies, or you can have friends gift them to you. If neither is an option Niantic is offering users a gift of 8 Pokèballs, 4 Pinap berries, and 4 Razz berries. Here’s how you can get them.

Add Niantic as a friend

If you add Niantic as a friend in the game, the company will send you the aforementioned items as a gift. Tap your avatar in the game and select the ‘Friends’ tab. Tap ‘Add a friend’ and use the trainer code below to add Niantic as a friend.

9484 2295 3675

Unfortunately, this might not work since there are a lot of players currently trying to add the company and the pending requests have piled up to a point where no new requests are going through. There is a pretty simple alternative though.

Use promo code

Niantic has given users a promo code that they can redeem for the gifts. The code can be scanned from the game on Andriod but, both Android and iOS users can visit this page and enter the code to get their gifts.

EMRK2EZWLVSSZDC5

Sign in with your Pokèmon account, and then enter the code. The items will take a little time to appear in the game but when they do, you will see an in-game alert telling you they’ve been added.

Redemption limit

You can only redeem the code or get the gift once. You must redeem the code before April 10, 2020. You must claim the gift within 24 hours of getting it.

Playing Pokèmon Go

Playing the game during a lockdown isn’t easy since you’re not supposed to go out. The game in no way encourages you to defy lockdown protocol in your country but it has added some leniency to the rules. You can access Pokèstops from much farther away i.e., twice the distance. The same goes for gyms though for many users who live in entirely residential areas, this is insufficient. Incense now lasts for a whole hour instead of the usual 30 minutes and eggs can be hatched at half the distance. There is also a bundle that you can buy for 1 Pokècoin that includes 20 Ultra balls, and 15 Pinap berries. The bundle updates daily and is a good buy compared to everything else.

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6 Best Micro ATX Cases for Every Need

Micro ATX cases fill a vital niche between the maximum expansion of ATX cases and the super-downsizing of Mini ITX cases, but how do you choose the right one for you?

That’s what we’re here for.

In this article, we’re going to walk you through our six top picks for the best Micro ATX cases, and hopefully help you find the best one for your needs. In addition to our selections, we’ll also include a detailed buying guide for you to peruse at the bottom of the article, just in case you need help deciphering all the specs and jargon before making the right decision.

What is the best micro ATX case?

Even if you don’t buy anything, we want you to walk away from this article well-informed on Micro ATX cases and how to choose them. Let’s get into it!

#1. Thermaltake Core V21

Dimensions and Size: 13.2 x 12.6 x 16.7 inches, MATX Cube | Front Panel Type: Mesh | Side Panel Window Type: Acrylic Window | Color Options: N/A | GPU Clearance: 350 mm | CPU Cooler Clearance: 185 mm | Drive Bays: 3 3.5/2.5, 3 2.5 | Fan Capacity: 1x 200 mm or 2x 120/140 mm front (1 200mm included), 4 120 mm or 2 140 mm top, 1 120/140mm rear, 2 120 mm bottom, 2 120/140 mm side | Lighting: N/A | Front Panel USB Ports: 2 USB 3.0

  • Low price
  • Great airflow
  • Great expandability

Thermaltake Core V21 SPCC Micro ATX Cube Computer Chassis

The Thermaltake Core V21 is our pick for best budget Micro ATX case and best budget Micro ATX cube case. If you want something that’s cube-shaped, Micro ATX, and respectably low-profile…then this is a great pick. But what makes it so good?

For once, the super spacious internals. There are a ton of available fan mounts, room for extra-long GPUs and fairly tool CPU coolers, and six total drive bays. The included 200 mm intake fan and mesh panel goes a long way to providing great airflow, and truly insane assortment of extra fan slots ensures that you won’t be left hurting for even more cooling options.

Honestly, we really can’t think of anything bad to say about this case. It’s smaller than an ATX tower, as you’d want from a Micro ATX case, but it’s intelligently designed to provide a fairly similar level of expandability and sheer cooling power.

There’s a reason that this is Amazon’s best-selling Micro ATX case: it’s genuinely one of the best ones.

The only real nitpick we can put against it is that the window is Acrylic rather than Tempered Glass, but that would definitely raise the price point out of the “budget” range, so we can’t really complain.

(But hey, Thermaltake: maybe make a TG alternative?)

Verdict: Best Budget Micro ATX Case / Best Budget Micro ATX Cube Case

#2. Corsair Crystal 280X

Dimensions and Size: 15.6 x 10.8 x 13.8 inches, MATX Cube | Front Panel Type: TG and Mesh | Side Panel Window Type: Tempered Glass | Color Options: Black, White | GPU Clearance: 300 mm | CPU Cooler Clearance: 150 mm | Drive Bays: 2 3.5, 3 2.5 | Fan Capacity: 2 120 mm front, 2 120 mm top | Lighting: 2 RGB Intake Fans | Front Panel USB Ports: 2 USB 3.0

  • Great RGB
  • Small size, slick aesthetic
  • Decent airflow and performance
  • High price

CORSAIR CRYSTAL 280X RGB Micro-ATX Case

The Corsair Crystal 280X is our pick for best MicroATX cube case. Our #1 pick will have better raw airflow, but if you want something smaller with excellent RGB and tempered glass…this is a strong pick.

This one isn’t purely aesthetics over performance, though.

The dual-chamber design separates your core components from your PSU and drives, which don’t generate nearly as much heat on their own and have their own dedicated compartment, complete with appropriate ventilation. The bulk of the airflow goes directly through the CPU and GPU coolers, which is where you want it.

Using an AIO cooler, especially for your CPU, can be really useful here. Just attach a 120/240 mm radiator to the intake fans and add an exhaust fan or two to the top of the case, and you’ll have a pretty strong thermal solution. (Since the case is tight on space, though, we’d recommend not occupying any slots below your GPU- or if you do, going as low as possible to give it as much space as it needs to breathe.)

This is very much a high-end case, but if your cooling solution is similarly high-end, it should still sing for you. If you’re tighter on cash but still want some RGB, just opt for some RGB cooling fans in a more affordable case.

Verdict: Best MicroATX Cube Case

#3. InWin 301

Dimensions and Size: 14.3 x 7.4 x 14.9 inches, MATX Tower | Front Panel Type: Solid (Ventilated) | Side Panel Window Type: Tempered Glass | Color Options: Black, White | GPU Clearance: 330 mm | CPU Cooler Clearance: 160 mm | Drive Bays: 1 3.5/2.5, 2 2.5 | Fan Capacity: 2 120mm front, 1 120 mm rear, 2 120mm bottom (occupies bottom PCIe slot) | Lighting: N.A | Front Panel USB Ports: 2 USB 3.0

  • The smallest Micro ATX case
  • Well-priced
  • Decent airflow performance
  • Very cramped building experience
  • No cable management

InWin 301 Black Tempered Glass Premium Micro-ATX Mini-ITX Tower Gaming Computer Case

The InWin 301 is a fairly unique case.

It’s the smallest Micro ATX case that you can find without consulting obscure no-name manufacturers or modding your own case. It offers a fairly slick-looking tempered glass side panel, and some pretty strong airflow if you’re willing to throw in some fans. GPU length and CPU cooler clearance are both pretty solid, too, more than enough for most builds.

So, what’s the catch?

There are only three total drive bays, and only one of which that can be used for 3.5-inch drives. And the building experience is cramped, with no cable management to speak of. We’d recommend opting for an SFX power supply to make better use of the included PSU chamber, but that adds a significant price penalty to the affair- one that shouldn’t be necessary for a feature as basic as cable management.

We recommend only doing a build like this if you’re willing to spend extra on an SFX power supply, a standard Full-Modular PSU, or you’re an experienced builder that can work with limited cable management options. If you can get around the cable management stuff, this is a truly excellent case- but otherwise, you may want to consider one of the other options.

Verdict: The Smallest Micro ATX Case

#4. Fractal Design Focus G Mini

Dimensions and Size: 8.07 x 15.07 x 18.2 inches, MATX Tower | Front Panel Type: Mesh | Side Panel Window Type: Acrylic Window | Color Options: Black (other color options are for larger variant) | GPU Clearance: 380 mm | CPU Cooler Clearance: 165 mm | Drive Bays: 2 5.25, 2 3.5/2.5, 1 2.5 | Fan Capacity: 2x 120/140mm front (2 120 mm included), 2 120/140mm top, 1 120mm rear, 1 120mm bottom | Lighting: 2 White LED Intake Fans | Front Panel USB Ports: 1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0

  • Fairly cheap
  • Great airflow
  • Plenty of space and expansion

Fractal Design Focus Mini G - Mini Tower Computer Case - mATX - High Airflow

The Fractal Design Focus G Mini is one of our favorite budget Micro ATX cases. Its non-Mini big brother is also one of our favorite ATX cases, and that’s no coincidence: they’re pretty much the same case, but this one is smaller!

The biggest benefit of the Focus G Mini, besides its low price, is the raw airflow performance. The mesh front panel and two included 120 mm intake fans ensure a fairly strong out-of-the-box airflow setup. You don’t need to do this, but even just adding a cheap exhaust fan will give you a complete positive pressure airflow setup. This is a marked improvement over every other case on this list, where you’ll almost certainly need to buy multiple fans in order to complete the airflow setup. (Don’t want to buy even one extra fan? Move the bottom LED fan to the rear to serve as an exhaust!)

A look at the internals shows off a fairly spacious interior, with plenty of space for drives, GPUs, and tall air coolers. There are also four more fan slots, just in case you want to hyper-optimize your airflow.

So, what’s the catch?

There…really isn’t one. It’s cheap, it performs great, and it has plenty of space. The window is Acrylic rather than Tempered Glass, but that’s to be expected for a budget case. If you’d like an MATX case with great airflow and a TG window instead…look at our next pick.

Verdict: Best Budget Airflow Micro ATX Case

#5. Fractal Design Meshify C Mini

Dimensions and Size: 15.5 x 8.3 x 15.7 inches, MATX Tower | Front Panel Type: Mesh | Side Panel Window Type: Tempered Glass Window | Color Options: N/A | GPU Clearance: 315 mm | CPU Cooler Clearance: 172 mm | Drive Bays: 2 3.5/2.5, 3 2.5 | Fan Capacity: 3 120 mm or 2 140 mm front fans (1 120mm fan included), 2 120/140 mm top, 1 120 mm rear, 1 120 mm bottom | Lighting: N/A | Front Panel USB Ports: 2 USB 3.0

  • Superb airflow and noise levels
  • Plenty of space and expansion
  • Higher build quality and tempered glass side panel
  • Slightly high price

Fractal Design Meshify C Mini - Compact Mini Tower Computer Case - mATX Layout

If you’re paying attention and reading this article in order, you’ve probably caught onto something:

This is pretty much just a higher-end version of the Focus G Mini, isn’t it?

Mesh front panel? Check. Two fans included? Check. An open, spacious interior with plenty of fan mounts? Check. Plenty of room for drives? Check.

It even has a similar form factor, though it’s actually a little bit smaller. So, what’re the actual differences between The Meshify C Mini and Focus G Mini?

The two most obvious changes are in the window, which has been upgraded to tempered glass, and the addition of a dedicated PSU/cable management/drives basement. The bottom of the Focus G was previously open, but now the basement ensures that the less slightly parts of your PC stay out of sight, out of mind. If you’d prefer to show off your PSU, you can also remove the PSU basement if you feel so inclined.

The one catch aside from the higher price is that this case actually has less GPU clearance than its cheaper counterpart, at 315 mm instead of 380 mm. (You can get a little bit more space if you remove the front fan, but we recommend against that.) On paper, this could be considered a major downside…but truthfully, we don’t really mind. Very few GPUs exceed 300 mm in length, much less hit the high 300s. Triple-slot GPUs are an option if you still want beefier cooling- raw length past a certain point doesn’t make as much of a difference as thickness does.

Verdict: Best Airflow Micro ATX Case

#6. Thermaltake Core 20 VT

Dimensions and Size: 13.7 x 13 x 16.9 inches, MATX Cube | Front Panel Type: Tempered Glass (Ventilated) | Side Panel Window Type: Tempered Glass | Color Options: N/A | GPU Clearance: 350 mm | CPU Cooler Clearance: 185 mm | Drive Bays: 3 3.5/2.5, 3 2.5 | Fan Capacity: 2x 120/140 mm or 1 200 mm front (1 200 mm included), 4 120 or 2 140 mm top, 1 120/140 mm rear, 2 120 mm bottom | Lighting: N/A | Front Panel USB Ports: 2 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0

  • A ton of tempered glass and modularity
  • Very spacious internals, plenty of room for expansion
  • Airflow is decent despite all the tempered glass
  • Airflow lower than the non-TG counterpart
  • Large for a Micro ATX case

Thermaltake Level 20 VT Tempered Glass Interchangeable Panel DIY LCS Chamber Concept Micro ATX Modular Gaming Computer Case

Last but not least is the Thermaltake Core 20 VT, which is basically just a case for people who really like tempered glass. The front panel, left panel, and right panel are all tempered glass panels. (Slightly spaced out to allow for some airflow, of course: otherwise this case would turn into an oven under high loads.) If you just want a Micro ATX case that really flexes tempered glass and your SFF PC building abilities…here it is!

Specs-wise, it’s actually quite similar to the much cheaper Thermaltake Core V21. A ton of fan mounts and drive bays, an included 200 mm intake fan, and plenty of space for large GPUs and air coolers. So, what’re the catches?

For one, this is much larger and heavier than the V21. All that tempered glass adds some significant heft to the entire affair, which you’ll want to keep in mind.

Secondly, it’s over two times as expensive as that case for an upgrade that effectively sums up to a bunch of tempered glass panels. For some people that may be worth it, but we imagine that’s hard to justify for others.

Finally…the airflow isn’t as good, because of the aforementioned tempered glass. In order to compensate for this, you’ll want to either go with a liquid cooling setup that is less dependent on raw airflow or add a ton of fans to make up for the tempered glass panels getting in the way.

Even with those catches in mind, though, we like this case. It offers a lot of the same benefits as the Core V21, and if Thermaltake could properly combine these two cases, you’d have pretty much the perfect Micro ATX case.

In our opinion, anyway. The choice is yours!

Verdict: Best Tempered Glass Micro ATX Case

FAQ and Selection

In this section, we’re going to break down the jargon and the main things you need to know in order to make an informed buying decision.

Let’s get into it.

What makes Micro ATX cases different from ATX and Mini ITX?

Micro ATX and Mini ITX cases come with some fundamental compromises compared to ATX, and that biggest compromise is smaller space. Your components will generate the same amount of heat, and the same amount of heat in a smaller space equals higher temperatures. If you intend on building a high end system in a smaller form factor, expect to spend more on good cooling than you would need to in a larger chassis.

That brief word on SFF PCs and thermals aside, Micro ATX is the in-between standard of ATX and Mini ITX. The biggest cut-down is to PCI Express slots, but most other aspects remain the same. If you’re like most of today’s users, who no longer need multiple expansion cards in their system and only plan on using one or two, then Micro ATX will serve you perfectly fine.

If you want to prioritize more expansion cards, multiple drives, and raw cooling performance, check out our ATX cases article.

If you’re sure you only need a single expansion card and want the smallest PC build possible, check out our Mini ITX cases article.

Front Panel Type and Airflow

First and foremost, let’s talk airflow.

Good airflow is important, since your CPU and GPU coolers can’t do all the work by themselves. A constant flow of cool air into the system allows for your coolers to run at their proper capacities, and the presence of an exhaust fan or two helps prevent the buildup of hot air in the system.

For the best results where your case permits it, always try to make sure you have more fans pulling air into your system than fans pushing outward. This is called positive pressure and should be achievable with every case we have listed in this roundup.

One of the specs that will have the greatest direct impact on your airflow is the type of front panel you have. The best-case scenario for airflow is a mesh front panel because these allow for fans to have near-direct access to air without needing to work too hard for it. If your case supports it, taking off the front panel for better airflow may be an option, but we’d only recommend doing this if the fans have a dust filter and you’re willing to clean that relatively frequently.

Unfortunately, most cases on the market these days prioritize aesthetics over airflow, so you get a solid front panel with ventilation. While this is better than the olden days of solid front panels with no ventilation, which outright choke your system of airflow, it’s still not as good as mesh or perforation. A solid panel with ventilation is a compromise between aesthetics and raw airflow performance, and for today’s low-end/mid-range hardware, it works just fine.

If the case you want doesn’t have great airflow but you still want high-performance components in it, you aren’t totally out of luck. However, you’ll need to opt for hardware to match. Larger air coolers with more fans and occupying more fan slots may be necessary if intake is so-so but space is plentiful, like in our #6 pick. Meanwhile, you may need to make clever use of liquid cooling in more confined cases, like the InWin 301 or the Corsair 280X, to keep your CPU running cool.

Side Panel Window Types and their differences

Side panel windows have pretty much nothing to do with cooling, but everything to do with aesthetics.

First up is Acrylic which is more common, cheaper to produce, and is more resistant to breakage. Acrylic windows are a form of transparent plastic, but because they’re plastic instead of glass, they’re also very prone to scratching and tend to fog up over time. Even brand-new, they aren’t nearly as transparent as tempered glass, which makes them a little bit worse for showing off the inside of your PC. (You can compensate for this with good lighting inside your PC, though.)

Second up is Tempered Glass, which is the more premium option. Tempered glass is resistant to scratching, much more transparent, and is also a marked improvement over regular glass in terms of durability and safety. That “Tempered” bit refers to a process that makes tempered glass stronger, but also ensures that whenever it does break, it breaks into a bunch of tiny little pieces that can’t hurt you. As long as you keep your PC safe from dropping- which would be hazardous either way, to be fair- Tempered Glass is better in every way…

…if you can pay for it.

Keeping GPU Clearance in mind

GPU clearance refers to the space available inside your PC for a graphics card. This is the most important spec for you to keep in mind whenever you’re assembling a gaming PC.

Fortunately, most cases on the market are pretty good in this regard. Even many super-tiny Mini ITX cases have been built around the assumption that you’ll want a normal-sized, dual-slot GPU in there.

However, we still recommend keeping this spec in mind. Whether you’ve already bought your graphics card and want to make sure it’ll fit in your case of choice, or vice versa, you need to know the length of your GPU and the clearance that your chassis has for that GPU. Failing to take this into account will result in a very frustrating day when it comes time to put everything together, so be sure to keep it in mind!

Fortunately, all of our GPU and case articles include this specification to protect you from making exactly this mistake. Use the information we’ve given you, and the manufacturer’s specs if necessary, before making any buying decisions!

CPU Cooler Clearance and why it matters

CPU cooler clearance refers to CPU cooler height in this context. This is usually an issue for slimmer SFF PC cases, and emerges as a compatibility issue more often in a Mini ITX context than it does in a Micro ATX or ATX one. Regardless, we’re keeping track of this spec so you know what you’re dealing with.

If you’re going to be using an AIO liquid cooler, this spec won’t really matter too much- you can safely ignore it, since the actual on-CPU height is minimal. (Your fan slot(s) where the radiator is mounted is another story, though.)

If you don’t want to spend money on a liquid cooling setup, when CPU cooler height is a big deal. The best air coolers maximize performance by having a lot of thermal mass, which means larger and taller heatsinks. Cases with limited room for tall CPU coolers will require liquid coolers for achieving the best performance.

Drive Bays and Drive Types

There are an assortment of different drive capacities in these cases, and drive types on the market to fill them with. We’re going to use this section to fill in the details you may not know about the three different PC drive sizes, and the types of drives you can expect to fill their respective slots.

Note: All of these drive types use SATA cables and SATA bandwidth. M.2-based drives don’t use drive bays, and instead plug directly into corresponding slots on the motherboard.

  • 5.25-inch – DVD and Blu-Ray Drives, Floppy Drives, SD Card Readers, etc
  • 3.5-inch – Large 7200+ RPM Desktop Hard Drives
  • 2.5-inch – Small 5400 RPM (Laptop) Hard Drives, SATA SSDs

Parting Words

And that’s it!

If you have any lingering questions or issues, feel free to leave a comment below and let us know about it. We’d be happy to help.

Otherwise, we hope you enjoy your Micro ATX PC build! May your framerates be high and your temperatures low!

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