Keyboards, Mice, Cases and PSUs

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The only advice I have on keyboards is as follows. Do not get one that has a small backspace button, a short space key, or enclosed in (buttons on all sides) arrow keys. Go to the store and try them out. I tried probably 30 keyboards before I found one that I like for both normal typing and using as a gaming keyboard.


Mice are a bit easier than keyboards. There are three main types of mice: Optical, Ball, and Trackball. Optical mice are hands down the best mice to game with and the best optical mice are the Logitech MX500 and MX700 (only difference is the MX700 is wireless). At this point, getting a ball mouse isn’t a smart move as they are still a pain to clean and optical mice cost the same. Trackballs are a different story though. Some people prefer them as they are generally good for precision work and sometimes provide more comfort for some people. Good trackballs are made by Microsoft and Logitech.


Two months ago, you couldn’t have sold me a mouse pad even if you told me it was made out of gold. I had probably 25 lying around collecting dust – you know the kind – the ones you get at seminars or with a purchase for free. They’re made out of cloth, are flimsy and they do the job. Recently, I received a Ratpadz GS, and well, now I’m a believer. A better mouse pad really does have an effect on everything. Without going on forever, I’ve noticed that I’m more accurate in gaming and being more precise with my image editing. There are several great mouse pads on the market, but I like the Ratpadz because it is a sold piece of plastic and is not flimsy. It has an awesome surface that makes the mouse glide as if it’s on air. Finally, the Ratpadz is huge – providing enough surface to reduce the amount of time you spend picking up the mouse to place it back on the pad.


Cases come in tons of variety and unfortunately, I won’t be able to cover them all here, but here are the basics for when looking at cases.

Drive Bays

Cases have a varying amount of 5 ¼ inch drive bays. I feel four 5 ¼ bays is enough to provide space for two optical drives, a rheobus and an LCD temperature monitor. Visible 3 ½ inch bays are used to hold floppy drives, rheobus devices and other small items. Two or three visible 3 ½ inch drive bays should be enough.

Moving inside the case, you’ll find more 3 ½ inch bays, but these have no outside access. These are for hard drives usually. At the very minimum, you’ll want to have two of these. In some of the better quality cases, a ‘removable’ drive bay rack is included which allows you to remove all your hard drives at once in case you need to move data quickly from one computer to another – it also helps with installing drives as it’s no longer a pain to get screws into both sides of the drive.

Case Material

Cases are usually either made out of aluminum or steel. Aluminum is lighter than steel, but is more likely to get dented, scratched and smudged. Some say that aluminum cases help with cooling by dissipating heat more quickly, but that one doesn’t quite add up. Steel is stronger, but it comes at a price—weight. Which is better? That’s usually left up to you to decide, but the look of polished aluminum somehow makes the smudges worth it.

Cooling Design

Case cooling is a crucial part of making your decision. If the case can’t move the hot air out and the cool air in, your computer will overheat and become unstable. For the best cooling solution, you’ll want to have positive case pressure – more air intake than exhaust. Most people prefer quiet computers too, so having enough fans and remaining quiet can be a challenge. Two or three intake fans in the front of the case are optimal. Good case fans that are quiet but provide great airflow are the Panaflo H1A series. As for exhaust fans, one or two exhaust fans plus a PSU fan will handle the job quite well.


Cases come in every shape, size and design imaginable. The best way to find one you like is to look around on the Internet – at resellers, review sites and even the manufacturers’ sites. Great looking cases are made by, but not limited to, the following companies: Coolermaster, Lian-Li, Antec, and Thermaltake. If you buy a case that you feel is a bit bland, there’s always a dremel and case modding.


Building an AMD Based Computer System - Systems 20

The Coolermaster ATC series of cases are some of the best looking cases—bar none.


Power Supply Units (PSU)

PSUs are not made equally. One company’s 400w PSU may not be equal to another company’s. For today’s power hungry computers, look to nothing below a quality 400w PSU. If you have a cheap PSU or one that isn’t large enough (wattage wise), you’ll experience system instability or even damage to hardware. You can find quality PSUs being made by companies like PC Power & Cooling, Antec, and Enermax. For more information on the technical sides of PSUs, take a look at this thread.

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