I have had my hands inside hundreds of different computer cases over the years.  Some of them have been a delight to work with, while others have presented themselves as death traps that even Indiana Jones couldn’t find his way out of.  Every one presents its own unique challenge to work with because sadly I have yet to find the perfect PC case.  Any case you look at will have something you don’t like about it that makes it a pain to work with.

The particular thorn in my side that prompted the writing of this post, the Dell Optiplex 960 mini-tower.  See image below.

The engineer at Dell who designed this case should be taken into a dark room and beaten with a sock filled with rolls of quarters.  The first challenge to this is opening the card retention latch that holds the expansion slot covers in place.  I now have a permanent scar on my left thumb from the multiple cuts and scrapes I’ve received from trying to open this “easy to access” cover.  Once opened, the expansion slot covers immediately either fall out completely or partially making it necessary to put them all back into place.  If you’re unfortunate enough to work in this case with it oriented upright, you can guarantee the slot covers will all fall out and then you are treated to a hell of a hard time getting them all put back in.  A task I compare with having to put an octopus into a plastic bag.

Although Dell has gotten better in the past few years with their case designs, I think they need to go back to the drawing boards with this one.  What I think the engineers and designers at Dell fail to realize is in their effort to make their product aesthetically pleasing, they make it difficult for techs to work on them.  And it’s just not Dell that has this problem, all the major PC manufacturers suffer issues with easy to access cases.  Unless you’re buying a custom rig with your choice of case, components, etc., then you’re rolling the dice if you ever plan to open up your box and work on it yourself.  Still, for all it’s faults Dell does put together some pretty decent rigs.  I just wish they’d take us lowly technicians into account before they come up with these crazy designs.  Those of you who have worked on PCs a while will remember this little pain in the ass.