That's not such a problem when you first build a rig, and hell, most of us are going to be more interested in what's happening on screen than what our PC looks like to the naked eye. But aside from being less appealing than a dose of gonorrhea, a budget chassis will come without a lot of the improvements we've come to expect from a quality case.

A lot of budget chassis will ship without adequate cooling, and some may even ship without any exhaust fans either. When it comes to getting the most out of your components, decent airflow is vital for keeping everything chilled inside. Even with the best CPU air-cooler around, you need somewhere for all that heat to be vented out safely, and externally.

High air flow

But combine a new chassis with a new cooler for your CPU and you'll be getting really close to accessing the full potential of your processor. The added thermal headroom you'll gain from having effective cooling in your machine will really allow for some serious overclocking. Good airflow is always going to be beneficial for the other components too, especially if you can get a good flow going across the GPU too.

There's also the matter of PSU placement. As the heaviest part of your PC, it's become general practice to place the power supply at the base of the rig to improve stability. A lot of budget chassis - even new ones like the Cooler Master Force that's just been launched - still jam the PSU right up into the roof of the case.

So what's our budget recommendation then? You can easily spend up to the £100 budget on a new performance chassis, and there are plenty to choose from. Bitfenix does an excellent range of cases, including our favourite wobbly mini ITX chassis - the Prodigy. Corsair has also put together a brilliant range of affordable and downright desirable cases too, though sadly, the amazingly beautiful Graphite 600T is a little over our budget at £135, beautiful though it is.

Cooler Master has the classic High AirFlow (HAF) series of cases, and at just £63, the HAF 912 Plus is an absolute bargain of a chassis, and will comfortably house all but the most awkward of PC configurations. The HAF 912 Plus comes with a chunky 200mm fan on the front and a 120mm fan exhausting from the rear, as well as space for a large top-mounted fan or liquid-cooling radiator. The looks may still be a little polarising, but it's striking at the very least.

Recommendation:

Cooler Master HAF 912 Plus
Price: £63
Manufacturer: Cooler Master
Web: www.coolermaster.com
Motherboard support: mATX, ATX
Drive bays: 4x 5.25-inch, 6x3.5-inch
I/O panel: 2x USB 2.0, 1x eSATA, audio and mic
Fans: 1x 200mm front, 1x 120mm rear
Dimensions: 230 x 480 x 496mm

Gaming mouse

Making the difference between fragging and being fragged…

Gaming mice

For some PC folk, dropping a chunk of cash on something that isn't going to affect the performance of your PC might seem like a waste of time and money and not a real upgrade at all. But as the primary input device for most of us, a good mouse can a huge difference to your overall experience.

Personally speaking, I used to be more interested in my machine's innards and stuck with the same mouse and keyboard combination for years without really considering upgrading them. I used the same grubby Microsoft Intellimouse for maybe a decade, without ever feeling the need to make a change. It wasn't until I was testing the Logitech G9 that my world shifted and I realised what a difference a quality, weighty mouse could make to my gaming world.