In theory, any case advertised for a specific size motherboard should be large enough to hold that motherboard. Sometimes, however, the case and motherboard combine to make an unusually tight fit, or some case component might block an important part of the motherboard. Such difficulties are more common in AT and Baby AT cases than in later designs, and they're more common in small cases than in large ones. Ideally, you should buy your case and motherboard from the same dealer, so that if you have problems you won't have dealers pointing fingers at each other, each refusing to accept a return. If you have the luxury of examining the motherboard you're considering buying mated to your case of choice, watch for some features in particular:
• Power supply clearance On some cases, the power supply overhangs the motherboard. Be sure that there's adequate clearance for any components that might reside under the power supply.
• Drive bay clearance Sometimes, 3.5-inch drive bays abut the motherboard, much as a power supply might. As with the power supply, be sure the drive bay leaves enough clearance for any components under the bay. Similarly, you must run cables from the motherboard or cards connected to it to the drives you mount in the bays. Be sure you can do so without too much difficulty. Some cases, particularly slimline designs, place one or two hard drive bays in peculiar locations, so don't restrict your check for drive bay clearances to the usual location at the front of the case.
• Motherboard clearance I've seen cases in which a motherboard literally scrapes one or more components (typically a power supply) when inserted. This usually doesn't pose a serious problem, but it can impose stresses on the motherboard you might prefer to avoid.
• Mounting hole locations Try to confirm that the case and power supply contain sufficient overlap in mounting hole locations to mount the motherboard safely. I've seen a few combinations, particularly in Baby AT cases and motherboards, in which a particularly small motherboard only has three or so mounting holes in common with a case. Such a situation can lead to instability and, therefore, unreliable operation.
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