Compared to other computer components, a system case is a highly conservative product. Mainboards, hard disks and processors all call for an upgrade once every two or three years if you want to keep your computer up to date. And replacing a processor with a faster one often requires that you replace your mainboard, too. As opposed to that, a system case can survive not one or two but many upgrades. That’s why many people prefer purchasing as good a computer case as they can afford because it is going to serve not one or two years, like a graphics card, but much longer.
That’s quite okay with the manufacturers who don’t have to bother about updating their model range constantly. If a good system case gets popular, it can sell successfully for a long time. On the other hand, they must promote the demand somehow and entice customers into replacing their current system cases with newer and better ones, just like it goes with other computer components.
Alas, new system cases are often but versions of older ones with a redesigned front panel. More serious innovations provoked by changes in design trends can be observed no sooner than once in a few years. Transitioning to larger fans, moving the power supply into the bottom part of the chassis, providing a special compartment to hide cables in are the kinds of innovations that have been very slow to arrive. Their introduction often coincided with a debut of a completely new product series.
It’s somewhat different with the front-panel connectors. On one hand, they are often implemented as a separate unit and can be easily replaced. On the other hand, most manufacturers don’t bother about adding anything to the standard selection of two audio connectors, two USB 2.0 ports and one FireWire. The eSATA interface is not new but has only recently ceased to be a unique feature of expensive system cases. And now that the manufacturers have got accustomed to eSATA, there is another new interface to be implemented, USB 3.0 (you can read more about it in our earlier review). Of course, it is backward-compatible with USB 2.0 and even has a same-size connector, but has more signal lines, so the connector is different anyway. Another problem is that this interface is not often implemented on mainboards as an onboard header. USB 3.0 connectors can usually be found at the mainboard’s back panel so far.
Notwithstanding these difficulties, some manufacturers have already offered new system cases with USB 3.0 ports. Let’s have a look at them, especially as these models would be interesting even without their USB 3.0.