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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | System Case | Parts of the System Case ]

Front Panel and Door

Most PC cases have a plastic front panel, sometimes also called a bezel, which hides the metal frame from the user and also serves to make the PC more visually pleasing. At first, all PC cases had the front panel permanently installed, and the panels were rather mundane affairs. Over time the marketing folks got to work, and there are now available PCs with hundreds of different front panel designs, ranging from the conservative to the truly wacky.

Case manufacturers have responded to the desire of PC makers to differentiate their offerings, by designing modular cases with removable and interchangeable front panels. The Enlight EN-6680, shown on this page with its front panel removed, was one of the first popular cases to make use of this design. Many cases now come with a removable front panel to allow style changes (and also aid in installation). It had to happen eventually, but PCs are now apparently subject to the whims of fashion. :^) For example, you will notice many new PC cases coming on the market that make use of transparent pastel colors, undoubtedly trying to ride on the coat-tails of the popular iMac in this regard!

This mid tower microATX case has the curved "fashion" front panel being seen
increasingly in retail PCs. microATX cases are also available in a desktop style.
The small SFX power supply is on top in the back, not even as wide as the case.
(Supermicro's SC350M)

Original image Supermicro Computer, Inc.
Image used with permission.

Many larger cases, especially those designed for use in server machines, have gone beyond a simple front panel. These cases include one or more doors that are used for both the practical and the aesthetic. The door, which is usually lockable, prevents casual access to the power switch, reset button and drives by the unauthorized. After all, you don't want just anyone resetting a server, or hitting the power button by accident. It also makes the front of the case look more streamlined and professional.

Front view of a server case showing two front panel doors. One door
hides the removable hard disk drives, and the other covers everything
else. The lock prevents casual access but should not be considered
high security since the door itself is just plastic!
(Supermicro's SC850)

Original image Supermicro Computer, Inc.
Image used with permission.

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