PC gaming has become bigger than ever before with new gamers joining every year and technology progressing at an unrelenting speed.
With the social media culture that we have nowadays, the design and look of a gaming pc is also important as the hardware of the PC.
You'll get a lot more likes and appreciation on social media if you have the most stylish RGB PC setup, even with mediocre components.
PC cases were always a neglected component of a pc build. Newer features like transparent side panels, rgb fans added some futurism and aesthetically appealing looks.
And, with the transition from Acrylic to Tempered Glass panels, a huge resurgence has been witnessed that seemed to be the way forward for PC Case makers.
Nowadays, you can’t have a PC case without a tempered glass side panel. Sleeker and some even crazier designs have been introduced like the Cougar Conquer, Lian-li PC-Y6B, etc.
These panels sometimes compromise on certain elements like cooling and the purpose of holding hardware itself on account of the design and appearance.
Cost Factor: With the ever expensive tempered glass being a 'must include' feature for PC case manufacturers, cost-cutting must be done to make these products more available for the lower segment of the market.
This can be done either by going for the cheaper but heavier all-steel material or removing some other certain features. Maybe even removing inclusions like fans and whatnot, or going for Acrylic side panels instead of the Tempered Glass itself can reduce prices.
Comparison: While it is certainly doable, a lot of people cannot tell the physical difference even when the properties of these two materials are significantly different.
This comparison will discuss the advantages and disadvantages between acrylic and tempered glass side panels so that you can better decide which one to go for.
1. Tempered Glass Side Panels
Tempered Glass is subjected to thermal and chemical treatments, which makes it tougher than any ordinary glass. The process puts its outer surface to compression and inner surface to tension.
While tempering makes the glass significantly superior from its counterparts, Tempered Glass is not without flaws.
Scratch Resistant – Tempered glass has a higher resistance from scratches compared to acrylics. You can worry less when pointy things are near your PC and that clear transparent view of your components will never vanish unless enough force is exerted.
Clearer – When compared to acrylic, tempered glass is, undoubtedly, far more superior in clarity. And it will remain that way for a long time, adding to the fact that wiping and cleaning will not accumulate micro-scratches to its surface.
No Discolouration – Because of its properties, the glass will never change colour and become slightly yellowish or foggy which usually happens over time with the acrylic counterparts.
Ease of Cleaning – When compared with acrylic, cleaning tempered glass is far easier. Any type of cloth would do and adding dust – repellent substances can keep it clean and transparent for a long time.
Very Expensive – Tempered Glass cases are very expensive because of the additional premium on the glasses themselves and the mechanisms to incorporate them to the cases. Usually, they could be as high as $100 from the standard basic cases.
Heavier in weight – When compared with acrylic glass, tempered glass is much denser and therefore, heavier. And for it to be tougher, it needs to be thicker, which means additional weight. This weight sometimes causes its own demise.
Can Shatter Easily - Tempered glass can be very sturdy if handled properly but it can also be very fragile. It can shatter into millions of pieces for absolutely no reason at all. There have been many instances of tempered glass shattering even with the Premium Brands.
Not re-workable – Due to its glass-like properties, there are more limits to reworking and reshaping the panels. With the balanced stresses along its surface, you cannot modify portions of it compared to what you could normally do with Metalic or Acrylic Panels.
Bad for Airflow – The best example of poor airflow is the Coolermaster H500P, where even though there’s a lot of Tempered glass, there aren't a lot of intakes. This results in bad temperatures inside the system.
2. Acrylic Side Panels
Acrylic is a plastic polymer material that becomes pliable or moldable at a certain elevated temperature and solidifies upon cooling. Although not a type of familiar silica-based glass, the substance, like many thermoplastics, is often technically classified as a type of glass.
Cheaper – Since there’s a lesser amount of processing required, Acrylics are very cheap and readily available. Even cutting and shaping it is so easy that you can buy a sheet and cut it yourself using a cutting tool.
Shatter-resistant – Acrylic is not a silica-based glass. It is far softer, lighter, more flexible and workable. Consequently, it does not shatter very easily. It also has a greater impact strength than tempered glass, which means that cracking will occur before shattering as a built-in warning system.
Lightweight – Acrylic is less dense than silica-based tempered glass and different in base chemical components. It can be thinner without losing much strength, making it lighter as a result.
Very Workable – Acrylic is very easy to work with and it can be reshaped and cut to any form quickly and easily. It can be easily incorporated into an Aluminum and Acrylic composite side panel with airflow considerations and designs.
Easier to Replace – Acrylic side panels are very cheap and therefore, can easily be replaced if something unexpected happens. That’s not something you can say with tempered glass panels. With tempered glass, you’re going to have to call for product support and have it custom replaced from third-party shops.
Prone to Scratches – One of the biggest downsides of acrylic side panels is that they can scratch rather easily. You will not get a lot of time with these panels as they tend to accumulate micro – scratches on cleaning.
Can Warp at High temperatures – This is very uncommon, but can still happen. Very high temperatures can change the form of Acrylic and damage its smooth surface. High wattage GPUs that lack proper cooling could potentially warp the panel if the temperature is very high.
Prone to discolouration – Acrylics exposed to weather or sunlight can lose its clarity and change colour to a slight shade of yellow over time.
While either Tempered Glass and Acrylic will look very neat with your case, one must always prioritize functionality and cooling above aesthetics.
Add some RGB to your system to make it look even more attractive. You could go for just basic RGB case fans or an entire rgb build with rgb ram, rgb cpu cooler or even an rgb motherboard like the ones from Asus and MSI.
Ultimately its about aesthetics.