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[ The PC Guide | Procedure Guide | Uninstallation and Disassembly Procedures ]

System Case Cover Removal Procedure

This procedure provides specific instructions on how to remove the cover from and thereby open a variety of different types of system cases. While it may seem like overkill to have a procedure for what seems on the surface to be a simple matter, in fact some cases can be surprisingly difficult to figure out if you're used to a different style.

Procedure Overview:

  • Difficulty Level: 1 (Very low).
  • Risk Factor: 1 (Very low).
  • Hardware Required: Phillips-head screwdriver for conventional models, none for most screwless or single-screw models.
  • Software Required: None.
  • Time to Perform: 5 minutes or less.
  • Preparation / Warnings:
    • If this case is on a retail or brand-name PC that is under warranty, be very sure that opening the case will not void your warranty. Some vendors now have this policy, and you may even see stickers on the case that say that if they are removed or broken the warranty is void (but some have the policy and not the stickers!)
    • Case and system manufacturers are getting quite creative, so not every imaginable case design is covered here. If you read all of the different choices you are likely to find one that is close to what you have, however. If you run into anything radically different from what I have here, please write me and I'll add it.
    • Be careful not to touch any of the internal components when removing the cover.

Procedure Steps:

  1. Disconnect Cables: Make sure the PC itself is off. Detach all the cables from the back of the system case. Make a note of what went where so that you will know how to reconnect them later on.
  2. Remove Monitor and Other Devices From Top of Case: If you have a desktop case, you of course need to move the monitor so that you can open the case. Also remove any other devices from the top of the case. (This is also a good time to clean the case if it is dusty).
  3. Remove Plastic Back Panel (If Necessary): Some cases, especially older full tower models, have a plastic panel about a half-inch thick that mounts onto the back of the case. You have to remove this panel to access the screws that actually hold the cover. It usually pulls right off the back of the case. Start with one corner and gently pull it loose and set it aside.
  4. Loosen and Remove Cover: The instructions for removing the cover depend on what sort of case you have. Find the one that best describes your system:
    • Conventional Tower: This is the classic design that has been around for years and is still being sold. Locate the screws along the edge of the back of the case, and remove them using a screwdriver. There are usually three to six. Gently pull back on the U-shaped top cover about a half-inch.; you may have to rock it slightly. Lift the cover up off the frame of the case. Be careful, as these covers are large and unwieldy.
    • Conventional Desktop: The conventional desktop case has been around since the original IBM PC in 1982, and is still sometimes seen in new systems, although not as often with the latest machines. Locate the screws along the edge of the back of the case, and remove them with a screwdriver. There are usually five but may be fewer. Gently push the cover forward. Watch out for drive faceplates that may become caught on the cover as you try to slide it forward. On some cases, the front cover slides all the way off the front of the case. On others it will slide forward a couple of inches and stop, and then you lift it up off the case.
    • Front-Screw Desktop: An odd design found on some slimline and proprietary systems, this case has the screws that hold the cover on the front of the case, and in a very hard to find spot. (The first time I ran into one of these I was scratching my head for quite a while trying to figure it out). Look at the front of the case near the bottom, where you may see small sliding plastic doors on both sides of the case. Lift these out of the way and they will reveal small screws. Loosen the screws, and the slide the cover forward off the case. There may be additional screws at the back of the case as well. Watch out for drive faceplates that may become caught on the cover as you slide it.
    • Front-Screw Tower: I have seen some tower cases that have screws on the front of the case holding the top cover on. There may be a front panel that you have to remove to expose the screws and allow you to loosen and remove the cover.
    • Single-Screw Tower / Desktop: This is a popular design amongst many brand-name PC manufacturers, although the fully screwless design is now replacing it. Locate the single screw at the top of the back of the case; this can usually be loosened with your fingers. Look at the bottom of the case to see if there are any clips holding the cover to the case, as there sometimes are. Loosen these. Push the cover forward about an inch and then lift it off the case frame. Some of these may lift straight up instead of sliding off from the front.
    • Screwless Tower / Desktop: There are many different screwless designs; the one I describe here is popular in such cases as those made by Enlight Corporation. The trick with these puppies is that they often come apart in pieces. Usually you have to start by pulling the front panel off. From the bottom, grasp the plastic front panel and pull it loose, working your way to the top. You may need to use a screwdriver to loosen it (ironic, isn't it?) Then slide each of the side panels forward about a half-inch and lift up to remove them. Finally, lift the top of the case straight up to remove it.
  5. Store Screws In Safe Place: Some people forget this step and are very sorry for it later on. :^)

Next: Setup and Inspection Procedures

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