PC Cases: Tempered Glass Side Panels vs Acrylic Side Panels

The PC case market saw a huge boom when tempered glass side panels were quickly introduced in some of the cases in the market. The good thing about these side panels was that they were scratch resistant, and more importantly, they looked a lot better as compared to acrylic side panels that would scratch rather easily.

When the tempered glass was initially introduced, companies were charging a premium for this feature. Sometimes, it would not make sense as well. However, as it quickly began to phase out the more commonly available acrylic side panels, the prices started coming down as well.

Nowadays, nearly every case that is available in the market comes with a tempered glass side panel. As a matter of fact, case manufacturers are now building cases that have tempered glass on the front, top, as well as sides. The best thing is that even if you are looking to get the best budget PC case, you still might find tempered glass option.

This rise in popularity has got us thinking, and we have decided to do a detailed comparison between tempered glass side panels and acrylic side panels to see which one comes at the top. This comparison is surely one of the most important factors, and it is better to have a look at them, as well.

Tempered Glass Side Panels

Firstly, we are going to be looking at tempered glass side panels. These panels are definitely heavier than the acrylic ones, they are often super clear unless the manufacturer opts for tinted panels like the one we have seen in the Corsair Obsidian 500D. Whatever the case may be, the benefits of these panels are there, and we are going to have a look at them right now.

Benefits of Tempered Glass Side Panels

Below, you will see some of the most common benefits of tempered glass side panels. This is important as most people completely miss out on these things, and do not pay much attention.

  • Scratch Resistance: The great thing about tempered glass side panels is that they are scratch resistant to a greater degree as compared to the acrylic counterpart. With tempered glass side panels, you do not have to worry about dust, or just a piece of cloth leaving scratches as that will not be the case. You can clean the side panels knowing that they will survive any torture whatsoever.
  • They Look Amazing: Simply put, the ability to show off your PC case components in all their glory is something that should not be underestimated. The tempered glass side panels make everything look amazing, and the best part is that you do not have to worry about scratching the glass either because that is not something that is going to happen that easily as they are pretty high on the scratch resistance.
  • Easy to Clean: I have had a lot of different tempered glass cases over the past couple of years, and the best part is that almost all of them are extremely easy to clean. You really do not have to worry about things going out of hand. You can use window cleaners, or just dry microfiber cloth if you want to. The cleaning process is super easy.
  • No Discoloration: The one common issue that I have noticed with acrylic side panels is that when they start getting old, they start being discolored. While it may not seem like an issue to most people, it can ruin the overall looks of your PC. However, with tempered glass side panels, it is not something that can happen. If you are thinking that the glass is getting dirty, simply clean it and you would be good to go.

There is no denying that the benefits of tempered glass side panels are certainly there. Right now, we are going to focus on some of the downsides.

Disadvantages of Tempered Glass Side Panels

While the benefits are there, things do need to be in a balance. The good thing here is that tempered glass side panels do not have a lot of downsides and thus can be used with ease.

  • Prone to Breakage: Although it will never break on its own, if you are building in your case and the glass is off, you can drop it while putting it back together, which will result in the panel shattering completely. If you have never had a tempered glass break on you, it does not leave a pretty sight, and it is very difficult to clean.
  • Gaps in the Case: Another common issue is that when it comes to tempered glass, the cases often have gaps between them. Which means that dust can enter through those gaps. However, many manufacturers are hard at work to make sure this issue is not there anymore.
  • Heavy: As someone who owns the ThermalTake View 71 case, I can tell you that it is one of the heaviest cases available in the market, and all of that because of the 4 tempered glass side panels installed on the case.

As you can see, the benefits outweigh the downsides by a significant number. As for now, we are going to focus on the acrylic panels.

Acrylic Side Panels

When acrylic side panels were first introduced in the market, they took the world by storm. PC enthusiasts were finally able to show off how the insides of their PCs looked. This kicked off the inception of LED lights, as well as all sorts of amazing parlor tricks that took the PCs from their industrial designs and put them on the show floors.

However, acrylic has been phased out almost entirely, with a handful of cases still coming with these panels.

Benefits of Acrylic Side Panels

To be honest, there are not a lot of benefits that you are going to get from acrylic side panels. But still, it is better to look at them.

  • They Will Not Break: One of the main things that you must know is that acrylic side panels do not break that easily. Sure, it is mainly plastic but it is durable to breakages and dropping the acrylic side panel won’t result in a catastrophe.
  • Low Weight: Another benefit here is that these panels do not really weigh a lot. So, if you do have a case that uses an acrylic panel instead of the tempered glass panel, you are good to go as far as the weight is concerned.

Sadly, the benefits only end there. Sure, acrylic side panels have had their glory days but there is not much glory left to begin with.

Disadvantages of Acrylic Side Panels

Now as far as the disadvantages are concerned, you can have a look at them below.

  • Can Scratch Easily: One of the biggest downsides that you will get from acrylic side panels is that they can scratch rather easily. You will not be getting a lot of time with these panels as they tend to give up after some time.
  • Can Warp When Hot: Your PC is obviously going to dissipate heat, and based on how hot things can get, the thing that you need to know about these side panels is that they can warp when they are hot. Sure, it is a case not as common but it still happens, so you must keep that in mind.

While the disadvantages maybe less when compared to the tempered glass panels, the one thing that cannot be overlooked is the fact that they are pretty severe, to begin with.

Conclusion

While the trend of acrylic side panels is slowly coming to an end, it is more important to know that the tempered glass side panels are here to stay. Sure, there are some downsides, but keep in mind that they are minor, subjective at best.

As for now, there is no denying that the tempered glass side panels are the kings of the PC case market!

Bill Wilson


Bill is a certified Microsoft Professional providing assistance to over 500 remotely connected employees and managing Windows 2008 to 2016 servers.