There was a time when all that mattered was the external look of your case. But with the evolution of technology, we now have side panels on a PC case to showcase your hardware in full glory. Transparent side panels along with RGB lights add more aesthetics to your build even if you have entry-level parts inside it.
When it comes to transparent side panels on a PC case, we are left with two choices, acrylic or tempered. Now for beginners, it’s hard to decide which one to go with.
In a nutshell, tempered glass panels are much better than acrylic side panels. The great thing about tempered glass panels is that they are scratch-resistant, whereas acrylic panels catch up with scratches in no time. Also, it’s much easier to clean a tempered glass panel than an acrylic glass panel.
Acrylic Side Panel
The day acrylic side panels were introduced into the market, gamers and PC enthusiasts stormed to the market to get one for building their dream machine. Finally, it was possible for gamers to showcase the internal parts of their gaming PC in full flex.
But after a few months, the downside of the acrylic glass panels started showing up in every PC and gaming forum on the internet. Most people in the community complained about their acrylic panels catching scratches and getting blurred over time.
There are some safe methods to easily clean the acrylic side panel of your PC case without adding any scratches to it. But over time, the glass becomes blurred and you cannot have a clear inside view of your hardware.
Advantages of Acrylic Side Panel
Here are some of the good things to know about acrylic side panels:
- Acrylic is a strong transparent plastic with excellent stiffness and clarity. So if you accidentally drop a PC case that has an acrylic side to it, then it will survive the fall most of the time. Yes, we can say that acrylic glass panels are shatter-resistant, if not scratch resistant.
- As the acrylic side panel is entirely made up of plastic, overall it is lightweight. If you are looking for a lightweight PC case, then surely having one with an acrylic side panel and plastic body would make it easier to move it around.
- Acrylic is cheaper to process as compared to tempered glass. Therefore, PC cases that come with acrylic side panels have a lower price tag on them.
- Acrylic side panels are cheaper to replace as compared to tempered glass panels. once they catch up with scratches or get blurred with the passage of time.
Disadvantages of Acrylic Side Panel
Here are some of the downsides to know:
- Acrylic side panels easily catch scratches if covered with dirt and you clean them with some sort of paper or cloth. Most often they will be welcomed by scratches and the light falling on these scratches would be reflected back, making the panel look dull.
- Acrylic is a material that can lose clarity when exposed to higher temperatures or sunlight. So make sure you put your PC case in a location where sunlight doesn’t fall on the acrylic side panel directly.
- Due to its composition, acrylic can deform if exposed to a higher temperature.
Tempered Glass Side Panel
Tempered Glass is a special type of glass manufactured through a process of extreme heating and then rapid cooling. Due to the nature of its processing, tempered glass is scratch-resistant and offers more clarity than regular glass.
When compared with acrylic side panels, the tempered glass panels are heavier in nature. Moreover, tempered glass panels are available in both transparent and tinted versions.
Advantages of Tempered Side Glass Panel
Here are some of the benefits to look at:
- Unlike the acrylic side panels that catch up with a lot of scratches, the tempered glass panels are totally scratch-resistant. Therefore, a tempered side glass panel is much easier to clean and maintain for a longer period of time.
- In terms of aesthetics, tempered glass panels are more appealing to your eyes as compared to their acrylic counterparts. Especially if you have a PC case that has a tinted tempered side panel on it and RGB scheme on your hardware.
- A tempered glass panel offers you a crispy and clear look inside your case as compared to an acrylic side panel.
- The tempered glass panel is manufactured at a higher temperature, so there’s no need to worry about discoloration of the panel if it is exposed to extreme heating conditions. Even using the reactive cleaning solvent won’t result in discoloration of the panel.
Disadvantages of Tempered Side Glass Panel
With some pros, there are some cons to look at:
- Unlike acrylic side panels that are tough and do not break easily, the tempered glass panel can easily break upon impact. However, there are no sharp edges upon shattering like the ones you find in regular glass.
- PC cases that come with tempered glass panels are expensive compared to the ones that are equipped with acrylic panels. However, there are some PC cases.
- Tempered glass panels are heavier, adding more net weight to a PC case. Most full tower PC cases with tempered side glass panels are a bit heavy to carry around.
- Most PC cases that come with a tempered glass panel result in poor airflow. It’ ‘s because most part of the case is occupied by tempered glass and there are fewer mounting positions for installing fans. We have written an entire guide about how to improve airflow inside a PC case if you are having this issue.
- Due to its nature, there are limited customization opportunities with a tempered glass panel. In case your panel breaks, it would take you a lot of effort to get support or replace it.
Conclusion: Acrylic or Tempered Side Glass Panel?
To be honest, the era of acrylic side panels is long gone. Unless your priority is to get a low-budget PC case, there’s no sense in going after an acrylic side panel chassis. On another side, tempered side glass panels are everywhere on the market right now.
Due to increasing competition among brands, chassis with tempered glass are now affordable to get. With nice aesthetics and scratch-resistant properties, tempered glass panel PC cases are the right deal to go with.
Hi, this is Masab, the Founder of PC Building Lab. I’m a PC enthusiast who loves to share the prior knowledge and experience that I have with computers. Well, troubleshooting computers is in my DNA, what else I could say….