Question What happened to front panels?

Dave McKeen

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Aug 22, 2010
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What happened to front panels?

I used Cooler Master HAF 912 mid tower cases for my last three builds, the most recent in 2018. I’m starting to scope out components for new build. The HAF 912 isn’t available anymore and I don’t get the layout of the mid towers I see for sale now. They’re all FACELESS! Where’s the HDD/SSD activity light, power light, power switch, restart switch, USB ports, and bays for CD/DVD/Blu-Ray drives and USB3 ports?

I have not been paying attention since CPU Magazine folded. (I’ve been getting Maximum PC for a few months but just started reading it). Can I still get a mid tower with all the stuff on the front?

Asus Maximus X Hero
Core i7-8700K
CRYORIG R1 CPU Cooler
CORSAIR Vengeance LPX 64GB
MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
SeaSonic SSR-650RM 650W
WDS500G2X0C Black NVMe M.2 2280 500GB M.2 NVME (2 ea)
Seagate IronWolf Pro ST2000NE0025 2TB
LG Blu-ray Burner WH16NS40
Pioneer Blu-ray Burner BDR-209DBK
StarTech 7-port USB 3.0 card
Windows 10 Pro 64-bit – OEM
Cooler Master HAF 912
Gigabyte Mechanical Cherry Red Keyboard (GK-FORCE K83 RED)
NEC PA242W Multisync
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
Can I still get a mid tower with all the stuff on the front?
Not really. These days most of the leds and buttons are either on top or on the side, and most cases no longer have external drive bays. There are some, if you can find them, like the Phanteks Enthoo pro or Enthoo pro M, but there are not a terrible lot of them. At least, not with modern internal designs.

There are a few though that still have front buttons and LEDS, and with exteral drive bays and more modern designs, just not that many. Here is a list of your best options that at least have front panel external drive bay anyhow.

https://pcpartpicker.com/products/case/#t=4,3&A=0&B=2,3,4&G=1,12&sort=price&m=52,337,169,11,150,225,57,229,51,63,56
 

Colif

Win 11 Master
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Jun 12, 2015
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Mine shows the activity lights through the mesh on front of case.

(old photo, been cleaned since)
all the USB slots and power switches mostly moved to top of cases now.

Most cases now have the front section full of fans to let cool air into system...
Bays for dvd drives are getting harder to find but there are still a few around.
 

Dave McKeen

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Aug 22, 2010
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Not really. These days most of the leds and buttons are either on top or on the side, and most cases no longer have external drive bays. There are some, if you can find them, like the Phanteks Enthoo pro or Enthoo pro M, but there are not a terrible lot of them. At least, not with modern internal designs.

There are a few though that still have front buttons and LEDS, and with exteral drive bays and more modern designs, just not that many. Here is a list of your best options that at least have front panel external drive bay anyhow.

https://pcpartpicker.com/products/case/#t=4,3&A=0&B=2,3,4&G=1,12&sort=price&m=52,337,169,11,150,225,57,229,51,63,56
Thanks very much! That Part Picker site is great!!
 

Dave McKeen

Distinguished
Aug 22, 2010
48
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Mine shows the activity lights through the mesh on front of case.

(old photo, been cleaned since)
all the USB slots and power switches mostly moved to top of cases now.

Most cases now have the front section full of fans to let cool air into system...
Bays for dvd drives are getting harder to find but there are still a few around.
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
Thanks very much! That Part Picker site is great!!
Exactly. Since you can filter by your needs on the left side panel, you can pretty much see ALL cases that are available out there for the most part, refined by what you need such as external drive bays, acrylic or tempered glass side panels, motherboard form factor support and about anything else you can think of is there including brand of manufacturer. And of course, that basically applies to the majority of core components and accessories, not to mention showing you what the current cost comparison between retailers is as well. This is why it is one of the most used tools around here and on other tech forums.
 

dwd999

Honorable
Two optical drives is a real problem. I got a Fractal Design Define 7 because it still has one but their smaller Compact size doesn't have any. The thing that's killing optical drive space is the provision for mounting full 360mm size radiators for water cooling in both the top and front of the case, leaving no space for optical drives, so you have to choose between the two. But even the Define 7 does not have a ssd activity light; I guess they're dropping those since they figure with ssds no one cares any more about whether their drive is being accessed.
 

Colif

Win 11 Master
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Jun 12, 2015
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But even the Define 7 does not have a ssd activity light; I guess they're dropping those since they figure with ssds no one cares any more about whether their drive is being accessed.
Fractal Design Meshify S2 has a multi function power light, it also flickers if drive is being accessed. I would expect the define to have similar since many Fractal cases are just revisions of previous case.

edit: seems they don't as define series originally designed as media centre cases, and they thought light might be a distraction.

There are plenty of cases still with solid front panels, the difference is the material of choice now is glass, and many of them have 3 RGB fans shoved up against glass cause it looks good... and i wouldn't say that is a good thing. Until they make glass with vents in it, its a poor choice for PC cases... and yet, every case has at least one glass side panel unless you choose the few models that don't or offer choices.

But not all cases are fish tanks now, there are plenty with mesh fronts that while blocking the rgb on your fans, at least lets air through. Not everyone spends all day staring at the pretty colors (ignores his image in sig)
 
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