Update: See the new 2015 edition of this content over here.

Following-up with last year's PC enclosure round-up, we revisit the topic of the top gaming cases with CES 2014 in mind. Any enthusiast or mid-range system builders have some unreal options to choose from this year, with a heavier focus placed on full side windows and aesthetics than previous years.

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For advice on choosing a gaming enclosure, check out our previous article on picking a gaming case. In this gaming case round-up, we'll look at some of the highest-performance PC enclosures on the market for 2014; all the cases featured were unveiled at (or around) CES 2014.

There's been a bit of localized interest in case modding since we posted our introductory guide with BS Mods & Rod Rosenberg a while back. The fact is that case modding is an incredibly rewarding, easy-to-get-into avenue to give your PC unique charm.

cm-case-mods-1An upcoming case mod by user Corsaronero333.

Case, cooling, & power manufacturer Cooler Master hosts a mod competition every year, and this year's event spots $20,000 in computer hardware prizes. Modders have until October 31st to sign up on the CM forum, where they'll be keeping a build log for their progress. Images and descriptors must accompany the thread as the build progresses.

Adding an aftermarket CPU cooler to your gaming system will undoubtedly tighten thermal differentials to a more predictable range, and while semiconductors do "like" heat to a limited degree, CPUs have trouble operating under intense, fluctuating thermal load. Aftermarket CPU coolers, much like RAM, are a commodity in the mainstream market; they're not necessary to operate at stock frequencies, but are nice to have for decreased noise pollution and decreased room temperatures (I'm only sort of joking - my system easily increases room temps by a degree or two).

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For lightweight overclocking, of course, the story is different -- these coolers are necessary to protect the chip and increase core stability when under load. There's a lot of engineering that goes into a quality CPU cooler and, as with any quality engineering, you won't find the best possible designs for entry-level coolers. There are elements to prioritize, though, and we can uncover what differences make the largest impact by benchmarking a wider array of units.

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