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Glass PC case

Do you have a PC build that you’re particularly proud of putting together? It’s no real surprise that you’d want to show off the components and RGB lighting that you worked so hard to connect.

That’s why tempered glass PC cases are a popular choice. These ultra-clear PC cases provide a clear showcase of the computer parts inside, so you can truly see your machine at work. There’s no showstopper quite like a beautiful build encased in transparent glass.

Still, you might worry about trusting tempered glass with the safety of your PC and its valuable components.

You might have seen on Reddit or other forums pictures of PC cases with shattered glass panels. It’s leads us to wonder, are tempered glass cases safe? The quick answer is “yes”—but in this case, a quick answer isn’t a complete one.

Tempered glass PC cases are safe when used and maintained properly. They’re made from specialized glass that’s designed to resist breakage, but that doesn’t make them impervious to damage.

Here’s what you need to know about tempered glass PC cases before adding one to your build:

Corsair Tempered Glass Case

Corsair 4000D Airflow Tempered Glass ATX Mid Tower Computer Case ($83.94)

What is Tempered Glass?

Tempered glass is a type of safety glass that’s toughened by chemical and thermal processes to make it stronger.

The added strength of tempered glass makes it resist breakage compared to normal glass.

If it does break, tempered glass is safer than normal glass because it breaks into small, blunted chunks.

It doesn’t shatter into jagged, dangerous shards, so you’re much less likely to get injured on tempered glass.

These properties make tempered glass a preferred choice when building transparent PC cases.

Cases made from tempered glass are unlikely to break under normal usage, and they’re relatively safe if they do (somehow) break.  

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How Strong is Tempered Glass?

Tempered glass is 4 times stronger than ordinary glass due to its high surface compression.

For it to be considered tempered glass, a PC case with 6 mm thick glass must have a surface compression of 10,000 psi (or pounds per square inch).

Tempered glass cases can be called safety glass if they have a surface compression of 15,000 psi.

That surface compression is what allows tempered glass to resist breakage, and if it does become damaged, is what causes it to break into clean chunks.

HiHOCH ATX WOLF Series Mid Tower Tempered Glass PC Case

HiHOCH ATX WOLF Series Mid Tower Computer Tempered Glass PC Case ($66.99)

Are All Tempered Glass Cases Equal?

Thermaltake Tower 900 Black Tempered Glass Fully Modular E-ATX Vertical Super Tower Chassis

Thermaltake Tower 900 Black Tempered Glass Fully Modular E-ATX Vertical Super Tower Chassis ($299.99)

All tempered glass cases are subjected to the same surface compression requirement of 10,000 psi.

If it’s labeled tempered glass, then you can rest assured that it meets the standard of being resistant to damage and it is relatively safe should it breaks while you’re nearby.

It’s rare to find tempered glass cases that are labeled safety glass, but these cases that go the extra mile all have surface compression of at least 15,000 psi.

Tempered glass meets the needs of just about every PC user, but safety glass gives you extra peace of mind if you need it.

Of course a new Gaming PC has a case that’s full of high end components

What Causes Tempered Glass Cases to Break?

Tempered glass has a weak point—its edges and corners will break if you put them under sudden stress.

The surface of tempered glass resists breakage quite well, but the surface compression of this glass becomes unbalanced around the edges due to variations in tensile stress.

As a result, dropping a tempered glass case so that the impact happens right-side up or on an edge surface can result in breakage.

The same is true if you’re moving furniture and accidentally slam into the PC case on a corner or an edge.

In everyday use, you’re unlikely to break your tempered glass PC case. However, it’s a good idea to use due caution when moving a tempered glass PC case or anything around it.

Finally, there’s a rare phenomenon called exploding glass where tempered glass breaks suddenly without any outside force causing it damage. This happens because of impurities in the glass, such as nickel sulfide particles, which spontaneously cause breakage. It often happens when impure glass forms cracks from damage, which reduces its tensile strength.

This is rare enough that the average PC user shouldn’t worry about their case exploding!

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How to Prevent Tempered Glass PC Cases from Breaking

Fractal Design Meshify Tempered Glass Computer Case

Fractal Design Meshify C Mini Compact Tinted Tempered Glass Computer Case ($99.99)

You can prevent your tempered glass PC case from breaking by simply exercising care around it. Bumping its corners or edges can cause damage, so you can minimize the chance of breakage by:

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How to Take Care of a Tempered Glass PC Case

Luckily, the average tempered glass PC case doesn’t require too much extra care. You can take care of your case by:

  • Installing your tempered glass PC case where you can’t bump it or knock it over by accident, which can cause breakage or cracks.
  • Using great care when moving it or moving objects around it so it doesn’t get dropped or bumped into.
  • Keeping it clean and dry by dusting with a microfiber cloth to prevent scratches (cautiously, since you don’t want to bump it into your desk furniture or knock it over).

Most importantly, look at it regularly and notice any cracks, which make it more likely that your case could break. If your case cracks, you’ll need to replace it.

That’s because cracks reduce the tensile strength of the glass and make it susceptible to breaking under light stress (or even no stress).

What to Do if Your Tempered Glass PC Case Breaks

HiHOCH KJ T5W Series Mid-Tower PC Tempered Glass Desktop Case

HiHOCH KJ T5W Series Mid-Tower PC Tempered Glass Desktop Case ($73.99)

The good news is, tempered glass is unlikely to break unless you bump it on a corner or edge, or unless you crack it. It’s surprisingly strong for glass! After all, this is the same glass that’s used in car windows and heat-safe Pyrex baking dishes.

That being said, if your tempered glass does break, you’re unlikely to get injured on it, and it’s unlikely to damage your components. This glass doesn’t shatter; it crumbles into rounded chunks.

If your tempered glass case breaks, clean it up and transfer your components into a backup PC case while you wait for a replacement to arrive. The biggest concern is having your PC components unhoused and unprotected when you’re between cases.

If your case is merely cracked but not completely broken, order a new tempered glass PC case ASAP. Cracks put your case in danger of breaking, so don’t tempt fate; just order a new case and safely discard or recycle the old one.

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Author Lindsey Newman

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