Many computer cases today feature side panels that are made of tempered glass. It’s to give the case a premium feel and, of course, let gamers and enthusiasts show off the razzle and dazzle of their LED-illuminated motherboards and everything else inside their PC.

On the downside, tempered glass side panels have one major disadvantage over acrylic side panels. Can you guess it? That’s right. They are made of, uh, glass. That means they can shatter into a million pieces even at the slightest provocation.

What causes PC case tempered glass to shatter?

Per a material science expert, a brittle material like glass is susceptible to stress, enough of which can lead to a higher likelihood of spontaneous glass breakage. Glass under great thermal stress can also shatter from the slightest shock from an external source.

Gamers, who often experience their CPU tower becoming extremely hot when running demanding video games, should be wary of their tower’s tempered glass side panel. Touching a heated glass surface with cold bare hands can create enough thermal shock to cause it to break.

What to do when the tempered glass of your computer case has shattered

If by unfortunate chance your tempered glass side panels shatter, here’s what you should do:

Remove all broken pieces of glass inside the case

First, turn off and dissemble your computer. Avoid using the computer until you have inspected the motherboard, graphics card, and other components inside the case for any glass shards. Check every nook and cranny. Use an air duster (aka canned air) to blow away the debris.

A shard that’s large enough could obstruct the movement of fans and any other mechanical parts in your computer. The smaller pieces could also cause obstruction in the airflow and may contribute to the overheating of components.

You don’t have to worry about any broken glass causing short circuits, though, since glass is a very poor conductor of electricity. Tempered glass also shatters into small pieces with dulled edges. The risk of cutting yourself when you pick up a piece is slim, which is why tempered glass is considered as a type of safety glass. Nevertheless, you should still handle it with care to avoid unwanted injuries.


Use a temporary cover

Once you are certain no pieces of glass are left, use a temporary cover as substitute for your broken side panel. This is to prevent critters like rats and pets from getting into the CPU tower and gnawing on the wires. It also helps minimize the dust buildup inside.

Look for a replacement glass

If your tower came from a reputable manufacturer, chances are you can contact them and get a replacement glass for your tower’s specific model. Or depending on the warranty provided, you might get an entirely new case. Companies such as Corsair, NZXT, and Cooler Master sell computer cases and offer tempered glass side panel replacements.

On the other hand, if you own a case made by some random Chinese brand with no aftersales support, see if you can find a local glassware store to create a custom glass panel. You’ll have to provide the measurements to match the specifications of the side panel of your computer case. Other than that, it might be more practical to just buy a new case especially when the cost of the side panel replacement is too expensive.

Prevent future accidents on PC tempered glass

Consider the incident as a learning experience. Take some time to reflect on what went wrong and what you could have done differently to prevent it. And while accidents can still happen, here are some tips to keep in mind to minimize the risk of breaking your replacement glass panel in the future:

  • Avoid placing the case in high-traffic areas where the glass panel is likely to be bumped or hit.
  • Use the correct screws when securing the glass panel to the case.
  • Regularly clean the glass, and use soft cloth to avoid scratches and other damage on the surface of the glass.
  • Keep the internal components clean and ensure the case has good ventilation. Keep the temperature of the components within a safe operating range to prevent adding stress on the glass.

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