I would not recommend leaving your case open unless you are having severe overheating problems and are testing to see if your PC is overheating. Under normal circumstances there is no need to leave your case open.
I agree with the rest: Leaving the case off inherently keeps it cooler but it is not recommended. The case essentially is a grounded shield around the working parts. It also keeps cords from getting jostled, fans from getting hit, and expansion cards from being moved (most seem to be very sensitive to that) by a rouge foot or hand. The case essentially is there to provide a cooling platform and structure for the components inside.
If something should blow up (like a capacitor), the case contains the explosion. XD
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if the computer is on the floor - keeps flying/rolling objects out of the computer like a ball, foot, a thrown shoe across the floor, a playful dog, a curious cat's paw, a vacuum cleaner's head, etc.... from going into the computer causing damage.
if the computer is on the table - keeps flying objects like pencil/pens/paper clips/fustrated mouse during CSS...... out of the computer...
Basically im saying is that, let it be intentionally or an accident.... that cover will help protect your components from damage.
you dont want to give Mr. Murphy any reasons to come calling on you. The less visit from him the better for your computer and you.
It actually might not always help keep it cooler. Usually, yes. But always, no.
Think of the airflow that is currently happening (from front to back). If you take out the side, the air will have more of a tendency to just sit in that general area.
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like every one said, dont take the side panel off because o-so many things can happen. now, the closes thing you can get to running you computer with the side panel off, with out actually doing it, would be to get that Xclio case with that ridiculous 36cm side case fan.
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Actually, it depends. If you have case fan, keeping the case closed is better. By closing the case, you create a channel for the air to flow. Having the case open, it's anybody's guess where the air is coming and going and whether or not it's actually cooling anything. If you don't have a case fan, keeping the case open should be cooler than keeping it closed as a general rule of thumb. But that depends on humidity and air temperature as well.