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The 16 Best PC Cases in 2020 | Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX & EATX Cases Review

best pc cases Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX & EATX Cases

It’s funny that the selection of the best gaming PC cases is always very low on the list. But be warned: If you ignore our PC case comparison, you run the risk of buying the wrong PC tower.

Because not only the form factor has to be right for your PC case, it also has to be coordinated with all components. With the best PC cases, your gaming CPU and gaming graphics card will stay cool and dust-free. So that you can find exactly the right PC case, we have created this purchase advice and list of the best.

You will find the best PC cases of all sizes and shapes right now – from ATX cases, Mini ITX, Micro ATX to Big Towers, everything is included. You can find out what is important when choosing your gaming case in the guide below.

In the following you will find all our PC case recommendations in a list of the best, sorted from small to large (mini-ITX to big tower) and inexpensive to expensive. 

Note: This is not a technical PC case test, but a listing of the best models on the market based on in-depth research.

The best Mini-ITX Cases

Compact, versatile and often full of surprises – the best Mini ITX cases are the real exotic ones. By far the most efficient use of the space in a PC case, not a single centimeter is wasted here.

When assembling in such a small PC case you can sometimes feel like building a ship in a bottle. Occasionally frustrating, but ultimately very satisfying and definitely not for inexperienced PC builders.

In some cases, you may need to forfeit disk space to increase performance with larger graphics cards.

Still, a mini ITX build can actually target 4K gaming by making effective use of the space for your hardware and choosing the right parts.

1. Thermaltake Core V1

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Thermaltake Core V1 SPCC Mini ITX Cube Gaming Computer Case
  • Supports Mini ITX Motherboard
  • 2x USB 3.0, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic Front Ports, Internal Bay:…
  • Interchangeable Side Panels: Symmetrical panels to build the…
  • Adjustable I/O Panel Location. Extreme Air/Liquid Cooling…
  • Chambers Concept. Advanced Ventilation

The Thermaltake Core V1 has a lot to offer for a smaller, cube-style PC case in which a lot of hardware can still be stowed. At an unbeatable price, the Core V1 offers less space than other mini-ITX towers, but still enough space for standard-size graphics cards, an ATX power supply and even water cooling.

An AiO cooler with a closed circuit would easily fit, if you want to tinker with something you would have to get creative. At around 22 liters, it is still a bit larger than “medium-sized” ITX cases, but much more compact than a normal mid-tower case.

This affordable case comes with a large 200mm fan attached to the front. This huge fan does an excellent job of ensuring good airflow in the cube.

2. NZXT H210i

NZXT H210i – CA-H210i-B1 – Mini-ITX PC Gaming Case
  • NEW FEATURES: Front I/O USB Type-C Port, Tempered glass side…
  • MORE MODERN: USB 3.1 Gen 2-compatible USB-C connector on the…
  • SMART DEVICE V2: Includes a faster microprocessor for NZXT…
  • POWERED BY NZXT CAM: Use the intuitive NZXT CAM application…
  • STREAMLINED COOLING: Two Aer F120mm fans are included for…

Mini-ITX is not always about building the smallest PC imaginable. Sometimes it’s just about having a PC that is smaller than a “normal tower” and using as much power as possible. The NZXT H210i isn’t tiny, and some may claim that it approaches the design of a microATX case. But the extra space for the hardware makes it a versatile PC case that is easy to build in.

You get an ATX power supply in full standard size, water cooling with two radiators and two 3.5-inch hard drives. With its punched-out side ventilation areas and an integrated RGB strip, it also offers a unique design. As a high-end case, you also get a full steel construction and of course a stylish glass side window (plus 2x120mm fans on top).

The H210i is also equipped with a Smart Hub, which mainly works with the Aer2 RGB fans and Hue2 peripherals from NZXT. If you don’t want any lighting or don’t need the smart hub, you can take a look at the reduced NZXT H200.

The best Micro-ATX Cases

If you want to build a gaming PC with a small form factor, it doesn’t always have to be a mini-ITX case. Because one of the more budget-friendly form factors is Micro-ATX. Micro-ATX cases are slightly smaller than the conventional ATX midi tower cases and slightly larger than the popular mini-ITX cases.

The nice thing about mATX cases and their mainboards is that they usually cost significantly less than the Mini-ITX variants. So if you want to build a compact system at a fraction of the price of an ITX rig, check out these Micro-ATX cases.

1. Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L

Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L Micro-ATX Tower
4,740 Reviews
Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L Micro-ATX Tower
  • I/O panel can be adjusted in 6 different locations and the…
  • Edge to edge acrylic transparent side panel offers a full…
  • Body depth height: Can support normal size ATX power supply
  • Front magnetic design dust filter with open perforated…
  • Extra space behind the motherboard tray for hidden cable…

What immediately strikes you about the Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L is its unusual design. The special thing about this PC case are the removable filters at the front and top. Instead of the normal filters (which you see in most cases), the MasterBox has a cool design painted on it. Both filters are located on the top of the front of the case and are magnetic.

The design of this model officially supports two 120/140 mm fans (up to 240 mm coolers) on the front and two 120 mm fans on the top. If you want, you can also attach a 240 mm radiator to the top, which then gets in the way of your mainboard. Practical: You can use the housing both horizontally and vertically, and the I / O panel can be freely attached as the side window can be attached to all four sides.

Unfortunately, the Q300L only comes with a 120mm fan on the back, so you should probably add a few more fans. We also recommend installing a good CPU cooler, otherwise you will get heat problems here. If you are looking for a compact and affordable micro-ATX case, then get the Q300L.

2. Cooler Master Silencio 452

Cooler Master Silencio 452
  • ATX, microATX
  • USB 3.0 x 2, USB 2.0 x 1, SD card reader (Class 10) x 1,…
  • Supports up to 3 fans, 2 x 120/140mm, 1 x 120/90/80mm, (2 x…
  • Supports Drive Bays up to 2 x 2.5″, 6 x 3.5″, 2 x 5.25″
  • Supports graphics cards up to 386mm / 15.2 inch, CPU coolers…

The “Silencio” lives up to its name. Not only does it look like a ninja, it’s as quiet as one. And there is no shortage of features! Because the Silencio 452 comes with noise-suppressing doors and side walls lined with foam. The matt front panel gives it an elegant look. In addition, there are two powerful XtraFlo fans at the front and rear for optimized airflow, 240 mm radiators at the front or a 120 mm at the rear are also supported for water cooling.

But that’s not all. You get an SD card reader and two fast USB 3.0 ports, as well as space for up to 4 SSDs and 3 HDDs. Several dust filters (top, bottom, front) ensure improved system maintenance and are the cherry on the cake.

In addition, the case is very well made, offers space for large GPUs and did we already mention how quiet the part is? We think that the manufacturer CoolerMaster offers a really good case at a fair price.

3. Corsair Crystal 280X

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Corsair Crystal 280X RGB Micro-ATX Case
  • Massive cooling potential with room for up to six 120mm…
  • Two included CORSAIR LL120 RGB fans boast a total of 32…
  • Three stunning tempered glass panels put your system on…
  • A dual-chamber layout highlights your PC’s core components,…
  • Dedicated storage compartment for up to two 3.5″ drives and…

The Corsair Carbide 280X is a successor to the popular Corsair Carbide Air 240. It has a similar form factor but has a sleek new design with three sheets of toughened glass.

Even the regular 280X has a fair price for such a solid PC case, because it offers good processing quality, very attractive aesthetics, and despite the compact design, a lot of space. In addition, the design makes it easy to work in and everything is tidy.

If you want to add one more, the 280X is also available in the RGB version, which contains two RGB 120 mm fans for fantastic lighting.

In addition, the Corsair 280X is characterized by an invisible secondary chamber in which you can hide the power supply, storage drives and, above all, the cabling. The standard fans do not provide the best cooling performance, but there is space for water coolers on the front and top of the case.

The best ATX Cases

ATX cases are pretty much the “standard” for gaming PCs. Here you have enough space for any hardware that you want to install, but of course you also need more space on your desk.

Since ATX is also the most common form for mainboards, you have more choice here than with the other sizes. So if you need enough space for systems with a custom water cooler, multiple graphics cards and hard drives, then ATX is your case choice.

We think ATX cases are still the best choice because you simply get the most flexibility.

1. Sharkoon TG5

Sharkoon TG5
  • The TG5 has nonetheless sufficient possibilities to…
  • An optimized airflow is ensured by air vents on both sides…
  • The audio connectors for & 2 USB 2.0 and 2 USB 3.0…
  • Front Panel: 3x 120 mm LED fan (pre-installed) or radiator…

Sharkoon is known for its budget products with a good price performance and the TG5 can also convince with them. Overall, the Sharkoon TG5 is a good PC case at a reasonable price. You get two windows made of hardened glass, four LED fans (available in white, red, green, blue, by the way) and enough space for components. In any case, you get enough space for long graphics cards and high CPU fans, but you are limited with water coolers.

Since this is a budget case, some material savings are of course also made here: quite thin steel and too large-meshed dust filters are not optimal. We’d like to see a fanless version of this case here to further reduce costs and possibly get slightly better material.

All in all, the TG5 from Sharkoon is a good case with a first-class price performance for everyone who likes LEDs (attention, the fans are NOT RGB). Everyone who wants a lot of housing will find their best choice here.

2. Corsair CARBIDE 275R

Corsair CARBIDE 275R Mid-Tower Gaming Case
  • Beautiful tempered glass side panel shows off your system in…
  • Clean and minimalist styling with soft accent lighting
  • Builder-friendly with simple and intuitive internal layout
  • Versatile cooling options with space for multiple radiator…
  • Rugged-construction steel drive trays provide expansive…

The Carbide 275R is one of the newer cheap PC cases from Corsair and could appeal to the minimalists among you. Apart from a small logo on the front, the 275R dispenses with additional branding in order to achieve a clear design for purists. While the design may be kept simple, the functionality is far from that. And it’s much more than just a small upgrade to the 270R.

Because the Carbide 275R supports a 360mm cooler on the front and up to six 120mm fans. There is also a side panel made of reinforced glass, excellent cooling potential, good radiator support (you could install a water-cooled CPU and GPU without space problems), good cable management and enough space for hard drives.

At a modest price, the 275R is a great alternative to the Sharkoon TG5 that was just introduced. We recommend this case 100%, you can’t go wrong here, especially at the price.

3. be quiet! Pure Base 600

be quiet! Pure Base 600
  • Highly versatile, with repositionable HDD slots and…
  • Water cooling ready for radiators up to 360mm on front, top…
  • Adjustable top cover vent with enhanced cooling options and…
  • Two pre-installed be quiet! pure wings 2 fans assure…
  • Fully windowed side panel from tempered glass

With the Pure Base 600 from beQuiet you get a really whisper-quiet PC case, which leaves comparable competitors behind in terms of noise. Thanks to the sound-absorbing filling foam and the sealed casing, it is simply quieter than other PC cases in this price range.

In addition, the beQuiet Pure Base 600 uses the same high-quality materials as other, more expensive Be Quiet! Models. Unfortunately, the PC case is limited by below-average cooling and not so good cable management and makes it less optimal if you want to overclock.

All in all, however, the case offers decent equipment and, as the name suggests, quiet operation. In addition, a fan control has been integrated into this stable and well-made design. So if you are looking for a very quiet PC case, then grab it here.

4. Fractal Design Define R5

Fractal Design Define R5 – Mid Tower Computer Case
  • Optimally designed for silent computing with high density…
  • Extensive water cooling support for a case of this size;…
  • Newly, configured front door with dual side mounting to…
  • Highlighting 2 dedicated SSD mounts cleanly placed behind…
  • The HDD cage system holds up to eight 3.5″ or 2.5″ drives…

The alternative to the Purse Base 600 – a bit more expensive, but with better cooling options and lower temperatures.

Although the design of the Fractal R5 is minimalist and you don’t see any glass or fancy RGB here, it is one of the best PC cases for low noise levels and optimal airflow. In addition, the Fractal Design Define R5 offers a very spacious design that offers you a variety of construction options inside. There is enough space for water coolers thanks to the modular removable drive bays.

Therefore, this case is perfect for high-end systems that generate a lot of heat and noise, as the R5 can handle both relatively easily compared to other models in this price range. So if you are looking for an upgrade to the Pure Base 600 and want to get a little more out of your system (but still want it to be quiet!), Then the R5 is your choice.

5. Lian Li O11

Lian Li O11 ATX Full Tower Gaming Computer Case
  • Case Type: ATX full tower
  • Front: tempered glass+aluminum
  • Side: Tempered glass
  • M/B Type: eeb(35. 5cm x 35. 5cm)/ ATX/ Micro-ATX
  • Internal: 4 x 3. 5″ Hdd(hot swap), 11 x 2. 5″ Ssd

Are you looking for a PC case that is perfect for water-cooled setups? Then check out the Lian-Li 011 Dynamic! Essentially, it is an ATX standard case with hardened glass on the front and side, and a very attractive look. In addition, the “open” look makes it ideal for RGB setups, especially since you can see everything here.

You get three removable panels (one on the front and one on each side), which makes assembly easier. This makes the installation of a water cooler in the exposed ceiling area effortless, but the model is only suitable for something like that. Because no fans are pre-assembled here, and the fan placement is a bit unusual (none on the front).

However, you get good cable management, an extra chamber to “hide” the power supply, clean workmanship and at least some aluminum on the front panel. So if you are planning a water-cooled system with a lot of RGB, this could be your choice. For everyone else, however, this PC case is too expensive for what it really offers.

6. Corsair Crystal 570X

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Corsair Crystal 570X RGB Mid-Tower Case
  • Four tempered glass panels on the front, top, and sides of…
  • Room for up to six case fans, and compatible with 360…
  • Cable routing channels with included velcro cable straps for…
  • Bright white LED backlit CORSAIR logo on front panel and PSU…

Just take a look at the Corsair Crystal 570X and you will know why it ended up in our list of the best. This beauty is clad in tempered glass on four sides and has three RGB fans for an impressive display of the interior of your build. The 570X has more to offer than just looks.

Although glass can pose a risk to heat, this PC case is well ventilated and can accommodate six fans and all types of cooling systems. For an optimal air flow, we recommend installing a fan on the back, it’s a shame that this is not pre-installed.

The complete filtering of the top and front panels keeps dust away and the cable management is also intelligently solved. We think that the Crystal 570X is an ideal PC case for many of you – thanks to a good balance between good temperatures and moderate volume. If it weren’t for the high price, but for the money you get something here.

7. Corsair Obsidian Series 500D

Corsair Obsidian Series 500D RGB SE Premium Mid-Tower Case
1,054 Reviews
Corsair Obsidian Series 500D RGB SE Premium Mid-Tower Case
  • BRILLIANT RGB LIGHTING: Three LL120 RGB fans create a…
  • SHARP, BLACK AND BEAUTIFUL: Iconic Obsidian series styling…
  • BUILT-IN SMART LIGHTING AND FAN CONTROL: An integrated…
  • DIMENSIONS: 9.33: W x 19.69″ L x 19.96″ H
  • BUILT BETTER: Solid aluminum top plate and door handles add…

The Corsair 570X is not enough for you and we want to add another one? Then take a closer look at the Corsair 500D RGB SE.

The Corsair Obsidian 500D RGB is a premium case with a steep price, but it is very worthwhile. With a phenomenal glass design and three built-in 120mm RGB fans (including fan controller) as standard, the thing looks a lot!

A brilliant combination of brushed aluminum and tempered smoked glass gives you an incomparable appearance. Alternatively, there is also the 500D version with a complete aluminum front, if you prefer.

Otherwise radiators up to 360mm are supported, you have a lot of space for assembly, numerous options for cable management, there is also a USB 3.1 Gen2 port, plenty of space for hard drives and other hardware is there and the optimal air flow is guaranteed.

This PC case not only looks incredibly good, but also offers you everything a gamer’s heart desires. However, the RGB version is slighty more expensive, but you can take a look at the normal 500D version.

The best EATX Cases (Extended ATX)

Full tower cases are massive. They often measure more than 50cm in height and are longer and deeper than midi towers. This makes them ideal if you want to use a massive Extended ATX motherboard.

You can also consider full-tower cases if you plan to fill your build with extensive (or even tinkered with) water cooling, memory setups or multi-graphics card setups. Full tower cases often support more fans and 5.25-inch drive bays. And the extra “freedom of movement” is nice when building.

1. Phanteks Enthoo Pro

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Phanteks Enthoo Pro Full Tower Chassis with Window Cases
  • Enthoo Pro includes 1 x 200mm fan in front and 1 x 140mm fan…
  • Appearance: Brushed plastic with an aluminum appearance;…
  • Cooling: Extreme cooling capacity; 2 included Phanteks’…
  • Extensive water cooling support. Provides up to 4 diff…
  • Dimension:235 mm x 535 mm x 550 mm (W x H x D)

A large PC case doesn’t always have to cost a lot of money. The Phanteks Enthoo Pro offers enough space to build a very large GPU into it without costing the world.

Plus, it doesn’t feel like a compromise either. Because this case is solidly built and thanks to its slim, black look with a side wall made of hardened glass, it also looks good. In addition, there are premium functions such as modular drive bays that you can install without tools.

Regardless of whether you set priorities for storage space, the space for your components or the cooling – you can adapt the Enthoo Pro to your requirements. Practical cable management options and Velcro straps also ensure that everything is in its place. Thanks to its design, this PC case offers excellent air circulation as well as space for several coolers and fans. While only a front intake and a rear exhaust fan are included, there is room for up to four more.

In addition, reservoir mounts are included with the housing, giving you complete freedom of choice when it comes to positioning the water cooling system. A special feature here is the high modding friendliness, because the entire housing is processed with screws and can be dismantled down to its individual parts. You should definitely have a screwdriver ready, because the chamber in which the power supply sits can only be removed with such a screwdriver.

Ergo a perfect PC case for everyone looking for an inexpensive all-rounder EATX with plenty of space for hardware.

2. Cooler Master MCM-H500P-WGNN-S00 MasterCase

Cooler Master MCM-H500P-WGNN-S00 MasterCase
  • Front mesh with 2 pre-installed 200 millimeter RGB fans in…
  • A PSU shroud, CPU cut out cover and additional cable covers…
  • Two additional PCI slots at the rear for vertical graphics…
  • Light grey tinted tempered glass side panel and plastic…
  • Support up to 360 millimeter radiators in the top and front…

In terms of price, the H500P from Cooler Master is somewhere between EATX for beginners and enthusiasts. Thanks to its spacious interior and numerous case fans, the PC case achieves a fantastic cooling performance through good air circulation. But that’s not all: This beautiful RGB housing even offers space for up to 360 mm radiators on the top and front, so that you can really reach the next level of your cooling.

In addition, the high-quality tempered glass side panels, all the fan brackets, covers, ingenious cable management, quiet operation even under load and first-class workmanship, you get something for your money. In addition, three fans are pre-installed at the factory, which means you have less to screw: There are two 200 mm RGB fans on the front of the case, which are compatible with any motherboard with a 4-pin layout. The third standard fan is 140 mm tall and is located at the rear.

At best, Coolermaster sets the bar high in terms of case design and some manufacturers should learn a thing or two from this.

3. be quiet! Dark Base PRO 900

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be quiet! Dark Base PRO 900
  • Motherboard tray and HDD slots with enhanced possibilities…
  • Three silent Wings 3 PWM fans
  • Stepless dual-rail fan controller is switchable between…
  • Ready for radiators up to 420mm
  • Psu shroud and HDD slot covers provide a neat interior

The Dark Base Pro 900 case is big enough to support the largest mainboards and radiators with dimensions of up to 420mm. Plus, it offers full modularity for things like an inverted motherboard layout and even some nifty features like Qi wireless charging or pre-installed LED lighting. So you can completely adapt the part to your specific requirements.

In addition, of course, there is the quiet operation for which the manufacturer beQuiet is known, as well as a PWM fan controller. The processing quality is also excellent, but you can expect it at this price.

Where the Dark Base Pro really scores is the modularity. So if you’re looking for a larger PC case for fantastic water cooling, with a unique look and quiet, then this part is worth a look. But if you can do without things like glass panels and a Qi charger, then the ATX version would be the better deal for you.

4. Corsair Obsidian Series 1000D

Corsair Obsidian Series 1000D Super-Tower Case
  • THE ULTIMATE SUPER-TOWER PC CASE: Iconic and clean exterior…
  • STREAM AND GAME SIMULTANEOUSLY: The Obsidian 1000D can fit…
  • MASSIVE COOLING OPTIONS: Up to 18 fan mounts and room for up…
  • DIMENSIONS: 12.1″ W x 27.3″ L x 27.4″ H
  • BUILT-IN SMART LIGHTING AND FAN CONTROL: An integrated…

The final boss among the big towers. The Corsair Obsidian 1000D is a giant that can accommodate the largest and most blatant systems. Because this super tower has an impressive height of 70cm and offers enough space for 13 fans and up to four massive radiators installed at the same time.

In addition to the excellent cooling support, the Corsair 1000D has a unique three-chamber design with practical storage compartments and pull-out cooler trays for easy installation. Of course, there is also an RGB-illuminated front panel with integrated intelligent lighting and fan control thanks to the integrated Commander Pro controller.

From aluminum, smoked glass, massive RGB fans and infinite cooling potential – you get everything here. If you are really bored, you can use the Corsair Obsidian 1000D as a dual-system case, which combines two separate systems in one PC case. Think about it – a gaming PC and streaming rig in the same case. Of course, the whole thing has its price, but that’s why this is our absolute high-end recommendation.

PC Cases: Things to keep in mind

When it comes to housing purchases, people often underestimate how complicated it can be to choose the perfect housing. Many details are often underestimated or immediately forgotten.

When it comes to the dimensions alone, you not only have to look at the form factor of the case, but also that the mainboard fits, the radiators for the water cooling must fit, if you want to install an optical drive, there should be space for it and so on.

Quick tips for buying a PC case

Here are the most important quick tips for buying a PC case:

  • Check your hardware: First find out which hardware you have installed or want to have BEFORE you buy. Aesthetics are important, but before you deal with them you need to know which motherboard, graphics cards and which CPU cooler you will be using in the PC case. Possibly how many drives you want to install. This will determine the size and shape of the models that you should consider.
  • The size does NOT always matter: You probably don’t need a huge big tower for your rig. Multiple graphics cards are seen less and less, storage media are getting smaller (with an M.2 SSD, your SSD is physically smaller than ever before) and coolers are becoming more and more efficient. So if you don’t want to build a packed hell machine, or just want the look and upgradability of a large tower, a smaller PC case will do for you. Save your money and get a fat graphics card (provided it fits into your dream case).
  • It’s all about the cooling: Especially in small housings or with many individual components, cooling is of decisive importance. Airflow is important, especially when it comes to high-quality components in tight spaces. Keep in mind that PC cases with tempered glass fronts and sides often restrict airflow and may require additional fans.
  • Small is harder to build: Everything is more difficult to install in small PC cases. This is especially important if you are a beginner. But even for professionals it is difficult to install components in a small mini-ITX housing. There is no doubt that compact designs with powerful performance are impressive and space-saving. But don’t forget to spend extra time, patience, and check the dimensions of key components before attempting to build a compact PC.
  • Optics: Choose a PC case that you like optically. Except you don’t care about aesthetics and you pack the PC far under your desk anyway. Otherwise the thing will often be in your eyes, so you better get something that you have fun with.

 

We have listed the most important terms and details that you should pay attention to when buying your new PC case:

Motherboard

At the beginning of the PC purchase there is the choice of the CPU, which influences the type of mainboard, which in turn determines the design of the housing.

The most common sizes of motherboards are Standard-ATX (or just ATX), Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX (or sometimes just ITX).

Standard ATX boards are 305mm x 244mm in size and the most common shape on the market because you will find the most space for hardware on them. Micro-ATX boards are up to 244mm × 244mm in size, usually even smaller if they are only equipped with two RAM slots, and Mini-ITX determines all mainboards with dimensions of 170mm x 170mm.

As a rule of thumb, an ATX case can also accommodate a Micro-ATX and an ITX mainboard, but this is not always the case. If you are planning to do that, be sure to find out more here before buying.

Case

This determines the actual overall size of the case and in most cases, of course, depends on the mainboard size, but not always here either. The most common terms that are especially important for gamers are mini-ITX, micro-ATX, midi tower and full tower.

PC cases that are designed for mini-ITX boards are also more common than SFF or Small Form Factor, while when buying an ATX board you should of course purchase at least one midi tower. It is also important here that these terms only roughly adhere to the mainboard standards and do not necessarily determine the design of the housing.

In the mini-ITX area in particular, there are housings that are narrow, but very high, and then there are those that are more cubic. Depending on the area of application, you should not only pay attention to the form factor, but also to the design.

Graphic Card

The openings on the back of the case, which usually house the connections for internal PCI cards such as graphics, sound cards or capture cards. The number depends of course on the size of the case, but there are differences here too.

There are full towers with only seven, but also some with up to nine slots. There are also manufacturers who do not make the slot covers reusable, so if you want to remain flexible and plan to use a lot of PCI cards and replace them again and again, pay attention to this.

Otherwise, in a few months, there will be large holes on the back of your PC that offer space for dust to accumulate inside.

Drive bays

There are three common sizes of drives: 2.5, 3.5, and 5.25 inches. The 5.25 inch drive bay is the name given to the large, elongated openings that are usually found on the front of the case and in which optical drives find their home.

So if you are planning to install a 4K Bluray drive or DVD burner for your backup copies, make sure you have enough slots. Normally, PC cases from the mid-tower size upwards have enough slots, but if you choose a tower that focuses more on sound insulation, it may also not have a single slot. By then you should know how to install an operating system from the USB stick.

Displays that give you information about the status of your hardware (temperature, fan speed, etc.) or control elements for case fans can also be installed in the 5.25 inch bays. Extensions with more USB plugs or audio ports can also be installed here.

On the other hand, where there is plenty of space for 3.5 inch drives is inside the case. 3.5 inches is the common size for mechanical hard drives, which will probably make up the majority of your internal hard drive space. These are usually installed on the front under the optical drives or on the underside in front of the power supply unit.

It is very important here that you do not get in the way of any water cooling. If, for example, there is no space for a radiator on the top, or if you want to install two systems (graphics and CPU cooling), you will in many cases not be able to avoid installing a radiator on the front. A lot of space for hard drives can quickly be lost. What you can pay attention to here is the so-called modularity.

Many PC cases today come with so-called modular drive cages, which make it possible to change the location of the hard disk installation within the case.

Last but not least, you will probably want to install at least one SSD on which your operating system runs. SSDs come in 2.5-inch sizes and many housing manufacturers have provided different spaces for them. In some cases they can also be installed in the cages instead of the mechanical hard drives, behind the mainboard, between the circuit board and the side wall, there is often space to hide them or, if you want to place them more visible, there is also the possibility in some cases to install them directly in the main chamber in front of the mainboard.

In rare cases, housings offer so-called hot swapping. There are special plugs in the housing for this, on which you can install and uninstall a hard drive within seconds without having to fiddle around with cables. Sometimes you don’t even have to open the case, as the slot provided for this is accessible from the front of the case.

Optical drives with slim-line and / or slot-loading functionality are a prerequisite for small housings. Slim-line refers to those that you probably also know from laptops, that is, slim ones that are equipped with a drawer. Slot-loading, on the other hand, describes the type that can also be found in newer game consoles such as the PS4 or Nintendo Wii, which do not have a drawer but rather “spit out” the discs.

Another trend that simplifies installation and maintenance in the housing is tool-free installation. Many manufacturers now give you the option to attach your drives without screws. Instead, you usually get accessories made of plastic, which are then plugged in and then fit into the respective slots.

Accessibility of the back of the mainboard

Depending on the type of CPU cooler, you may have to attach a so-called backplate to the mainboard. In most cases, PC cases already have openings in these places, but depending on the size of the back plate and the cooler, you should also pay attention to the size of this opening. Otherwise you could be forced to remove the entire mainboard for maintenance or replacement purposes.

Back & Front I/O panel

The front I / O panel and the back I / O are the two places on the PC case where you can find most of the connectors, e.g. for USB and audio. While the back I / O panel is rather unimportant when buying a case, as it is supplied with the mainboard, you should not ignore the front I / O. In many cases, especially with small cases, you won’t necessarily find them on the direct front, but on one of the two sides. So if you are planning to place one side of the PC directly against the wall and then realize that you can no longer access the USB plug or even the on / off button, you would be spared trouble with a little planning.

Thumb Screws

“Thumb Screws” is the name given to the screws that have been used in housings for a few years. Instead of having to rely on a screwdriver for normal screws, you can loosen and tighten them with your fingers. Ideally, these are additionally secured in place in such a way that they cannot be removed even if you unscrew them.

Tempered Glass

One of the biggest trends in recent years and the latest craze on the case market is the use of real, so-called “hardened” (or “tempered”) glass.

If you wanted to present the aesthetically pleasing interior of the case to the outside world a few years ago, you still had to fall back on plexiglass. This had the disadvantage that on the one hand it was easily scratched and also looked less valuable. This has now been remedied with the introduction of tempered glass.

What you have to pay attention to: If you choose a PC case that is surrounded by glass on all sides, you can also see everything inside. There are no places where you can hide tangled cables and so a PC case that is beautiful in theory can quickly reveal small wiring sins in practice.

Also keep in mind that sound insulation then takes a back seat, as insulation material can no longer be installed. You have to find out for yourself how much the volume in the case bothers you in a test.

Cable management

Good cable management is essential when it comes to aesthetics, especially for enclosures made entirely of glass.

On the one hand, it depends on your patience, on the other hand, it also depends on the options that the PC cases offer you. Pay attention to how many openings the housing offers you, how much space you have between the mainboard and the rear wall, i.e. where most of the cables will run at the end, and whether there are special fastening points in the housing where you can attach cables with cable ties or maybe you can even attach the supplied Velcro straps.

Cable management is not only important for aesthetics. Many cables that hang freely in the room can disrupt the airflow, lead to increased temperature of your hardware and thus damage it in the long term.

Power Adapter

The power supply unit or the PSU (Power Supply Unit) is the part in the PC that supplies the hardware with power. Most of the time, the power supply unit is installed in the lower or upper area of the tower, but this can also differ in the case of smaller form factors or housings with special shapes (e.g. cubic).

Depending on the area of application, you should therefore pay attention. Modularity also plays a major role here. If you want to save space, you can simply leave out unnecessary cables with modular power supplies, and if you value aesthetics, you can replace cables with aesthetically pleasing ones.

The size of the power supply unit is also important. For example, if you have radiators installed on the front and still need space for drive cages in the lower area, you should consider buying a slightly shorter power supply.

The size standards of the power supplies that you should buy depending on the case size are as follows:

  • ATX – most common form, is installed in most designs.
  • SFX – Small construction, special size for small PC cases
  • SFX-L – Similar to SFX, only a little deeper

Water cooling

Previously only traded in modder circles and among computer construction enthusiasts – today known as custom water cooling – it has been a household name since the so-called All-in-One water cooling (AiO) at the latest.

If you decide to cool your hardware with water, you have to consider several things when buying the case (everything that applies to AiO water cooling, also applies to custom water cooling. See the AiO more as a little brother does not do quite as much, but also involves less risk).

  • You need space. Even the smallest form of water cooling contains a heat sink that is placed on the hardware, hoses that come from the heat sink and lead into a radiator on which a fan is also located. And this combination of radiator and fan is usually the one that takes up the most space. Not every PC case offers enough space between the mainboard and the top of the case. Sometimes RAM bars are in the way and then the radiator has to move to the front, which in turn eliminates space for hard drives.
  • If you opt for custom water cooling, you will need even more space, because these also come with reservoirs in which the liquid is stored. The large housings in particular already contain mounting plates to which these reservoirs can be attached.
  • If there is not enough space, it is possible with custom water cooling to attach radiators to the outside of the housing. If you have to do that, make sure that the PC case has at least two, round, mostly rubberized openings on the back.

Fan

Many PC cases come with pre-installed fans. But often you want and should install additional fans so that the hardware gets enough cooling.

On the one hand, pay attention to the quality of the already installed fans, on the other hand, make sure that you have enough installation points for fans and radiators. The most common sizes for fans are 120mm and 140mm. Depending on the area of application, you may also want to install fans up to 230mm in size, but not every housing offers space for it.

Some cases also give you the option of installing fans inside and attaching them at an angle to direct the air exactly where it should arrive. For example, if you have installed a lot of hard drives, they can get warm quickly and then such a direct air flow inside is a great advantage.

Dust Filter

The biggest enemy of a computer, besides natural wear and tear, is dust. No matter how your PC is cooled, air has to go in and air has to go out and with air always dust comes in.

Many case manufacturers have long thought of installing easily removable dust filters that you can (and should) clean quickly with a vacuum cleaner, but some don’t seem to care about them yet.

If you value the longevity of your hardware, then make sure that the housing is ideally completely dust-protected and that you can get the dust filter cleaned easily. It is important that when your PC is back to the wall, a dust filter that can be removed from the front is a blessing.

RGB Lighting

Another term that falls more into the field of aesthetics than functionality is lighting with the aid of RGB LEDs. You have equipped your tempered glass PC case with the most beautiful water cooling system you could find and something is still missing?

Many housings already come with pre-installed RGB LEDs, which you can either control directly on the housing or with the help of software on some mainboards.

Make sure that there are currently many systems from different manufacturers on the market that do not necessarily have to harmonize with each other (NZXT Hue, MSI Mystic Light Sync, RGB Fusion, etc.). If you do not want to have any LED strips directly in the field of vision, make sure that there is enough space to hide them when buying the housing.

Our Picks: The Best PC Cases

Best Mini-ITX Cases

Best Micro-ATX Cases

Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L Micro-ATX Tower with Magnetic Design Dust Filter, Transparent Acrylic Side Panel, Adjustable I/O & Fully Ventilated Airflow, Black (MCB-Q300L-KANN-S00)
Edge to edge acrylic transparent side panel offers a full view inside; Body depth height: Can support normal size ATX power supply
$48.99
Cooler Master Silencio 452 Mid Tower Chassis (Black)
ATX, microATX; USB 3.0 x 2, USB 2.0 x 1, SD card reader (Class 10) x 1, Audio x 1, Mic x 1, Front I/O
$131.70

Best ATX Cases

Corsair CARBIDE 275R Mid-Tower Gaming Case, Tempered Glass- White (CC-9011133-WW)
Beautiful tempered glass side panel shows off your system in style; Clean and minimalist styling with soft accent lighting
$94.48
be quiet! Pure Base 600 Window Orange, BGW20, Mid-Tower ATX, 2 Pre-Installed Fans, Tempered Glass Window
Highly versatile, with repositionable HDD slots and removable ODD cage; Water cooling ready for radiators up to 360mm on front, top and rear
$109.99
Lian Li O11 Dynamic XL ROG Certified (Black) ATX Full Tower Gaming Computer Case
Case Type: ATX full tower; Front: tempered glass+aluminum; Side: Tempered glass; M/B Type: eeb(35. 5cm x 35. 5cm)/ ATX/ Micro-ATX
$204.00
Corsair Obsidian Series 500D RGB SE Premium Mid-Tower Case, 3 RGB Fans, Smoked Tempered Glass, Aluminum Trim, Integrated Commander PRO fan and lighting controller (CC-9011139-WW)
DIMENSIONS: 9.33: W x 19.69″ L x 19.96″ H; EXPANSIVE STORAGE SPACE: Easy-to-use mounts for up to two 3.5in HDDs and three 2.5in SSDs.
$289.90

Best EATX Cases

Sale
Phanteks Enthoo Pro Full Tower Chassis with Window Cases PH-ES614P_BK,Black
Dimension:235 mm x 535 mm x 550 mm (W x H x D); split-window design (PH-ES614P) and PSU cover
$119.99 −$20.00 $99.99
Cooler Master MCM-H500P-WGNN-S00 MasterCase Mesh White ATX Mid-Tower w/ Front Mesh Ventilation, 2x 200mm RGB Fans, Tempered Glass Side Panel And 2x Vertical GPU Card PCI Slots
A PSU shroud, CPU cut out cover and additional cable covers for clean cable management; Two additional PCI slots at the rear for vertical graphics card mounting
$179.99
Sale
be quiet! Dark Base PRO 900 Black Rev. 2, Full Tower ATX, 3 Pre-Installed Silent Wings 3 Fans, BGW15, Tempered Glass Window, RGB LED Illumination
Motherboard tray and HDD slots with enhanced possibilities for individual requirements; Three silent Wings 3 PWM fans
$269.00 −$15.30 $253.70

Last update on 2020-10-19 | Source: Amazon Affiliate