So, here it is – the moment when you need to buy a new PC case. At first sight, it seems to be nothing special or difficult at all. But if you do have such thought it means that you are either a real pro or a complete tyro.
Anyway, looking for a new computer case as well as anything else we want it to be first-grade, good-looking and at the same time affordable. But if the question of design and price is quite clear and simple, the quality issue is much more complicated.
Buying a new PC case we should be aware of all its technical details and know necessary terminology not to look like a fool while listening to the sales assistant’s speech or reading the goods description on the net. In order to help you make a right decision and select the cream of the crop, we prepared the ultimate list of the best PC cases currently available and a handy buying guide (below the list of PC cases) which will tell you everything you heed to know about PC cases on today’s market.
Best Full-Tower Cases
be quiet! Dark Base 900
Best silent PC case
Its silent excellence will be a perfect match for real enthusiasts who know what they are looking for. Dark Base 900 was designed according to the highest German standards. This computer case has a modular construction what makes it a versatile chassis with a removable motherboard tray and repositionable HDD slots.
There are three pre-installed SilentWings® 3 140mm PWM fans and four areas for water-cooling radiators, each with up to 420mm size on the top, front, back and base of the case. Its full circuit airflow system provides hefty noise-reducing vents all around the chassis. These features allow Dark Base 900 to host even E-ATX and XL-ATX boards. Thus, this PC case is also suitable for gaming purpose, as it has high-resolution gaming and multimedia systems.
- fully modular design
- build quality which includes tempered-glass side window
- reversible motherboard with 3 height settings
- many drive bays
- Qi wireless charger
- high price
- cable management needs improvement
- no air intake on the bottom
Cooler Master Cosmos C700P
Great Full Tower Case With RGB lighting
The COSMOS C700P is a premium Full Tower case with iconic aluminum handles, RGB lighting and flexible interior. The frame design offers the flexibility of a removable, rotatable, or inversed motherboard layout. The chassis comes with a PSU shroud and covers for clean cable management. The COSMOS C700P accommodates up to 360mm radiator on the top and 420mm radiator in the front.
- Flexible interior: removable, rotatable, inversed motherboard layout
- Iconic aluminum handles
- RGB lighting control
- Dual-curved tempered glass side panel
- Supports up to 420mm radiator
- SATA cables are difficult to plug in
- Glass side panel is plastic in some builds
Thermaltake View 71
Great Case With Vertical GPU Placement
The Thermaltake View 71 Tempered Glass RGB Edition Full Tower Chassis features excellent cooling support and expandability surrounded in tempered glass for a one of a kind view. Swing open full window tempered glass panels for easy access with all panels properly spaced for optimal airflow. Three 140mm Riing RGB fans, Vertical GPU mount and 3-Way radiator support are included in each build.
- 140mm Blue Riing Fan x 2 Pre-installed
- Great Design
- Vertical Radiator Viewing
- No PCI-e extension cable
Corsair Obsidian 750D
Stylish PC case
This full-tower computer case is aimed at building a powerful PC system. Corsair Obsidian 750D provides both air and water-cooling options. There are Dual 140mm front intake fans and a low-resistance mesh panel for quiet air-cooling performance, required by GPUs and DRAM. Its tool-free drive bays are removable, so you can easily control the chassis space.
It’s minimalist but at the same time, elegant exterior makes Corsair Obsidian 750D one of the best looking PC cases. What is more, it’s highly compatible as it supports E-ATX, ATX, Micro ATX, XL-ATX and Mini-ITX motherboards.
- cable management
- high compatibility
- modular drive cages
- innovative SDD brackets
- bottom radiator needs better clearance
- high price
- no air intake on the bottom
Phanteks Enthoo Pro
Good cheap PC case
Behind a brushed plastic and aluminum cover there is hidden a hefty engine for a first-grade computer system. Phanteks Enthoo Pro has good cooling features – 200mm fan in front and 140mm fan in the rear, and some extra space for additional fans.
There is also a multiple radiator support as well as improved cable management. This computer chassis provides closed HDD panel and removable SSD bracket. Besides, there are four USB ports. Phanteks Enthoo Pro can host ATX, EATX, mATX and SSI EEB motherboards.
- spacious interior
- improved cooling system
- good cable management
- not expensive
- 5-year warranty
- plastic cover
- inconvenient access to top fan filter
Cooler Master Cosmos II
Very durable PC case
Unlike the previous PC case, Cooler Master Cosmos II is much more expensive. This computer chassis looks very modern and stylish. Its exterior is made of brushed aluminum and steel what adds elegance to its general design. Besides, combination of such materials makes Cooler Master Cosmos construction strong as well.
This PC case has an optimized airflow design and can host up to 10 fans and 13 HDDs. What is more, there is an advanced control panel which includes 4-channel fan speed control. By the way, you can also choose a special edition of Cooler Master II devoted to the 25th company anniversary.
- huge interior
- fan controller
- improved cable management
- 10 expansion slots
- lots of cooling options
- good build quality
- supports USB 3.0
- no HPTX compatibility
Best Mid-Tower Cases
Fractal Design Meshify C
Mid-Tower With a Great Airflow
The Fractal Design Meshify C has angular asymmetry which carves a space uniquely its own as a new dominant force in high-airflow design. Tempered glass with a distinctive tint completes the stealth-inspired black-on-black aesthetic with exceptional style. A compact yet spacious open ATX layout ensures that heat is never an issue.
- Streamlined high-airflow design
- Mesh front panel maximizes air intake
- Tinted tempered glass side panel
- Tempered glass isn’t sturdy on some builds
Very Silent Mid-Tower Case
The NZXT H700i is a premium mid-tower case featuring a unique CAM Powered Smart Device that digitally drives RGB lighting and fan performance. With two 2.5″ steel trays behind the motherboard and two 3.5″ drive cages below the shroud, Adaptive Noise Reduction, four integrated Aer F fans, and two RGB LED strips to enhance the aesthetics of your build as seen through the H700i’s stunning tempered glass panel, the NZXT H700i is a powerful computer case.
- Up to 40% noise level reduction
- Easy fan control
- Good cable management
- Technical support can be very difficult to work with
Cooler MasterBox 5
Another great cheap PC case
Here you get one of the best good-looking mid-tower cases under $100. It has a steel construction with plastic mash bezel. For easy installation process Cooler MasterBox 5 has well placed cutouts, which also provide simple expanding of various interior configurations. Thus, you won’t face any difficulties while rearranging the internal layout in order to add air or water cooling.
As to the cooling system, there are three 120mm fans and four fans with the use of an optional front bracket. This PC case supports such motherboards as ATX, Micro ATX and Mini ITX. The case itself is quite spacious and allows mounting of SSDs and HDDs as well.
- spacious interior
- mart cable management
- bottom filter is hard to remove
Fractal Design Define R5
Good looking silent PC case
If you are looking for a PC case which won’t bother you with its noise then have a look at Fractal Design Define R5. It’s really one of the best silent computer cases. It is made of high-density noise-reducing material what minimizes noise usually caused by air and water cooling. With Fractal Design Define R5 you won’t have to choose between performance and silence.
There is advanced water cooling support and new two Fractal Design Dynamic GP14 140mm fans developed for superlative airflow. Besides, this case is provided with new tool-less ModuVent™ fan slot covers, which let you install more fans. Still, you can also keep them covered if you want to improve sound absorption.
- silent performance
- elegant design
- advanced water cooling and airflow
- adaptable HDD cage system
- cable management needs improvement
- only two fans included
Corsair ATX Carbide 400C
Anohter great looking PC case
Its gorgeous look will hypnotize you. But Corsair ATX Carbide 400C is good not only at design but its performance too. This compact PC case hides a range of great features to surprise you with. It provides tool-free drive installation and is easy to clean thanks to its three-point dust filter access. Besides, its window panel will let you get to all inner components just with a single touch.
Corsair ATX Carbide 400C has a durable construction as it’s made of steel only. This PC case is also silent but at the same time has good airflow. Though it looks compact in fact it can host full ATX motherboard and multiple GPUs. This also makes it a good gaming computer case.
- snazzy style
- durable construction
- reasonable price
- multiple dust filters
- no fan-controller bays
- no optical drive bays
- PSU cover and SSD mount are made of plastic
Zalman Z9 Neo
Very compatible PC case
This best cheap computer case can host such motherboards as ATX, Micro ATX and ITX. It has also got a nice compatibility – there are expansion clots for I/O, headphones, 3.0 and 2.0 USB. It’s equipped with water cooler as well.
Zalman Z9 Neo is quite expandable and can install up to 420mm high-performance VGA Card. It’s also a nice budget option for gamers as there is side smokey acryl tuning which allows the view of the gaming system interior.
- side window
- space for up to a 420mm graphics card
- support of different motherboards
- the front panel is hard to remove
- poor cable management
SilverStone Redline Series RL05
Great PC case on a budget
Here is one more budget PC case. SilverStome Redline Series RL05 has loads of room for video cards and other additional components. There is also an optimized airflow and flexibility within the case. The point is that this computer chassis has a good ventilation system which includes three intake fans and one exhaust fan on the back.
Its cable management isn’t perfect but more than just fine for such a low price. This PC case is compatible with four USB ports and has mic/headset jacks.
- improved airflow
- no bays for ODDs
- only three drive bays
Best Mini-Tower Cases
NZXT Manta ITX
Best looking ITX case
Soft lines make this PC case look compact and somewhat unusual. NZXT Manta ITX has a simple build, so the installation process won’t be difficult. Inside its steel panels, there is hidden dual 280mm liquid cooling support.
What is more, there is integrated PSU shroud to make the design even more elegant. There are also five fans and two expansion slots for extra components.
- durable construction
- advanced cable management
- big side panel window for an ITX case
- no tool-free mounting mechanism for HDD/SSD
- no optical drive support
Phanteks Evolv Shift X
One of the best cases under $200
With a full metal body, anodized aluminum panels, powder coated steel chassis, and tempered glass panels on both sides, the Phanteks Evolv Shift X computer case is a great-looking and powerful addition to any gaming stack. The Phanteks Evolv Shift X supports SFX and SFX-L power supply, has 2 USB 3.0 ports, and RGB button front ports.
- Full metal body
- 360 degrees of accessibility
- Cables are a tight fit
Fractal Design Define Nano S
Good PC case under $100
First of all, this PC case is under $100 what makes it affordable for a great number of customers. What is more, this computer chassis has sound dampening and ModuVent™ technology, which makes its performance really quiet. One more its advantage is improved cable management.
Nano S has good airflow and its filters are easy to clean. There are also 2 expansion slots and ITX motherboard compatibility
- can support powerful graphics cards
- large side panel window
- advanced cable management
- good dust filter
- GPU and PSU in close proximity
- big size for a mini-tower PC case
- no dust filter on the top
Cougar Case QBX
Another budget option
It’s probably the cheapest PC case on this list of best computer cases on today’s market. Cougar Case QBX supports high-end graphic cards, up to 4 SSD. It has got 7 fans with water cooling and one expansion slot.
Of course, it’s not the best PC case you can find but it’s great in concord with its low price. QBX has also got two USB ports and jacks for Audio HD. Besides, it can host a 120 mm AIO liquid cooler.
- low price
- reliable construction
- water-cooling options
- can support full-sized graphics cards
- Lacks dust filters on side panels
- PSUs are hard to find
SilverStone Milo ML08
Best compact PC case
This slim PC case can support graphics card up to 13 inches. It also has a tool-free drive cage design and great expansion slot for easy building. SilverStone Milo ML08 can host Mini-ITX motherboard and SFX PSU.
Here you’ll find smart airflow design and enough space for easy work with its inner components. Besides, in spite of its compact size ML08 can support a full-size graphics card.
- compact and light
- separate chamber for video card
- needs smaller more expensive sfx power supply
- can’t add fans
As you can see the modern market is rich in various PC cases of different sizes and with different options. So here is the guide to help you make the right choice.
All you need to know about PC cases before buying
1. ATX & ITX – what’s the difference?
Don’t panic if these abbreviations mean nothing to you. ATX, aka Advanced Technology eXtended, denotes a motherboard configuration specification or, simply put, a motherboard design. The most commonly used are Standard and Micro ATX boards. Standard ATX boards are 12×9.6 inches. As to Micro ATX, such motherboards can have the maximum size of 9.6×9.6 inches.
Another type of motherboard is Mini ITX of 6.7×6.7-inch size. Such boards are usually used in small-configured computer systems. There is also Mini ATX, which is slightly smaller than Mini ITX – 5.9×5.9 inches. One of the smallest form factors would be Nano ITX (4.7×4.7 inches) and Pico ITX (3.9×2.8 inches).
On the whole, the size of any PC case is determined by the board size it can support – usually big cases have larger motherboards and vice versa. But keep in mind that any computer case which hosts a motherboard with a bigger size can also support boards of smaller sizes.
Consequently, before selecting a computer chassis make sure what motherboard you would like to have in and then check whether a chosen PC case corresponds to your needs. If you are working on a powerful gaming machine you can find more details about suitable motherboards here.
2. Common form factors of PC cases
Obviously, all PC cases have different size and shape. Thus, there are special terms which denote these characteristics. The first one is desktop case. Such computer case has a horizontal design and is widely used in business environments in order to save the space as it can be easily placed under the monitor.
The next one is SFF, i.e. Small-Form-Factor. Well, the term speaks for itself – cases which belong to this category are more compact than desktop cases but at the same time have almost the same options. SFF cases support motherboards which are smaller than Micro ATX (usually these are mini ITX boards). They can look like shoeboxes, cubes, and book-sized cases. Thanks to such compact construction SFF cases are very popular with gaming and home theatre computers.
Some other terms which you can face while looking for a PC case include mini-tower, mid-tower and full-tower cases. Mini-tower cases are under about 14-16 in high, what coincides with the size of desktop cases. They usually have only one or two external bays and support micro ATX boards.
Mid-towers are about 17-21 in high and have from two to four external bays. And if mini-towers can host only one GPU, this type of cases can support up to two. Recently there has also appeared a new term – midi-tower, which presupposes a case smaller than mid-tower but larger than mini-tower. Midi-towers are with two to three external bays. Still, this term is quite interchangeable with mid-tower.
As to the full-tower cases, they have height from 22 to 27 in. Full-towers usually have from five to ten externally accessible drive bays and are supposed to stand on the floor. They support ATX, EATX or even XL-ATX motherboards. All towers which have more than 27 inches in height are called super or ultra towers.
We also can’t but mention MOD-tower. This is a case system which can be modified by putting new cases on its top in order, for example, to add more cooling capacity.
Nevertheless, we have to underline the fact that different manufacturers provide different definitions for their case forms. It’s all up to provider how to call its PC case models. Thus, always clarify the accurate size of computer case you want to purchase.
3. Drive bays
Driving bays can be of different size – 5.25-inch, 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch.The biggest one, i.e. of 5.25-inch format, is used with an optical drive. This can be either a DVD burner or a Blu-ray drive. Such bays are widely used for hosting of front-panel devices, e.g. temperature readouts or fan controllers. They can be also applied during the installation of additional panels for extra ports on PC front side. Such 5.25-inch bays are used in SFF or mini-tower cases.
The second type of drive bays is used for the installation of platter-style hard drives. Some of the tower cases have 3.5-inch bays. As to the 2.5-inch bays, they can be easily implemented even in the tiniest parts of the case thanks to their compact size.
4. Cutaway for CPU cooler
Obviously, your new PC case will host a cooler. Therefore, one of your tasks is to check how well a chosen computer case is adjusted for a CPU cooler you plan on buying. Note that most of the top-notch CPU coolers need a backing plate or other mounting hardware which is installed from the board underneath.
5. I/O shield
This part of PC is placed on the back of computer case. It has special cutouts for different ports of the board and serves as a protection of the motherboard while inserting cables to the pre-cited ports.
But bear in mind, that I/O shield comes together with a motherboard but not a case itself. Consequently, I/O shields aren’t interchangeable between different boards but they can be used for different PC cases because they have almost the same standard dimensions – 1.75×6.5 inches.
6. Motherboard tray and standoffs
First of all, let’s clarify what motherboard tray is. In fact, it’s just a place where a board is located. A motherboard tray is placed at the bottom of a computer case and has special holes for the motherboard standoffs. By the by, if earlier most of the trays were removable nowadays it’s quite an uncommon thing.
As to motherboard standoffs, these are small brass-looking spacers that you can find between a board and a case. Standoffs are screwed into the PC case and have a motherboard fixed to them. Note that they help to prevent an electrical short as they raise the board above the case and as a result, the soldered parts don’t contact it.
You can usually find these brass bits in a small bag which comes together with a PC case. Their installation is not complicated because there are special marks near the holes in the tray, which will help you to find a necessary hole for this or that standoff.
7. What is PSU?
PSU (Power Supply Unit) serves to traffic electricity to such computer components as motherboard, drives and fans. PSU looks like a big box and it’s typically placed either at the top or at the bottom of PC case. It is mounted by means of screws through the backside of the computer case with a special big-sized cutaway, which also plays a part in ventilation process.
Today most of the tower cases support ATX (i.e. full-sized) power supplies. Those PC chassis which belong to the category of compact SFF cases have PSU of SFX form factor, in other words, those of a smaller size.
PSU is one of the most important things for building powerful computers. But if you belong to the category of avid gamers then this element should be number one on your list as your PC will need more power than an average one. Here are some of the best power supply units for gaming.
8. Fan mounts
Fan mounts are surfaces inside a computer case, which are used for the installation of additional ventilation in your PC. They can be of different size – 80 mm, 92 mm, 120 mm, 140 mm and 200 mm. Still, 120-mm and 140-mm fan mounts are the most popular.
Some of PC cases have also got removable air filters, which cover the front face of the fan mounts. Such filter would be a great additional supplement to your PC case as it reduces the amount of dust inside a computer chassis.
9. GPU clearance
This term denotes a space your GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) needs to fit in your PC case. As many modern PC cases have removable parts GPU clearance can vary. For example, if hard drive trays in your computer case can be removed it means that the space required for a video card can be also extended.
Usually, if a GPU clearance has more than 12 inches then it will be able to support almost any video card. Still, be especially attentive with very long cards. The point is that their power connectors, which extend from the trailing edge, can require some extra space in your PC case.
10. Drive sleds and drive stealthing
Drive sleds are usually made of metal or plastic and look like frames which slide in/out of a drive bay. They are used mostly with 3.5-inch bays but can also cooperate with bays of 2.5-inch size. Some PC cases have drive sleds which allow the drive to contact a backplane system with SATA data and built-in power connectors. In this case, the drives are hot-swappable.
Some of today’s computer cases have also got drive stealthing which presupposes an optical drive hidden behind a door or panel in order to bring a smooth look to the PC-case front side.
Drive stealthing can be achieved in different ways. It can be done by means of drive-bay cover with a flip-down door, which allows the drive tray to pop out. The other option is more popular with PC cases of premium class. In such cases, there is a special slot for the optical drive where you just put a disc. This is achieved via a slot-loading and trayless optical drive mechanism.
11. Types of optical drive
Some high-grade PC cases can also require special types of optical drive – slim optical drive or slot-load optical drive. A slim optical drive is much smaller and more fragile than a typical 5.25-inch bay device. This optical drive is mostly used in laptops with SFF form factor. Slot-load optical drive is used in PC cases with drive stealthing, so it goes with a tray for a slot-feed mechanism.
12. PC case ports
Ports which are a part of computer case are usually called Front I/O. They can be placed on the front face, on the top front of PC case or down one of its sides. These ports can include headphone and mic jacks, USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports.
Your task is to make sure that your PC motherboard has all matching headers for ports of a new computer case. If it doesn’t then you’ll need to buy adapters or expansion cards in order to involve ports into the working process.
By the by, speaking of the headphone and microphone jack it should be mentioned that older and newer PC case models can have different connectors. Most of the computer chassis have a cable with a 10-pin header connector, which can be plugged into a pin-grid on the motherboard. It is also called “HD Audio” header. The older versions of PC cases usually have a forked cable provided with connectors for HD Audio and AC ’97 headers.
Some of the computer cases can also have two or four ports on the back of the case, which enable you to install water-cooling hardware inside the chassis. These ports stand usually in a line with silicone rim or a rubber. Such ports are called hose passthroughs.
13. Expansion slots
One more characteristic you should be aware of is the number of expansion slots supported by the PC case. Expansion slots are special spaces which can be found in the back of the case and are often covered by the metal strips, which can be removed. The number of such slots in the PC case can vary. But usually when the form factor of a case matches the size of the motherboard then you won’t have any troubles.
14. Thumbscrews and cables
Thumbscrews are used in order to keep together side panels of PC case and its inner hardware. The point is that thumbscrews may not require any screwdriver to add or remove different parts of a computer case. Still, very often it may not work and you’ll need to take a screwdriver for such changes.
Cable management denotes the number of special features a PC case possesses, which help to improve the airflow and make the interior look cleaner. It includes the number of cutaways, some extra space behind the board tray, quality of cable cutouts (whether they are lined with soft material in order to minimize the wire chafing or not) etc.
That’s it. Now you have enough knowledge to pick the PC case of your dreams.