Best Computer Case for Airflow:
Your computer generates a lot of heat. You need to keep your components as cool as possible to keep them working efficiently and to prevent damage. A standard case with one or two basic fans will serve the needs of the casual home or office user, but anything more demanding can result in excess temperatures. Combating serious heat takes more than adding fans; airflow depends upon strategically placed case openings and interior airflow paths as free as possible of clutter and corners. The cases on this list provide the best environment for gamers, overclockers, or anyone else who regularly pushes their PC to its limits.
The huge 230mm fan in the front dominates the design of Cooler Master's HAF X, but this premium airflow-focused case doesn't stop there. A dedicated duct for video cards, an oversized (140mm) exhaust fan in the back, and big and quiet 200mm fans on the side and top -- everything is engineered to minimize heat buildup on crucial high-performing PC components, while offering loads of expansion and customization potential for even more cooling power. Read Full Review »
The Nine Hundred Two V3 starts with a spacious PC case design that minimizes the places where heat can build up, using strategically-placed mesh panels and an effective fan combination: two front-mounted 120mm fans with integrated front-panel controls and removable air filters, another 120mm on the rear, and of course Antec's powerful (and surprisingly quiet) top-mounted 200mm "Big Boy" maximizes airflow. Read Full Review »
Before you even get to work with Cooler Master's HAF 932 Advanced, the name -- as well as the series' enduring popularity among overclockers and gamers -- assures you that this is a PC case designed to keep things cool. All four included fans (top, front, and side 240mm, rear 140mm) are bigger than the industry-standard 120mm, guaranteeing more airflow with less noise, optimized further by the carefully engineered placement of vents, mesh panels, and interior funneling. Read Full Review »
IN WIN's Dragon Rider is a more individual alternative to the more commonly-seen PC cases (Antec, Cooler Master, etc.) used by high-performance airflow enthusiasts. The mesh-studded striking looks highlight a spacious and open design that makes the most of four included fans (three standard 120mm fans on the top, front, and back, plus that giant 220mm LED side fan) with options for even more air movement. Read Full Review »
With the Gamma, NZXT has created an excellent option for the airflow-conscious PC builder who has cost and size concerns. The mid-tower Gamma is especially ideal for first-time builders or modders who are wary of carving up a $200+ PC case, or for those who need something more compact to expose to the risks of frequent travel (along with the convenient front-panel setup, this makes it uniquely perfect for LAN party people). Read Full Review »
Best Full Tower Case:
Serious PC builders and serious enthusiasts alike realize that the most options come from the biggest cases. A full-tower case will accommodate any combination of cutting-edge components, and provide the ideal interior environment for building and cooling (whether air or liquid). The obvious drawback is the sheer size of full tower cases, which demand a generous living space and limit (or eliminate) your PC's mobility. However, if only the biggest and best will do (and you don't plan on attending many LAN parties), a full tower case is the obvious choice.
The Corsair Obsidian Series 800D is an elegantly understated and intelligently engineered re-design of a number of PC case assumptions. A filtered bottom-intake fan draws fresh air through isolated (and conveniently spacious) motherboard, PSU, and HDD zones to exhaust from dedicated fans in the rear and top. With all the cutting-edge options that a modern PC needs and countless ways to make the process easier, Corsair may have made many PC builders dreams come true. Read Full Review »
Cooler Master has been quicker to update its HAF line with futureproofing features, making the HAF X a more forward-thinking choice than even their arguably more feature-packed ATCS or Cosmos cases. Even if you're not currently concerned with front panel USB 3.0 Read Full Review »
A perfect symbol of the exquisite simplicity at the heart of Lian Li's PC case design, the monolithic PC-A71F is a welcome change from side windows, garish LEDs, and questionable color schemes. It also happens to be one of the finest full-tower cases that a PC builder can work with, owing to the space, the cooling, and the compatibility with new and future components. Just be ready to explain what it is to every single person who sees it (and they will ask, you can count on it). Read Full Review »
Undoubtedly on anyone's short list of high-performance cases, the Antec Twelve Hundred steps forward with SSD and USB 3.0 to enter its V3 generation. You'll need a very good reason NOT to consider this PC case for your next cutting-edge build; the sheer pleasure of working inside such a conveniently roomy and reliably designed enclosure is only matched by the satisfaction that you'll get with the good looks, unlimited and up-to-date build options, and extreme cooling power. Read Full Review »
Although Cooler Master has higher-end cases, the HAF 932 is still a hugely popular choice for very good reasons: no other case offers as much cooling, ease of assembly, and options for expansion. The latest Advanced model leads the company's product line in embracing USB 3.0 and extra water cooling options, keeping the HAF 932 it a step ahead of even bigger and pricier PC cases. Read Full Review »
Best Midsize Tower Case:
Midsize computer cases are the most common size in the industry. They maintain a good size for all sorts of motherboard form factors, ample room for plenty of expansion cards, and many openings for 120mm fans. Midsize towers fill the needs of the computer enthusiast while preserving a relatively modest footprint. It is ultimately up to the buyer to determine whether airflow or quietness is a priority, but all the cases on this list are well constructed and loaded with features.
You'll pay a premium for the Obsidian Series 650D, but you get Corsair's flawless attention to detail as well as extra conveniences that no other mid size PC case offers. Powerful and quiet cooling, enthusiast-level build convenience and expandability, and futureproofed SSD and USB 3.0 integration is only a fraction of the long list of features that make the 650D the PC case to beat in the Mid Tower category. Read Full Review »
In the past, "for the price" usually followed "great" when discussing Rosewill's merits. However, the mid tower Blackhawk case is simply great, period. Great-looking, great to work with, great for installation and expansion potential, and simply exceptional when it comes to cooling. Read Full Review »
A prime example of Lian Li's well-known elegant simplicity, the PC-Z60 backs up the clean perfection of its looks with flawless build quality and plenty of extras. As long as you don't count the PC-Z60's premium price against it, you have a perfect contender for the best mid tower PC case. Read Full Review »
Although the unique dark style of the Antec DF-85 makes it perfect for gamers, the features and build quality will satisfy anyone looking for a full-featured, cutting-edge PC case. Antec has proven that mid tower cases can achieve the kind of expandability and airflow that you'd only expect from the big boys. Read Full Review »
NZXT has seriously expanded its potential customer base; while still offering the nice price point of its previous gamer-oriented designs, the H2 is a versatile and quiet mid tower PC case with impressive build quality and performance potential. Unless you need an extreme style that demands attention (and there's nothing to prevent modders from making it utterly unique), there is virtually no reason not to consider the H2 a compelling option -- even compared to the majority of full tower cases as well. Read Full Review »
Best Mini Tower Computer Case:
Mini Tower PC cases offer the benefits of smaller size, making them ideal for cramped and cluttered living or working conditions. These cases utilize Micro ATX (or sometimes Mini ITX) motherboards and dispense with many of the additional drive bays and card slots offered by bigger cases. Unfortunately, this also often puts them out of the running for the performance and gaming crowd -- who might very well benefit most from the extra portability of mini towers. However, a handful of manufacturers have come up with mini tower case designs that preserve high performance potential as well as address the common mini tower limitations on airflow and interior space.
Lian Li's PC-A04 pulls off the near-impossible feat of making MicroATX desirable in every way. An elegantly simple exterior reveals high-end features, details, and options that you simply won't find in other mini towers (or, for that matter, in most PC cases of any size). For builders, it's a joy to work with -- and for gamers and enthusiasts, it can handle nearly anything you want to put in it. Read Full Review »
Nobody does small form factor better than Lian Li, and the PC-V354 almost effortlessly banishes concerns about size versus compatibility and cooling -- while sneaking in a number of unexpected extras (USB 3.0, card reader, fan control, etc). Whether your goal is a PC case that is portable, fits in a crowded space, or shows off your understated design savvy. Read Full Review »
Whether you need a LAN box or a low-profile gaming solution, the Thermaltake ARMOR A30 makes a MicroATX/Mini -TX system a tempting possibility again. Offering support for the newest components and the cooling to keep them safe, this mini tower also stands out because of its modular solution for the build process. Read Full Review »
Silverstone designed the third generation of the Fortress Series to provide mini tower builders with as much space as possible, and achieved intelligent airflow and an attractive clean style in the process. The flexibility of the design means that you'll have access to a wide range of high-end components to build a powerful and portable gaming or multimedia PC, while always looking perfectly at home in the office or living room. Read Full Review »
You have to hand it to IN WIN for making a true gamer/enthusiast PC case within such a limited size and price range. The Dragon Slayer has enough looks, build quality, and extra features to put it far ahead of nearly any other microATX tower -- the cutting-edge SSD and USB 3.0 support alone keep it well ahead of the pack. Read Full Review »
Best Mini-ITX Case:
Many people need to fit their desktop PC or server in a very small space, and many need to bring it with them. However, the smaller your case, the less expansion options and airflow potential -- something that gamers and other high-end PC enthusiasts know all too well. However, that hasn't stopped case manufacturers from rising to the challenge -- and a select few have produced PC case that house the tiny mini-ITX motherboards but offer huge performance potential, effective cooling, and the sturdiness to withstand the rigors of the road.
It's a tough call between Lian Li's PC-Q08 and PC-Q11; both provide reliable, handcrafted build quality, and plenty of space and airflow for high-performance mini-ITX builds -- not to mention the kind of good looks that work for home, office, or gaming environments alike. However, the extra cooling and 'cool' of the PC-Q08 nudge this case ahead by a brushed aluminum hairline. Read Full Review »
Next to the PC-Q11, nearly any other mini-ITX case will look like a cheap toy. Lian Li has made it very possible to build an enthusiast-level PC with an extremely small space requirement; it's easy to call it cute until you realize all that it can do, and (thanks to the modern features and build quality) keep doing for quite some time. Read Full Review »
The tough and resourceful Cubitek Mini Tank is ideal for high-performance mini-ITX builds. The cooling, video card and CPU heatsink clearance, and cutting-edge expansion options make this a great LAN party case, but anyone who needs to fit high-end hardware into a smaller space will appreciate all the Mini Tank has to offer. Read Full Review »
Although micro ATX compatibility means that the Thermaltake ARMOR A30 is larger than most mini-ITX-specific cases, this also means more room for cutting-edge components, and more airflow potential -- which, in turn, means that the A30 is far more suited to the higher temperatures that gamers and enthusiasts will encounter. Read Full Review »
The attractively minimalist and reliable Fractal Design Array R2 is great for small server or NAS use, and can work very nicely for a portable general-purpose Mini ITX PC -- but only if you don't need front panel connections or a built-in optical drive. Read Full Review »
Best Quiet Computer Case:
PCs make noise. Cooling fans and other necessary moving parts work together to raise unwanted sound levels to distracting or downright annoying levels. Whether in the home or office, many people actively seek to eliminate as much noise as possible -- an the first, most crucial step is the case. Unfortunately, much of the noise comes the fans that are serving an essential purpose -- to keep hard-working components cool. Choosing a solid, well-built case over a cheap rattling tin box is a good start, but many cases are especially designed with soundproofing panels, vibration-dampening component mounts, and fans that can move air without straining eardrums.
The Thermaltake Level 10 GT scores for unique appearance, future-proofed cutting-edge compatibility (including USB 3.0 ports and plenty of room for SSDs), and expertly engineered cooling. Somehow, the Level 10 GT also manages to do this while being one of the quietest full-tower cases on the market, even when overclocked or otherwise pushed hard in high-performance situations. Read Full Review »
When a full tower is a little too much, the NZXT Classic Series H2 is the clear choice for silence, but don't let that throw you -- the H2 is an excellent and versatile performer whether size matters or not. Many quiet PC aficionados rely upon the H2 as the standard for what is possible from a reasonably priced yet full-featured and thoroughly modern PC case. Read Full Review »
The Antec Solo II is an extremely quiet PC case, and can be made even more so with careful component and cooling equipment selection. Just be advised that the usual trade-off of 'heat vs. silence' is in full force here; if you're overclocking with cutting-edge video cards and high-end CPUs (easily accommodated in the forward-thinking design of the Solo II), you're bound to see your temperatures rise alarmingly. But for situations where minimal noise (and minimalist design) is crucial, the Solo II makes an excellent choice. Read Full Review »
An obvious choice for silence, the Cooler Master Silencio 550 is also quietly good-looking in style. Soundproofing and quiet fans keep noise levels nearly non-existent, while providing a case that can handle the full range of cutting-edge components. Most home or office users will never need anything more -- although serious enthusiasts may need to install additional cooling to accommodate the necessarily reduced airflow. Read Full Review »
Although comparing HTPC cases to Full or Mid Tower cases is generally discouraged, SilverStone's Grandia GD05 belongs on this list because the home theater environment is one of the chief places where the acoustic properties of a PC are of utmost importance. With solid acoustic construction and remarkably silent fans, the GD05 is by far the best place to start when building a silent HTPC system, in addition to ranking among the very best in HTPC cases for looks, compatibility, cooling, and build convenience. Read Full Review »
Best Cheap Computer Case:
When you're weighing the costs of a new PC, it's tempting to focus on big ticket items (such as cutting-edge video cards and CPUs), and save on 'lesser' things like PC cases. But whether your budget for a PC case is counted in the hundreds or merely the dozens, there is simply no reason to house crucial components in a truly 'cheap' case. You can keep costs low and still get sturdy construction, effective cooling, and plenty of options to make the most of your high-performance hardware -- often by looking past the biggest case sizes and the biggest brand names.
If you put down your list of 'must-haves' for a mid tower PC case, and added your 'dream features' for good measure, you'd still fall short of everything that the Rosewill Blackhawk offers. In every way, this is a premium PC case for a budget price point -- ideal for cost-conscious gamers as well as picky enthusiasts alike. Read Full Review »
The Lian Li name virtually guarantees a quality build experience and attention to detail, and none of this is lost in the Lancool line. The PC-K57 is a worthy competitor to most companies' high-end PC cases, and -- with sturdy construction and amazing airflow -- makes a suitable and safe home for even the most cutting-edge hardware. Read Full Review »
The NZXT Classic Series H2 is certainly on the short list for quiet PC aficionados, but that's only part of the appeal. Even taking the mid tower's smaller size and lower cost out of the picture, NZXT has clearly outdone themselves in offering enthusiast-class features, dependable build quality, and plenty of room for future expansions. Read Full Review »
At approximately one-third of our 'budget range' cutoff, the NZXT Gamma offers premium-quality cooling potential and expandability. Builders will be pleased with the amount of room there is to work inside this case (especially considering that the Gamma is a mid tower), as well as high-end extras like water cooling options and CPU access. Read Full Review »
Some PC cases fail to stand the test of time, but the Antec Nine Hundred is still going strong. Missing out on a few modern details will be the only concession that you'll have to make to get premium construction, cooling, and space for an extremely reasonable price. Read Full Review »
Best Case for Water Cooling:
The more performance that you demand from your PC, the more heat you'll generate -- and the greater the probability of component damage. For many serious gamers and quiet PC enthusiasts, even the best airflow is simply not enough. Water cooling or liquid cooling can provide lower-than-room temperatures, as well as reducing or eliminating the need for noisy fans. Although a number of PC cases can be easily customized to accommodate the necessary pumps, blocks, radiators, and tubing, some are much more accommodating than others -- and a growing number of cases have been specifically designed with water cooling in mind. This list primarily considers how convenient it is to install a liquid cooling system in the case, as well as the overall quality and value of the case.
Don't be misled by the "High Air Flow" designation; the latest version of Cooler Master's immensely popular HAF 932 model is an ideal option for water cooling. The exceptionally roomy case comes standard with mounts for the largest internal radiators, handy grommets in the back for tubing, and an elegantly convenient top-mounted port for filling your reservoir. Read Full Review »
Unlike its (few) competitors, Thermaltake has made no sacrifices to quality in providing a PC case with a fully-integrated ready-to-go water cooling system. The Level 10 GT LCS is a perfect choice If you're looking for the benefits of liquid cooling with a minimum of modding. Read Full Review »
Antec's Dark Fleet DF-85 is undoubtedly a killer gaming case, but the potential for water cooling puts it over the top. The helpfully pre-installed rear grommets and multiple useful radiator locations make it a liquid cooling project waiting to happen. Read Full Review »
A high-quality and roomy mid-tower PC case, the Corsair Obsidian Series 800D provides an ideal starting place to design your ultimate water cooling system. Right out of the box, you get a roomy case with options for a top-mounted single, dual, or triple radiator as well as the essential rear grommets pre-installed. Read Full Review »
The Silverstone Temjin Series TJ11 may be the only case that comes standard with built-in support for a 4X140mm radiator. You also get dual PSU mounting, individual compartments for intelligent heat zone isolation, and plenty of sheer space. While pricey, nearly any other PC case will seem like a glorified lunchbox after you've worked with the TJ11. Read Full Review »