Table of Contents
- What Is an ATX Case?
- What Is a MicroATX Case?
- What Is a Small Form Factor ATX Case or Mini-ITX Case?
- Which Case Should I Choose?
- Top 5 Smallest Full ATX Cases
- Top 5 Smallest Mid-Tower Cases
- Top 5 Best Compact Mid-Tower Cases
- Top 5 Smallest MicroATX Cases
- What To Look for When Choosing the Smallest ATX Cases
Newbies to the computer world might be taken aback by the sheer variety of hardware involved in setting up a decent machine. The details can be overwhelming in most cases but fret not; we are here to help. If you’ve ever wondered what PC cases are and what do form factors mean, then read on to learn about them.
People often use terms like ATX to distinguish different types and sizes of motherboard panels. However, they also use these terms to highlight the cases that support such motherboards. In this article, we will use the terms ATX cases or microATX cases to refer to PC cases that support said motherboard types.
ATX motherboards are the biggest of the lot, measuring in at 12 x 9.6 inches, followed by microATX, which can be up to (but sometimes less than) 9.6 square inches. And then finally, mini-ITX boards measure up at 6.7 square inches. The PC cases are often named after the boards they can support.
Typically, a bigger case supports bigger boards and vice versa, but this does not apply in every case. Most cases can also support multiple motherboard sizes since larger boards are also compatible with smaller boards. But you must ascertain this beforehand.
What Is an ATX Case?
Developed by the veterans of the computer world, Intel, ATX stands for Advanced Technology eXtended. This is the most commonly used motherboard and case type. Full form ATX cases are the biggest of the lot, and most ATX cases also offer support for smaller motherboard types.
Owing to their size, ATX cases are well ventilated and can support multiple cooling fans. This makes them ideal for maintaining the internal homeostasis of your computer. However, larger cases also require significant free space to be housed with ease.
What Is a MicroATX Case?
Just as microATX motherboards are smaller than the standard ATX types, the cases are also smaller. These cases are compact and mostly sought by gamers seeking to create a gaming ensemble but on a limited budget.
These cases are a bit bigger than the mini-ITX cases but are more affordable, often available at just a fraction of their cost. For gamers on a tight budget, microATX cases are the most economical choice and offer a great deal of customizability and personalization.
What Is a Small Form Factor ATX Case or Mini-ITX Case?
Mini-ITX cases are the smallest of the three. These cases are often a part of home entertainment systems. They offer a lot of exclusive advantages, like having a compact build, noise reduction, and minimal power input requirements.
The cooling mechanisms are of a different nature for the smaller size, allowing the CPU and sister components to perform at their best. These cases are also suitable for creating an excellent gaming system. However, the compactness will cost you more than what you would pay for a microATX case.
Which Case Should I Choose?
There is no clear answer when choosing between ATX, microATX, or mini-ITX cases. It all comes down to what you want to do with your computer. Consider the following three scenarios and learn how certain cases are suitable for specific situations.
Low-Budget Gaming PC
For a low-budget gaming PC, microATX cases are the best. These motherboards are smaller than the standard ATX boards, and the cases don’t require high-end hardware. If you put in a decent graphics card, memory units, and a reliable processor, the system will work just fine. MicroATX motherboards have more or less of the same features as the standard version. However, for a low-budget gaming PC, you won’t be needing those features anyway.
High-End Gaming PC
The standard ATX case is your answer if you’re looking to put together a high-end gaming system. You can put in multiple graphics cards, and the ATX motherboard will allow you to overclock the processor, pushing the system to perform at its peak. Hence, for full functionality, ATX is better than the alternative options.
Small Form Factor PC
For creating a smaller, compact PC, a mini-ITX case would be ideal. The design of these cases helps to minimize the footprint of your system. Mini-ITX cases may be small, but they have a decent array of features and hardware compatibility. These cases are also effectively ventilated by smaller by strategically placed cooling fans. All in all, they are suitable for saving space.
Top 5 Smallest Full ATX Cases
Here are our picks for some of the most sought after and smallest full ATX cases available in the market as of 2020:
The case by Cooler Master is an ideal choice for keeping your system cool even during intense video-gaming sessions or any activity that demands high processor power. The case also offers ATX motherboard support. The finely crafted model has a design that promotes easy and unabated airflow through the framework.
The frame excels at keeping the system up and running. It prevents overheating, which can not only cut down your computer’s performance but also damage the processor. The strategic placement of the fans helps to target the centers of heat, relieving the hardware components from thermal attacks.
The overall design is unique in every way, and consumers have praised it. They also took note of and praised the effective cooling mechanism. It has dual swappable drive bays, another handy feature if you feel like having multiple drives. Hardcore video-gamers and those who use their system extensively will most appreciate the sleek design, effective cooling, and dual-drive bays.
- Dual swappable drive bays
- ATX motherboard support
- Sleek and compact design
- Multiple fans located strategically to target heat centers
- Unabated airflow mechanism
The Cooler Master HAF XB EVO offers optimal cooling, USB ports, dual swappable drive bays, two fans placed to target heat centers, and is pretty simple to install. If you like to use your computer intensively and can invest in this ultimate ATX case, then it is a pretty worthwhile deal.
This Corsair case effectively blends both air and water cooling to counter heat buildup. It allows heat to dissipate with ease. The structure allows you to mount as many as six fans and a radiator on the frontal portion to target any heat cores. All of this allows adequate airflow through the case and flushes out the heat before it can build up and affect performance.
The effective cable management system has also attracted praise from consumers. It eliminates any possible confusion between wires when servicing the unit and also makes installation simpler. The windows and fan filters not only allow air to flow through easily but also keep debris and dust from accessing the core components. It will require regular cleaning, nevertheless, to keep the system in top shape.
Overall, the design is quite excellent, compact, and optimal. It allows you to manage the cables effectively, get rid of that dreadful tubing, and set up a neat system in no time. The string cooling system also guarantees that your computer will run smoothly for a longer duration. The side is see-through, owing to the transparent panel, allowing you to assess the internal situation effectively.
- Water and air cooling systems
- Attachable fans and radiators
- Built-in cable management system
- Transparent side panel
- Fan filters present to prevent dust accumulation
The Corsair Carbide Series Air 540, though a bit pricey (but not as much as some high-end products), is a decent pick nevertheless. The see-through panel on the side is an excellent addition and becomes better if the internal components have colorful LEDs attached to them. If you value effective cooling, compact design, and easy installation, then this unit is for you.
The Cooler Master MasterBox TD500 is another example of an ATX case with a transparent side panel. It allows you to monitor the internal state continuously. If you are the sort of person who likes to attach LED lights with the components inside, this feature will become all the more pleasant. Aesthetic appeal aside, the crystalline tempered glass panel will also allow you to determine when your system needs a cleanup.
The airflow is also worth praising. The system’s design allows air currents to flow through the case and cool off the internal components. The effective cooling mechanism, combined with an unrestricted airflow, maintains a nearly constant temperature inside. The heat dissipation is impressive, allowing prolonged usage of the machine.
The built-in PSU dust filter is another feature worth mentioning. This extra layer of protection keeps dust and particulate matter from entering the system and messing with the internal components. The price tag, however, is on the higher side than most other products mentioned on this list. Overall, the case is high-quality, efficient, visually appealing, and highly functional.
- Transparent crystalline tempered glass panel window
- PSU dust filter
- Effective airflow mechanism
- Support for up to seven fans
- Built-in cable-routing mechanism
The Cooler Master MasterBox TD500 is a good option for many users. The transparent side panel is a nice touch, and the combined air and water cooling systems make it an option worth considering. Though there are no high-end traits, it is still a worthy investment, considering the features offered.
If you enjoy prolonged sessions of video-gaming and want to keep your computer up and running in pristine shape and at peak performance, then this case is worth considering. The assembly is satisfactory and does not involve much hassle. Overall, you can install it in no time with relative ease. The case allows connection with input devices via several dedicated ports. The case offers some ports at the front: USB 3.0 (one port), USB 2.0 (one port), and HD Audio (headphone and mic ports). A lower chamber hosts the PSU filter, which aids in keeping the interior dust-free.
The Thermaltake Versa H22 is an easy-to-install and highly efficient ATX case. It keeps your system perfectly organized and cool during your video-gaming sessions. The perforated top and front panel do an excellent job of enhancing the airflow through this case. It comes with a 120mm rear fan pre-installed, and you also have the option of adding two more 120mm front fans to increase the system’s cooling capabilities further.
This case offers a great deal of flexibility to the users, and it provides tool-free installation, which makes customization hassle-free. You can assemble it according to your specific needs. You can mount radiators and cooling fans to flush out the excess heat residue, allowing the system to operate optimally for longer. This makes the case ideal for video-gamers who yearn for endless hours of digital adventure.
- The case offers support for ATX motherboards
- PSU filter included
- Pre-installed 120mm rear fan
- You can mount radiators and cooling fans
- Easy to install and assemble
You can assemble this affordable option to your liking. The Thermaltake Versa H22 offers sufficient airflow and cooling and is easy to install. If you are an avid video-gamer, this model will appease you, and so will the price tag associated with it.
Perhaps LEDs are not your deal, and you like simple but effective models that get the work done. You might be considering a model that is not flashy but does a decent job of keeping things cool and working optimally. If that is the case, then the Corsair Carbide 400C is a good option for you. The cable management system of this model works like a charm, allowing you to sort the wires without any trouble.
The window panel is hinged and latched; all you have to do is press once to access the interior. The window panel not only allows direct access for maintenance, but it also makes cleaning up and servicing much more straightforward. The sleek design accentuates the effectiveness of its structure, which promotes significant air passage. With cooling fans mounted, it can also dissipate heat until there’s none left.
The case is capable of housing liquid cooling systems, which means that the components inside will be free from any threat of heat buildup, which can adversely affect performance. Moreover, you can add filters on the top and the bottom to prevent dust and particulate matter from building up in the system. All in all, it is an affordable and decent option.
- Liquid cooling feature available
- Window panel allows direct access to the interior
- Maintains steady airflow
- You can easily tuck cables away
The Corsair Carbide 400C offers all that you can want from an ATX case, including a sleek design, being easy to clean, and effective in heat dissipation for optimal performance. The price tag is also affordable, making it a decent purchase for anyone.
Top 5 Smallest Mid-Tower Cases
Are you looking for the perfect mid-tower case that is compact and effective? Well, look no further. Here, we’ll unveil our top picks for the smallest mid-tower cases on the market.
As part of the smart series by NZXT, the H710i has a lot to offer. Most important of all, it will modernize your system’s ensemble. This mid-tower case is both clean and simple. It is ultra-convenient to use and looks pretty decent too. It has evolved some new features and addressed from previous shortcomings that users pointed out in the preceding entries, but also costs a little more than those old models. With NZXT H710i, you can mount your GPU vertically using the PCle riser. Moreover, the USB-C port located on the front panel is also a welcome addition.
The transparent side panel allows users to feast their eyes on the elegant display of twinkling lights from the integrated LEDs fit with the cooling fans. These lights are entirely programmable via the exclusive NZXT CAM software, which not only allows users to customize the shades but also the patterns of these twinkling beams (and even the fan speed). The system has an excellent cooling system, based around airflow pathways running along the perimeter of the case and aided by four pre-installed 120mm cooling fans.
The cable management system, which uses dedicated channels to pass cables through and pack them effectively, is worth praise. This system ensures that the interior, which is always visible, looks at its finest, and remains clutter-free.
- Supports ATX, microATX, mini-ITX, and E-ATX
- Transparent side panel
- Four pre-installed LED integrated cooling fans
- Built-in cable-routing system
- Vertical GPU mounting
The NZXT H710i is a highly versatile, well designed, and practical mid-tower case. This model is an excellent example of smart computer cases that have entered the market with a boom. The best aspects of this option are its effective cooling and cable-routing mechanisms.
If you are looking for the best case that money can buy, Cooler Master may have just what you need. This elegantly crafted and skillfully designed mid-tower case has the looks deserving praise in a poet’s ode from the future. The anodized aluminum frame, perfected with a sand-blasted finish, gives the model a futuristic look, much like a sci-fi gadget from the Alien franchise (the reboot sequence).
The vertical chimney design not only looks good but works flawlessly with MasterCase SL600M. The rearrangement of the components has given the GPU direct access to the ventilation cross-breeze, allowing it to cool off instantly. The improved airflow is largely responsible for the effectiveness of the cooling system installed inside this case. This makes it all the more suitable for video-gaming since the GPU is an integral part of the gaming ensemble.
However, the CPU will have to tolerate a teeny tiny bit of heat buildup. Nothing serious, but when compared to the GPU, it’s a pickle. You get all the high-end features you’d expect from the best varieties available in the market, in this case. The noise reduction feature is also praiseworthy, which will allow you to enjoy the experience without any distractions.
- Multiple drive bays
- Compatibility with ATX, microATX, and mini-ITX
- Chimney tower design
- Aluminum frame with sand-blasted finishing
- Noise reduction system
The Cooler Master SL600M is a high-end computer case with some of the most advanced features packaged in an elegant frame, but it does cost just as much.
Though this case is a bit larger than some other mid-tower cases, it deserves a place on this list owing to its skillfully executed design. This model sets itself apart through its effective airflow pattern that keeps the interior cool and working at an optimal rate. The heat-producing components of the system, such as the CPU and the GPU, are specifically targeted to dissipate any residual heat buildup.
The comparatively spacious interior is also a significant reason for why airflow is better than smaller models. Two preinstalled RGB LED integrated 200mm cooling fans work together to create a perfectly serene interior. The twinkling beams of the LEDs are also a pleasant sight, which accentuates the perfect job they are doing. The USB 3.1 port is one of the several modern touches this case offers, and you can choose between a glass-made or mesh panel for the front.
The only imperfection in an otherwise perfect case is the lack of removable filters for the fans. Of course, the mesh layer has a secondary filter layer embedded in it, which can get the job done nicely, but there is still a need for primary filters. In any other model, this would not have been an issue but owing to H500M’s superior airflow, filters have acquired unprecedented importance. All in all, it is a modernistic and highly functional case that makes up for its bigger size by being among the best of its kind.
- Two preinstalled cooling fans
- LED lights integrated
- USB 3.1 port
- Glass-made and mesh front panel available
- The design promotes airflow
The Cooler Master MasterCase H500M offers the ultimate solution to video-gamers with its superior airflow and modern technology, which is much sought after, but for a price.
Lian-Li PC-011 is a shorter and more compact option for people with limit vertical space or those who prefer not to have a tall “column-like” pc case. This mid-range model is not only well designed but is very cost-effective as well. Out of the only two PC cases Razer designed, this model is the clear winner. The see-through panel consists of tempered glass, and you can open up the case with ease to access the inside hardware.
The setup process is not very complicated. However, for most DIY-ers, having no explicit instructions can make the process mind-numbingly tedious, especially if it’s their first time. The case is also available in a superior, Razer edition which costs more than the vanilla version but comes with the exclusive Synapse 3 lighting software. This software allows you to control and customize the integrated LED lights according to your preference.
- Supports E-ATX, ATX, microATX, and mini-ITX variants
- Two USB 3.0 ports
- Vanilla and Razer versions
- Synapse 3 lighting software (Razer version only)
- Integrated LEDs
Lian-Li PC-011 is a compact and stubby mid-tower case. Though it may not be the most high-end option in the market, it is cost-effective, functional, and decent-looking.
This entry from iBUYPOWER may not attract many looks from the audience at first, but there is a reason that it made it to this list. The side panel may look like a tempered glass window, but it is, in reality, an LED screen that works just as if it were a monitor screen. You can set wallpapers and effects to show up on the screen. However, apart from this perk, this is an average product.
The cable management is praiseworthy, much like that of NZXT, ensuring that the interior remains clutter-free and cleaning up is simpler. There are fewer fan mounts than needed; this makes the airflow a bit subpar, and hence the case is not suited for intense video-gaming. The case is more about aesthetics than high-end performance, meaning it is suitable for only a narrow audience spectrum.
- LED screen instead of a tempered glass panel
- Compatible with ATX, microATX, and mini-ITX
- NZXT-like cable management
- Four drive bays
- Two USB ports
If you are looking for aesthetics, then the iBUYPOWER Snowblind Element option is worth considering.
Top 5 Best Compact Mid-Tower Cases
Hang tight as we unveil our top picks for the best compact mid-tower cases of 2020.
The twin Aer F fans are the ultimate cooling solution for this mid-tower case. Having two fans targeting the heat cores of your system enables easy and effective heat dissipation and retains the functional excellence of your system. Overheating is a constant threat to your system. Not only can it slow down your system, but it may also have long-lasting effects on your CPU. However, with NZXT H500, you don’t have to worry about it.
This mid-tower case supports ATX, microATX, and mini-ITX type motherboards, making it highly versatile and suitable for various system integrations. The glass side panel allows you to look inside the system without having to rip apart the casing (it’s a joke, don’t try that). If you like to integrate LED lights with your hardware, you will surely enjoy the Christmassy twinkles radiating from your CPU.
The frame is highly durable and sturdy. It consists of premium quality steel, except for the side panel, which is glass. The internal cable management system is also highly compact and convenient, allowing you to place the wires without confusing them for one another. There are two dedicated USB 3.0 ports, several SSD trays, and seven expansion slots, giving you the ultimate PC performance options for video-gaming and almost anything else.
- Offers support for ATX, microATX, and mini-ITX type motherboards
- Two Aer F cooling fans
- Two USB 3.0 sots
- Several SSD trays
- Seven expansion slots
- Transparent side panel
NZXT H500 is a high-end mid-tower case that ensures optimal performance of your CPU, keeps the system clean, dissipates the heat, and manages the components effectively. If you are an avid video-gamer who uses the system to its fullest potential, this option is worth considering.
What can beat the cooling effect of two fans? We’ll tell you what: three fans. This is precisely what Thermaltake V200 offers. This RGB mid-tower case is cooled by not one, not two, but three light fans. If you like to play immersive modern video-games like Resident Evil 3 Remake or Battlefield 1, but can’t invest much, then this option is perfect for you.
It offers all that you could want from a high-tech device (although not at the same level), but at a lower cost. The transparent side panel also gives it a sci-fi-like vibe, and fans of Doom and Dead Space are going to dig this model. Not only does it perform well, but the design itself gives the impression of a perfect gaming system. It has outperformed several competitors to be on this list.
The RGB LED system is another feature worth mentioning. This area is only suitable for video-game enthusiasts, as with the rest of the ensemble, and it also gives it a unique aesthetic appeal. The technology that went into making the case is top-notch and nothing less impressive than the looks it boasts. A sophisticated and high-tech I/O panel, modern hardware support, five drive bays, and seven expansions all merge to give you the ultimate performance.
- Offers support for ATX, microATX, and mini-ITX type motherboards
- Includes five drive bays and seven expansions
- Three USB panels, one for 3.0 and two for 2.0
- RGB LED lights
- Three cooling fans
Thermaltake V200 is the perfect option for low budget video-gamers, who like a sci-fi type design, peak performance, and an effective cooling system.
We are not done with low budget video-gaming options, and for this entry, the name says it all. The Rosewill mid-tower gaming case is one of the most affordable models on the market. This is a video gamer’s dream, especially if they can’t afford to dole out their savings. This model has all the looks and the performance to have made it on this list, and where it falls short, it even makes up with its price.
The case consists of three pre-installed 120mm fans placed strategically to target the heat centers of the system. Heat buildup is a constant threat to gaming PCs, and without confronting this menace, it is impossible to enjoy your favorite titles unabated. Hence, the fans ensure that the computer’s processors never overheat, allowing you to take on one challenge after the next in your favorite RPG without delay.
The case is compatible with ATX, microATX, and mini-ITX type motherboards, allowing you to set up your system based on your preferences. The performance, already made excellent with compatibility for high-quality hardware, can be further invigorated by several expansion slots. It is one of the most economical models on the market to support optical drives, and its performance is also generally appraisable.
- If can support ATX, microATX, and mini-ITX type motherboards
- Four USB ports, two for 2.0 and two for 3.0
- Three pre-installed cooling fans
- Optical drive compatibility
- Six drive days and seven expansions
Rosewill’s NAUTILUS mid-tower gaming case is undoubtedly a steal for its price tag. This gaming case is the ultimate answer for those seeking performance but at an affordable rate.
For performance seekers, Corsair’s Crystal 570X mid-tower case is the perfect solution. This gorgeous case adopts a minimalistic approach but takes the edge with its versatility and customizability. Owing to its unique design and hardware, the case has earned its place on our top list. Corsair Crystal 570X has a steel frame with see-through window panels on all sides, therefore, allowing you to take a look at whatever is going on inside.
The glass panels are elegant, but the interior is also quite impressive. The three cooling fans, fixed precisely to dissipate heat buildup in as little time as possible, also have twinkling LED lights. The flickering gleam of these LED lights is a sight worthy of praise and wonder. However, on a more practical end, these fans ensure a perfect airflow route inside the case, which is its most significant selling point.
The interior is also expandable and highly customizable. With its support for ATX, microATX, and mini-ITX motherboard types, you can set this case up according to your preference. You can turn off the RGB LEDs, if you don’t fancy them, with the press of a button. There are several drive bays and expansion slots with which you can set up a powerhouse for the ultimate computing experience.
- Supports multiple motherboard types
- Four drive bays
- Several expansion slots
- Three LED integrated cooling fans present
- Two USB slots present with 3.0 compatibility
Corsair Crystal 570X has an excellent reputation for its superior airflow efficiency. This unquestionably makes the unit suitable for prolonged computing sessions. If you are okay with the multiple window panels, it can work out fine for you.
The Cooler Master MasterBox Pro 5 RGB is all about looks due to the DarkMirror panel. Well, it’s not all about that, but that’s the most significant selling point. Although it is a high performer, the model has stolen the show with its sleek and elegant design. If you were impressed by Corsair Crystal 570X’s design, prepare to be amazed once more. Glass panels border the mirrored front panel of this case on either side. The frame itself consists of sleek metal, which is not only very durable and sturdy but also quite stylish.
Just as in the case of the entry preceding it, the cooling fans integrate with LED lights that twinkle when they are rotating. These fans, of which are three in number (and another in the rear – without LEDs), have been placed specifically to target all heat generating sections of the system, making its dissipation of heat efficient. The aesthetics of these brightly lit up fans, though a qualitative trait with no practical value, is mesmerizing nonetheless.
In addition to ATX, micro, and mini, this case also offers support for the E-ATX motherboard type. This makes the case as functional as it is good-looking. The input/output portals are also dotted on the frame. There are two USB ports with 3.0 compatibility and one audio jack, three drive bays, and several expansion slots. All in all, we have a good looking and highly effective option that stands out.
- Supports up to E-ATX, including ATX, mini, and micro
- Three drive days
- Two USB 3.0 ports
- Seven expansion slots
- Three fans with LEDs integrated and one rear fan without LED
The Cooler Master MasterBox Pro 5 is an elegantly designed case that offers performance and aesthetics in one package.
Top 5 Smallest MicroATX Cases
If you want to use a microATX case, read on as we reveal the best and most compact microATX cases available in the market.
The MasterBox Q-series from Cooler Master has earned the limelight in the world of computer technology. This particular entry, the Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L MicroATX case, is of particular interest because of its compactness and performance. It is small but effective at the same time. This microATX case’s design offers nothing short of the peak performance that your PC can put forward. The unit is ideal for use in homes and offices and can even let you set up a gaming computer ensemble.
The design is practical and also unique, boasting an acrylic see-through side panel, which lets you witness the beauty inside. You can make things more interesting by incorporating LED lights in the framework if you fancy twinkling beams. The transparent view also lets you judge if and when your system needs a service or cleaning. The dust filters (with flip magnet design), placed on all exhaust points, not only keep the interior free from any dust build-up but also reduce the noise produced.
You can position the case either vertically or horizontally, and you can also arrange the input/output panel accordingly. Additionally, you can set the panel in any one of the six positions possible. The case is of standard height, not too big, but the interior is spacious enough for the hardware. Hence, it is compact, not small (as that would imply that there is not enough space). The cable management option is also quite impressive, all in all, allowing you to create a perfect ensemble.
- Compact structure
- You can rotate the I/O panel
- Dust filters placed on all exhaust points
- Air cooling system present
- Transparent side panel
Performance, compactness, and an elegant design are the parameters that set Cooler Master’s Q300L apart from the crowd. If you are looking for a unit that guarantees peak performance for a microATX run system, this should be your choice.
Corsair Crystal 280X is not only a compact and high-performance case, but it also boasts a clean and elegant design. This microATX case has three see-through panels that let you look at the ensemble inside in action, with flashing RGB lights. The built-in RGB LEDs are a nice touch to this transparent frame, lit up like a Christmas tree when turned on. You can create amazing LED effects and shades via the exclusive iCUE software, giving your machine a customized feeling.
Pre-installed twin LL120 RGB LED integrated cooling fans cool the unit. However, for further effectiveness, you can attach up to six fans. This will create a system that dissipates heat before it has had the chance to build up and hamper the processor’s progress. The built-in fans are also integrated with programmable LED lights, which can create artistic effects and add to the aesthetics of this case.
Specialized dust filters cover the exhaust points, which ensure that your ensemble stays safe from dust and dirt. The sectioning of the interior also makes setting up this whole ensemble relatively easy and convenient. You can easily lay down the wires and cables away from view. Moreover, the partitioning also ensures that your system remains compact, storage space is not compromised, and the structure remains neat.
- Three transparent side panels
- Programmable LED lights integrated
- Preinstalled cooling fans, with the option of adding more (up to six in total)
- Dust filters placed on all exhausts
- Partitioned interior chamber
Crystal 280X from Corsair is an outstanding microATX case. It is compact, practical, and very versatile. The case has an excellent cooling system, and the aesthetics are unparalleled owing to 32 programmable LED lights. Hence, it is a must-buy for performance seekers.
The Antec Minuet 350 microATX case is ideal for users seeking high performance but a smaller chassis size. The compact size allows the case to fit almost anywhere, either vertically or horizontally, meaning that placing it should not be a problem. It operates on an 80 PLUS power supply that provides about 350 watts to the system, meaning that the pc will cut the cost of electricity when compared with a conventional alternative.
The system has three drive bays, all suited for different types of installations, allowing maximum versatility to the user. Versatility has been the plus point of this design from the beginning, as the input/output panel also indicates. Additionally, there are two ports for USB version 3.0, a SATA port, and two jacks for audio input and output. The five expansion slots are also a fine addition to an already quite remarkable ensemble.
The TriCool cooling system, which operates on three-speed levels, coupled with proper ventilation, allow the system to cool off the heat centers in no time. CPUs and VGA holders are the centers of heat production, and it is here that these cooling systems direct their breezes. This dual-fan cooling system is pre-installed and does a fine job for what it’s worth; however, you might want to add some filters.
- TriCool dual-fan cooling system
- Two USB 3.0 ports
- Compatible with microATX motherboards
- Three drive bays
- Expansion slots included
Not only is the Antec Minuet 350 microATX case highly compact, being able to fit almost anywhere and in multiple positions, but its cooling system is also excellent.
The Thermaltake Core V21 SPCC Micro M-ATX case is a highly versatile, compact, adaptable, and adjustable option available in the market. Its modifiability is an important factor, so much so that computer geeks can use external modular elements of the case to create a two-in-one system. As with all preceding Thermaltake models, this one is also distinguishable for its effective cooling system that allows for rapid heat dissipation.
The pre-installed 200mm front fan is an effective cooling solution, though not recommended for intense use. But for everyday computing and even some semi intense activities like retro-gaming and using emulators, this fan will suffice. The system, being highly versatile and adaptable, can accept several enhancements to deliver a high-end level performance. For instance, if you need to use your system in a hardcore fashion, install more fans.
The system offers support for ATX, microATX, and even mini-ITX variants, and its design even allows you to configure it for horizontal or vertical setup. This means that there are no bounds to how much creative you can get with this model, and instead unleash your artistic potential. The cable management system is also worth appraisable for its effectiveness in hiding cables and wires from view. Having a three-year warranty and an elaborate I/O panel with two USB ports, Thermaltake Core V21 never fails to impress.
- Compatible with ATX, mini-ATX, and micro-ITX variants
- Pre-installed 200mm cooling fan for effective heat dissipation
- Compatible for both horizontal and vertical configurations
- Two USB ports
- Built-in cable management system
The Thermaltake Core V21 is a highly versatile and modifiable option, especially suited for computer experts. However, the single cooling fan, though very efficient, cannot handle hardcore gaming scenarios as that would produce too much heat. For regular use, however, this case is just perfect.
The NZXT H400i is the new definition of what we call a computer case. This modernistic and sophisticated case has been explicitly built for aesthetics, acoustics (noise reduction), and sleekness. The pre-installed RGB LED lights are fully programmable and can give off several colors and patterns for specific situations. The noise control mechanism is also perfect for ensuring that ambient disturbances do not ruin the acoustics of your favorite videogame.
Two pre-installed LED integrated Aer cooling fans are a perfect combo for taking on the heat production centers during hours of intense video-gaming. The LED lights associated with them create bright and aesthetically pleasant patterns that you can program to your liking. Not only do these fans look good and lighten up the atmosphere, but they also work excellently too. Moreover, the airflow is immaculate, leaving no chance for the dreadful heat buildup to anchor its feet.
The frame has been constructed from premium quality metal, meant to last and tackle the challenge of time with its resilience. The installation process is a breeze, making this model all the more praise-worthy. Hence, the result will make any video-game aficionado or modern PC user speechless.
- Two pre-installed LED integrated Aer cooling fans
- Metallic frame
- Noise reduction technology added
- Compatible with micro-ITX
- Several expansion slots included
NZXT H400i is an ideal choice for anyone seeking a cost-effective and durable gaming case. This case can host a system not only capable of high-tech gaming but also maintain it in pristine condition.
What To Look for When Choosing the Smallest ATX Cases
The models mentioned in the lists above are some of the best of their kind available in the market as of 2020. However, what sets them apart? What should you be on the lookout for when buying an ATX case? We have created an outline of some of the most critical attributes that you should consider about a product before making your decision.
Material & Durability
Quality should be your foremost consideration. Most probably, you, like most people, would want to invest once in a product that lasts long. There is no point in wasting your time and money on a cheap model if it is only going last for a while. Hence, you should ascertain material quality and durability beforehand.
The first thing you ought to do is to check out the manufacturer. Do some background research. How have their products performed so far? What do the reviewers say? Metallic frames, specifically those made from stainless steel, are the most durable. Also, check out the ports and jacks. Will they withstand repeated use or not?
Modern computing has evolved from what it was years back. Now people don’t use a single system for all of their needs because it is impossible to do so. For instance, an office computer can never be a good gaming computer, and a decent gaming system would be too excessive for office work.
This means that you should define the purpose before making the purchase. A gaming case, for instance, should have excellent cooling and sleek design (that’s optional, but most people want it so), and it should support high-end hardware. This means that a single fan unit can never be a decent gaming option.
You can’t imagine how frustrating it can be fumbling through wires and cables without any idea which one is meant for what. Effective cable management is underrated but highly significant. Not only does it make the ensemble look decent and well put together, but it also has several practical benefits.
Your system will require regular maintenance runs. You will have to open it (or ask an expert to do so) and clean out any dust buildup. In that case, not only will a well-arranged cable system make the cleaning process more comfortable, but it will also keep the risk of short circuits at a minimum level.
Your system will not be working in a vacuum but rather in the environment. It is not news for anyone that dust and particulate matter is an ever-present element in the atmosphere, no matter how clean things appear to be. An effective filtration system will keep the interior clean for longer.
Some units do not come with pre-installed filter units, and if that’s the case, you must invest in filters and place them on every exhaust point. Although they are not foolproof, they will minimize the amount of dust that penetrates the system’s openings and accumulates inside.
Drive Bays & Expansion Slots
We have mentioned drive bays several times in this article, and it is here that we clarify what they are. These bays are input channels for various installations, most notably, hard drives. While some bays support the modern SSD drives, others don’t. Just to clarify, SSD drives or solid-state drives are faster and allow the computer to access the data more efficiently.
You can also install temperature readers and customized gaming controllers via these ports, which can vary between 2.5 and 5.35 inches in standard sizes. Additionally, expansion slots allow you to further up the ante with added hardware components to make your system run like a stallion, only much faster.
The motherboard is the backbone of your system. This component holds the key to your computer’s operation, so be sure to check out the details of your case’s motherboard tray before buying it. While some versatile units offer compatibly with ATX, microATX, mini-ITX, and E-ATX variants, others only work with one of these. Ensure that the case you are buying is compatible with the type of motherboard you intend to use. Generally, a universal case is better.
The standard sizes of ATX cases, otherwise known as the form factors, are of three types. These include the full, mid-tower, and mini-tower variants, each successively smaller than the one preceding it. These sizes also determine the motherboard compatibility of the cases, so be on the lookout for these form factors. Other options are also available in the market, but these non-standard types are not suitable for a gaming system, so avoid these if you’re into hardcore gaming.
Graphics Card Compatibility
A graphics card is a quintessential component of your system if you’re going to engage in high-end video-gaming. Though simpler systems can play less demanding games, modern entries demand strong graphics memory. So be sure to opt for a system that can support a decent graphics card, ideally 10 to 12 inches in size, as those are some of the most potent variants. You can check out the recommended specs for the type of games you wish to play. Then, opt for a system that allows you to use a card of that level or higher.
The CPU will heat up due to prolonged use; this is inevitable. However, an effective cooling system can help mitigate the problem and keep the hardware running in pristine condition. This will allow you to enjoy uninterrupted sessions of video-gaming without worrying about your system’s performance. Most units are air-cooled, and those can work too, given that they have at least two or three fans. Other systems gain an edge with the addition of a liquid cooling system.
Avoid the low price tag trap at all costs. Instead, ensure that the product that you are about to buy is durable and of a decent quality. However, most people cannot afford to dole out their money as if it grew on trees. In that case, look for cost-effective solutions. Instead of going cheap, do your research and select the options that best suit your needs and budget.
Here are our best picks from each category.
Cooler Master HAF XB EVO – Best Smallest Full ATX Case
This option sets itself apart with its robust cooling system that keeps the components running at optimal levels. The dual fan system targets the heat centers with great effectiveness, and the sleek design accentuates its high-level performance.
NZXT H710i – Best Smallest Mid-Tower Case
This is a modernistic and “smart” option from NZXT, which excels in two areas: cooling and cable routing. The case comes with four pre-installed fans. It also has a built-in cable routing system that minimizes the clutter and creates a neat and presentable interior.
NZXT H500 – Best Compact Mid-Tower Case
This case keeps the interior dust-free for longer, and with its effective heat dissipation, it offers an ultimate computing experience. The case is dedicated to a video-gaming ensemble, making it perfect for high-level processing.
Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L – Best Smallest MicroATX Case
This microATX case boasts an elegant and compact design. Looks are not all, and this case also offers an excellent processor performance, making it not only a stylish and versatile model but a highly effective one too.
We selected the ATX and mid-tower cases mentioned on the lists above after comparing, testing, and reviewing. Hopefully, it would’ve helped you to decide which product to purchase. In either case, the buyer’s guide also enumerates essential factors to consider. Do give them a read through before finalizing your decision. After all, modern computing is not the monotonous affair that it was a few decades back, and a modern PC must be specialized for the task at hand.