No issue whether friend treat your computer system as the centerpiece of your residence office or simply stuff it under your desk, purchase the right PC situation matters.

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At a minimum, you desire to pick a PC case that’s the ideal size for her needs and also has room for all your hardware and also USB devices. But some PC cases offer much, lot more. Spacious innards, reduced temperatures, muffled sound, considerable water-cooling support, and also fancy-schmancy tempered glass panels or RGB light are simply the reminder of the iceberg.

Here’s a overview to buying a PC instance that’s perfect because that you. This is simply the first step in your DIY journey; be sure to check out jonathanlewisforcongress.com’s overview to structure a PC, too, as well as our overview on setup up her PC"s fans because that maximum device cooling.

Editor’s note: last updated v our recent videos in the PC case news section, update information throughout, and changes come our encourage cases.

PC case news

Last year, pricing for situations have steadily slipped upwards in the wake of the unified States’ tariffs ~ above Chinese products, adhered to by high need for computer parts throughout the worldwide pandemic. While stock has stabilized since, price on most situations continue to be higher on average.

Remember to check out our instance tear-downs on jonathanlewisforcongress.com’s YouTube channel, such together on the Lian Li 011 waiting Mini and Azza Pyramid case.


Size matters for pc cases

Before something else, decide what size case you need. There are three major case sizes: complete tower, mid-tower, and mini-ITX.

Full-tower and also mid-tower situations both fit traditional ATX motherboards—by far the most common motherboard dimension out there. Both can additionally fit smaller micro-ATX motherboards. Precise sizing varies from case to case, yet most mid-towers operation up to approximately 18 customs high and also 8 or therefore inches wide. Mid-tower pcs are more than likely the many common form factor and also have sufficient room to fit equipment with a closed-loop CPU cooler, a couple of graphic cards, and also a lot the storage.

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Thiago Trevisan/IDG

Lian Li O11 Dynamic Mini alongside the towering Caselabs SMA-8a.

Full-tower situations are massive. They frequently measure an ext than 20 inches in height and also are longer and also deeper than mid-tower cases, which renders them ideal if you’re one of the rare human being using a substantial Extended-ATX motherboard. 

Also think about a full-tower situation if you setup on loading up her rig with substantial (or custom) water-cooling, storage galore, or 3- and also 4-way graphics card setups. Full-tower instances often support much more fans and also 5.25-inch journey bays together well. And the extra elbow room sure is nice throughout building.

Mini-ITX situations are the polar the opposite of full-tower pc cases, built for diminutive mini-ITX motherboards. Several of these deserve to be wondrously tiny and also fit inside home theater cabinets, however the tight soldier can produce compatibility concerns with some hardware. Don’t suppose to use liquid-cooling or a huge honking CPU cooler in many mini-ITX cases. Some mini-ITX situations don’t assistance full-length graphics cards, either; confirm the maximum length before you buy. Finally, there isn’t lot room for extra hardware in these space-constrained chassis, so you’ll be limited to fairly basic device configurations. They’re great for schlepping to LAN parties, though!

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Thiago Trevisan/IDG

Sometimes you’ll watch “mini-tower” cases, which slot in between mini-ITX and mid-tower in dimension to accommodate micro-ATX motherboards. Castle rarer than the others.

Price considerations for computer cases

Once you’ve determined how huge of a PC situation you need, the following step is figuring out your budget.

If you’re spending $50 or less, you’re more than likely going to wind up through a bare-bones, nondescript instance with few extra features. Shot to pick one that has actually two fans, one in the former of the case and another in the rear, because that maximized air-flow, which help cooling. Friend won’t always find the option in this price range, though.

Things open up in the $50 to $150-ish price range, which has seen a lot of advancement over the past couple of years. You’ll find a the majority of variance in both design and also construction in the midrange. As always, be sure to examine measurements to ensure your preferred PC case can right all her hardware, and you’ll additionally want to keep an eye on extra features. Castle a lot more common in this price range, specifically as you move up in cost.

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Thiago Trevisan/IDG

Features purely come under to personal preference or specifics required for her build. Some instances are developed with an ext fans for greater performance; others focus on silent design. Some—most notably lot of Corsair’s situation lineup—even eliminate 5.25-inch journey bays completely for much better airflow. You’ll start to discover water-cooling compatibility operated into some instances in this price range, along with far better cable monitoring details, tool-less design, and aesthetic niceties choose RGB light or tempered-glass next panels. We’ll gain into feature details shortly, but roughly $100 is the sweet spot for price-to-performance as soon as it comes to buying a computer case.

Once you extend past $150 or so, you must expect a PC case that excels in both performance and acoustics, and also one that comes with connectivity options and handy functions galore. Few of them are huge; this is whereby you’ll find most full-tower cases. Develop materials tend to be swankier in deluxe cases, v aluminum and tempered glass being much an ext common than in budget and also mid-range cases.


You’ll also find wild concept situations like the motorized, sadly discontinued In victory H-Tower, which opens like a flower. Caselabs are currently bankrupt, yet their instances remain legendary. And don’t forget instances (if us can contact them that!) favor the Lian Li DK-04F desk. 

Be mindful when you’re purchase a PC case that doubles as a funky flagship, though. Castle oftentimes sacrifice use for their exotic forms.

PC instance aesthetics 

Make certain you choose the watch of the PC instance you’re buying! You’re walk to it is in staring in ~ it for years come come, so this is no a superficial consideration. Every online retailer mirrors PC situations from multiple angle on their keep pages, therefore there’s no excuse because that buying ugly.

PC situations come in every sorts that colors, materials, and also designs. If you don’t want to invest time neatening increase your internal cabling, pass on situations with a side window.

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Brad Chacos/IDG

This situation has a side window but ns took turn off its whole side panel because that this picture.

Buy a computer case: functions to clock for

Aside from the basic dimensions and also price, function support is the best differentiator when you’re to buy a computer case. The much more you spend on her case, the much more goodies you will do it receive. This is a fast rundown of plenty of of the attributes you’ll discover in contemporary PC cases, beginning with practical extras before delving into nice-to-haves.

Drive bays and also SSD mounting points: With recent trends in the direction of using NVMe SSDs, room for large physical drives room less crucial with modern-day cases. Many world still use classic SATA-based SSDs or hard drives, though. If that’s part of your build, make sure a PC instance has enough 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drive bays to residence your storage drives. Some cases include mounting points because that SSD top top the behind of the motherboard tray, too. And if girlfriend need a 5.25-inch bay in the prior of your pc to home an optical drive, fan controller, or whatever, confirm your situation includes that. A variety of cases have been ditching 5.25-inch bays to enhance airflow native the front-side fan(s)—most notably several Corsair cases.

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Marco Chiappetta/IDG

Some cases come with tool-less brackets the make mounting tough drives really easy.

Tool-less design: In ye olden days, almost everything in a PC instance required a Phillips screwdriver. No more. Tool-less architecture is almost universal in mid-range and also high-end cases, with thumb screws for internal fastening and also twist-on, snap-on, or otherwise tool-free mechanisms in drive bays.

Cable management: Look for a situation with cut-outs in the motherboard tray, which allow you to path your cabling with the rear of your case. Out of sight, out of mind. Budget plan PC situations tend to have simple giant holes punched in the motherboard tray, if mid-range options frequently include rubber grommets in the holes to tidy things up also more. Some situations include tie-off points or even wire consists behind the motherboard tray to keep your cabling clean.

CPU cooler cut-away: Speaking of the motherboard tray, some nicer PC instances include large cut-outs in the section behind her processor, which allow you replace your PC’s CPU or CPU cooler without ripping out your whole motherboard. It’s no a function you’re likely to need often, however if girlfriend do, it’s a godsend.

Front-panel connectivity: If you’ve obtained a many of exterior devices, check out the front-panel connectivity the the pc case. Even cheap cases have a couple of USB-A kind 2.0 port in the front. Many modern cases encompass USB-A form 3, USB-C, and also even fan or RGB light controllers as table stakes. You will do it often find front-panel audio jacks as well, despite we’d always recommend plugging her headset directly into the audio jack on her motherboard’s rear I/O shield.

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Brad Chacos

High-end situations (like this Phanteks Enthoo Elite) sell much an ext advanced front-panel connectivity.

Fans and also airflow: The more fans you have in her PC, the better your air flow is most likely to be. At the an extremely least, friend want two fans because that optimal airflow—an intake in the front and also an outward-blowing fan in the rear. Some budget plan PC situations include only a single fan, and your PC’s temperatures and performance will experience for it. Even if they aren’t populated, many cases include additional fan mounts that enable you to upgrade her cooling later. As stated before, some situations are ditching 5.25-inch drive bays to remove airflow obstructions because that the prior fans, despite you clear wouldn’t desire a case like the if you required one of those bays.

Also pay fist to those in prior of those fans. Tempered glass and stoic metal front panels room all the rage these days, however those quite designs have the right to hinder airflow if they’re not designed properly. The Silverstone RL06 ($110 on Amazon) and also Fractal design Meshify C ($90 top top Amazon) skips those obstructions, put protective mesh in prior of several 120mm intake fans because that superb airflow and thus, lower system temperatures 보다 its rivals.

Dust filters: keeping your pc clean is important. A computer system clogged with dust and pet hair and tobacco gunk is a computer that runs hot and throttles much more often. Dust filter keep many of that debris from ever before reaching her fans, much less your precious inner hardware. But be sure to configure her fans for hopeful air push to keep dust native being sucked in v the unoccupied vents in your chassis.

Sound-dampening: Soundproof situations keep her rig to run quiet, often by making use of sound-dampening materials inside the panels of her PC. Those materials keep noise in but additionally tend come impede airflow, for this reason soundproof situations often struggle somewhat greater temperatures than standard cases. Some nicer soundproof cases manage to stay silent while additionally optimizing for air flow by including big 140mm fans spinning at short (and hence quiet) speeds.


Water-cooling support: The increase of sealed all-in-one coolers have actually made liquid-cooling an ext popular 보다 ever. If you plan to water-cool her PC, pay fine fist to the support listed by her case. You more than likely won’t have the ability to use liquid-cooling whatsoever in many mini-ITX cases, and many mid-tower instances only support up to 240mm radiators—and placement of that liquid-cooling radiator might be minimal to only the top or bottom the the case, depending on the case’s dimensions.

If you desire a beefy 360mm radiator, you’ll often need to action up to a complete tower case, though unusually large mid-towers have the right to sometimes squeeze castle in together well. Part pricier cases likewise have big swatches of internal space specialized to liquid-cooling reservoirs for tradition loops.

Tempered-glass panels: Many newer PC instances include panels consisting completely of tempered glass, presenting an unfettered watch at her PC’s inside hardware, albeit at the price of wait flow. The gorgeous, however brittle—handle with care! You’ll begin to discover tempered-glass choices around the $70 range, though they’re an ext common roughly $100.

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IDG / Hayden Dingman

Let over there be light. Or not. It’s as much as you!

Integrated lighting: Customizable RGB lighting is a large craze in current years, and also that consists of PC cases. You either love RGB or you dislike RGB. Either way, it’s straightforward to find instances that fulfill your aesthetic tastes. You can even watch us develop an RGB PC—that was fun!

Vertical GPU mount: Many instances now include the option to have actually a upright GPU mountain that screens your graphics card. Do note that you may need a one-of-a-kind bracket that can vary by case, and also a high-quality PCIe riser cable. Some PCIe 4.0 graphic cards will certainly require ideal cables to occupational with the newest GPUs as well.

Our favorite computer cases

We don’t do numerous formal PC instance reviews at jonathanlewisforcongress.com, but we’re constantly building PCs in every sorts of rigs. Right here are several of our favorites in each price point. (Note the the U.S. Tariffs on Chinese commodities have brought about price boosts of around $10 to $25 every case.)