Best Computer Cases

Updated April 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

6 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
163 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best computer cases

Last Updated April 2019

If you’re building your own PC, you’ll need to spend some time picking out the perfect components. One of the most important, and oft overlooked, parts to select is the computer case. Your computer case will be the foundation of your machine, and it needs to have the right amount of layout and storage space.

Computer cases come in all shapes, sizes, and colors — and varying levels of quality, too. The case you buy needs to have enough room for everything from your motherboard to your hard drives (and a system for ventilating air for keeping it all cool). And if you ask most PC builders, it should reflect your personal style, too: computer cases come in all kinds of funky designs, so there’s definitely an opportunity to express your tastes through your case.

Whether you’re looking for a basic computer case for the family computer or a home for your next PC gaming rig, we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to find your perfect computer case.

If you have concerns about your case’s fans generating too much noise, look for ultra-silent fans. These are a little more expensive than traditional fans, but they make virtually no noise — perfect for situations where you don’t want to be distracted.

Key considerations

Before you start shopping, spend some time considering your specific needs. Start with these questions.

 

  • What size is your motherboard? Far and away the most important thing to know before you start shopping for a computer case is how big your motherboard is. There are two typical sizes for motherboards: ATX (or Advanced Technology eXtended), and micro-ATX (often abbreviated mATX). As you’ve probably guessed, ATX motherboards require larger cases than their smaller micro-ATX counterparts. Some cases will support both sizes, but for the most part, you’ll need to limit your search to just the cases that are the same size as your motherboard. (There are other size standards, such as Flex ATX and Extended ATX, but they’re pretty rare, and our advice remains the same. Always buy a case that’s the right size for your motherboard.)
     
  • What are your ventilation needs? When it comes to PCs, ventilation is the name of the game. It’s crucial to keep your internal components cool so they don’t overheat and malfunction. Computer cases all handle ventilation differently. Some are designed to have exhaust fans in the front to push air forward, some are made with fans in the back, and others put their fans in the very top, so hot air goes upward. (And of course, many cases offer a combination of approaches. For example, it’s not uncommon to see models with both top and rear exhaust fans). Before you start shopping, consider where your PC will go in your home and which direction you want to push exhaust air. Then, find a case with corresponding fan placement.
     
  • Do you want to see your computer’s internal components? Many computer cases are designed to show off their insides. After all, with clear panels, it’s easy to keep an eye on how everything is performing. Some users take this a step further and add LED lighting to the inside of their computer cases to give their hardware a fun glow. If you’re into making your computer look futuristic, or if you just want to keep watch over everything, get a case with clear panels. If not, you can save some money by getting a case that’s not transparent.
     
  • Do you need room to add more hard drives or other components? When you’re shopping for a computer case, it’s important to give yourself room to grow. If you know you’ll be adding more storage down the line, make sure to get a case with enough hard drive trays; if you plan on adding other components, like multiple video cards, you’ll need a case that’s big enough. (Even if you’re not sure if you’ll be upgrading down the line, getting a case that’s bigger than you might need is still a good idea — it may give you more empty room for airflow.)
EXPERT TIP

Some computer cases have built-in fans to help with air circulation. Others require you to buy fans separately and install them yourself. If you want to save yourself the trouble of installation, buy a computer case that has fans pre-installed.


Staff  | BestReviews

Computer case features

As you compare computer cases, watch for these features; they’re the ones that set the really great models apart from the rest.

Pre-installed fans

We’re big fans of computer cases that come with fans already installed. The fans are set up with a specific design for airflow, and all you have to do is plug them in to the right power connection. You could buy a case without them and then find and install fans that fit, but depending on which fans you buy, that could drive up the cost significantly.

Classy and functional

The NZXT H500i is the perfect combination of utility and elegance. It’s got plenty of room for extra hard drives, or even a liquid CPU cooler, and the removable tempered glass panel makes it easy to access the internal components for when you’re ready to upgrade. Premium computer cases aren’t usually this affordable, so if you’re looking to go high-end on a budget, this is the case to buy.

LED lighting

Although it’s strictly cosmetic, LED lighting in a computer case is still a ton of fun. Some cases even include lighting that can be controlled with software, so you can come up with your own lighting schemes (like matching the LED colors to the game you’re playing or the show you’re watching).

Front-facing ports

Many computer cases include front panels that offer easy access to USB and headphone ports. It might not sound like a big deal, but the convenience is really worth it, especially if you need to quickly attach peripheral like USB flash drives.

Many PC cases are partially made of tempered glass. Tempered glass is clear — ideal for seeing the insides of your computer — and it’s specially designed to not crack or falter under extreme temperatures.

Computer case prices

Entry-level computer cases cost between $40 and $80. Models in this price range often only support the smaller mATX motherboard standard, or they don’t include room for much more than the basics. If you’re building your first PC or don’t plan on upgrading or expanding anytime soon, you can find decent options in this range.

The best values in computer cases are typically between $80 and $140. Cases in this price range are spacious, offering premium features like modular designs or built-in cable management systems. If you have intense storage needs or are a serious gamer, you’ll probably want to look at more expensive cases. If you just need a case that’s got a reasonable mix of space, flexibility, and ventilation, there are plenty of options for less than $140.

Luxury PC cases start at $140 and go up from there. Cases in this price range are either enormous (with enough room for a ton of hard drives) or made from premium finishes. If you’re building a home theater PC or just want a case that looks more James Bond than Star Trek, expect to pay top dollar.

EXPERT TIP

If you’re buying a computer case without fans, check to see what size fans you’ll need to buy. Computer case fans are measured in millimeters; 120mm is the most common size.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Use software to monitor your PC’s core temperatures. If you’re serious about making sure your hardware lasts a long time, keep an eye on the core temperatures of the CPU. There are plenty of freeware applications that can do it, and they can also alert you if your PC case ever becomes dangerously hot.
  • Keep a can of compressed air handy to keep your computer case dust-free. If heat is your PC’s enemy number one, then dust is a close second. Dust can interfere with your computer’s fans and raise overall temperatures, so it’s important to keep your computer’s inside and outside clean. The best way to do that is with a can of compressed air. By spraying clean air on everything, you can get your computer’s vital parts clean without having to touch them.
  • Always read the manual before you start adding PC components to your computer case. No two PC cases are alike — and the same goes for all the parts you install inside. Although it may sound like trite advice, it’s still worth following: read the manual. Some cases have unique attachment methods for motherboards, while others have features you’ll want to take into account while building, like front-facing USB ports or built-in fans. A quick read-through of the manual can save you a lot of headache in the long run, so save yourself the headache and read it before you do anything else.

Middle-of-the-road never looked so good

The Rosewill Challenger S is a great option if you need a case that’s a compromise between size, cost, and flexibility. It’s got three pre-installed case fans which will save you the headache of having to source and install them yourself. It has room for a full-size ATX motherboard while still maintaining its mid-tower form factor. If you need a PC case that has room for the basics with a budget price tag, this is the one.

Other products we considered

If you’re building a home theater PC, we recommend the living room-friendly Silverstone HTPC case. It’s a horizontal case that’s designed to be right at home with high-end AV electronics while still providing proper ventilation. It’s got front-facing USB and audio ports, and it’s even got enough room for an optical drive. If you need one of the best-looking cases around, keep this one on your shortlist.

For small-form factor computers, we recommend you consider the Thermaltake Core V21. At roughly 17 x 13 x 13 inches, it’s bigger than a breadbox, but only slightly. The grated metal design gives the case a futuristic feel while offering an added level of ventilation, which is key in cases this small. If you’re building a computer with an mATX board, this case is one of your best options.

Computer case enclosures are held together using screws, but not all screws are the same. Many computer cases use traditional screws that require a screwdriver, but some use thumb screws, which can be threaded by hand. Thumb screws are much easier to use that traditional screws.

FAQ

Q. What’s the best way to keep cables organized inside my PC case?
A.
It will vary based on your individual computer case, but in general, zip ties are the best way to keep cables cleaned up and out of the way. Some cases even have special slots just for using zip ties, so make a plan for where you’ll use each one before you start installing components in the case.

Q. Is it safe to buy a horizontal computer case instead of a traditional vertical one?
A.
Yes. Some computer cases are built to mimic AV components like your cable set top box. As long as there’s proper airflow in the case, there’s no benefit to one over the other.

Q. Will I need any special tools to install my PC components in a computer case?
A.
Not usually. Most computer parts get installed with a standard Phillips head screwdriver or will use thumb screws.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jaime
    Jaime
    Writer
  • Kailey
    Kailey
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Samantha
    Samantha
    Writer

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