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Updated May 2022
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Buying guide for Best PC tower cases

In many ways, a PC tower case is like the body of a car. Both are built primarily to house the internal components, but their designs go a long way toward determining overall functionality and efficiency. Also, it’s where owners can tweak the look and “personality” of their machines to make them their own.

Specifically, PC tower cases are where your computer components live. The motherboard, processor (CPU), graphics card (GPU), storage drives, and memory are all mounted inside, with the display, keyboard, mouse, and speakers resting outside the case. Physical dimensions and interior layout are paramount considerations here because they determine what parts will fit, how upgradable your computer will be, how easy it will be to access parts, and how healthy the airflow will be. The last point is absolutely vital because without proper cooling, your computer may not function properly or safely.

Tower cases come in myriad sizes, shapes, and colors, with near-endless personalization options. 

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There’s a PC tower case out there for every need, whether it’s maximum cooling, silent running, connectivity, or even a fashion statement. If you can’t find the perfect solution, several companies offer custom builds, or you could even make your own!

Key considerations


Tower cases come in a variety of sizes, which is necessary because CPUs, GPUs, motherboards, and fans do as well. To determine what size you need, start with your motherboard. Cases are designed to work with specific motherboards, and product descriptions typically specify which are compatible. This is why it’s important to gather your PC parts first and find the appropriate case second. (The size of the motherboard is the primary concern here, but keep the length of your GPU and the size of your CPU cooler in mind, too. They can get quite beefy.) 

Cases are generally sold in four sizes:

Mini-ITX or small-form-factor cases are the smallest in use today, but they’re quite popular because of the tiny footprint. You’re limited to the diminutive mini-ITX motherboard in this case, and you’ll run into size limitations with other components as well. Mini-ITX cases get high marks for portability and minimalism, however. 

Mini cases are slightly larger and support mini-ITX motherboards as well as micro-ATX motherboards. This opens up your possibilities significantly, but you may still run into space issues for beefier builds. 

Mid cases are the go-to for a reason: they’re versatile, affordable, and fit mini-ITX, micro-ATX, ATX, and even some e-ATX (extended) motherboards, depending on the model. The footprint is the second largest, but mid towers are still sleek enough to blend in. Internal volumes are large enough to satisfy the majority of users. 

Full cases are the largest available and are typically chosen for e-ATX motherboards that measure 13 inches long. Headroom is absolutely stellar in a full tower, but you can still use smaller motherboards inside if you wish. 

Airflow and cooling fans

Healthy airflow and proper cooling are principal concerns when shopping for a PC tower case, particularly if the machine inside will be used for gaming or other intense processes. Some brands provide airflow diagrams to illustrate their build philosophies, but user reviews are great resources for this as well.

While airflow is key, PC tower cases have fans to cycle air in and out. We recommend cases with two fans at a minimum: an intake to bring cool air in and an exhaust to push hot air out. More is better, though, and manufacturers often include additional fan mounts so you can expand the unit’s cooling abilities. 

Drive bays

Drive bays are another prime concern because you need to have space…for your space. Specifically, 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drive bays house your computer’s storage drives, solid state drives (SSD), and hard disk drives (HDD), respectively. Some tower cases have additional SSD mounting points on the rear of the motherboard tray as well.

Front panel connectivity

If you use a lot of external devices, you’ll be fiddling with your PC’s front panel often. It’s where you’ll be plugging in USB devices, headphones, phone chargers, and even external monitors, so the more ports the better. Basic tower cases usually have a couple of USB ports, a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack, and not much else, so you might want to budget for a busier front panel. Outside of USB and 3.5-millimeter, common connectivity options include microphone inputs, HDMI ports, VGA ports, SD card readers, optical drive ports, and others. 

Cable management  

Cable management may not seem like a huge deal, but cluttered cords go a long way toward making a clean workspace look messy. Basic PC cases have simple holes punched in the motherboard tray to hide cables, but manufacturers have devised myriad clever tools to improve on this. Some have rubber grommets and clips, while others have dedicated cutouts to keep cables out of sight and out of mind. 

A PC tower case with a tempered-glass window has several advantages over a case without one. It’s safer than non-tempered glass in case of a break, it offers higher resistance to both heat and scratching, and it’s smoother and clearer than other materials.



RGB lighting

There’s nothing wrong with adding a bit of personalization to your PC setup, and RGB lighting is a great way to add flair to your space. RGB tech is everywhere nowadays; in fact, it’s probably fairly difficult to find a PC tower case without RGB in today’s market. Pick the design that’s right for your taste, and remember, you can always turn it off.

Water-cooling compatibility

Water cooling is significantly more efficient than air cooling, generally speaking, but you need a proper setup to do it right. Part of that proper setup involves a PC tower case with liquid-cooling radiator mounts. Keep in mind that mini-ITX cases almost never have water-cooling support, and mid tower cases limit you on both radiator size and radiator placement. So, while you’ll definitely pay extra for a large and compatible tower case, it could very well be worth it. 

Toolless designs

In the past, doing any work “under the hood” of your computer involved breaking out a Phillips screwdriver. Thankfully, those days are long gone because toolless designs are nearly universal in PC tower cases above the entry-level. These typically have easy-to-use and headache-reducing thumbscrews and tabs for quick assembly and disassembly.

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Not too long ago, 5.25-inch drive bays were extremely common in PC towers because they gave a home to optical drives, such as DVD players. However, modern tower cases usually forgo the bay in place of additional fans, USB ports, or storage card readers.

PC tower case prices

Inexpensive: Computers can get expensive fast, but, thankfully, entry-level tower cases can be found for less than $50. Expect to find smaller mini and mid cases at this price point, with fewer fans, external ports, and lighting options as standard. You can still find a sub-$50 case with two fans, though, and we strongly recommend doing so.

Mid-range: For $50 to $150, you’re opening yourself up to features like water-cooling compatibility, toolless designs, and customizable RGB lighting. The features you opt for are up to you, but on the whole, you can expect to encounter mid and full cases here with more fans, better airflow, and increased motherboard compatibility, 

Expensive: Spend $200 or more and you’re into the high-end full tower cases. These models are often built for specific purposes, such as high-performance gaming or streaming with maximum cooling. You’ll see ultra-quiet cases at this price point, too, as well as some examples that are just plain huge. As you might expect, this range offers the full gamut of RGB lighting, external port choices, and other personalization options.

Aesthetics are inherently subjective, but a large, clear viewing window is usually a plus for a PC tower case. Not only does it look pretty with RGB lighting, it also makes visual maintenance checkups a snap.



  • Check the area around your computer. Ventilating inside your PC tower with proper fans is important, but it’s only half the battle. Confirm that the area around your computer is properly ventilated as well. With this in mind, we don’t recommend placing your PC tower inside pullout drawers or cabinets. 
  • Check the noise level. If you’re worried about noise, larger, slower fans are quieter than smaller, faster ones, and they can provide equal if not more airflow. Sound-deadening materials can reduce noise as well, but use caution. They can trap heat inside the case if used improperly. 
  • Keep upgradability in mind when shopping. Does the PC case fit the parts you’ve bought or are going to buy? Great! But is there wiggle room for next-gen products?  Budgeting for this can save you money in the long run, so prioritize extra headroom and additional drive slots. 
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Some PC cases have a cutout behind the CPU for easy maintenance. With this cutout, you won’t have to remove the motherboard to replace the CPU or CPU cooler. It’s not necessarily a make-or-break feature, but if you ever need to swap out components, it’s a big time-saver.


Q. How do I know what size tower case I need?

A. As we mentioned above, you need to start with your motherboard. This is the biggest factor in determining case size because smaller cases simply don’t have the real estate for large motherboards. Mounting systems may differ between categories as well, so it’s best to stick with what the case is designed for as noted in the product description.  

Another way to know is to follow a simple naming convention. Motherboards come in four sizes. From smallest to largest, they are: mini-ITX, micro-ATX, ATX, and e-ATX. Cases often follow a similar naming convention, meaning an ATX case is built for an ATX motherboard, an ITX case is made for an ITX motherboard, and so forth. 

An important thing to remember is that small motherboards can work fine in larger cases. This means a mini-ITX motherboard can fit in a micro-ATX, ATX, or e-ATX case. You’ll just have some extra room in there. The inverse is not true, however, because an e-ATX motherboard simply won’t fit in a mini-ITX case. 

Q. How should I clean my tower case?

A. PC tower cases cycle a lot of air to keep components cool, and that often brings dust with it. We recommend cleaning the inside of your case every six months or so, but you may need to do it more often if you notice excessive buildup. Here’s how to do it:

  • Turn off the computer and unplug it.
  • Open your computer case, taking care not to bend any tabs or misplace any screws. The process can vary wildly depending on the manufacturer.
  • Dust the internal components (motherboard, CPU, RAM, and the like) with compressed air. Use short bursts, stay at least a few inches away, and avoid turning the can over because this can cause moisture to spray out of the can. 
  • Clean the case fans because these tend to catch a lot dirt. Hold the fan blade with your finger to keep it from spinning, and use the compressed air again to clean it. If the fans need a more thorough cleaning, you may want to remove them from the case and apply a cotton swab dampened with rubbing alcohol. 
  • Dust other locations, such as the power supply, heat sink, and connectivity ports, with the compressed air as needed.

Q. What is an expansion slot?

A. Expansion slots are the key to upgradability. PC tower cases often offer expansion slots in addition to the included drive bays, allowing users to plug in new hardware to their machine without taking anything out. The most common styles are AGP, PCI, and PCI Express slots, which are used for video cards, network cards, sound cards, and modems.


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