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Best PC Desktop Cases/Towers 2015

Updated on January 13, 2015

A Review of New Mid- and Full-Sized PC Desktop Towers

Whether you're building a new gaming system or a home theater PC for your entertainment system, a good computer case not only facilitates the process, but also keeps components cool. Studies have shown that cooler components usually add to the system's lifespan and performance.

In this post, I'll first go over some terms you should know when choosing a PC case. Then I'll rate all of today's new PC cases according to category.

My YouTube Review of the Top Four Mid-Sized Cases

Choosing a PC Case—Terms to Know

If you already know everything you need to about cases, then scroll down to the PC cases that most interest you.

Motherboard Compatibility—You can usually find the motherboard compatibility of your case in the manufacturer's specifications or technical details section.

ATX—Advanced Technology eXtended (ATX) is a form factor that was designed by Intel in order to make parts and design for all computer cases more standard. The standard size for ATX motherboards is 12 by 9.6 in (305 by 244 mm).

Micro/MiniATX—The standard size for microATX boards is 11.2 by 8.2 in (284 by 208 mm).

Mini ITX—This is a low power design standard which measures even smaller than Micro-ATX cases at 17 x 17 cm (or 6.7 x 6.7 inches).

Case Sizes and Types

The size of your case is generally determined by the size or form factor of the motherboard. Because efficient and open placement of cords and components can improve the air flow of your case, a smaller case is not ideal for performance enthusiasts and gaming type builds.

Micro/Mini—Generally a micro tower case is anything under 16 inches. HTPC and ITX cases are made even smaller for discreet placement.

Mid Desktop Tower—Typically a mid-sized desktop tower is up to 18 inches and has up to 4 external drive bays.

Full Tower—A full-sized desktop tower is generally up to 22 inches tall with up to 6 external drive bays.

Case Materials—Steel Vs. Aluminum

Steel and aluminum are the most common types of material used in modern case construction. The major advantage for aluminum cases is that they are more lightweight. While some would claim that an aluminum case keeps your core temperatures down, most serious overclockers say it doesn't make a difference. Steel cases tend to be heavier, and therefore more durable, and won't scuff or strip as easily as aluminum.

Case Expansion

Case expansion consists of the number of external 5.25" drive bays and internal 3.5" drive bays. This number is especially important if you plan on installing many drives. Pay attention to your case's capacity for expansion as well as its compatibility with the drives you plan on purchasing. This is especially important for those of you considering a 2.5 inch solid state drive, as a separate mounting kit may need to be purchased with your case.

Cooling Systems

Fan Sizes—Fans are an example of active cooling because they draw in cooler air from outside the case and push out warm air from the inside. Fans generally come in standard 40, 60, 80, 92, 120, and 200 mm sizes. Check your case's specifications in order to understand how many and what sizes of fans it can accommodate.

Fan Expansion—Most cases come with at least one fan and can be expanded upon from there. Most modern components need active cooling in order to achieve optimum performance levels and durability, and many of today's latest CPU and GPU come with their own fans. Separate CPU coolers are sometimes used for increased performance through overclocking.

The need for additional fans or liquid cooling can be determined by the temperature of your computer's components. Air generally flows by entering the front of your case and exiting the back of your case where your power supply resides.

CM Storm PC Gaming Case
CM Storm PC Gaming Case

Best Budget Mid-Sized Tower Case: Cooler Master Storm Enforcer

Over 700 people have voted for Cooler Master as their favorite computer case manufacturer in this article's poll, so it makes sense that it is the first on this list.

There are a ton of really great cases out there, but if you're looking for an inexpensive option with USB 3.0 in the front I/O, I highly recommend the Cooler Master Storm Enforcer. I generally build 8-10 computers a year for friends and family, but I hadn't used this case until my most recent build. What attracted me to it was that it had the side window as well as the USB 3.0, all for roughly $80-100. This is cheap compared to other similar cases on the market, and I knew that with Cooler Master I was getting the space I needed, a rugged design, and the easy-install drive bays I like for switching things in and out.

Cable Management

Upon installing it, I was impressed at just how much room there is behind the motherboard. This made it much easier for cable management, and I ended up taking out the bottom drive area, next to the fan, altogether in order to create additional space and more airflow.

Installing the Optical Drive, HDD, and SSD

Like many other cases, the Enforcer has easy-install drive bays. You simply push in from the front to snap them in. While I don't mind screwing in the drives from the side, this is certainly a plus for me because of all the tweaking I do with my computer. Towards the bottom this case has room for 3.5" drives and comes with a 2.5" to 3.5" adapter. In addition, this case has a small slot on the bottom for 2.5" drives, which you can install without any adapter at all. Because I was planning on using a solid-state drive for this build, the slot turned out to be very convenient.

Fans

The case comes with a 120-mm black rear fan, a huge red LED 200-mm on the front, and room for an optional 200-mm fan on the top of the case. For additional airflow, I ended up adding this 200-mm red LED fan on the top as well. If you end up getting this case, then keep in mind that this particular LED can't be turned off so if it bothers you, then you might be better off with a 200-mm fan without the LED light.

Best-Rated Mid-Sized Tower Case: The Corsair Carbide 300R

The Corsair Carbide 300R should be near the top of your list this year in terms of value. It has room for the largest graphics card you can throw at it as well as enough space for two fans for intake and exhaust (you can actually install up to seven).

It also has options for a front USB 3.0 and audio connection, and the entire case has a tool-less design. Another thing I personally like is that, like the Cooler Master Storm Enforcer, the Corsair Carbide 300R has a 2.5" space for your solid state drives.

Best Full-Sized Tower Desktop Case: Cooler Master HAF X, with Four-Way SLI and Crossfire

With support for up to 4-way SLI and Crossfire, this case is quite the beast. While most will be perfectly fine with the mid-tower cases above, this case is ideal for those who need to have plenty of room for customization and airflow.

It includes four, three of which can be over 200-mm. With the tool-less design and open window, this case is the perfect option for custom builders.

Best PC Cases for the Money—Under $50

Although more expensive cases can be easier to work with for installation, I've learned that this is not always the case. If you are looking to save some money while building your own PC from the ground up or planning on using a computer case for this build alone, you may want to look into a budget case.

That being said, if you like to sell old hardware or plan on using a case for many years, then I highly recommend you go with a more expensive case that makes it easy to switch out your hardware.

Thermaltake V4

I like the Thermaltake V4 because it's easy to use with the tool-free installation for your drive bays. Technical details include:

  • SECC / Mesh material
  • 4 external 5.25" drive bays
  • 1 external 3.5" drive bay
  • 4 internal drive bays with 1 x 2.5" SSD/HDD (I really like that they include this)
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports on the front panel
  • 1 120-mm blue LED rear fan
  • Bottom-mounted PSU
  • Three year parts and labor warranty from Thermaltake

GAMMA Classic Series Mid Tower ATX

Although it's inexpensive, the Gamma Classic Series Mid Tower has a lot of really great features including:

  • A meshed front panel
  • A rear 120-mm fan (included)
  • Dual rear retaining holes for liquid cooling
  • 4 external drive bays
  • 7 internal drive bays
  • 5 optional additional fans

The case is fully functional, but it isn't as sturdy as more expensive cases, and you can tell that parts like the power and reset button area a little cheap. Overall, you get a little more than what you pay for with this Gamma case. Perfect for a budget PC build.

Antec Two Hundred V2

This new gaming case has a lot of really great options for the money. It features:

  • 11 drive bays
  • 6 internal 3.5" hard disk drives
  • 3 external 5.25" drive bays
  • 1 external hot swappable 2.5" SATA SSD
  • 1 internal bottom-mounted 2.5" SATA SSD
  • 7 expansion slots
  • Front ports for USB 2.0
  • Bottom-ounted PSU
  • Bezeled front for easy cable management
  • Cooling System
  • 1 top special 140-mm TwoCool fan
  • 1 rear 120-mm TwoCool fan
  • 2 front 120-mm fans for HDD (optional)
  • 1 120-mm side for graphics card (optional)

This case is compatible with Mini-ITX, MicroATX, and Standard ATX motherboards and comes with washable air filters for easy cleaning.


If you're going for a mini ITX home theater PC or gaming PC build, then the Elite 130 has a lot to offer for just around $50. It can house a full-sized graphics card and is long rather than tall, similar to some cases meant for larger graphics processing units (GPUs).

This is one of the best home theater PC mini/micro ATX cases out there. Reviewers agree that the case, which has a horizontal layout and is made out of black aluminum, is very sleek and beautiful once it's finished. It can be a little tricky to put together—keep track of where different screws go (make sure not to lose any) and carefully plan where you will place your power supply because there is not a lot of wiggle space—but once you have it together, you will enjoy this case.

Custom Mod Cases

PC case modifications have become a serious pastime. If you're into case modding, then here's an example of a great case mod job.

From MNPCTech.com: the Battlefield 3 case mod:

Want more? Head on over to hardforum.com to see its case modding section and gallery. I also highly recommend the TechPowerUp.com gallery.

Best Budget CPU Cooler 2015: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO

A question I sometimes get through e-mail is whether or not you really need to purchase a CPU cooler to replace the stock one that the chip manufacturer gives to you.

For me, the answer to this question is pretty simple: If you're planning to overclock, then absolutely. If not, then the stock CPU fan should do. It's the one they gave to you, right?

If you're nervous about this, simply download a program like Everest to monitor your CPU temperature. It's free to try for 30 days, and by the end of that time period you should have a pretty good idea of whether you'll need it or not.

Best Budget CPU Cooler 2015: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO

Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo (RR-212E-20PK-R2) CPU Cooler with PWM Fan, Four Direct Contact Heat Pipes
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo (RR-212E-20PK-R2) CPU Cooler with PWM Fan, Four Direct Contact Heat Pipes

A question I sometimes get through e-mail is whether or not you really need to purchase a CPU cooler to replace the stock one that the chip manufacturer gives to you.

For me, the answer to this question is pretty simple: If you're planning to overclock, then absolutely. If not, then the stock CPU fan should do. It's the one they gave to you, right?

If you're nervous about this, simply download a program like Everest to monitor your CPU temperature. It's free to try for 30 days, and by the end of that time period you should have a pretty good idea of whether you'll need it or not.

 

Best Liquid CPU Cooler: Corsair Hydro Series Extreme Performance Liquid CPU Cooler H100i

Many years ago, I wasn't a fan of liquid cooling systems because there simply wasn't a safe way to use them. However, this has changed with the H series from Corsair. They are safe, durable, effective, and relatively inexpensive. The Hydro series goes from the H40 to the H100. The best option for you depends on how much you're willing to spend; it's well worth the extra cash if you're an overclocker.

Best Liquid CPU Cooler: Corsair Hydro Series Extreme Performance Liquid CPU Cooler H100i

Corsair Hydro Series Extreme Performance Liquid CPU Cooler H100i
Corsair Hydro Series Extreme Performance Liquid CPU Cooler H100i

Many years ago, I wasn't a fan of liquid cooling systems because there simply wasn't a safe way to use them. However, this has changed with the H series from Corsair. They are safe, durable, effective, and relatively inexpensive. The Hydro series goes from the H40 to the H100. The best option for you depends on how much you're willing to spend; it's well worth the extra cash if you're an overclocker.

The H100i is probably the best option for a liquid CPU cooler other than building your own kit. It's my go-to in the $100 price range. Next-best options after the H100i are many fan options, which have become just as or more effective at cooling your CPU as a liquid CPU cooler.

 

Which Computer Case Manufacturer Is the Best?

In all of my posts, I like to include a poll to gauge your opinion. I use the poll not only to see what readers are most interested in, but also to help them make the correct decision when buying computer hardware. You can see other related posts with similar polls by visiting my profile.

Vote in our interactive poll below and see what other PC builders think!

See results

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    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      It is nearly impossible to pick which company makes the best case. Cooler Master, Lian, Thermaltake, Corsair, NZXT, etc. All have cases I really like and all make cases that are garbage. But best bang for the buck would probably be cooler master HAF series or the Cooler Master CM 690 II. I used the CM 690 II on build for my daughter. It was the advanced Nvidia edition. Build was i5 2500, 16gb corsair vengance drr3 1600, MSI radeon 6850, MSI P67A-GD65 motherboard, Corsair SSD for OS, and WD 1TB SATA III 6gb/s HDD. Case keeps things nice and cool. Of course the Nvidia edition came with a few more fans and a sexy black and green look. Paid $89 around christmas with a special offer in my email from Newegg.

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