The 10 Best Computer Cases
This wiki has been updated 23 times since it was first published in December of 2015. Mainstream computer manufacturers don't always offer exactly what you need. Hardcore gamers, image and video editors, and complex data crunchers can build precisely the machine they want -- and in some cases, fit it into some pretty tight spaces -- using one of these computer cases. They come in a variety of sizes and styles to accommodate whatever hardware package you desire. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
April 14, 2021:
Very few updates to the Wiki this time around. We still love the Louqe Ghost S1, and the newest version, the MkIII, is even more refined than the last. We swapped in the Thermaltake Core P3 for the P5 due to availability issues, and despite its lower model number, the P3 is in no real way a noticeable downgrade from the P3. Otherwise, we still really like both the NZXT H510 and NZXT H210 as budget-friendly and mid-range choices, although if you aren't concerned about seeing inside your case, a simple and inexpensive model like the Thermaltake Versa H22 should work just fine.
March 24, 2020:
Cases are a lot like the skin and bones of a PC, and a good one does more than just hold the parts together. It's important, above all else, to make sure you get one that accommodates your motherboard and graphics card. The majority of cases on the market accommodate ATX, microATX, and Mini-ITX mainboards, but if you are going the compact route, you'll probably want to look for a properly compact case. The NZXT H210 is one of the best such values for a small form factor case, and the Thermaltake V21 is right there with it, though it does have a slightly larger footprint. The Fractal Design Node 202, on the other hand, is one of the most compact models available, and not only is it great for home theater PCs, it does actually have enough room inside for a moderately sized graphics card -- not a full-size one, though. Then there's the Louqe Ghost S1, which is one of the most popular among enthusiasts; while it's really, really expensive -- especially for something so small -- it's especially easy to work with. Unlike most other in its size category, it's design from the inside out, and built for easy assembly.
Those are all great compact options, but a lot of users, and in fact probably most, will be in the market for an ATX case. The Thermaltake Versa H22 is one of the best-made budget-friendly options, while the NZXT H510 is similarly affordable yet has the looks and see-through window that are normally reserved for more expensive models. The only real drawback to the NZXT is that some users have run into quality control issues specifically related to the screws and screw holes, so you might want to consider picking up an aftermarket set to ensure assembly goes smoothly.
In the middle of the overall price range, there are a couple options that should satisfy a wide range of users. The Fractal Design Meshify C gets high marks all around from both enthusiast and casual users, for both its subtle yet attractive appearance and its excellent airflow. The Phanteks Eclipse P400S Silent Edition is another windowed model, but unlike the Meshify, its window isn't tinted, so it's a little better for showing off fancy components with flashy RGB lighting. Speaking of fancy components, the Corsair 780T is the one to choose if you know you'll need a ton of space for your coolers, GPUs, storage drives, and everything else needed to achieve ultra-fast frame rates at high resolutions.
Dan Cases A4 SFX This is about as close as you'll find to an artisan PC case. It's designed to work with some of the most advanced hardware on the market including the newest USB standards and fastest graphics cards. It does cost more than the the average case, but it's also considerably smaller -- if you can actually get your hands on one, you'll be impressed at how capable it is. dan-cases.com
Mountain Mods If you know you'll need a ton of space and plenty of cooling, consider Mountain Mods and their long line of high-end, customizable cases and related accessories. They will cost you a premium, but their years of experience and huge selection should ensure that you get exactly what you're looking for. mountainmods.com
What Is A Computer Case?
Computer cases can be purchased for practicality, design, or both.
A computer case is known by many other names including computer chassis, system unit, base unit, and tower. It holds the main components of a desktop PC and is necessary to building and maintaining a high-quality computer. The average computer case is made of steel or aluminum. These are the materials that you are likely to see when purchasing a desktop PC directly from a manufacturer.
Many times, when purchasing a case separate from the rest of the PC components, consumers are looking for something different and a bit more durable than the average computer case. These heavy duty computer cases are used primarily by gamers who need extra power and PC protection. They are also excellent choices for video editors who require strength and durability while running their programs for hours.
Computer cases can be purchased for practicality, design, or both. Most cases for gaming and video editing sit upright and provide front and back vents and multiple fans for cooling the unit during continuous use. Some can accommodate as many as 10 fans. Others come with carrying handles for portability and even contain dust filters to keep the PC running as smoothly as possible. If you are excited to show off your home-built computer, you can purchase a clear case that proudly displays the internal features.
What Do I Need To Know Before I Buy?
Picking the right computer case is much more important than simply making sure it has a few USB ports. There are several things you will need to consider before settling on your final choice, especially if you are building your own computer for the first time.
First, determine the size and shape you need. Are you a gamer? Are you simply building a PC to see if you can do it? There’s not a lot to explain here. Once you know what components are going into your computer, you will be able to determine what size and shape your case needs to be. You can choose between a full tower, mid-tower, or mini-tower. Make sure you think about the size and shape of the case's interior in addition to its exterior.
There are several things you will need to consider before settling on your final choice, especially if you are building your own computer for the first time.
Second, find out how many drive bays you need. If you’re heavy into gaming or video editing, drive bays are important. You may want to have options for USB, DVD, and CD-ROM drives. The smaller towers won’t hold as many components and will not provide as many drive bays.
Third, find out how many expansion slots you need and how many your chosen case will support. The more expensive, larger cases for gaming often have multiple expansion slots, but your average computer case won’t have a lot.
Fourth, how will your computer cool itself? Does it have space for multiple interior fans? Again, if you will be using your computer heavily and for long periods of time for gaming or video editing, you will need to have a strong cooling system. Find out the maximum number of fans, vents, and other cooling systems that you will need to expel the heated air and keep your system running smoothly.
Finally, decide on the design that you want. While it’s not crucial to the functioning of your system, face it. You like when something you put time and effort into building looks good. Do you want a tall, colorful tower with lights, bells, and (sometimes literally) whistles? Or do you want something basic and unassuming that will fade into the background of your home or office? No matter what you choose, make sure that it fits your personality and purpose.
A Brief History Of The Computer Case
When the first computer cases were designed, they were built for practicality. They were clunky, unattractive, and ridiculously heavy. They were usually beige in color and needed a Phillips screwdriver and a small construction crew to even begin to access the internal components.
They found that it took them nearly seven years to fully compile the results.
Over time, the manufacturers experimented with the design and began to add new, more user-friendly components so the cases appealed to a wider audience. Not only did they begin to improve the appearance, they also worked on adding components that were useful to a wide range of users. The evolution of the computer case is clear when examining the history of the computer itself.
The United States first noticed a need for computers (or a more efficient system) when attempting to compile data from the U.S. Government census. They found that it took them nearly seven years to fully compile the results. This is when punch-card computers were invented that took up an entire room, back in 1890 in order to compile the 1880 census.
In 1936, Alan Turing invented the Turing Machine that was capable of computing anything. Over the years, many other inventors and engineers built on this concept until computers hit the public market in the 1970s. In 1976, Steve Jobs revolutionized the industry with Apple Computers and released the Apple I – the first computer with a single-circuit board.
By 1981, the first personal computer was introduced by IBM and, along with it, the first clunky, beige, heavy computer case. Over the next two decades, computers would develop by leaps and bounds providing us with the attractive cases and advanced features that we enjoy today.