Best PC Cases 2018: ATX and mini-ITX cases for all budgets

Need a new PC case? We’ve taken 12 of the best to discover which is worth your cash

 

We’ve organised our buying advice to meet the three standard size brackets most builders will adhere to. Scroll down to see our pick of the best, or check out the buying guide below for more information about the different types of PC cases.

Related: Best GPU

PC Cases buying guide

The average computer case might not have processing power, graphical grunt or billions of transistors, but it’s still one of the most important parts of any PC. After all, a high-quality case can take your computing to the next level – and, conversely, a poor unit can hamper your PC’s performance at every level.

We’ve rounded up more than a dozen of the best cases on the market to help you find the chassis for you. They span a range of budgets, from around £30 to almost £250, and they cover a range of sizes: we’ve got enclosures that are shoebox-size, and behemoths that stand more than 650mm tall.

We’ve poked, prodded, dismantled and explored all these enclosures to discover their successes and failures – you can find out which ones are our favourites in each review.

Before then, check out our guide. No matter which case you buy, there will be things to consider before you invest in a new case and start building.

Full Towers

These are often the most versatile products and can include the most PC hardware, which makes them ideal for high-end gaming, mining or work rigs.

Just because these cases can comfortably fit a lot of hardware, doesn’t mean that you can chuck your chips inside and let them take care of themselves, however.

The first thing you’ll need to do is to make sure that you even need a full tower. If you have a machine with multiple graphics cards and lots of water-cooling, or plenty of hard disks, then it will be a good idea. However, if you have a conventional system with one GPU and normal cooling, it’s probably overkill.

If you do need a full-sized tower then get out the tape measure. You’ll want to make sure that it will fit beneath your desk or in the space you’ve got reserved.

You’ll want to ensure that your graphics card will fit properly – some longer models may conflict with hard disk cages – and it’s worth checking that the front of the case includes the ports you need.

If you’re putting together a particularly high-end machine, you’ll need to consider water-cooling compatibility. Virtually every full-tower case will support 240mm radiators, but many will also handle 360mm radiators; some will even house more sizeable hardware.

That’s great for keeping high-end, overclocked components chilled, but it brings more considerations to the fore. You’ll have to plan where the cooling hardware will sit, and ensure that enough air will get to the rest of your components – especially if you’ve installed a radiator at the front of the case.

There are several other small considerations when it comes to building inside a full tower. Make sure you’ve got enough room for any upgrades you want to make in the future, and that the machine will have enough cooling once all of the components are inside – some cases only include one fan by default, so you might have to order more.

Related: Best motherboards

Mid Towers

Mid-range tower cases are the most popular PC enclosures – and with good reason. These cases aren’t as unwieldy as full-size towers, yet still have enough room to house the majority of systems – even if they include a couple of graphics cards or some extensive water-cooling hardware.

The slightly smaller size of these units does bring more concerns to the fore, however.

I mentioned graphics card length in the full-tower section, for instance, but you’ll often find less room for the biggest cards inside some mid-tower cases. And many of these enclosures are narrower, too, so some of the largest air-based processor coolers will struggle to fit inside mid-tower cases.

It’s unusual for a mid-tower case to support water-cooling radiators that are longer than 240mm, and if you want to install two radiators into a mid-sized tower then be very careful: some cases just won’t accept that much hardware, while others will be very cramped.

The relative lack of space means that cable-tidying becomes more important, too, so check if a case has a capacious motherboard tray and plenty of sensibly positioned routing holes. Also ensure that your cooling hardware and power supply won’t rub up against the top or bottom of your motherboard – if that happens, it could prevent access to the memory slots or some other connectors.

Check if you’re happy with the front port selection, and if the case will physically fit into the space you’ve chosen. Examine the strength of the exterior, if you want to take your system to LAN events.

You’ll need good airflow through the case, especially if the front will be occupied with water-cooling hardware – or if you’re going to use overclocked components. And, if you want to add more components in the future, you’ll need the room – whether it’s extra hard disks, a second graphics card or a larger CPU cooler.

Related: Best CPU

Small Cases

There are more tiny PC enclosures on the market these days, because components have become smaller and more efficient. That makes mini-ITX and micro-ATX cases great options for building portable gaming PCs, quiet media systems or compact work computers.

However, these smaller cases also bring a host of new considerations to the table.

Take graphics cards: some small cases just don’t have the room, or the cooling ability, to handle full-size GPUs. Similarly, a lot of tiny enclosures don’t have the space for full-size CPU cooling, which means you’ll need a low-profile cooler. Those considerations mean that the most powerful graphics cards and overclocked processors will be off-limits for the smallest cases.

And, while some smaller cases do support water-cooling hardware, this is another area where you’ll need to be careful. Many all-in-one coolers won’t fit, even if the case does technically support 120mm or 240mm hardware. That’s because their plastic exteriors are sometimes larger and wider than the 120mm or 240mm fans that they use for cooling – and space is at a premium in tiny cases such as this.

Even if you’re running modest components in a smaller case, check the airflow. If there’s no air intake fan or only a small exhaust, your components may become too hot, which will hinder their performance levels and stability.

You may need a specific kind of power supply for a small enclosure, and you may also be restricted in the storage department – some may only be able to accommodate single SSDs and hard disks.

Take more care when choosing a motherboard, too. If you opt for a case that supports micro-ATX motherboards then you’ll have more options for graphics cards, memory support and storage.

However, if the case only supports mini-ITX, you’ll be more restricted. These tiny motherboards generally have only two memory slots, a single PCI Express x16 socket, and fewer storage connections and ports at the rear.

Also, remember that you’ll get hardly any upgrade room inside a smaller enclosure, so take that into consideration if you’re likely to want to beef up your PC in the future.

Related: Best SSD

Full Tower

Antec GX1200 ATX

Antec GX1200 ATX

The low price means it misses some features, but this is an affordable and competent tower

Key features:

  • Solid support for most cooling options
  • Attractive, curved design
  • Lighting control box with numerous colours available

The Antec GX1200 is the cheapest full-tower case here at £73, and it’s also the smallest – so much so, in fact, that it straddles the gap between full-size towers and mid-sized enclosures.

Its 510mm height and 200mm width make it look tiny next to the Cooler Master Cosmos C700P and BeQuiet! Dark Base Pro, and it weighs just 5.5kg. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though – for starters, it makes it far more manageable for frequent transport.

So it’s smaller and cheaper than the competition, then, and its design is a little less extravagant – but it still looks decent. The front and top panels are dominated by large, curved bands of plastic, and the front has a smart slab of mesh. There are LED lights to illuminate an angled section at the bottom of the front panel, and slashed air intake sections at the rear of the top panel.

You get a side window, too, although it’s made of plastic rather than tempered glass. Much of the exterior panelling is plastic. That’s fine for a case at this price, although it does mean that it feels a little flimsier than pricier enclosures that are made exclusively of steel and aluminium.

On the inside, there’s a traditional PSU shroud that also holds two 2.5in/3.5in drive bays. They’ve got plastic, tool-free caddies that are easy to use. There’s another 2.5in drive bay bracket at the rear.

The Antec’s most interesting feature sits behind the motherboard. Antec’s case fans can’t be configured to any RGB LED shade, but the chassis does have a lighting control box. This plastic device is a fan hub with room for six spinners, and it has two buttons to switch between seven colours, numerous effects and several fan speeds. It’s a neat addition, and a button on the front I/O means the colours can also be adjusted without having to take off the rear panel.

Around the front are two more 2.5in drive bay mounts and a huge CPU cut-out. There are plenty of cable-routing holes, and Antec includes two 120mm intake fans and a single 120mm exhaust.

There’s room for 240mm radiators at the top, and the PSU shroud is cut away to allow for 360mm radiators at the front of the chassis. There’s a solid 410mm of GPU space, although CPU space is only average.

The budget price does show itself in some areas, however. The cable-routing holes aren’t ringed, and the lighting is LED rather than RGB. There isn’t a huge amount of room behind the motherboard tray, and there aren’t any extra cable-routing features either. There’s no provision for optical drives, and other cases have more room for extra fans, heftier water-cooling hardware or noise-dampening materials.

That said, a lot of those features are peripheral additions that will only be appreciated or required by a handful of people. The GX1200 remains a solid case that ticks many of the boxes that the majority of PC builders will need – and for a far more competitive price than its rivals.

Price: £73

Score: 7/10

Buy Now: Antec GX1200 ATX at £58 / $77 from Amazon

BeQuiet Dark Base Pro 900

BeQuiet! Dark Base Pro 900

Incredible design and fantastic features, even if few people will be able to appreciate it

Key features:

  • Plenty of features to cut down on noise
  • Huge motherboard and storage versatility
  • More cooling options than almost any other case

The Dark Base Pro 900 is a vast, imposing enclosure that offers a wealth of features for high-end builders who are focused on keeping noise down – but, with a price of £233, you’ll pay to get your hands on this stunning bit of kit.

The door on the front of the case is coated with sound-dampening foam, and the same material is used on the rear side panel and the roof.

Elsewhere, the power supply and hard disk bays are lined with rubber, and the three included 140mm fans – two at the front and one at the rear – are Silent Wings models designed for quiet operation.

There are seven extra fan mounts, and room for mammoth 480mm radiators – you could even have a 480mm unit and 360mm module running at the same time. That will allow you to run the fans at a reduced speed, which should also help to cut back on noise.

The borders of the case are lined with vents to encourage airflow, and PWM-enabled fans mean their speeds can be fine-tuned once they’re connected to the dedicated daughterboard at the rear. Even the screws used to build this chassis have rubber grommets to reduce vibrations.

I’ve never seen a case with so many noise-reducing features, but that’s not all the Dark Base Pro has to offer. The seven individual hard disk bays can be repositioned or removed. The motherboard tray affords similar options: it can be moved up or down to allow for beefier cooling hardware to be installed in the top of the case, or even positioned at the other side of the case.

The motherboard tray has several large cable-routing holes, a huge CPU cut-out, and neat channels to help keep cables tidy. At the rear, you’ll also find a small 2.5in cage.

The front of this case is also intriguing. It has pairs of USB 3 and USB 2 connectors, and two audio jacks. It’s even has an integrated QI charger – handy, if you’re one of the few people with a compatible phone.

Motherboard support stretches to obscure, large form factors such as E-ATX and XL-ATX, and it’s available in black, silver and white as well as in the orange I’ve reviewed here.

Build quality is exceptional thanks to the combination of strong steel and brushed aluminium, although it does contribute to an overall weight of 14.39kg.

BeQuiet includes LED lighting strips with this case, and the accessory box serves up screws, Velcro strips and several other useful bits of kit.

Really, though, the Dark Base Pro’s size, weight and price are the only concerns. The sheer amount of versatility included in this case is fantastic, but only a few people will really need this degree of options – and not many people will need a case of this size, either, especially with component efficiency improving.

If you’re one of the few people who wants to build a huge, powerful machine while keeping the noise down, though – for gaming, demanding work tasks, or mining – then this could be the case for you. It might be a niche product, but it’s brilliant.

Price: £233 inc. VAT

Score: 9/10

Buy Now: BeQuiet! Dark Base Pro 900 at £201 / $266 from Amazon

CoolerMaster C700P

Cooler Master Cosmos C700P

Extravagant and expensive, this is the case to buy if you’re building a high-end, attention-seeking system

Key features:

  • Outlandish, eye-catching physical design
  • A huge range of cooling features
  • Broad support for RGB LEDs

The Cooler Master Cosmos C700P is so big that it stands out even in the full tower category – an area of the market where the biggest enclosures can be found.

It’s 651mm tall, which makes it several centimetres taller than the BeQuiet! Dark Base Pro 900, and it’s 306mm wide – so far chunkier, too. And, at over 22kg, it’s around 50% heavier than the Dark Base Pro. And that’s before any components are added.

A lot of the C700P’s extra height comes from the four chunky bars that adorn the top and bottom of the case. They’re thick, sturdy and function as feet and handles; the former pair allow the case to stand up, improving airflow, while the latter make this huge enclosure a little easier to carry.

The handles and feet are screwed on, which means they can be removed. That adds versatility, and it isn’t the only design that makes this case easier to live with. The Cosmos comes with two 140mm fans at the front and another at the rear, and the side panel is made from curved, tempered glass.

The rear panel is the same shape, but it’s made from metal – and the aluminium and steel used throughout most of this case offers exemplary build quality. The only issues are the PSU shroud and the hard disk cover on the inside – they’re metal, but they’re too flimsy.

The front I/O is excellent. You get four USB 3 ports and a USB 3.1 Type-C connection, and two buttons to alter the lighting: one to change brightness; another to change pattern. That’s better than the ports you get on the Dark Base Pro.

The C700P continues to offer versatility during building. ATX motherboards can be installed using a normal layout, or in a ‘chimney’ layout with the rear IO ports pointing from the top of the machine. They can even sit in an inverted layout that positions the processor at the bottom of the case. The storage bays can be moved, just like on the BeQuiet! enclosure, and Cooler Master sells more if required.

The plastic front panel pulls away easily and is lined with noise-dampening material, and a plastic cover at the rear can be removed just as easily to grant access to the side panel’s hinges. The bottom dust filter stretches along the length of the case and can be slid out easily.

The curved rear panel allows for plenty of room round the back for cables, and you’ll also find two sturdy 2.5in drive bays here. The cable-routing holes are ringed with rubber, and the power supply bracket hangs above the dust filter with generous room for cables.

As usual, there’s plenty of RGB lighting. There are bars of light around the front I/O and along the top, and matching bars at the bottom. The rear fan is also equipped with illuminations.

There’s extensive cooling support, too. The top supports 360mm radiators, and 420mm radiators can be installed at the front. There’s 198mm of CPU cooler clearance – the most of any of the large cases I’ve tested – and 490mm of GPU space.

The Cosmos C700P is the most expensive case in this group, but it justifies its price with a huge selection of features. It offers extensive cooling support, versatile I/O, easy access and lots of good cable-routing options.

It doesn’t have the noise-dampening features of the BeQuiet! chassis, but it does sport a bolder design and support for every kind of machine. If you’re building a vast, powerful PC and want its case to make a statement, the Cooler Master Cosmos C700P is an outstanding choice.

Price: £274 inc. VAT

Score: 9/10

Buy Now: Cooler Master Cosmos C700P at £249 / $289 from Amazon

Mid Tower

Corsair Carbide Spec-Omega

Corsair Carbide Spec-Omega

Extravagant looks are bolstered by solid, well thought-out internals

Key features:

  • Angular, eye-catching design
  • Good storage options for hard disks and SSDs
  • Solid build and easy cable-routing

The Corsair Carbide Spec-Omega is one of the most striking mid-tower cases available. Its front and top panels are divided into two sections by dramatic slashes, one half blaring out in a variety of colours and the other half-decorated by black mesh at the top and tempered glass.

The two panels incline outwards to meet at a point. The side panel is made entirely of tempered glass, and the case sits on large, angled feet. The two sections of the front panel are divided by a strip of light that corresponds to the colour of the external panels – red, in this case.

It makes for a case that looks far more striking than the plain Raijintek, the boxy In Win or the derivative Kolink models.

Corsair includes 120mm intake and exhaust fans, and two more fans can also be installed at the front – or, alternatively, radiators up to 360mm are also supported. In addition, there’s room for more fans or a slimmer radiator at the top. The PSU is mounted on rubber feet and has a dust filter – the only one included.

Storage space is solid. At the base, there’s a small cage with plastic, tool-free bays accessed from the rear panel. On the back of the motherboard tray are three 2.5in drive bays where SSDs simply slot into place. It’s as much storage space as any rival offers – and it’s easier to use than cheaper enclosures.

The CPU-cooling cutout is one of the biggest found anywhere, and there are plenty of rubber-ringed cable-routing holes. The only mainstream features missing on the inside are a PSU shroud and a fan controller. The former would have been particularly handy to make building even easier.

The Corsair offers 170mm of CPU cooler headroom, which is a little more than most other mid-tower cases. The 370mm of GPU space is fine, although enclosures such as the Raijintek Arcadia offer more.

The Corsair is simpler than some of its rivals, with no PSU shroud or other high-end features – but this isn’t a bad thing. Instead, the Corsair offers good design in more conventional areas: the motherboard tray is excellent, there are decent storage bays, and plenty of scope for cooling.

It looks more ostentatious than any other mid-tower, thanks to its asymmetrical, angular design – and it’s available in black and white models, or in an RGB variant that costs £45 more. If you want a case that you can really show off, it’s a fine choice.

Price: £95 inc. VAT

Score: 8/10

Buy Now: Corsair Carbide Spec-Omega at £74 / $78 from Amazon

In Win 300

In Win 303

Enviable build quality and good water-cooling options, but a little rough around the edges elsewhere

Key features:

  • Rock-solid build quality
  • Unusual design with PSU mounted in the roof
  • Solid support for water-cooling

The In Win 303 is a case of two halves. On the outside, it’s smart and subtle – almost dull, in fact. On the inside, however, it has one of the most unique layouts we’ve seen. Open the side panel – which is made of tempered glass and uses a smart, albeit stiff, handle – and you’ll see what we mean.

The top half of the case is divided by a huge slab of metal that’s covered with hexagonal vents. This is used to house the power supply and its cables, and it also has three 120mm fan mounts.

The top-mounted power supply means that the motherboard needs to sit below. The In Win accepts conventional ATX boards, and the front portion of the case also features a pair of 2.5in drive mounts – although they’re not tool-free. There are two mounts at the rear that handle 3.5in and 2.5in drives.

The three fan mounts at the top are paired with a pre-installed 120mm exhaust and three 120mm mounts at the bottom of the case. They’re all protected with a wide dust filter, and they ensure that air flows from the bottom of the In Win to the top – albeit with the oxygen taking right-angles to the exhaust fans.

The trio of mounts at the top and bottom of the case can also hold water-cooling radiators up to 360mm in length, and the motherboard tray has a smart installation system for reservoirs. The CPU cutout is sizeable, and the 160mm of CPU cooler room and 350mm of GPU clearance should sate the majority of builds.

The entire chassis is made from a black steel that feels rock-solid, with enviable strength throughout its external panels and interior skeleton. The front serves up four USB ports and two audio jacks, which is generous.

However, there are downsides. The front panel is dominated by an illuminated In Win logo that some may find ugly, and the rest of the case has underwhelming, plain lines and a few sharp corners.

It’s heavy, at nearly 11kg, and there aren’t any extra channels or cable-ties at the rear for keeping wires neat – so that may lead to a messy machine. There isn’t a vast amount of room behind the motherboard tray, either, and neither is there a fan controller.

The In Win 303 may not be the most versatile case, then, but there’s still ample support for water-cooling and enough room to fit virtually any component inside. Combine that with the mid-range price and the rock-solid build quality, and you’ve got a heavy-hitter that’s ideal for placement beneath a desk.

Price: £100

Score: 7/10

Buy Now: In Win 303 at £89.99 / $89 from Amazon

Kolink Observatory

Kolink Observatory

A little too plain, even if the price is right

Key features:

  • Four RGB LED fans included – with remote control
  • Tempered-glass side panel
  • Cheaper than many other mid-tower cases

Kolink’s latest mid-tower case is a budget offering that focuses on delivering solid features and build quality rather than blinding, envelope-pushing style.

Its 201mm width and 435mm height are entirely conventional, and several of the design features seem familiar. The front panel is made from tempered glass, and it sits in front of three 120mm fans and a panel of honeycomb plastic.

The fans are filled with RGB LEDs, and the entire effect is reminiscent of the far more expensive Corsair Crystal 570X – albeit without a dust filter. We do like the fan controller included – it’s a little remote control that switches between lighting effects and colours. The box that configures the fans can be positioned anywhere, and it also alters the RGB fan that functions as the exhaust.

The top of the case is covered with a magnetic dust filter, just like the NZXT H400i and Corsair’s smaller Carbide cases. You get three USB ports – although only one is of the USB 3.0 variety – and two audio jacks. There’s a reset button, but no audio jacks.

The main side panel is made entirely from tinted, tempered glass – a nice touch. On the inside, a PSU shroud stretches across the bottom of the chassis – another feature found on many other mid-tower enclosures.

The shroud is sturdy, even if it looks a bit plain. The PSU is protected with a dust filter, but it doesn’t sit on rubber pads. And, while the shroud has room for two 3.5in hard disks, there are no plastic bays to make installation simpler. Disappointingly, there aren’t any mountings for 2.5in drives at the rear.

Still, the relatively simple interior does mean that there’s plenty of room to build inside this case. The motherboard tray has plenty of cable-routing holes, even if they don’t have rubber grommets, and all the pre-installed cables are of a reasonable length.

Water-cooling radiators up to 240mm in length can be installed at the front and in the roof, although those placed in the roof will hit motherboards if they have chunky heatsinks.

There’s plenty of CPU cooler clearance, however, and there won’t be any problems with installing one or two chunky graphics cards – the lack of a vertical storage cage means no metallic conflicts.

The RGB LEDs at the front are an attractive touch, and the relatively minimal interior does make it easy to build inside the Kolink Observatory. However, the design veers between dull and derivative, and this case isn’t exactly laden with extra features – even if it will do a perfectly serviceable job with most builds.

Price: £67 inc. VAT

Score: 7/10

Buy Now: Kolink Observatory at £61 / $80 from Amazon

Raijintek Arcadia

Raijintek Arcadia

Key features:

  • Far cheaper than any rival
  • Solid room inside for building a conventional system
  • Plenty of storage space

This mid-tower case from Raijintek is the cheapest enclosure in this group by some distance – at just £30, it’s half the price of the Kolink and even further behind the Corsair and In Win models.

The aesthetics are suitably modest. The front panel is made from plastic mesh and features a small Raijintek logo, and you get a single USB 3 port, a slower USB 2 connection and a pair of audio jacks. The rest of the panels are plain, with no side window in sight.

The lower price means you get a somewhat dated internal layout. There’s no PSU shroud, which is unusual in 2018, and the front-third is dominated by a storage cage – a retro feature these days.

The cage has three tool-free bays for 3.5in drives that handily face the side of the chassis, but the bays don’t have caddies. There are three optical drive bays and support for two 2.5in drives. There’s still room for 400mm graphics cards, which is good, but the Arcadia is slightly narrow and only supports 160mm CPU coolers.

The motherboard tray has cable-routing holes, but they don’t have rubber grommets. There’s space behind the motherboard and the extruded panel adds a little more room, but for cable storage it’s still lacking. In addition, the CPU cutout is tiny which may be an issue for chunkier coolers.

Raijintek includes dust filters for the top panel and the PSU, but they’re not pre-installed. The Arcadia isn’t brimming with accessories, either – you get the relevant screws, but no cable-ties, Velcro strips or fan management features.

Cooling options, too, are sparse. A 120mm exhaust fan is included, but there’s no intake fan. Thankfully, there are enough fan inputs to cover most eventualities – and the front panel is made of mesh, which will aid airflow. The middling cooling means that we’re also pleased that this case will likely house more modest builds.

Raijintek says that the top of the case supports 240mm water-cooling radiators, but if that kind of hardware is used then it will get in the way of more sizeable motherboards. It will also be a little tight to install some 120mm coolers on the exhaust mount.

Build quality isn’t great, either. The metal and plastic throughout is flimsy. It will be fine if this machine will be sat beneath a desk, but it isn’t the best option if you want to lug this chassis to LAN parties and gaming events.

Still, it’s worth remembering that this is a £30 case – and while it doesn’t have enviable strength or come with lots of extra features, it does tick the basic boxes. It has enough space to put together a capable ATX build, and there’s enough room to add reasonable cooling – even if only one fan is included as standard. If you’re building on a budget, you could do a lot worse.

Price: £30 inc. VAT

Score: 6/10

Buy Now: Raijintek Arcadia at £41 / $39 from Amazon

Small cases

Cooler Master MasterBox Q300P

Cooler Master MasterBox Q300P

Larger than most small-form-factor cases, but justifies its size with plenty of features.

Key features:

  • More cooling and versatility than most small cases
  • Includes several fans and RGB LEDs
  • Neat, removable handles for LAN party transport

The Cooler Master MasterBox Q300P might be a chassis designed for small motherboards, but it’s still one of the largest examples we’ve seen. It’s 450mm tall and 230mm wide.

That might not make this case ideal for tiny spaces, but there’s plenty here to recommend. The Q300P goes one further than the Raijintek Metis and Kolink Rocket by supporting both mini-ITX and micro-ATX motherboards. This means plenty of versatility when it comes to cooling support, graphics hardware and adding extra storage.

It looks good, with glossy plastic on the front and the roof, and sharp lines and angles featuring throughout the design. The rubber handles are useful, and one side panel is made of clear Perspex.

This is a relatively cheap case, however, so build quality is inconsistent. The steel frame is sturdy enough and the handles are strong, but the plastic panels are a bit too flimsy.

The larger design means that there’s room for a full-size PSU, and there’s a proper motherboard tray with cable-routing holes. The spacious and conventional layout means it’s easier to keep cables tidy, and you get a moderate 157mm of CPU cooler clearance and room to install full-size graphics cards.

The compact Q300P borrows features from conventional towers. The air intakes are kitted out with dust filters, and 120mm intake and exhaust fans are included. You can upgrade those fans to 140mm spinners, and you can also add a 240mm water-cooling radiator at the front. There’s space at the rear for a 120mm radiator, and room for two more fans at the top. This case can cater for a single 3.5in hard disk and two 2.5in drives, but there’s no room for an optical drive.

Cooler Master has crammed the Q300P full of on-trend RGB LEDs. The front intake fans are illuminated, and the Q300P is compatible with lighting software from ASRock, MSI, Gigabyte and Asus. Further LEDs sit behind a small panel at the top of the front panel.

Elsewhere, the conventional layout is enhanced with smarter features. The four rubber handles can be removed, and the front I/O panel – which features pairs of USB 3 and audio jacks – can be moved around the side of the case. One set of side panel thumbscrews is rubber-coated, so they can be used as feet if the case is positioned horizontally.

The Q300P is large for a mini-ITX and micro-ATX case, but the interior could still feel cramped if you install plenty of hardware – especially if you use liquid-cooling. Still, there’s ample opportunity here for full-sized components, good cable-routing and plenty of fans, so it should be relatively easy to keep temperatures down.

This is an excellent case – even if it isn’t the smallest or the sturdiest here. It borrows useful features from larger cases while also including plenty of its own innovations, and the handles make it an ideal LAN party PC. At £65, it’s isn’t too expensive either.

Price: £65 inc. VAT

Score: 9/10

Buy Now: Cooler Master MasterBox Q300P at £64 / $69 from Amazon

Kolink Rocket

Kolink Rocket

Smart, slim and with room for full-sized GPUs – but it isn’t cheap

Key features:

  • Impressively slim and solid build
  • Accepts full-size graphics cards thanks to smart extension cable
  • More expensive than its mini-ITX competition

The Kolink Rocket is one of the most expensive mini-ITX cases around – but also one of the slimmest. It’s only 125mm wide, which makes it even narrower than the tiny Raijintek Metis. It’s longer, at 328mm, but that tiny width makes it a tempting proposition if space for a PC installation is tight.

On the outside, this case is similar to the Metis. It’s made of brushed aluminium, with a subtle power button and two USB ports. The Rocket isn’t available in different colours and it doesn’t come with a window, but its aluminium is thicker and sturdier than the metal used on the cheaper Raijintek.

The Rocket differs on the inside, too, since the slim design means that Kolink has had to be more thoughtful with the internals. The Rocket is divided into two compartments, with a steel dividing wall in-between. The motherboard is installed on one side, with the graphics card at the rear. Storage can be smartly installed into a sunken, removable tray beneath the rig; this serves up two 2.5in bays.

The graphics card connects to the motherboard using a smart riser cable. It’s a neat solution, and it means that the Rocket can accept graphics cards up to 310mm in length – in essence, full-size cards with dual-slot coolers. That’s a big step up from the tiny Metis, which accepted only 170mm cards.

Conversely, the Rocket accepts only SFX power supplies. There’s plenty of choice in this area of the market, at least, and PSUs install neatly into a removable bracket at the top of the case. There’s a solid amount of room beneath for cable storage, which helps airflow through the rest of the case.

Both side panels are milled with dozens of holes to aid cooling, although this is one area where we’re still a little concerned. The Rocket includes only a single 80mm exhaust fan, and it’s an exhaust. The milled holes mean this case will be more effective than the Metis, but it’s still something to keep an eye on.

The Rocket is a svelte, solid bit of kit, but it isn’t without issues. There’s only 54mm clearance for CPU coolers, which means you’re restricted to low-profile heatsinks – the Metis offered far more scope for cooling. Elsewhere, you don’t get audio ports or a reset button, and the sticky rubber feet feel cheap. There’s no room for an optical drive, either.

There’s still much to like about this case, however. Its better GPU compatibility and numerous cooling vents make it a superior option for gaming than the Metis, and it’s just as adept with more conventional computing – so it’s a good option for media, office tasks or general-purpose computing. Just be aware that it’s a lot more expensive than its rival, and just as fiddly to use when building.

Price: £130

Score: 8/10

Buy Now: Kolink Rocket at £149 / $179 from Amazon

NZXT H400i

Expensive, but justifies the price with decent features and good quality throughout

Key features:

  • Numerous air- and water-cooling options
  • Lots of routes for neat cable tidying
  • Fan controller included

NZXT’s small-form-factor chassis is one of the most popular cases on the market. It’s also provides support for small motherboards while borrowing practical features from larger enclosures.

Many of the H400i’s additions come from the firm’s larger H700i. For starters, the two-tone design: the front and top panel are white, while the top dust filter, side air intakes and much of the interior is black. It’s available in red, blue and black models, too, and it has a tempered-glass side panel.

Elsewhere, the cable-cover from the larger case makes its way to this smaller model. It’s a strip of white metal that sits in the middle of the case, and it can be used to conceal and organise wires. There are numerous cable-routing holes, and behind the motherboard tray you’ll find a generous number of plastic channels and Velcro ties.

This is also where you’ll find NZXT’s pre-installed fan controller. It’s a box that sits above the cable channels, and it can be used with NZXT’s CAM software to alter fan speeds and RGB lighting from within Windows.

There are pairs of 140mm fan mounts at the front and in the roof, and a 120mm mount at the rear. The NZXT also supports 280mm water-cooling radiators at the front and 120mm units at the rear. You can’t attach a radiator to the roof, but that’s minor when so much can be deployed elsewhere.

The PSU shroud serves up a neat 2.5in drive caddy, and at the rear you’ll find two more small drive caddies. Sadly, there’s no optical drive and only support for a single 3.5in drive – the same loadout as the Cooler Master, but one fewer than you get with the Phanteks.

Like the Cooler Master, the NZXT supports mini-ITX and micro-ATX motherboards. That makes the case itself larger, and it adds versatility – those larger motherboards allow for greater memory, more graphics power and extra connectivity. The Phanteks’ chassis only supported mini-ITX boards.

The large CPU cooler cut-out is helpful, too, and you get an impressive 164mm of cooler clearance – more than either rival. The GPU clearance of 411mm is better than the Cooler Master and Phanteks cases, too.

The ample headroom, CPU cut-out, cable-tidying strut and PSU shroud make it easier to build in this case, which is important on smaller models.

The NZXT’s biggest issue isn’t anything to do with the H400i at all – it’s the price. At £104, this case is almost twice as expensive as its rivals from Cooler Master and Phanteks.

If you have extra cash to spend, then, this is an excellent choice: it looks the part, it has a great layout for building, and there are plenty of cooling options. Just remember that rivals are cheaper whilst continuing to offer a high-quality experience.

Price: £105 inc. VAT

Score: 9/10

Buy Now: NZXT H4ooi at £123 / $139 from Amazon

Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ITX

Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ITX

Great build quality and ATX-style features make for a versatile, capable case

Key features:

  • Rock-solid build quality and desktop-style design
  • More options for cooling than most mini-ITX cases
  • Plenty of room for storage

The Phanteks Enthoo Evolv is one of the most popular mini-ITX cases on the market – no surprise given its affordable £68 price.

Its popularity is paired with a curious design. This case may only accept the smallest consumer motherboard format, but it takes a lot of design cues from Phanteks’ own full-size towers.

The motherboard is attached to a traditional tray with rubber-ringed cable-routing holes, and full-size power supplies sit beneath a metal PSU shroud. Here you’ll find two tool-free 3.5in drive bays with sound-absorbing washers, and a small cage above serves up room for more 2.5in drives. That small cage can be removed, which is necessary for installing long graphics cards.

On the back of the motherboard tray is a small bracket for 2.5in drives, and the cables at the rear are neatly tied down with Phanteks-branded Velcro strips.

These neat touches come directly from Phanteks’ larger enclosures. Another feature that’s made the trip to mini-ITX is the removable bracket in the roof of the case. This smart bit of metal slides out to accept 120mm or 240mm water-cooling radiators.

The aesthetics, too, are borrowed from Phanteks’ larger cases. The recessed front panel serves up two USB 3 ports and two audio jacks, and the metal roof panel is flanked by small, meshed sections. One side panel is made of tempered glass, but you can save five quid by eschewing the window.

There’s a dust filter beneath the power supply, and another at the front of the case. A huge 200mm fan is installed at the front of the case, but no exhaust is provided.

Size-wise, the Enthoo Evolv is 230mm wide and 375mm tall – so it’s just as wide as the Cooler Master MasterBox Q300P, but a bit shorter. However, the Q300P does have carrying handles and supports micro-ATX motherboards as well as a greater number of RGB LEDs, so it beats the Enthoo in those departments.

In most respects, however, the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv is an excellent mini-ITX case – and most of its triumphs come from replicating features from full-size models. The traditional layout, storage bays and motherboard tray make building easier, and the build quality and cooling options are top-notch, too.

You could build a mini-ITX system that’s smaller, or easier to carry to LAN events, but the Evolv offers loads of features and great quality in a relatively compact case – and for a reasonable £68.

Price: £68 inc. VAT

Score: 9/10

Buy Now: Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ITX at £65 / $79 from Amazon

Raijintek Metis

Raijintek Metis

The tiny, smart and solid design makes this ideal for media or home use, but the lack of cooling rules out gaming

Key features:

  • Aluminium design; available in several colours
  • Smaller than almost every rival
  • Surprisingly cheap

The Raijintek Metis is tiny, even for a mini-ITX case. It’s just 190mm wide and 254mm tall, and it stretches 277mm from front to back. That makes it about half the size of the Cooler Master MasterBox Q300P and NZXT H400i, for instance.

The Metis’ exterior is made entirely from brushed aluminium. The front panel has a smart, snappy power button and a discreet logo, and the top panel has a meshed cover. One side panel has a plastic window, while the other has machined holes for better cooling. My review sample is silver, but Raijintek sells the Metis in black, blue, red, green and white – and without a window.

The top of the machine has pairs of USB 3.0 ports and audio jacks, and the inside serves up a 120mm fan. Build quality is reasonable for this level of case – the panels all sit flush – although there are too many sharp edges. There’s no reset button, and no room for an optical drive.

The interior has a vertical mount for the power supply, and a black bracket behind the PSU mount holds the mini-ITX motherboard and a mount for a 2.5in storage drive. There are 2.5in mounts at the bottom of the case, too, although chunky motherboards may render them unusable.

Above the motherboard, at the top of the case, is a space that can be used for graphics cards. And then finally, at the top, there’s a slim bay for one 3.5in hard disk.

There’s a lot to like about this case, but its compact dimensions do mean that building can be fiddly. The motherboard needs to be installed upside-down, and the PSU leans right up against the board. Cables need to be crammed into the space above the power supply, and graphics cards can only be 170mm long – so that rules out the market’s biggest and beefiest GPUs.

There’s 160mm of clearance for CPU coolers, which is fine, but the single case fan functions as an exhaust, which is a concern. That means there’s no fan pulling air into the case unless you switch the exhaust fan around yourself. You can’t add fans, either, and there’s no room for water-cooling.

The lack of proper cooling support and the relatively small space for graphics cards means the Metis isn’t suitable for gaming rigs. However, there’s still a lot to like: the case is tiny, light and affordable, and build quality is solid. That makes it ideal to sit beside the TV or in an office – or for use as a general-purpose PC when space is tight.

Price: £48

Score: 8/10

Buy Now: Raijintek Metis at £52 / $66 from Amazon

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