If you want the best in cooling and expandability for your PC build, then finding the best ATX case is the obvious choice. In this article, we’re going to cover our six top picks for the best ATX case, each targeted at a different niche — Best Airflow, Best RGB, Best Liquid Cooling, Best Budget, Best Small and Best Slim ATX cases.
In addition to a detailed breakdown of each chassis and what it has to offer, we’ll also be providing a detailed buying guide at the bottom of the article, just in case (pun intended) you aren’t sure how to choose from our selection.
What Is the Best ATX Case?
Now that you know why we’re here and what we’re doing, let’s dive into it!
Dimensions and Size: 18.5 x 8.2 x 18.3 inches, Mid Tower | Front Panel Type: Mesh | Side Panel Window Type: Tempered Glass | Color Options: Black, White | GPU Clearance: 280 mm with drive cages, 420 mm without | Drive Bays: 2 2.5, 3 2.5 | Fan Capacity: 3x 120/140 mm front fans (included), 2x top 120/140 mm fans, 1x 120 mm rear fan | Lighting: 3 RGB Intake Fans Included | Front Panel USB Ports: 2 USB 3.0
The Phanteks Eclipse P400A RGB is our pick for best airflow case. Even before adding an exhaust fan, the out-of-box airflow provided by the three included fans and mesh front panel ensures that the inside of your system stays nice and cool. (And if you’re worried about there not being an exhaust fan, you can either slap in a cheap one or just move one of the included fans to the back. You don’t need to, though!)
In addition to the great raw airflow, this is just a great case all-around. The fans are RGB and you have a tempered glass side panel, so that extra bit of visual flair is there. The interior is spacious, with plenty of room for drives, your GPU, and cable management. You also have a dedicated PSU basement, which is always a nice-to-have extra.
The only real downside is the price. Especially at the time of writing and due to certain external conditions, you may end up needing to spend more than $100 on this case.
Additionally, the RGB in this case is controlled by an onboard fan controller, not an RGB port you can synchronize with your motherboard and other components. If you’re trying to get a crazy-intricate RGB setup, we recommend taking a look at our #6 pick instead.
Note: While the non-RGB version is also an option and will save a bit of money upfront, you’ll still need to buy two more fans in order to achieve the same level of performance. If you want the best performance with as little hassle as possible, and want RGB on top of it, we still recommend going with the RGB version of this case.
Verdict: Best Airflow ATX Case
Dimensions and Size: 17.5 x 10.7 x 17.5 inches, Full Tower | Front Panel Type: Solid with Ventilation | Side Panel Window Type: Tempered Glass | Color Options: Black, White, Silver | GPU Clearance: 420 mm | Drive Bays: 2 3.5, 4 2.5 | Fan Capacity: 3 120/140 mm Top, 3 120mm Side/Front, 3 120mm Bottom | Lighting: N/A | Front Panel USB Ports: 1 USB 3.1 Type-C, 2 USB 3.0
The Lian Li PC-011 Dynamic is our pick for best Liquid Cooling ATX Case. It’s huge, and it’s built for a truly insane level of customization and raw performance.
The tempered glass side panel (which also takes up part of the front panel) shows off pretty much the entirety of the PC’s insides, allowing you to show off your build to a pretty much unprecedented level. While this also results in an unconventional airflow solution, it’s still a fairly strong one.
You can mount up to 3 120 mm fans each on the top, side, and bottom panels. And since they’re all three 120 mm slots back-to-back, that means you can also install a massive 360 mm radiator in any one of those three slots. The ample open space on the bottom of the case is also perfect for mounting a reservoir, provided you want to do a custom loop setup.
The rear compartment offers plenty of space for drives, your PSU, and cable management as well. This is a very beefy case, but it is built for truly high-end builds. The materials show it, and the price tag does, too.
While it’s unfortunate that this case costs as much as it does and doesn’t include any fans, we aren’t really mad about it. This is a very premium product, and it doesn’t try to pretend to be anything else. If you aren’t interested in flexing off a high-end build inside this case, then it definitely isn’t for you- otherwise, we say go for it.
Verdict: Best Liquid Cooling ATX Case
Dimensions and Size: 18.2 x 8.07 x 14.4 inches, Mid Tower | Front Panel Type: Mesh | Side Panel Window Type: Acrylic | Color Options: Black, White, Grey, Blue, Red | GPU Clearance: 380 mm | Drive Bays: 2 5.25, 2 3.5, 1 2.5 | Fan Capacity: 2x 129/140 mm front fans (2 120 included), 2x 120/140 mm top fans, 1x 120 mm rear fan, 1x 120 mm bottom fan | Lighting: 2 White LED Fans included | Front Panel USB Ports: 1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0
The Fractal Design Focus G is our pick for best budget ATX case.
Despite being one of the cheapest ATX cases out there, this case isn’t really slacking in any category. You get a mesh front panel for good airflow, two included white LED fans, a ton of different color options to choose from, and fairly spacious internals. Fractal Design may be a brand name associated with high-end options, but this is easily one of the best ATX cases you can get for your dollar.
There are some premium features missing, mind- for instance, you aren’t going to see stuff like a PSU basement or a tempered glass side panel here. You’re also getting white LED fans rather than RGB fans, but if that really bothers you, spending extra for RGB fans probably won’t bother you too much.
The only real downside that sticks out to us is the fact that both of the fans are pushed upfront. We’d rather have one of the fans functioning as an exhaust, or see a slight price-hike to add a non-LED exhaust fan. It’s not a big deal, though- you can just move one of the fans to the back or slap in a cheap one to make up for this one. (If you do move one of the front fans to the back, we recommend doing so with the bottom fan.)
Also, fun benefit: this is actually the only case on this list with a 5.25-inch drive bay! It actually has two. If you’re one of those PC users out there still stubbornly holding onto physical media, then this is definitely a nice feature to have. (That being said, you could also just get an external card-reader or DVD/Blu-Ray drive…you don’t need an internal 5.25-inch drive these days.)
Verdict: Best Budget ATX Case
Dimensions and Size: 16.7 x 8.4 x 18.26 inches, Mid Tower | Front Panel Type: Solid (ventilated) | Side Panel Window Type: Acrylic | Color Options: N/A | GPU Clearance: 370 mm | Drive Bays: 3 2.5, 2 3.5 | Fan Capacity: 1x 120 mm rear fan (included), 3x 120mm front fan (1 included), 2x 120 mm top fans | Lighting: N/A | Front Panel USB Ports: 2 USB 3.0
The Corsair Carbide 400C is our pick for best Small ATX case, mainly because it’s…well, one of the smallest ATX cases, but still pretty feature and space-rich.
Out-of-the-box, basic airflow is intact with one intake and one exhaust fan. (We recommend mounting the intake fan in the middle or the top for the best airflow, though.) You also have the nifty extras of a tempered glass side panel- with a handle!– and a PSU/drive basement. The expected cable management compartment is in the back, and so are all the top-and-front fan mounts you would expect.
Honestly, this is pretty much just a standard ATX case in a smaller-than-usual package. And we don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. The other small ATX cases in this roundup make some compromises in order to hit that smaller size target, and this one is fairly standard. It costs about the same as most ATX cases, too.
The only downside is the front panel, which is solid-but-ventilated rather than mesh. The intake fans here aren’t going to have as much to work with, so if you plan on putting a super-high-end build in this one, we’d also recommend getting some extra 120 mm fans to slap in up-front or up-top to improve the airflow situation. We don’t know why so many case manufacturers seem to prioritize aesthetics above airflow, but we wish they’d get with the program.
Verdict: Best Small ATX Case
Dimensions and Size: 14.6 x 5.5 x 17.8 inches, Slim Tower | Front Panel Type: Perforated | Side Panel Window Type: Acrylic | Color Options: N/A | GPU Clearance: 310 mm | Drive Bays: 2 3.5/2.5 | Fan Capacity: 2 120 mm front fans (included), 1 120 mm top fan | Lighting: N/A | Front Panel USB Ports: 2 USB 3.0 Type-A, 2 USB 2.0 Type-A
The Thermaltake Core G3 is our pick for best slim ATX case. If you want an ATX case in the smallest possible form factor, then the Core G3 is here for you.
First, let’s talk the positives. You have two 120 mm intake fans pre-installed, and just about every side of this case, except the window side, is thoroughly ventilated to allow hot air to escape. As long as you have this case in a space with some breathing room, its thermal performance should be just fine.
However, you will need to build with its thin form factor in mind, which restricts the height of any CPU coolers you could install inside (up to 110 mm, which is in line with most SFF PC builds). Despite being a full ATX case, you’ll also be restricted to just one dual-slot card, which will need to be mounted vertically with the included PCIe riser and vertical GPU mount. You will also need to get an SFX PSU, which raises the price point of any planned build in this chassis.
Following the example set by Thermaltake’s own product images, you’ll want to go for a high-end liquid cooling setup if you plan on doing a high-end build in this chassis, especially a custom loop setup. As surprisingly-functional as that looks, it’s still (we feel) an odd recommendation for a SFF case with a tempered glass side panel.
While this case performs well and accomplishes its goal of being a slim ATX case, we want to advise some caution. Unless you’re an experienced PC builder, this might not be the right choice for you. If you’re still eager for a smaller PC, you may want to take a look at our Mini ITX or Micro ATX case roundups, as most of those are more straightforward to work with than this one.
Even so…it’s the best at what it is, which is being a great slim ATX case. If that’s what you want, here it is!
Verdict: Best Slim ATX Case
#6. NZXT H710i
Dimensions and Size: 12.5 x 20.3 x 19.4 inches, Full Tower | Front Panel Type: Solid (Ventilated) | Side Panel Window Type: Tempered Glass | Color Options: White/Black, Black/Red, Black/White | GPU Clearance: 413 mm | Drive Bays: 5 2.5, 4 3.5 | Fan Capacity: 3x 120/140 mm front fans (included), 1x 120/140 mm fan (1 140 included), 3x 120/140mm top fans | Lighting: 2 RGB LED Strips | Front Panel USB Ports: 1 USB 3.2 Type-C, 1 USB 3.2 Type-A
Last but certainly not least is the NZXT H710i, our pick for the best RGB ATX case. If you don’t really care about RGB, you can save some money and opt for the no-RGB version, which is still a fairly premium solution.
The NZXT H710i is a beefy case built for aesthetics before anything else. The multiple color options and included RGB LED strips lean into that, as well as the sleek, modern design language. There’s also an increasingly-trendy vertical GPU mount included, which is ideal for those looking to flex their cutting-edge graphics card. (You’ll need to bring your own riser cable, though.)
So, it’s built to look really slick. It also has a dedicated PSU/drives/cable management basement, space for mounting a reservoir for a custom loop cooling setup, and a ton of fan mounts. A ton of included fans, too- three 120 mm intake fans, as well as one 120 mm exhaust fan, come pre-installed! This was probably necessary, though, because the front panel is using a solid-but-ventilated design that would otherwise limit airflow. A bright side of the nearly-sealed front panel is that fan noise is pretty much gone, though.
(If you don’t care about a solid front panel and just want better airflow performance, you can pop off the front panel. There is still a dust filter there, but your intake fans will see worlds more access to cool air. Just be sure to blast ’em with compressed air every month or so with your PC safely powered off, and it should be fine!)
If you can afford it, this is a truly great case to have. It looks great, it has some nifty extras (like a USB Type-C port), plenty of drive bays, a ton of included fans, and a single-screw tempered glass side panel. And again, if you don’t care about RGB- you can just get the H710 instead, and save some cash.
Verdict: Best RGB ATX Case / Best-Looking ATX Case
How To Pick The Best ATX Case For You
In this section, we’re going to discuss various specifications and how they impact your experience. Even if you aren’t particularly savvy when it comes to case technology or PC hardware, this section should give you all of the information you need to know to make an informed buying decision, today or in the future.
Let’s get into it!
Front Panel Type and how it impacts Airflow
You may notice that we list Front Panel Type fairly frequently, but you may not know why. While some cases are built a little differently to provide airflow in a different way (the Lian Li case being a fine example), most cases use their front panels for air intake, and the way these front panels are built can give you a pretty good idea of how air will flow through them.
The worst-case scenario for thermal performance is a solid front panel, with no ventilation to speak of. These have fortunately fallen out of favor, but a few years ago manufacturers were doing this a lot in order to prioritize aesthetics, and actual performance tended to suffer as a result.
Better but still not great is a solid front panel but with ventilation added, either on the front panel itself or on the sides. This can be seen with the NZXT H710i and some other cases on our list. While this ventilation still provides access to fresh, cool air for the fans, it’s still a limited supply. Compensating for this will require more fans installed.
Better, but with exact performance depending on the size and placements of the perforations, is a perforated front panel. This means large holes punched into the panel in order to allow air to flow through. While this is certainly better than a full-solid front panel, your results may actually vary quite a lot with this.
The best case scenario for airflow (outside of just taking the front panel off entirely) is a mesh front panel. Mesh front panels provide the best access to open air. All of your best airflow cases will use a mesh front panel for this reason, and if performance is your main/only concern, then this is definitely the way to go.
Side Panel Window Types and why they matter
Side panel windows have nothing to do with thermal performance, but everything to do with aesthetics. Unfortunately, product images alone don’t tend to tell the full story with these. You’ll want to know what kind of window you’re getting to get a good idea of its performance, and we’ll cover that here for your benefit.
Older and most common is Acrylic. Acrylic isn’t glass- rather, it’s a kind of plastic. It’s a sensible inclusion, though, since it’s fairly durable while still providing a decent look into your chassis. Where Acrylic falters is with time, as it is prone to fogging up over long periods, becoming more and more opaque over time. Even new, it isn’t as transparent as a proper glass window would be.
However, the visibility downsides can be alleviated with a larger window and more internal case lighting, via LED strips, fans, and other components. Additionally, it is much cheaper than tempered glass.
Newer and less common is Tempered Glass. Emphasis on “tempered”- regular old glass would be far too fragile to use in a PC case, and would be outright dangerous, since it would shatter into large chunks that are more likely to hurt you. Tempered glass is reinforced for greater durability than standard glass, and is built so that if it breaks, it shatters into a bunch of tiny-but-harmless pieces, which is much less hazardous.
The only real downside to tempered glass is that it’s more expensive. The benefits are that it’s easier to clean, doesn’t fog up over time like Acrylic, and provides a perfectly transparent window into your chassis. If you want to really show off whatever build you have, a tempered glass side panel is a great way to do it.
GPU Clearance and why it matters
GPU clearance is a compatibility spec, and refers to GPU length in this context. We provide this specification in each of our GPU articles, and for great reason: length is the most likely reason for a graphics card to not be able to fit inside your PC!
Fortunately, most ATX cases are great in this regard, with few offering a number below 280 mm (11 inches), which is on the high end of GPU length. Some ultra-beefy cards may push past this into the 300 mm range, though, so still be sure to keep this specification in mind if you’re planning on getting a triple-fan GPU.
Drive Bays and Drive Types
Drive bays are another compatibility spec, but they come in three different types.
- 5.25-inch – Used by DVD/Blu-Ray drives, card readers, and other large, non-storage drives. These are becoming rarer every day, but can still be seen in options like the Fractal Design Focus G.
- 3.5-inch – Used by standard, spinning disk hard drives (HDDs).
- 2.5-inch – Used by both smaller HDDs and SATA-based SSDs. It’s recommended to use these slots for SSDs instead since 2.5-inch HDDs are slower than their larger counterparts.
And that’s it!
We hope that this article helped you find the ideal ATX case for your needs. If there’s anything that was unclear or that you felt like we missed, feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below and let us know what you need help with.
Until then, we hope our selection serves you well!