All thanks to smaller form factors and resultant products like a mini ITX case and micro ATX, compactness is back in the game. Gone are the days when our the PC case of our gaming rig would take the most space on our computer table.
Although some of you would not mind a bulky computer case, trust us when we say that a full tower PC case doesn’t always mean more capacity. In fact, there are so many manufacturers that are making really spacious mini PC based casings.
Nonetheless, there could be other reasons why you want a mini ITX tower, apart from wanting a smaller footprint. Like when you really want to use the mini-ITX motherboard somewhere so that it fits in a smaller space on the chassis.
However, there are all sorts of PC case types that come with mini ITX motherboard compatibility now. You will be able to find cases with Micro ATX, ITX, and Mini ITX form factors that are compatible with the mini-ITX motherboards. Nonetheless, here’s a helping hand if you are also buying a gaming motherboard.
Top Mini ITX Cases to Buy This Year
You might think that buying a computer case would be a walk in the park but it is far from it. The PC case is arguably the most important part of the PC insofar as its importance is concerned in deciding which component you can use and which you cannot. Not only that, there are a variety of other things that are dependent on the case you will buy.
For instance, how many drive bays does it have, the number of I/O ports, the size of the radiator outlet and even the weight and size of the case. In most of the cases, buyer’s have decided their components first.
If you haven’t done so, we suggest you do it now. This is so because once you have decided how your rig will form, you will easily be able to pick the case that is the best fit for your desktop PC.
Best Overall PC Case
Corsair Crystal 280X RGB
Hot RGB, Great Space
While it is a micro ATC case, the Corsair 280X is smaller among its peers. Therefore, it fits well among the mini ITX class too. Offering both motherboard form factors, it also boasts the best Lighting Node PRO controlled RGB as well as some of the best storage capacities.
Best Budget PC Case
Thermaltake Core V1
Best Mini ITX Cube on Budget
Not only does it come in the form of a solid cube, but the Thermaltake Core V1 also has one of the best ventilation thanks to a largely mesh based body. We are talking about competitive capabilities at a price that is much lower.
Fractal Design Nano S – Best ITX PC Case
When you think of gaming PCs, the type of aesthetic standard that comes to your mind isn’t usually one that says simplicity and minimalism. Yet, Fractal Design with their S series gives no value to that notion. And why would they, when the Nano S manages to impress everyone even without that classy RGB lighting of Corsair Crystal 280X and a design like the Alienware Area 51 Threadripper Edition?
Some of the best computer cases are those that value the build and components more, like the good old Phanteks Enthoo Pro. However, the Fractal Design Nano S isn’t as orthodox as the Phanteks model, and also offers great value.
Many mini ITX cases have a problem with the cooling systems, but this one comes with two in-built fans. Moreover, you can mount two more fans once the removable top is taken off. Even in terms of storage, it does better than many by offering not one but two SSD storage mounts. As you will see sifting through the products, most have a limit on the size of GPU you can use. With the Fractal Design model, you have about 315mm of space which is good enough for most graphics cards.
Once assembled, the rig will look pretty sleek thanks to the transparent side panel that compliments its brush-finished aluminum front. Add some custom RGB and you’ve got a party going! Last but not least, it is quite less noisy than most of the alternatives. This is due to insulation that is present on all sides except the bottom.
Too good to be true? Well, there are some turn downs as well. For starters, there is no space for an optical disc. And also, the cleaning mechanism provided is a little complicated since in order to remove the dust tray you also have to remove the front of the PC case.
- Minimalist ITX case
- Durable, sturdy and less noisy
- Two SSD slots
- Two fans with slot for two more
- Doesn’t have optical drive slot
- Cleaning mechanism is complicated
NCase M1 – Top Mini ITX Housing
We all know that the NCase M1 case is popular among desktop PC fans who keep experimenting with the small form factor. Now that we are talking about those compact PC cases, it would be criminal to not include the M1 in our list.
While capacity wise, it was almost a third of what cases like Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ITX can offer. Yet, the 12.6l it offers is still great; and better than many of the smallest PC cases we tried out. In that size, you get a full-size double slot GPU support at a good 317mm as well as an ATX sized PSU slot.
While the NCase M1 is quite small in size, it has space for both the 120mm and 140mm fans while you can attach an additional one if you use the slot given on the side panel. Heat is certainly not a problem with this one as to further improve the conditions you can even mount a radiator internally.
The NCase M1 is quite popular among the gaming enthusiasts for all this as well as the sleek aluminum build. But it isn’t free of problems. For instance, more often than not did we wish they have worked on the wire management system. It is quite easy to get all the wires jumbled up, and for a pricey model like this one, one would expect better.
- Full size double slot GPU
- Supports 240mm AIO radiator cooling
- Sleek build
- Pricier than many
- Wire management system
NZXT H200i – Best Alternative
While the RGB strip and the side panel show off quite a lot themselves, there is a lot more than makes the NZXT H200i one of our favorites. To be honest, it is taking most of what the NCase M1 is, and adding more to it. If you have had the pleasure of using its elder sibling, the H700i, you would know.
Regardless, this exquisite beauty offers space enough for a 240mm radiator cooling space. Same as the NCase M1 and other top products. But, it has better cable management too! Although it does cost a handsome chunk over a hundred dollars, you get two fans as well as the hub.
Since it can house a good sized radiator, there also is enough space for a full sized GPU and added utensils. Whatever you add though, the tempered glass on the side panel will offer a show. We even found the CAM-powered Smart Device digital fan control system quite handy to use. Not to mention how it adds a slight feeling of grandeur when you’re trying to cool down the rig.
Many Mini ITX cases now come with a considerate amount of space in between the case for installations and expansions. But it is still not as roomy as an ATX in there. Thus some models do face situations where you’d wish the air flow was slightly better. You might have to make arrangements for that if you are going to buy the NZXT H200i.
Yet, there nothing a good liquid cooling system can’t fix. And if you are an enthusiast you’d definitely want to go there while overclocking.
- CAM powered Smart Device fan control
- Good radiator space
- Great RGB expansion options
- Airflow needs improvement
- Mid range PC case
Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ITX – Fan Favorite
While it is not the smallest and certainly not the most portable model, Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ITX remains one of the most popular among the enthusiasts. And they have good reason too. We have all been a fan of the Phanteks Enthoo Pro, and other full-size towers. Now what the Evolv ITX does is, take the best out of those and churn it for the mini ITX form factor.
You have got great storage options with two 3.5in drive bays and two more 2.5in drive slots. However, there is a small cage that needs to be removed if you want the same level of choice with larger GPUs. Further thanks to the incredible space management inside, you get to install a 240mm radiator for better cooling once you remove the roof bracket.
Moreover, you get a full-size PSU shroud, sound absorbers, and Velcro stripped cable management. That is almost as good as it gets.
Aesthetics wise it borrows a lot from the larger Phanteks Enthoo models. You will see multiple USB ports and audio jacks entwined within the meshed sections close to the roof. And then there is the solid material and build quality that shouts longevity.
As I said earlier, the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ITX only has one issue and that is its portability and size. We are not saying it is big, but it is also not as small and portable as many of the LAN event-goers would want. Other than that it is possibly the best Mini ITX case that the market has to offer.
- Very sturdy, solid build
- Storage options
- Great cooling support
- No exhaust
- Not as mobile as some
Thermaltake Core V1 – Best Mini ITX on Budget
The first box-shaped mini ITX PC case we set our eyes on was the notorious Thermaltake Core V1. While it is not the only cube we really liked, it sure was the cheapest. It doesn’t look like it, but the Thermaltake model is quite affordable.
If you didn’t notice in the picture above, it has one of the best ventilation systems among the peers. And on top of that, you get a see-through window panel as well. If you could just add some cool RGB lighting strips, you would have the party rolling.
Nevertheless, the Core V1 matches the Phante’ks Enthoo model above in terms of storage drive capacity. That is two 3.5″ and two 2.5″ slots for your choice. But it will only let you add a GPU that is equal to or shorter than 285mm (11.2″) only.
That, coupled with the absence of an optical drive slot might put some of you off, but if you are okay with it there’s just one more tertiary aspect that should be improved. You see, the V1 does have a dust filter at the bottom, but the front dust filter is not removable.
But in the end, it is the very affordable price point of the Thermaltake Core V1 that makes it a worthy mini ITX case on a budget. Just to put things in perspective, you will be spending half of what the Phantek Enthoo Evolv will ask of you.
- Affordable price
- Good ventilation due to mesh body
- Easy component management
- There’s no optical drive slot
- Doesn’t support full size GPU
- Front dust filter can’t be removed
Corsair Crystal 280X RGB – Best Mini-ITX RGB Case
We know this is essentially a micro ATX case, but since it supports the mini ITX form factor too, we had to mention it. Clearly, this had nothing to do with the hottest RGB setup you can get in a mini ITX rig – or not. So yes, drool alert for all those lighting enthusiasts out there as Corsair has been at it again.
The 1280X RGB, as they call it, is top notch in this category as it packs a dedicated Lighting Node PRO controller, as well as two RGB fans pre-installed. On top of that, there are not one or two, but three tempered glass panels to show the goods.
Needless to say, this is a comparatively bulkier model as ATX form factor would demand that. But it also comes with a handy dual chamber design for easy stuffing of all the hardware. Oh and there’s enough space for 280mm radiators, which is the maximum on our list.
For a high-end mini ITX rig, this is a small sized micro ATX case, that comes at an equally high end asking price. So the first question you need to ask is if you are going to spend so much on the case. If you are, we would suggest you skip the question about size and go for it.
Not only will it give you bragging rights, but you will also be at ease when installing new hardware and managing the cables. Apart from the price point, the only thing offbeat is the absence of a Type-C USB 3.1. But one could live without that, right?
- Best RBG case among the lot
- Dual chamber gives more space
- Top quality build
- No USB 3.1 slot
- Expensive product
- Micro ATX case size
Storage: This is where the SSD and HDD capacity comes in. You’ll need at least one M.2 slot for the SSD, and we consider buying an SSD necessary for the speed. Space wise, you will be getting at least enough for a 2.5″ drive but there are ones with bigger space.
Graphics: Since these small sized cases, there is a limit to the size and number of GPUs you can have. Many of the models will offer only one graphics card slot, and all of them will give you only between 250-300mm space for them. Getting one with dual GPU support is a definite plus!
Power Supply: Your rig will be powered by the wattage supplied by the PSU. So you should choose a PC case that can fit that power supply unit which will offer the desired wattage. And, at the same time fit well inside the case. Therefore, do the homework on which PSU to buy before you buy the case.
While the short answer is yes, there is more to it. Mini ITX PC cases are not made for rigs that are supposed to be upgraded every now and then. Since they are focused on compactness, there will be no or less expansion possibilities. You are talking about using a small motherboard, with a select sizes of GPUs, there aren’t too many slots either. Hence, thanks to the limited PCI-e and RAM and GPU slots, expansions will be limited.
Why should I use a mini ITX case?
There are a number of reasons for switching to a mini ITX form factor over the bigger sizes. To start with, mini-ITX is smaller so it takes up less space. There could be some full tower cases that carry a volume that is more than five times as much as an ordinary mini ITX. These computer cases also weigh less than the traditional sizes of full or mid tower ones. As a result, they have greater portability. Last but not least, they are a more affordable solution than the larger form factor models.