If you’re new to PC building, it might come as a bit of a surprise to learn that different motherboards are compatible with different PC cases. It’s not a one-size-fits-all type of deal. So, to make sure you don’t waste your money buying the wrong tower, I’m going to show you the 12 best small ATX cases you can buy.
- What to Look for in a Small ATX Case
- The Best Small ATX Cases
- The NZXT H510 – The People’s Choice
- The Cooler Master HAF XB EVO is a Customization King
- The Fractal Design Core 1100 is for PC Building on a Budget
- The Razer Tomahawk – For Those That go the Extra Mile
- The Corsair 275R is a Sleek and Affordable Alternative to the Market Leaders
- The Cooler Master Cooler Box Q500L – Simple and Effective
- The Thermaltake Core G3 is a Slim Tower Alternative
- The Cooler Master N200 is One of the Best Budget mATX Cases on the Market
- The Thermaltake Core V21 is Another Stellar Thermaltake Case
- The Corsair Carbide 175R is the Perfect Mid-Tower ATX Case
- The Thermaltake Level 20 VT is a Personal Favorite of Mine
- The Corsair Carbide Series Air 540 is a Cooling Powerhouse
What to Look for in a Small ATX Case
Rather than just showing you my recommendations, I’m going to help you find the best small ATX case for your own setup yourself.
First and foremost, your ATX PC case needs to have some decent airflow built into it so that your motherboard doesn’t go up in flames.
Extensive gaming is going to cause a massive buildup of heat inside your PC. Without enough airflow to keep that heat cycling, your hardware is going to overheat and eventually suffer from thermal throttling.
It doesn’t matter if a case looks great if it’s going to destroy whatever you put inside it, so make sure your case has enough room to install some extra fans before you start putting your rig together.
Obviously, size is critical when you’re looking at a PC case. I’m going over 12 of the best small ATX cases, but there are a lot of other sites on the market. If you don’t do your research, the chances are that you’re going to end up buying a tower that is incompatible with the hardware you’re using.
The standard ATX motherboard has a length of 9.6”, so that’s the kind of space you want to be working with.
Keeping your case small while also housing a full-size ATX can be difficult, so don’t be afraid to ask for some help from someone that knows their stuff.
Cable management, we all hate it, but we all have to do it. One way to make this nightmare scenario a little bit more bearable is to get a PC case that has built-in cable management features.
These days, many PC cases will have specific sections of the case dedicated to housing and hiding all of the cables needed to connect your internals.
You might not be bothered by how a bunch of messy cables looks, but having wires everywhere is going to make upgrading your hardware all the more difficult in the future, so there’s no reason not to go after a case that takes care of this for you.
The Best Small ATX Cases
The NZXT H510 – The People’s Choice
The NZXT H510 is an incredibly affordable compact ATX case that easily outsells and outperforms twice as expensive cases as it.
There are multiple different models of the H510 available, with the cheapest running you just under $60. For that price, you’re getting an incredibly space-efficient case that comes with two Aer F120mm fans, a removable radiator bracket, tempered glass windows, and front USB 3.1 ports.
The higher you go up the H510 model ladder, the better the cases look. However, if you’re talking about pure functionality, the most affordable model is just as functional as the most expensive one.
There’s a reason this NZXT case is such a popular bestseller. It has almost 20,000 reviews and still maintains a five-star rating.
The Cooler Master HAF XB EVO is a Customization King
The Cooler MASTER HAF XB EVO is a bulkier and slightly more expensive case compared to the H510, but it comes with a lot more functionality that makes putting a rig together a breeze.
It has a large removable cut-out motherboard tray that makes it incredibly easy to install CPU coolers, something which Cooler Master is well known for.
It also has removable side and top panels, multiple brackets for attaching a cooling system, and an overall level of customizability unrivaled by many PC cases. The fact that you also get all of this in a case that, despite being heavy, is compact makes it one of my top recommendations.
The Fractal Design Core 1100 is for PC Building on a Budget
Clocking in at just under $40, the Fractal Design Core 1100 is the most affordable compact ATX case on this list. It’s built for micro-ATX cards, so if you’re looking for a compact mid-sized tower, this isn’t the case for you.
For anyone on a super tight budget looking to build a small PC, though, it’s perfect. It doesn’t look pretty, it’s not feature-rich, but it is a solid piece of kit for a price that’s really hard to beat.
The Razer Tomahawk – For Those That go the Extra Mile
This is an expensive piece of kit. It costs almost $200 for the mid-tower ATX model and a little bit less than that for the mini-ITX tower. So if you’re not too fussed about having a good-looking case, skip this entry.
For those of you who are like me and have an RGB addiction, this case is going to be one for the wish list.
It has a built-in cable management system and all of the brackets and features you would expect from a case this expensive. If it’s a piece of hardware, then it can be installed in this case.
It’s not the most compact, but it’s the best high-end option for people with a full-sized ATX motherboard looking for a relatively compact but beautiful-looking case.
The Corsair 275R is a Sleek and Affordable Alternative to the Market Leaders
Corsair has always made good quality hardware, and the 275R is no exception. It’s got a beautiful sleek white, and tempered glass design with three 120mm fans and an airflow filtration system built-in.
It’s one of those cases that has a deceptively large amount of room for hardware, making it a good mid-tower pick for those looking for a nice-looking case without breaking the bank.
The Cooler Master Cooler Box Q500L – Simple and Effective
The Cooler Box Q500L is the very definition of function over form. There are no frills or thrills with this case. You’re getting a decent-looking and solid piece of kit that comes with features that are not representative of how affordable it is.
The case comes with a magnetic dust filter and fully ventilated airflow, meaning it’s going to take nothing short of a sandstorm to mess up this case’s internals.
It supports micro-ATX, too, meaning it’s also super compact, further pushing that function over form message.
The Thermaltake Core G3 is a Slim Tower Alternative
Compact PC cases don’t inherently need to be short. Oftentimes, a slim yet tall tower is better because it allows you to slide it into small areas between your desk and your wall in your setup.
The Thermaltake Core G3 is built exactly for that purpose. It’s a slim ATX tower that comes with all of the quality Thermaltake is known for in a smaller design.
It’s a fully modular case that’s even travel-ready, making it one of the most flexible compact ATX cases on this list.
The Cooler Master N200 is One of the Best Budget mATX Cases on the Market
One of the biggest issues with trying to identify compact ATX towers is whether or not you’re running a micro-ATX motherboard or whether you want a compact case that can house a regular board.
The N200 is an example of the former, and yet it still has a ludicrous amount of space inside for you to build up a premium rig.
It has room for three 3.5” HDDs and four 2.5” SSDs, supports a water cooling system, and is large enough to fit some of the bigger and chunkier graphic card models into it.
If you’re looking to build an mATX rig that can still put out some serious power, this is a case to consider getting.
The Thermaltake Core V21 is Another Stellar Thermaltake Case
Thermaltake can seemingly do no wrong in the world of computer hardware. The V21 is a massively popular compact micro-ATX case with a chamber concept design that makes it smaller than most other cases on this list.
It doesn’t have an array of functionality or compatibility like the N200 or the Tomahawk, but it is a tiny case that is perfect for smaller gaming rigs.
The Corsair Carbide 175R is the Perfect Mid-Tower ATX Case
Simple, elegant, and functional. Those are three words that define the quality of this case from Corsair.
It comes with an RGB fan, which is nice, as is the ability to fit up to six 120mm cooling fans. Now, I know what you’re saying “that doesn’t seem compact,” and you’d be right.
The 175R isn’t the most compact case on this list, but it is among the smaller and better-looking mid-tower cases, so it would be remiss for me to disqualify it.
The Thermaltake Level 20 VT is a Personal Favorite of Mine
This case just looks exceptional. It’s got four tempered glass panels giving you a 360-degree view at all of your internals from every angle, making it one of the most aesthetically pleasing cases on this list, especially for the price.
It comes with the ability to mount a radiator, as well as several different drive bays. The only drawback to the 20 VT is the fact that it’s only compatible with micro-ATX and mini-ITX.
The Corsair Carbide Series Air 540 is a Cooling Powerhouse
You would think that a Cooler Master case would have the best cooling capabilities on this list, but you’d be wrong. The Air 540 from Corsair utilizes a dual-chamber direct airflow path that gives is a phenomenal amount of cooling potential.
It’s a quiet and compact case with a ludicrous amount of expansion room, making it arguably the best small ATX PC case on the market.
What is a Micro-ATX Case?
A micro-ATX case is the name given to a PC case designed to house a micro-ATX form factor motherboard. Different motherboards have different sizes and compatibilities, meaning you need to build your PC around it, including what kind of case you plan on using.
Is a Micro-ATX Build Worth it?
Micro-ATX PC builds can be a decent bit different from a lot of other builds. You’re dealing with a smaller motherboard, meaning you’re going to be limited for both space and parts.
A micro-ATX build is going to take you longer from start to finish than a regular ATX build, but the wait and the money are more than worth the final product. A quality micro-ATX machine is smaller than most other towers and yet can output the same kind of performance.
What Does ATX Stand For?
ATX is short for Advanced Technology eXtended. This is a motherboard and power supply configuration that Intel created in 1995 to improve on previous designs and models.
ATX was so successful that it remains popular to this day and continues to see support from manufacturers.
Are Mini-Tower Builds Any Good?
There’s a misconception that a lot of people hold surrounding the size of PC builds. This image of a massive gaming PC rig is chunky, full of lights and cooling systems. While machines built like that are powerful, it’s possible to get an equally powerful rig with a mini-tower, provided you know what you’re doing.
Mini-tower builds are great, but only for the right people. If you’re completely new to PC building, I’d recommend you start off with a ring that doesn’t limit yourself so much. Although, if you’ve got your heart set on a mini-tower, there’s no harm in trying to build one.
Why is ITX so Expensive Compared to ATX?
It’s simple; the smaller things begin to get, the more work gets put into squeezing all the parts into a smaller space.
This is the logic that drives the price of ITX motherboards up compared to ATX models.