With many different sizes of PC cases available, it could be confusing for you, as a PC builder, to choose the right PC case. Each size has its individual advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we’ll be talking about the four essential PC cases available in the market. We’ll tell you every difference you need to know about them. We’ll also help you pick the right one depending on your budget and your requirement be it gaming, workstation, or a regular PC.
The Full Tower, Mid Tower, Mini Tower are the most common PC cases. In recent times the Small Form Factor (SFF) cases started getting fairly popular. So there are four types of cases available in the market.
The Full Towers are 22” – 27” long. They have 5+ expansion bays for adding extra storage, more drives, etc. You will be able to fit EATX, ATX and smaller motherboards with ease. They can accommodate up to 10 or more HHDs and SSDs and can easily accommodate multiple graphics cards without any problems.
The Mid Towers are 17” – 21” long. They are the most common size case used by people. They have 3 – 4 expansion bays for external storage drives, graphic cards, etc. You will be able to fit ATX and other smaller form factor motherboards like Micro ATX and Mini ITX. You will be able to accommodate up to 6 or more HHDs and SSDs and two graphics cards comfortably.
The Mini Towers are 14” – 16” long. They have 1 – 2 expansion bays for external storage drives. You will be able to fit micro ATX and Mini ITX motherboards in this case. You will be able to use up to 4 HDDs and SSDs and only a single Graphics card comfortably.
The Small Form Factor (SFF) cases are the latest entry slowly growing in popularity. They are less than 12” long and come in various shapes. They have only a single expansion bay. It can use a single HDD or SSD and only support the Mini ITX motherboards. They do not support the standard-sized graphics cards and require a small form factor graphics cards.
Always check whether the case you’re buying has enough room to accommodate your motherboard, graphics card, and CPU cooler. You need to check the form factor in case of motherboards, length and height in case of graphics cards, height in case of CPU air coolers and radiator size in case of liquid coolers. You’ll easily be able to find out about the dimensions of these products in either amazon or their respective manufacturer’s website.
Here is a full in-depth article on various motherboard sizes.
HDDs, SSDs, and RAMs will be able to fit into any case. They also have a defined size so their accommodation won’t be a problem.
Price and Quality
PC cases come in all sizes and all prices. The important task for a PC builder here is to know the difference between a good quality case a bad one. Price is one good indicator to help you determine the quality of the case.
Generally speaking, PC cases between $60 – $90 have better build quality and good airflow. They are affordable and offer good value for the price. Anything less than $40 is considered cheap and is likely not a good option in the long run.
Cheap cases do more harm than good. Their build quality is not up to the mark causing bad airflow. They bend easily. Their infrastructure is poorly designed leading to poor cable management. The bad airflow leads to an increased temperature causing damage to PC components. It also causes noise. They lack air filters that prevent dust build-up.
Good quality cases on the other hand aid better airflow and have superior build quality. This leads to better functioning of other components increasing overall performance while remaining silent. They also have air filters to prevent dust build-up. This is the best option in the long run.
When it comes to sizes, in general, the Full Towers are the most expensive cases. They will be housing more hardware than others and will be needing a better build quality ensuring rigidity and support. The Mid Towers are reasonably priced making it the best option for an average user. The Mini Towers and SFF cases are also priced higher than the mid towers due to their rarity among PC builders.
Cooling and Airflow
Cooling is another important factor you need to consider. Having better cooling prolongs the lifespan of the hardware. A PC case with fans installed will have better airflow. The PC will run quietly while remaining cool. Pick a case with dust filters so your parts remain clean.
The Full tower cases have better cooling facility and airflow due to their enormous size. You can fit a liquid cooling loop or a good CPU cooler without any problems. You can install many case mounted fans of different sizes and have better airflow.
The Mid-tower, though not as large as the full tower, can also accommodate a good CPU cooler and even a liquid cooling loop in most of the cases. You can install a few case mounted fans for decent airflow.
The Mini Towers and SFF cases cannot accommodate a liquid cooling loop. You cannot fit a standard sized external CPU cooler and will be needing a low-profile external CPU cooler. Few can accommodate stock coolers without any problem. You can only install up to 2 fans. They are usually loud because of the limited airflow.
Related: Corsair QL vs LL: Complete RGB fan series comparison
Modularity refers to the extent up to which you can add, remove, and rearrange the parts in the PC case. This offers customizability to the user.
The Full towers are mostly modular allowing you to customize storage bays, mounts, fans, graphics cards and structure them exactly as you like it.
The Mid towers also offer a good range of modularity within the given bays and slots.
The Mini Towers and SFF cases have very little modularity and follow strict infrastructural rules. You will not be able to rearrange hardware the way you like in these cases and hence there is zero customizability.
For most of the PC builders, PC cases are something more than a housing unit sitting in the corner having all the parts in it. They are a way of expressing their taste. People also want their PCs to be eye-catching.
This is the reason we see PC cases with RGB lights, glass panels, matte panels, and other aesthetic features being developed. Even the Mini Tower and SFF cases are now being developed in a way that looks cool.
There is no right or wrong design here. This purely depends on the buyer. I can assure you there are PC cases in all sizes with all kinds of aesthetic enhancements and there are also simple black or white cases if you’re a minimalist.
The Full Tower and Mid Towers can accommodate an ATX power supply. Most Mini Towers and SFF cases require an SFX power supply unit.
The SFX is a smaller sized Power supply than the ATX. They start at a lesser power rating than the ATX PSUs. This can be understood as most Mini Tower and SFF computers do not need a 450W power supply. A 250W SFX power supply will be sufficient to power up those computers.
You can check your case specifications to see if it supports an ATX or an SFX Power supply.
Summary of all PC Case Sizes
|Case Name||Height||Supported Motherboards||Expansion Bays||Supported PSUs||No. of Graphic Cards supported||No. of Fans supported|
|Full Tower||22″ to 27″||EATX, ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX||5+||ATX and SFX||3+||6+|
|Mid Tower||17″ to 21″||ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX||3 to 4||ATX and SFX||2||3 to 5|
|Mini Tower||14″ to 16″||Micro ATX, Mini ITX||1 to 2||SFX and ATX ( few )||1 (small form factor only)||2 to 3|
|Small Form Factor (SFF)||Less than 12″||Mini ITX||1||SFX only||0 to 1 (small form factor only)||1 to 2|
Pros and Cons of all PC Sizes
|Full Tower||• Best for Hardware intensive builds|
• Best Airflow and cooling
• Has many bays and slots
• Better cable management
• Occupies a lot of space
|Mid Tower||• Best overall value|
• Can fit most hardware
• Balanced size
• Decent cooling
|• Has fewer bays and slots than Full Tower|
|Mini Tower||• Compact|
• Best suited as HTPC case
• Limited hardware accommodation
• Not for Multi-GPU builds
• Limited airflow
|Small Form Factor(SFF)||• Compact|
• Best case for LAN parties
• Limited hardware accommodation
• Not for Multi-GPU builds
• Limited airflow
Best PC Case Size for Gaming
A Mid Tower Case is the best option for most PC gamers. They can accommodate an ATX and smaller motherboards.
It will have no problem housing two graphics cards. You will have sufficient airflow and cooling facilities. They also offer great value for the price.
Best PC Case Size for Workstations
A Full tower is best suited for workstations. They are modular and hence provide great flexibility to the user.
If you’re building a PC for deep learning and machine learning, you will be needing a multi-GPU setup and a lot of cooling. If you’re into storage-intensive work, you will be needing extra external storage bays. The Full Tower can house all that hardware without compromising the cooling.
The Full tower can accommodate an EATX, ATX, and smaller motherboards. They have plenty of storage bays for external storage and can also accommodate a liquid cooling loop. Though they are pricey, they are worth the premium in the long run.
Best PC Case Size for Regular PC
A mini-tower or an SFF case is a good option for regular PC users who use their PCs for MS office, browsing the internet, watching movies, and other work that is less hardware intensive.
They are compact and hence portable. You will be able to fit a Mini ITX motherboard only.
They can work as an excellent HTPC (home theatre personal computer) cases.
You will be able to conduct LAN parties thanks to their portability.
If you have any other queries, ask them in the comments section below.