(Pocket-lint) – If you’re building a gaming PC and want something suitable to house it, you’re in the right place. We’ve been testing several cases while building all sorts of PCs – from budget to mid-range and even some extreme PC builds.
There are a lot of different things to consider – airflow, features, radiator and fan capacity and more. We’re also keen to highlight the key things to look out for when searching, such as how easy (or difficult) the case is to build in, and whether it has easy cable management. To that end, we’ve thoroughly poked, prodded and modded these cases to see if they’re worth buying.
We’ve built in these cases, crafting all manner of gaming PCs with different specs. We’ve then used them on a daily basis, benchmarked them, tested them and played with them, too.
By doing this, we’re able to give you a breakdown of the best PC cases we’ve tried and the reasons why we recommend them.
What are the best PC cases?
- Fractal Design Torrent
- Lian Li O11 Air Mini
- Corsair 5000D Airflow
- NZXT H510 Flow
- Corsair iCUE 5000T RGB
Best PC case: Our top pick
Fractal Design Torrent
- Large capable fans included as standard
- Perfectly spacious for liquid cooling
- Roomy design
- Easy to keep
- Quiet running
- The rear cable management space is lacking
- Limited install options
The Fractal Design Torrent is available in several different variations both with and without RGB and in white or black too.
It’s easily one of the best-looking cases we’ve tried, whether you choose the RGB models or not. More importantly, though, it’s well thought out and offers incredible airflow without masses of fan noise.
It comes with two 180mm front fans and three 140mm bottom intake fans as standard, which is generous considering the price. These offer excellent cooling and are some of the biggest fans you’ll see on a PC case.
There’s also a pre-installed fan hub, so it’s dead easy to plug in all the fans as well.
The Torrent is also incredibly roomy, being able to take E-ATX and SSI-EEB or SSI-CEB motherboards. You can easily mount a custom loop liquid system in this one as well. Though we will note that build options are limited. You either use an air CPU cooler or a liquid system. You can’t easily mount an all-in-one cooler because of the layout of the case.
It’s the little things that make the difference here though, like the tiny included GPU bracket that nicely stops your graphics card from sagging.
The only real downside is the lack of sufficient space for cable management at the rear.
Other cases to consider
We’ve tried plenty of cases and built all sorts of machines both with and without RGB, air and liquid coolers over the years. There are many excellent ones currently available and these below are great alternatives if our top choice doesn’t float your boat.
Lian Li O11 Air Mini
- Excellent aesthetics
- Build quality that defies the price
- surprisingly roomy
- great cooling
- No RGB fans included as standard
If you want a smaller case, but don’t want to sacrifice features or specs in favor of a smaller ITX or mini case, then the Air Mini is a superb option.
This is not only a great looking case but one that’s wonderfully spacious considering its “Mini” branding. It doesn’t take up as much desk or room space as other cases on this list, but can still hold an ATX power supply and ATX motherboard, as well.
We kitted it out with nine Lian Li Uni fans and an all-in-one cooler, but also tested it with a large Noctua Air cooler and saw excellent results in both.
There’s room in there for a large graphics card, and, despite its little stature, the Air Mini has a big place in our hearts.
It even comes with two 140mm front fans and a 120mm rear fan as standard, which is fantastic for the price.
Corsair 5000D Airflow
- Solid build quality
- Various 360mm mounting options
- Excellent cable management
- Lacks decent fans as standard
If you’re after a PC case with some serious build quality and excellent aesthetics, then the Corsair 5000D Airflow is a great choice.
This case has options to mount as many as two 360mm radiators in different positions, making it perfect for all-in-one coolers or full liquid cooling systems.
It’s also brilliantly roomy with mounting points for multiple HDDs and SSDs. You can also reposition things easily to suit your needs so it’s well thought out.
Cable management is also a breeze thanks to a roomy rear panel and cable hiding door.
NZXT H510 Flow
- wonderfully affordable
- Roomy enough for push/pull
- Feels cheap compared to others
- Curious fan options and limited radiator mounting
If budget matters, the NZXT H510 Flow is the one to turn to. This is an incredibly affordable mid-tower ATX case that won’t break the bank but still delivers the goods.
It’s reasonably sized, but is able to pack two (or more) SSDs and HDDs – and you can even front-mount a 280mm all-in-one cooler with a push/pull fan setup as well.
Sadly, though, the case only comes with two fans, so you will need to buy extra. The layout is a bit odd, as well, as it will only take 120mm at the rear and 140mm everywhere else.
However, these are small complaints about what is otherwise a great case for the money.
Corsair iCUE 5000T RGB
- RGB galore
- Includes useful extras
- Very snazzy on the eye
If you’re feeling a bit flush, then the Corsair iCUE 5000T RGB could be on your radar.
This is a case that really means business. It packs in multiple RGB lighting strips as standard, along with three LL120 RGB fans and a Commander Core XT to control the power and lighting.
If 208 individually controllable RGB LEDs don’t get you excited, well, what will? Think of the 5000T as a fancier version of the 5000D Airflow and you’ve got an idea of what you’re buying.
This is a brilliantly configurable case and one that really looks fantastic as part of your gaming setup.
How to choose the right PC case
You’ve made the decision to build a gaming PC. Obviously, the case is a big part of the process. It’s important to choose the right one. You want something that will look at home in your gaming area, but also a case that will keep your machine running cool and quiet.
What will you be installing?
Buying a PC case you need to plan out your build. Think about what you’re going to put in your gaming machine. This is a key part of the process and something to think about before you buy. If a powerful, high-end CPU is part of your build then you might want to consider a large 360mm all-in-one cooler or even a full liquid cooler. This means you’ll need a big case with room for such a thing.
As a rule of thumb, the bigger the radiator, the cooler the CPU. If you’re overclocking, the bigger the better. If you’re running CPU intensive games, video editing or doing other CPU intensive things then the same logic applies.
Also, check the specs of your intended parts. Some high-end motherboards are E-ATX format, which means they’re larger than average. Not all cases will be compatible with these boards and you don’t want to gather all your parts and then find they won’t fit together.
How many fans do you really need?
Some of the cases on this list only come with a couple of basic fans. Others are incredibly well-stocked. More fans don’t necessarily mean better though. Too many may just get loud and annoying. Look at the specs of the case you’re buying and plan out what you want it to look like when you’re finished.
If you’re eying up a case, you might also be planning out the fans you want to install. A case may seem cheap at first, but if you’re putting 10 fans in that you’re buying separately then things suddenly add up.
More about this story
Every product in this list has been tested in real-life situations, just as you would use it in your day-to-day life.
Buying and building a gaming PC is a big investment, so we’ve carefully tested these cases to make sure they’ll fit the need. Both in terms of build quality and performance.
Of course, pricing is a big factor, as is building quality and reliability.
As with any roundup, it’s not possible to deliver a list that works for every type of user, but we lean on the experiences and opinions of the wider Pocket-lint team – as well as thoroughly assessing the areas above – in order to do our best in this regard.
What we always tend to avoid when compiling these picks are needless spec comparisons and marketing lines; we just want to provide an easy to understand summary that gives you an idea of what each gaming laptop is like to use. Our verdicts are concise, but this is purely in the interest of brevity. Rest assured all the things on this list have been fully tested.
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Writing by Adrian Willings.