May 18

The 6 Best Cases for Watercooling

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Table Of Contents

When I was 11, I experimented with combining hardware (a Genius keyboard) and liquids (a can of Coke). Like many scientists ahead of their time, I was misunderstood and grounded for two weeks. Fast forward a couple of decades, someone came up with the idea to make a computer case with water cooling, and now everybody wants one.

I was a pioneer, dad. A pioneer. 😞😔

It appears that we’ve been taught wrong to keep things that run on electricity away from water. If you’re looking to mix the two, these are some of the models you should pay attention to.


Top 6 Watercooling Cases for Gaming

We’ll talk about the pros and cons of six high-quality gaming PC cases that are perfect for water cooling. We compared overall performance, price, quality, gaming compatibility, and design.

Below the reviews, you can find a buying guide, and some frequently asked questions that will further help you decide on what is the best case for watercooling regarding your specific needs.

Best Choice: NZXT H500i

Pros & Cons

  • Sturdy design
  • Great airflow
  • Quiet
  • Easy wiring
  • Smart Device CAM software issues

Key Features:

  • All-steel construction
  • Built in RGB and digital fan controller powered by CAM
  • Adaptive noise reduction
  • New cable management system
  • Full tempered glass panel
  • Water-cooling ready
  • Comes with two Aer F120mm fans for optimal airflow

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 18.11 x 8.26 x 16.85 inches
  • Weight: 15.4 lbs
  • Motherboard Support: ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
  • Radiator Support: Front: Up to 280mm, Rear: 1x 120mm
  • Fan Support: Front: 2×120 /2x 140mm, Top: 1x 120 mm/1x 140mm (1 Aer F120 Case Version included) 1x 120mm, Rear: 1x 120mm (1 Aer F120 Case Version included)
  • Expansion Slots: 7
  • Drive Bays: 2.5”: 2+1, 3.5”: 2+1
  • I/O Ports: 2x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type A 1x Audio/Mic

NZXT H500i Review

This NZXT’s H-series model was built with durability in mind –  the case is fully made of steel with the exception of a tempered glass panel. The panel itself is well-made and easy to install and remove by using a single screw to hold it in place.

When it comes to cooling, the case configuration provides good airflow even with just the two Aer F120mm fans that come with it. With plenty of room for additional fans, you won’t have to worry about high temperature.

Another pleasant surprise is how silent H500i is. NZXT’s decision not to cut corners with the quality of materials has paid off through impressive sound isolation. As a bonus, the Smart Device provides a quiet preset that minimizes fan noise. If you’re looking for the quietest PC cases, you’ll be very pleased with this one.

H500i comes with NZXT’s signature cable management bar which covers the cable routing hole for a clean look. Features such as routing channels and strips for fastening cables let you manage cables without putting too much thought into it.

The biggest downside of this case is the CAM software that powers the built-in Smart Device. Many users have reported issues such as software not loading properly, missing features, LED control not working, etc. Since most issues occurred with the old versions of the software, making sure you have the latest version (3.5.9 at the time of writing this article) should take care of this.

Premium Pick: CORSAIR OBSIDIAN 750D

Pros & Cons

  • Exceptional construction
  • Plenty of room
  • Slots for up to four SSDs
  • Easy cable management
  • Screwed down top panel
  • Heavy

Key Features:

  • Generous expansion room
  • Nine PCI-E expansion slots, up to ten 3.5″ or 2.5″ drives and three 5.25″ drive bays
  • High Airflow Front Mesh Design Quiet
  • Modular Drive Cage SystemSave space and customize your layout for your storage or airflow needs
  • Two modular drive cages that house three 3.5” or 2.5” drives each
  • Four tool-free dedicated SSD cages, sideways mounted
  • Smart design features like tool-free drive installation, thumbscrews, and excellent cable routing

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 21.5 x 9.3 x 22 inches
  • Weight: 21.4 lbs
  • Motherboard Support: E-ATX, ATX, Micro ATX, XL-ATX, and Mini-ITX motherboards
  • Radiator Support: Top: 1 x 360mm radiator, 1 x 140mm radiator in the rear exhaust fan mounting area. Full support of ll-in-one-coolers such as the Hydro Series H55, H60, H80i, H100i, H90, and H110
  • Fan Support: Front: 2x 140mm, Rear: 1x 140mm, Top: 3x 120mm/2x 140mm, Bottom: 2x 120mm
  • Expansion Slots: Nine PCI-E expansion slots, up to ten 3.5″ or 2.5″ drives and three 5.25″ drives
  • Drive Bays: three 3.5” or 2.5” drives each, four tool-free dedicated SSD cages, sideways mounted
  • I/O Ports: 2  USB 2.0 Ports, 2  USB 3.0 Ports

CORSAIR OBSIDIAN 750D Review

If I had to use one word to describe CORSAIR Obsidian 750D, it would be quality. While its price might put some people off, it is so well-made that the exceptional construction justifies the cost. The case is made of steel and brushed aluminum with smooth edges and glass panel hinges that fit perfectly.

Obsidian 750D offers plenty of room and has slots for up to four SSDs. Cable management is smooth and easy, with a removable channel to hide the cables in. One downside is that CORSAIR decided to go with a screw-down top panel for this model, and having to unscrew it every time doesn’t seem like an optimal solution.

Like most cases made from sturdy materials, this case is considerably heavy. This is not necessarily a disadvantage, but rather something to keep in mind if you prefer lighter cases.

Best Value: Thermaltake V200 Tempered Glass RGB Edition

Pros & Cons

  • Steel case
  • Affordable
  • Great RGB customization options
  • Spacious internal layout
  • Confusing instruction manual
  • No optical drive slot

Key Features:

  • 3 pre-installed 120mm 12V motherboard Sync RGB fans
  • Built-in dual-mode 12V Sync controller
  • 16 LED modes through I/O port RGB Light button
  • 4mm thick Tempered Glass Side panel with standard mounting
  • Built-in PSU cover

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 17.6” x 8.3” x 17.3”
  • Weight: 15.6 lbs
  • Motherboard Support: Mini ITX, Micro ATX, and ATX
  • Radiator Support: Front: 1 x 240mm, 1 x 280mm; Rear: 1 x 120mm
  • Fan Support: Front: 3 x 120mm, 2 x 140mm; Top: 2 x 120mm, 2 x 140mm; Rear: 1 x 120mm
  • Expansion Slots: 7
  • Drive Bays: 3 x 2.5″ + 2 x 3.5″
  • I/O Ports: USB 3.0 x 1, USB 2.0 x 2, HD Audio x 1, RGB Light Button

Thermaltake V200 Tempered Glass RGB Edition Review

If you’re looking for the best you can get on a limited budget, Thermaltake V200 is the winner. This RGB edition comes with seven different fan colors and a lot of customization options such as controlling the RGB fans using the button in the front or the motherboard.

One thing you’ll love about this case is how roomy it is. There is plenty of space for large components and extra fans or several hard drives, which gives you more freedom when designing the layout.

This case doesn’t have an optical drive slot, so if you want to use CDs, DVDs, or Blu-Rays, you’ll have to settle for an external optical drive. Also, don’t count on the manual to be of any help. The instructions are as vague as the Game of Thrones’ Azor Ahai prophecy, failing to explain how to install certain components.

For more affordable options similar to Thermaltake V200, take a look at our pick of best budget PC cases.

Best Mid-Tower: MasterBox Pro 5 RGB

Pros & Cons

  • Simple yet functional
  • Comes with dust filters
  • Durable glass and metal panels
  • Easy SSD mounting solution
  • Limited power supply area

Key Features:

  • Flexible mounting
  • Three pre-installed 120mm RGB fans behind the front panel
  • 1 to 3 splitter cable for RGB LED fans, RGB connector splitter and 4 pin male to male adapters included
  • Compact cooling: supports up to three 120mm front fans, one 120mm rear fan, and up to 360mm front radiator for liquid cooling
  • 4mm thick edge to edge tempered glass side panel

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 19.7 x 8.7 x 18.7 inches
  • Weight: 22.9 lbs
  • Motherboard Support: E-ATX, ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
  • Radiator Support: Front: 240 / 280 / 360mm radiator. Rear: 120mm radiator
  • Fan Support: Front: 120mm x 3 or 140mm x 2 fans. Rear: 120mm x 1 fan
  • Expansion Slots: 7
  • Drive Bays: 2x 3.5″/ 2.5″ Drive Bays
  • I/O Ports: 1 x Audio Out, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x Audio In, USB 3.0, Audio In Jack, Audio Out Jack

MasterBox Pro 5 RGB ATX Mid-Tower Review

In modding, just like in love, you never forget your first. In the first scenario, it’s mostly because a bad case choice can make you give up modding forever. If you’re inexperienced and looking for a case that is easy to work with, MasterBox Pro 5 is worth considering.

Although Pro 5 is simple, it is a durable case with a combination of glass and metal. Since dust is always something to worry about, it was nice seeing that it comes with a PSU dust filter.

The mounting solution for SSDs is fairly simple, with slots that are easy to use. Another reason to check this case out if you’re looking for a low-level PC build. On the downside, the power supply area is surprisingly limited. The HDD cage is positioned in a way that it narrows the room for a power supply, so you’ll have trouble fitting in even a standard size PSU.

Best ATX: Rosewill TYRFING

Pros & Cons

  • Toolless 3.5″ drive installation
  • Pre-installed fans
  • One of the most spacious mid-tower models
  • Low price great for first builds
  • Standoffs hard to fit into standoff holes

Key Features:

  • Sleek and stylish design
  • Convenient top-mounted I/O Panel
  • Advanced cooling system
  • 2 pre-installed fans and support for up to 5 fans
  • Translucent panel with window
  • Spacial expansion room: up to 7 PCIe slots to support up to 400 mm long VGA card, up to 160 mm high CPU cooler, up to 360 mm long liquid-cooling radiator on top and front

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 19.7 x 7.9 x 17.3 inches
  • Weight: 12.76 lbs
  • Motherboard Support: Micro ATX / ATX / Mini-ITX
  • Radiator Support: up to 360 mm Long Liquid-cooling Radiator on Top and Front
  • Fan Support: up to 160 mm High CPU Cooler
  • Expansion Slots: 7
  • Drive Bays: two 3.5″ drive bays and two 5.25″ drive bays
  • I/O Ports: 2 x USB 3.0 port and 2 x USB 2.0 port

Rosewill TYRFING ATX Mid Tower Review

If only there were a mid-tower case large enough to fit all your stuff so you don’t have to go with a full-tower…Actually, there’s Rosewill TYRFING. It’s one of the most spacious mid-towers you’ll find on the market, which is a huge plus.

TYRFING offers toolless 3.5″ drive installation which, combined with its low price, makes it a good choice for beginners and people who don’t like complicated drive installation. It comes with pre-installed fans that make a solid base for your first build. For some tips on how to get started, check out our ultimate guide on how to build a gaming PC.

One thing that’s not to like about this case is the standoff design: they’re hard to fit into standoff holes by hand, so you’ll likely have to use tools and a lot of force.

Best Airflow: CORSAIR Carbide AIR 540

Pros & Cons

  • Great aesthetics with two-cage design
  • Lots of space
  • Exceptional airflow
  • Suitable for all skill levels
  • No power supply filter

Key Features:

  • Dual-chamber Direct Airflow Path design
  • Space-saving design with lots of internal volume
  • Includes three High Performance Air Series AF140L fans
  • Lots of expansion room for high performance air cooling and liquid cooling
  • Maximum GPU length is 12.59 inch, maximum PSU length is 9.84 inch, and maximum CPU cooler height is 6.69 inch
  • Front dust filter
  • Cable routing cutouts with rubber grommets

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 16.3 x 13.1 x 18 inches
  • Weight: 16.3 lbs
  • Motherboard Support: ATX, Micro ATX, E-ATX, and Mini ITX
  • Radiator Support: 280mm top radiator support and room for a 360mm radiator on the front panel
  • Fan Support: up to six 120mm or five 140mm fans
  • Expansion Slots: 9
  • Drive Bays: two internal hot-swap drive bays
  • I/O Ports: 2 USB 3.0 Ports, 1 Audio-out Port

CORSAIR Carbide AIR 540 ATX Cube Case Review

When talking about great design, CORSAIR Carbide AIR 540 takes the cake. Its elegant minimalistic design sets it apart from other cases in this price range. This model has an interesting two-cage solution that lets you hide everything you don’t want to show in one cage and flaunt the best looking pieces in the other.

As you’ve probably assumed, the two-cage design provides a lot of space. This lets you load your build up with additional components, so here are some tips on the best CPU cooler you can add to the mix. That’s not to say that Carbide AIR 540 has bad airflow, on the contrary. The airflow is exceptional, and you can optimize it by placing parts that need better cooling in one cage.

An unpleasant surprise is that this model doesn’t come with a PSU filter. Be prepared to get one, because the case needs at least one additional dust filter.

 

Cases For Watercooling: Buying Guide

Pre-Installed vs. Water Cooler Ready

This largely depends on how experienced you are in building a custom PC. It’s easier for beginners to opt for a case that comes equipped with a cooling system, so they don’t have to worry about airflow and cooling performance.

PANZER EVO RGB

More experienced users will usually pick a water cooler ready case and choose their own components.

Component Support: Being Compatible With Your Components

What’s most important about a case is if it can support every component you want to install. Before making a choice, check out case specifications, such as IO setup (number of ports, port types), fan setup (number of mounting locations, fan types), RGB lighting, motherboard compatibility (ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX), etc.

Performance: Does It Go to 11?

When looking for a case, consider its performance. What is the airflow like, and how many fans come with it? What kind of water-cooling can it support? Check the overall capacity and quality of the cooling system, including info such as fan RPM, size, model, etc.

Size and Space: Fitting Everything You Need

You can choose from a mini, mid, full, and super tower. It’s up to you to pick a size you’re most comfortable working with, but take into account that two cases of the same size often have a different amount of free space, depending on the case layout.

Mini Itx Water Cooling

Ideally, you should first settle on a PC case you’re planning to purchase and pick a liquid cooler afterward. This way, you can avoid unwanted compatibility issues and having to replace/order a new a cooler

Noise: It Can Drive You Crazy

The amount of noise your case will make is proportional to the number of fans you have. Be careful when choosing a fan type, as RPM, size, and model dictate the level of noise. The materials used for the case will affect how noisy it is – some provide better soundproofing than others.

Design: Showing off your build

The choice of design depends entirely on your personal preferences. Consider whether you want a minimalistic monochromatic design or a case with LED fans. Most cases come with a glass panel that lets you showcase the inner layout and various features that help hide less presentable components such as cables.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need Water Cooling?

You don’t necessarily need it, but water cooling is better than air cooling since it removes excess heat faster and doesn’t heat up the inside of the case.

Thermaltake Level 20 XT Cube Chassis

The absolute best high-end gaming rigs are much safer with liquid cooling installed.

What Liquid Is Used in Liquid Cooling?

Water, deionized water, glycol/water solutions, and dielectric fluids such as fluorocarbons and PA.

Do You Need to Replace Liquid Cooling?

It depends on the type of cooling you have. A closed-loop cooling doesn’t require liquid replacement, but if you have an open-loop system you need to periodically replace it.

Are Liquid Coolers Quieter?

Yes. Fans for air cooling make a lot more noise.

Do I Need a Reservoir for Water Cooling?

It depends on the number of components you have. It is recommended to have a reservoir if you have a large number of components that need cooling.

water cooling in a pc case

However, most mid-range and budget gaming rigs won’t need a reservoir.

Does Liquid Cooling Improve Performance?

It depends. If your processor is slow because it overheats, liquid cooling will help it work at a normal speed. The best way to improve performance by liquid cooling is to overclock your processor, allowing it to work faster than it normally would.


Conclusion

Hopefully, this list helped you make a decision on the best case for water-cooling that best fits your needs. If not, you can also check out our choice of best mid-tower cases for more inspiration.


Sources:

  1. Should You Cool a CPU with Air or Liquid, NZXT Blog
  2. Josh Covington, Water Cooling vs Air Cooling, VelocityMicro

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