A mid-tower PC case is a solid, responsible choice—a choice that handsome people like yourself make. Mid-tower PC cases are probably big enough to house the shiny, rainbow-glowing innards of your lovingly built new rig, but not so big that you’re tempted to start charging them rent.
They represent a nice middle-of-the-road option in other respects, too, like cost, modularity, and portability (for those of you who still have LAN parties).
What do you mean it’s 2020 and nobody has LAN parties anymore?
Oh, right. I’m old and I have old friends. 👴
3 Best Mid-Tower PC Cases
Mini-ITX and micro-ATX builds are all the rage these days. A powerful gaming rig that’s also small is awesome, but there’s still something to be said for tradition, at least in some cases. A bigger case not only lets you install more powerful hardware (and more of it), deliberately leaving a bunch of empty space in your case is one of the single best things you can do to keep your system cool.
In this short but sweet shopping guide, we’ve scoured the internet for three of the best mid-tower PC cases currently on the market. If you’re leaning towards a case that’s bigger than your little brother’s budget Minecraft machine but smaller than your refrigerator, you’ve come to the right place.
Best Choice: NZXT H500i
Pros & Cons
- Thin steel frame is reasonably strong, but still light
- Cable management is a breeze
- Pre-configured for simplified installation of water cooling systems
- Airflow isn’t great
If you’re serious about getting the most value for your money, the NZXT H500 Compact ATX case is a killer deal. It’s a solid B-grade case in almost every way, and none of its shortcomings are especially egregious. For $70, you could definitely do worse.
- All-steel construction
- Dual-position cable management bar
- Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, and ATX motherboard support
NZXT H500i Review
Many PC cases—especially in this price range—rely on their removable side panels to provide stability, which is rarely a good design choice. The NZXT H500i’s lightweight steel frame is thick enough for the case to remain firmly upright even with the side panels removed, but not so thick as to make it heavy or unwieldy.
One of the NZXT H500i’s best features is its total smorgasbord of cable management options. There are straps, channels, and cubbyholes absolutely everywhere for securing your cables or simply stuffing them out of sight. A large compartment in the bottom of the case big enough to contain all the extra cords from your power supply is an especially welcome feature.
Continuing with its theme of making things easier for you, this case is also ready for (some) water cooling right out of the box. Most AIO systems will be about as close to plug-and-play as water cooling can get. Custom loop systems will probably take a little more work, but you should still save a significant amount of time compared to using a standard case that’s not built specifically for liquid cooling.
The H500i’s biggest drawback is an interior layout that makes for not-so-great (but not terrible) airflow. Because of the way the hard drive bays are arranged, the front-to-rear interior dimensions of the case are smaller and more cramped than they otherwise would be. There are also no pre-installed fans on the front of the case, which is a questionable design choice.
Case fans are more effective when they’re present on both the front and back—the front fan pushes hot air toward the back of the case, and the rear fan draws it out. This case has a second fan on the top of the case just above the rear fan, but it’s not as effective as a traditional front-mounted fan would be. You may want to pick up an extra one and install it yourself, although doing so would effectively increase the H500’s price.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that some people who bought this case have reported that it shipped without one or more hard drive mounts that were clearly supposed to be included, though this is likely a warehouse snafu and not a problem with the case itself. Still, the NZXT H500i is overall one of the best gaming PC cases we’ve seen so far in 2020. As long as you have a plan to compensate for the so-so airflow, you really can’t go wrong with this one, especially for the price.
Premium Pick: Rosewill Cullinan MX
Pros & Cons
- High quality tempered glass
- Remote control for convenient fan and lighting control
- Dust filters keep the inside of your PC cleaner, longer
- Fans are loud
The Rosewill ATX gaming case costs twice as much as the NZXT H500, but it’s got twice as many extras to make up for it. Do you have a little more to spend on your case? Treat yo self.
- Multiple top-mounted I/O ports
- 4 remote-controlled fans
- Water-cooling ready
Rosewill ATX Gaming Case Review
You won’t find any cheap plastic in the side panels of the Rosewill ATX gaming case. They’re made with thick, durable tempered glass that seems capable of withstanding any impact short of a direct blow with a hammer. The panels themselves snap firmly into the case and allow for a pleasing view of all your fancy interior RGB lighting, which can be cycled through lots of different patterns with the included remote control.
Speaking of the remote control: it’s pretty darn handy. It controls the fans in addition to the lights, although the fan control isn’t as precise as you might hope for; the remote can only turn them on or off, it can’t adjust their speeds. (You can adjust fan speed with more precision via the controls on the case itself.)
The case comes with four pre-installed fans (three in the front, one in the back) and has room for two more. If that sounds like too much for you, maybe you should check out the best micro ATX case available.
One of the Rosewill ATX gaming case’s best features is also one of its simplest: dust filters. There are mesh-like pads on the top, front, and back of the case that significantly cut down the amount of dust that will find its way into your PC’s innards. Cleaning the filters couldn’t be easier—just pop them out, rinse them off in the sink, pat them dry, and pop them back in. Why these things aren’t standard on every single PC case in the world remains an unsolved mystery.
The Rosewill ATX gaming case does have a few drawbacks. It’s an expensive case—currently $140 on Amazon—but it’s not unfairly priced for what you get. The bigger and less obvious issue is how loud the fans are. I’ve owned cases whose fans sounded like a 747 taking off; these aren’t that loud, but they are definitely not the whisper-quiet wonder fans you might be looking for.
If you get the best gaming headset available, this won’t even be an issue thanks to the noise-canceling, but you’ve been warned.
Best Value: Corsair Carbide 270R
Pros & Cons
- Built-in cable management
- Versatile cooling options
- Easy assembly
- I/O ports are vertically arranged on the side rather than being on top
- Windowed version has cheap plastic side panels
There’s a lot to be said for simplicity—for doing one thing and doing it well. If you’re after a “no frills” case that nails the essentials without charging you more for extras you don’t need, look no further than the Corsair Carbide 270R.
- Expansive storage space
- Intuitive layout
- Drive bays allow for maximum airflow
Corsair Carbide 270R Review
Corsair’s Carbide 270R mid-tower PC case adheres to a simple design philosophy: maximize usable space. The case features several channels and cubbyholes for keeping your cables stashed out of view.
The hard drive bays, which are typically mounted horizontally near the front in most cases, are attached vertically to the interior wall. Not only does this keep the drives and their cables out of the way, but it also dramatically improves airflow from the front of the case to the back, which does a lot to keep things cool.
When it comes to cooling, the Carbide 270R case has room for several different sizes of fans in several different locations. It’s not pre-configured for liquid cooling like the H500 and the Rosewill ATX case are, but the 270R does an outstanding job of maximizing airflow, and that really is the single most important thing you can do for your temps.
This case is built for convenience, too. Its designers haven’t forgotten that part of their job is to make your PC building experience as painless as possible. Features like tools-free thumbscrews and clearly marked panels, along with the aforementioned cable management system, help the build process go just a little faster.
That convenience comes at a (minor) price, though; the case can’t really be considered modular. Your hard drives can go in one of a few slightly different locations, but everything else has to go in one particular spot.
Our only two gripes with this case are both pretty minor. The I/O ports that you’d find on the top of most other cases are on the side of the front panel. If you have a USB stick in one of those ports, inadvertently bumping (and potentially damaging) it seems much more likely than if it were on top.
There’s a similar concern with cords and cables: when they’re plugged in horizontally, their own weight can crimp and damage them over time unless you use an angled PVC pipe elbow or something to alleviate that strain.
Finally, if you decide to buy this case, you may want to go with the solid (non-windowed) version. It costs a little less anyway, and the clear panels on the windowed version are made of a thin, cheap plastic that’s not especially resistant to scratches. Aside from this issue and the sideways I/O panel, the Corsair Carbide 270R is an otherwise excellent mid-tower PC case for a great price (currently about $60 on Amazon).
Mid-Tower Gaming PC Case Buying Guide
If you’ve settled on a mid-tower case for your next gaming PC build, congratulations—you’ve already made a decision! Even if you’re still undecided, our buying guide will help you clarify what your top priorities are so you end up with a case you’ll love for years.
In this guide, we’ll cover the essentials: case size and interior space, cost, quality, durability, user-friendliness, and loudness. (Yes, some PC case fans are loud enough that the issue deserves its own category.) Let’s start with the most basic and most important consideration: whether or not all the shiny new components you’ve collected will fit.
Case Size & Interior Space
It would be nice if all of the best gaming PCs ever manufactured adhered to a rigid, pre-defined standard of measurement (or at least fell within a pre-defined range), but unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple.
Size descriptors like “mini,” “mid-tower,” and “full” PC cases refer to ballpark measurements that most manufacturers only mostly agree on. At the end of the day, you’ll need to look at the exact dimensions of each case on your shortlist to make sure it fits your needs.
Very broadly speaking, the various sizes of PC cases are about this big:
|Case size||Exterior Dimensions||Where can it live?|
|Small Form Factor (SFF/mini-ITX)||10” x 10” x 8”||Basically anywhere|
|Mini-Tower (or MicroATX)||14” x 16” x 8”||On top of/in/under your desk|
|Mid-Tower (ATX)||18” x 20” x 8”||Under or beside your desk|
|Full (EATX/SSI EEB)||24” x 20” x 10” or bigger||Might need its own bedroom|
Your chosen motherboard will be the single most important factor in determining the size of the case you’ll need, as certain case sizes only accommodate certain motherboard configurations. Once you’ve narrowed it down that far, the next thing to look at will be your graphics card, which is often the largest component (or else it’ll be your power supply).
CPUs and PSUs are pretty much universally the same sizes and RAM sticks are small, so if you’re sure your video card will fit with plenty of extra room for airflow, you’re probably ready to rock as far as size goes.
With rare exceptions, most mid-tower PC cases are almost as big on the inside as they are on the outside. You’re most likely to lose significant amounts of usable space near the front and back panels; pre-installed case fans that tend to live in those areas can be 2-3 inches thick.
Not to sound like a broken record, but we’ll say this one last time because it’s really important: if your case is just barely big enough to house all your components, then it’s too small. You need to leave plenty of empty space in there, especially around the CPU and video card. Insufficient empty space equals nowhere for hot air to go other than right back into your delicate, heat-sensitive components.
If you’re still not sure just how big of a case you need, stop by our ATX mid-tower vs. full case comparison guide.
How much you can afford to budget obviously matters when it comes to buying a gaming PC case, but there’s a bit more to it than simply counting how much you have to spend today. Mid-tower PC cases typically fall somewhere between $100 and $200, but cases also happen to be one of the most future-proof components of a PC.
If the price is a major sticking point for you, click over to our roundup of some of the best budget PC cases.
Provided you do some research and plan ahead, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to reuse your PC case at least two or three builds into the future. Motherboards almost single-handedly determine the sizes and specifications of PC cases, and motherboards are getting smaller over time, not bigger.
Keep two things in mind: a motherboard capable of supporting more powerful hardware will still need to be physically larger, and PC hardware is already in the “diminishing returns” stage of its technological evolution. (Each new generation of hardware that comes out will produce less noticeable improvements over the previous generation, at least until someone invents a working 3D holodeck.)
What does this mean for the mid-tower PC case you’re shopping for today? It means: if you buy a big one that supports as many different types of motherboards as possible, you probably won’t need to buy a new case when you build another new PC a few years from now.
New socket types and chipsets are being developed regularly, but current motherboard form factors don’t seem likely to change anytime soon. Spending a bit more today on a large, well-made modular case will save you more cash in the long run.
Quality & Durability
In the previous “Budget” section, we touched briefly on the idea that buying the cheapest case you can find often isn’t actually the most cost-effective option. If you buy a mid-tower PC case that’s twice as durable as another but only 50% more expensive, you’re effectively buying 1.5 cases in the same period of time that you otherwise would have bought two.
Most PC cases, regardless of cost or quality, are made of some kind of aluminum alloy. However, the material the frame is made of generally matters less than its thickness and structure. After all, you don’t really need a PC case made of 440 stainless steel unless you’re planning to throw it off your roof. Please don’t do that.
When shopping online, look closely at pictures of PC cases with their side panels removed. Eyeball the thickness of the frame’s outer edges. It’s pretty hard to estimate measurements from a picture, but comparing it to other elements in the photo helps—standard PC case screws are 0.138” (~3.5mm) wide, so if the outer frame is barely wider than the screws, you may be looking at a flimsy case.
Pay close attention to the side panels as well—are they tempered glass, cheap plastic, or solid metal? What about the mesh screens on the top, front, and/or back—do they have thin plastic tabs that snap off when you look at them wrong or are they made of something sturdier?
Finally, see if you can tell what the base is made of. Even some relatively expensive mid-tower cases come with cheap plastic bases. A fully loaded PC case can easily weigh more than 20 pounds; a wobbly plastic base might support the tower just fine until it moves or gets nudged in a way that causes the base to bend or twist.
Basically, every part of the PC case that is intended to support any significant amount of weight should ideally be made of metal, not plastic. The frame should also be thick and sturdy enough that it can’t easily be twisted or bent out of shape. PC cases made mostly of metal may cost a little more than those that utilize more plastic, but treat them gently and you’ll be buying them far less often.
Ease of Component Installation
At the end of the day, the ease or difficulty of your next PC build depends mostly on you, but that’s doesn’t mean the case you bought isn’t a factor. Each new generation of PC cases boasts new quality-of-life improvements—small conveniences that add up to an overall more pleasant building experience.
Some handy features you might see on mid-tower PC cases include things like clearly labeled panels that show you exactly where each component needs to go, channels/cubbyholes for cable management, and thumbscrews to eliminate the need for certain tools. (For those of us with gargantuan hands, it’s really nice not to have to fumble around in cramped spaces with itty-bitty screwdrivers.)
While PC case manufacturers are always improving new products to make building your next PC a little easier, there’s no substitute for the confidence that comes from hands-on experience. If you’ve never built your own rig before, you may want to look for a case with lots of novice-friendly features, but once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll be able to work with just about any case.
Noise Levels and Potentially Problematic Sounds
For some reason, mid-tower PC case fans and GPU fans don’t really seem to exist in “medium loudness” varieties. Your options are basically “is my PC even on?” or “my ears are bleeding and my cat has been blown away by the fans.” Most of us prefer the former. However, the best CPU coolers are usually quiet ones, so look out for that.
If you always use noise-canceling headphones, you may not always be able to hear your PC blasting off to reach low orbit, but you nonetheless probably want to avoid that sort of nonsense if you can. There are several things in your PC that might make noise for a few different reasons.
A low-pitched humming or whirring noise is usually either your power supply doing normal electricity stuff or some kind of fan operating correctly. There’s not much you can do about a noisy power supply, although newer models are usually pretty quiet and this isn’t a big problem anymore.
If a case fan, CPU fan, or GPU fan is whirring loudly but evenly, that’s also (probably) normal. You may just have to live with it. Use a free utility like SpeedFan to keep an eye on your CPU and GPU temps if their respective fans are running loud for long periods of time. A whirring noise that is irregular or also rattling/clicking may be a sign that something is loose or wasn’t installed properly. It’s also possible that a wire is making contact with a running fan. Pop open your case and make sure everything is secured properly.
Squeals and high-pitched whines are usually caused by a smaller fan running at high speeds. Again, regularity is more important than loudness. If the sound is consistent in character and volume, there’s likely nothing to worry about.
Irregular grinding, whirring, and buzzing are sounds that optical hard drives and CD-ROM/BluRay drives make all the time. If something else is making those noises, you may have cause for concern. Shut your PC down immediately and carefully inspect all components. If you don’t see an obvious problem and the noises persist, consider bringing your PC into a repair shop for a quick checkup.
If your PC case itself is rattling, one or more moving parts inside may simply be vibrating the case or the side panels, if they’re loosely fitted. If you’ve ruled out both possibilities, something else might be amiss. Nothing inside your PC should ever rattle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the top questions about PC cases that lots of people are asking Google these days, as well as our answers to them.
What Is a Mid-Tower Case?
A mid-tower PC case is one that’s approximately 18” x 20” x 8”, but the more precise classification hinges on what motherboard form factors it can accommodate. All mid-tower PC cases can accommodate standard ATX motherboards. Some may also be compatible with larger or smaller boards; you’ll need to check the product description for any particular case to be sure.
What Is the Difference Between a Mid-Tower Case and a Full-Tower Case?
In a word: size. Full-size tower cases have 25-50% more usable interior space than mid-tower cases; they’re designed for extra-large motherboards like E-ATX and SSI EEB/MEB/CEB form factors. Even bigger motherboards exist, but they’re specialty products that you aren’t likely to find unless you’re specifically looking for them.
E-ATX and other large motherboards are mostly designed for use with multiple CPUs. People hosting beefy servers or virtual machines are most likely to need these boards; gamers don’t generally need more than one CPU. Nonetheless, it’s worth getting the best gaming processor on the market if you’re gunning for enjoying the newest titles for years to come.
. Gamers might choose a full-size tower case simply because they need more space than a mid-tower case can offer. This scenario is most likely if you’re running multiple flagship Titan GPUs or other comparably massive models.
What Is the Best PC Gaming Case for First-Time Builders?
In the “Ease of Installation” section of our buying guide, we talked about some nice (but usually minor) quality-of-life features that can make your first PC build go a little more smoothly. The only significant considerations here are the size of the case, whether or not it comes with labels that tell you exactly where each component goes, and whether or not you intend to install a liquid cooling system. Having more space to work in always makes things easier, especially if you have big hands.
If you’re planning on using liquid cooling, please do at least 10,000 hours of research. Even the most user-friendly systems require a skill level on their own and there are big risks involved. If this is your first time building a PC, we don’t recommend attempting to install liquid cooling on your own right out of the gate. (You probably don’t really need it anyway.) Consider starting with a standard air-cooled setup to get comfortable with the basics first.
If you get stuck at any point, it’s probably not because of your case. Check out our Ultimate PC Building Guide if you need help—it will take you step-by-step through the whole process. Just buy the case you like best and don’t worry too much about how user-friendly it is—you’ll do just fine.
What Is the Best Gaming PC Case Under $50?
If money’s tight, your case is one of the first places to look for potential savings. At the end of the day, a PC case is just a box with holes in specific places. Mid-tower cases under $50 may not have fancy RGB lighting or remote controls, but they’ll get the job done.
If you truly need to keep it under $50, you can pick up a slightly older Corsair Carbide case for that much. The Fractal Focus case would be a solid choice too. Both are solidly built, perfectly functional cases that allow for good airflow, which should always be your top consideration.
What Is the Best PC Case for Water Cooling?
Our first two favorites on this list—the NZXT H500 and the Rosewill ATX gaming case—are both pre-configured for water cooling right out of the box. As liquid cooling becomes more popular, expect to see more cases follow suit. The Corsair Obsidian 500D and the Thermaltake A500 are also excellent premium mid-tower cases, and both are built with liquid cooling systems in mind.
What Is the Best PC Gaming Case for Air Cooling?
Our “best value” pick for this list, the Corsair Carbide 270R case, has tons of room, which is really the most important factor when it comes to air cooling. It only ships with one case fan, but it’s got space for 2-3 more in several different places. (How many case fans do you need, anyway?)
If you’ve decided to stick with air cooling for your next rig, remember that case fans are important, but leaving plenty of empty space inside the case is even more important. Stuffing eight fans in there won’t do much good if the hot air doesn’t have a clear path out of the case. One surefire way to maximize airflow is to simply go bonkers overboard on case size—consider buying a full-size case for your mid-tower build, if you’ve got the floor space for one.
Mid-tower PC cases are the most popular size, and it’s easy to see why. They’re big enough for all but the most ambitious builds, compatible with most motherboard form factors, and there are hundreds to choose from no matter what your budget is. We’ve rounded up three of our favorites for 2020, but it was hard to pick just three—it’s only March and there are already so many great new mid-tower cases to choose from.
Once you’ve picked out the right mid-tower case for you (and once you’ve got all your other components too), don’t forget to bookmark our Ultimate PC Building Guide to help you put it all together. Stay tuned to the Game Gavel front page for more mid-tower case reviews and buying guides as new products release later in the year.
- PC Case FAQ, Corsair
- How to Install a Motherboard, WikiHow
- Types of Computer Cases and Motherboard Factors, November 30th, 2011
- Steve Lander, The Disadvantages of a Computer With a Small Case, Chron
- PC Case Sizes Explained, TechQuickie, June 18th, 2014
- Steve Lander, How to Install a Thermal Sensor on a PC Case, Chron