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Last Update: May 03, 2019

Top 5 mITX Cases for Gaming

Published 20:24 PM
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Despite what you might have heard, when it comes to your home computer, smaller is better. 🖥️ 💻

According to a recent CNBC report, the average apartment is getting smaller. Add to that the massive amount of clutter we collect (because let’s be honest, shopping is fun), and you can begin to see how unfeasible a massive hulking tower has become. That’s where Mini-ITX cases come in.

Mini-ITX cases are made to fit Mini-ITX motherboards, and as you can see above, they’re considerably smaller than the standard motherboard you’ll find in most computers. This smaller form factor allows you to get pretty tiny cases, all things considered so that you don’t have to worry about taking up a bunch of space in your bedroom or living room. Unfortunately, it does come with a downside.

Since space is at a premium inside a Mini-ITX case, what can and cannot fit inside varies wildly. This adds a bunch of extra work and pressure on your part. That being said, hopefully, the list of Mini-ITX cases we’ve compiled for you below will help make your life easier!

So, what are the best Mini-ITX Cases for 2019?

1

Best Choice: NZXT H200i

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Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 13.7 x 8.3 x 14.6″ (349 x 210 x 372mm)
  • Graphics Card Max Length: 12.8″ (325mm)
  • I/O Panel:
  • 2x USB 3.1
  • 1x audio/mic
  • Drive Bays:
  • 1x 3.5” + 4x 2.5”

Fan Options:

  • Front: 2 x 140mm or 2 x 120mm fan
  • Top: 1 x 120mm fan
  • Rear: 1 x 120mm fan

Radiator Options:

  • Front: Up to 240mm
  • Rear: Up to 120mm

NZXT H200i Review

The first case on the docket treads a fine line between form and function. While it’s true you can absolutely get smaller or cheaper Mini-ITX cases, you won’t find the variety of supported hardware on those like you do with the NZXT H200i.

Of course, it’s not truly a small form factor, since it’s a bit larger than the average Mini-ITX case, but at least it does give you a bit of room to play around with.

One of the standout features here is the ton of options you have to cool and remove heat. Even though we did mention in the cons that it has non-optimal airflow, it doesn’t take into account your option for radiators. More specifically, you can fit quite a few radiators by default, but if you can get clearance, you could probably get a radiator mounted at the top.

Another great feature of the slightly larger form factor, is that I can easy take a bigger PSU as compared to other Mini-ITX cases. Combined with the large internal space that could fit a whole host of different gear, power isn’t as much of a limiting factor. In fact, there’s no reason why you couldn’t go for a GTX 1080, depending on the specific manufacturer sizing of course.

In terms of build quality, it’s excellent. NZXT always does a great job with their cases, both in terms of design and material use, with this case being no exception. It’s both solid and premium feeling, so it won’t feel or look cheap if you’re going to be displaying the Mini-ITX case prominently.

Of course, it does have a tempered glass panel to the side, so you can certainly show off. The ‘i’ variant of this case actually comes with a ‘smart device’, which is essentially a controller for the fans and an included RGB strip. You can really go all out in terms of showing off if you feel like it.

That being said, the difference between the H200i and H200 is around $40, which means this smart device alone brings it up in cost by nearly 50%. Unless you really need that RGB, we’d definitely suggest you skip the smart device and go for the ‘dumb’ version. After all, you can use that extra money for better hardware, or even just get cheaper fan/LED controllers.

+Pros
  • Good cooling options
  • Adaptive noise reduction
  • Cool Lighting
  • Great cable management
-Cons
  • Non Optimal Airflow
2

Premium Pick: Cougar Conquer

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Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 22.83″ x 10.04″ x 26.97″ (580mm x 255mm x 685mm)
  • Graphics Card Max Length: 13.77” (350 mm)
  • I/O Panel:
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x Audio
  • 1 x Mic

Drive Bays:

  • 3 x 2.5/3.5″ Bay
  • 4 x 2.5” bay

Fan Options:

  • Front: 2 x 120mm fan
  • Top: 3 x 120mm fan

Radiator Options:

  • Front – Up to 240mm
  • Top – Up to 360mm

Cougar Conquer Review

Much like the Core P series from Thermaltake, the majority of substance for the Cougar Conquer lies in the design, rather than anything else.

One thing that’s interesting to note, is that this Mini-ITX case has angled fan slots at the top which are actually much more efficient than the ones in the front. This might seem a bit counter-intuitive, but since there’s so much open space, it’s impossible to create any air pressure, so your best bet is to blow air at the hardware directly.

You might be wondering how that works with angled fans, but the actual motherboard itself is also mounted at an angle, so it lines up pretty well.

The upshot of an open-plan design, is that you have a bunch of extra space for putting your drives in (7 in total). Similarly, all this space means you can fit pretty much any GPU your heart desires, without much worry of bumping into things.

Finally, the PSU is mounted at the bottom near the front, and there’s a cool angled panel which vents the air coming from the PSU to the bottom (so it doesn’t hit your hardware).

At the end of the day though, this Mini-ITX case is made to look cool, rather than be super functional or cheap. There’s tons of more utilitarian cases at this price point, so if you’re not hell bent on the Cougar Conquer’s sleek design, you’re better off going with one of those.

+Pros
  • Ridiculously cool looking
  • Tons of drive bays and expansion slots
  • Can take more than just mini-ITX motherboards
-Cons
  • Still also open to the elements and dust
3

Best Value: Cooler Master Elite 110

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Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 8.20″ x 10.30″ x 11.10″ (260 x 208 x 280 mm)
  • Graphics Card Max Length: 8.26” (210 mm)
  • I/O Panel:
  • 2 x USB 3.0,
  • 1 x Audio In & Out

Drive Bays:

  • 3 x 3.5″ HDD or
  • 2 x 3.5″ HDD + 2 x SSD or
  • or 1 x 3.5″ HDD or
  • 3 x SSD or
  • 4 x SSD

Fan Options:

  • Front: 1 x 120mm fan
  • Side: 2 x 80mm fan

Radiator Options:

  • Front: 120mm radiator

Cooler Master Elite 110 Review

Now, if we’re talking in terms of a tight budget and saving money, this next case will most likely fit your needs.

Speaking of tight, that’s pretty much the kind of space you’re likely to find inside the Elite 110. You may have even noticed from some of the pictures, that there’s a reasonably big bulge in the back (around 20mm), where the PSU goes.

While that may be a bit of a cheat, it is actually a great addition, since it allows you to put a larger PSU (possibly even standard sized), that should give you more wattage to play around with.

Of course, you might be better off opting for a smaller PSU anyway, since it will give you much more space on the inside. Considering those space restrictions, cable management becomes a bit of a hassle, and you’re likely to be stuffing everything in a smaller corner of the machine. Therefore, a smaller PSU would make sense in this case (ha-ha!).

Another thing to consider is that the HDDs/SSDs and the GPU you that you pick, will absolutely influence each other, as the GPU heat will certainly cause an issue.

That being said, the Elite 110 first came out in an age where SSDs weren’t as common, or as cheap, and if you opt to go for a pure SSD storage solution, the heat issue won’t be as pronounced. This is made even better if you stick a radiator where the HDDs would go, to give yourself a little bit of extra cooling.

There’s not much more to say, other than that the build quality is unsurprisingly great, given Cooler Master’s track record.

+Pros
  • USB 3.0 Support
  • Can accommodate a full-sized ATX power supply.
  • Very small
  • Tons of storage options
-Cons
  • Airflow isn’t great
  • Top-vent means that the PSU fan has to be facing upwards
4

Best Portability: SilverStone Technology Raven Z03

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Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 13.78″ x 4.13″ x 15.04″ (350mm x 104mm x 382mm)
  • Graphics Card Max Length: 13” (330 mm)
  • I/O Panel:
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x Audio
  • 1 x Mic

Drive Bays:

  • 4 x 2.5″ Bays

Fan Options:

  • Top: 1 x 120mm fan (included, 1500rpm, 18dBA)
  • Bottom: 2 x 120mm fan (1 x 120mm fan included, 1500rpm, 18dBA)

Radiator Options:

  • CPU cooler up to 83mm

SilverStone Technology Raven Z03 Review

Ok, so maybe you like the long sleek form of the Skyreach Mini 4, but you’d like a bit more space to work with (plus an internal PSU) and that’s where this baby comes in.

Well, you’ll probably be happy to know that you do get both spaces for an internal PSU and a power button. While there are several options for the PSU length, up to a supported 150mm, you’re probably better off going for something like a 130mm for some extra cable management space.

This means that while this case can take something like an ATX power supply, you’re better off going with an SFX one instead, and it will have shorter cables to boot.

In terms of GPU, it can take quite a bit of space, and you could probably fit a full-sized card in there, depending on the manufacturer. What’s interesting here though, is how SilverStone manages the mounting of the GPU, which they do through a removal bracket. That’s not necessarily unique to Mini-ITX cases, but this one is especially well designed.

This brings us to the storage, of which there are three 2.5” bays, all mounted on the GPU bracket. There’s also another 2.5” bay if you want, on a removable panel. So there are quite a few options there.

As for fans, the case supports up to four and while the case does come with some, they’re pretty thin (15mm) and you could probably get away with some thicker ones for better performance.

+Pros
  • Sleek
  • Good cooling
  • Relatively Cheap
-Cons
  • Hard to assemble and work with
5

Thermaltake Core P1

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Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 15.00″ x 13.10″ x 16.60″ (381mm x 332mm x 421mm)
  • Graphics Card Max Length: 15” (380 mm)
  • I/O Panel:
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x Audio
  • 1 x Mic
  • Drive Bays:
  • 2 x 2.5/3.5″ Bay
  • 2 x 2.5” bay

Fan Options:

  • Left Side: 2 x 120mm fan

Radiator Options:

  • Side – Up to 240mm

Thermaltake Core P1 Review

You’ve probably seen this case a lot, especially given how striking it looks. Of course, what you’ve probably been seeing is the Core P3, which is the ATX variant. Instead, what you have here is the Core P1, which is the Mini-ITX sized version. Unfortunately, aside from its striking looks, there isn’t much there.

On the right side, you’ll notice a big slot that can fit most radiators, although some radiators might not fight if they have extra bits on the side.

You’ll also want to make sure they’re pretty thin since setting up the GPU in the upright position won’t give you more than 30mm of clearance. Speaking of the GPU positioning, the Core P1 does come with bracketing for both upright and lying down positions.

As such, you can fit most GPUs in this case, and the same goes for the PSUs, with a maximum size of 180mm. In terms of fans, there are only two or three options, and you can give up a couple of 2.5” bays for some extra fans. There’s also space for a 3.5” and 2.5” bay inside the machine itself, although it’s certainly a hassle to set up.

All that being said, it’s absolutely a striking case, and worth the hassle if you really enjoy showing off your gear.

+Pros
  • Lots of space to work with
  • Can take a full-sized PSU
  • Sid USB 3.0 ports
-Cons
  • Open to the elements . . . and dust

Mini-ITX case: Buying Guide

Going for a Mini-ITX case versus your standard full tower cases means that you’re going to be delving a bit deeper into computer hardware, so it’s important to get an idea of what you should be looking for.

Dimensions

This one is pretty straight forward but is actually the most important aspect of this whole shebang. Since you’ll likely be needing a case based on how much room you have, make sure you measure twice and add some on top of that for leeway. But if you’re looking for something with a bit more space, you better check out our list of the best micro ATX cases.

Cooltek Jonsbo UMX2

Graphics Card Max Length

So while the overall dimensions are the foundation of this endeavor, the GPU a Mini-ITX case can accommodate is probably going to make or break your build. Since there’s so much variety in size and shape of these cases, it’s important to know what GPU it can accommodate so that you pick your build in a smart and efficient fashion. Or, if you already have a GPU, at least you’ll know it’ll fit in there!

I/O Panel

I/O stands for Input/Output and covers things like USB ports, mic/audio jacks, and things of that nature. Most cases tend to have some form of I/O panel at the front, but as you’ve seen with the Skyreach Mini 4, that’s not always the case. So make sure that you have the I/O solution that best fits your needs.

io panel

Drive Bays

Again, this one is pretty straight forward: It’s where you stick your HDDs and SSDs. Now, you may have noticed that they tend to come in two varieties: 2.5” and 3.5”.

Basically, a rule of thumb is that SSDs tend to fit in 2.5” bays, whereas your typical HDD will fit in 3.5”. There are of course some 2.5” HDD form factors, and you could go with that if you prefer, but honestly, SSDs are usually the best practice when you’re going for small PC builds like the Mini-ITX cases.

Fan/Radiator Options

Unlike most full-size tower cases where you can fit tons of fans, Mini-ITX cases only have so many fan mount slots. Not only that, but sometimes the internal clearance is absolutely *tiny* (in some cases only 25mm). So make sure that you have not only the right sized fans for cooling, but the right amount of fan mounts for your needs.

Corsair Obsidian 900D

As for radiators, it’s exactly the same as fans, with size/capacity limitations being an important aspect of the build. As said before, the more space you have the more fans and radiators can fit inside, so if that’s your priority better look for some of the best mid-tower cases.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Mini-ITX Case?

Basically, a Mini-ITX case is a small form factor (SFF) computer case that can fit Mini-ITX motherboards. If you’ve noticed the header image on this article, you’ll see the difference between your typical ATX motherboard, and a Mini-ITX one. These smaller motherboards are essentially the same as their bigger siblings, but their smaller size allows you to build smaller PCs.

What is better: Mini-ITX or ATX?

This one is impossible to answer because it’s completely dependant on what your needs are. That being said, if you aren’t necessarily space-poor, then you’re better off going with an ATX, since there’s more room for error, and they’re generally easier to assemble.

mini-itx-vs-micro-atx

Other than their size though, they can have the exact same specifications as each other, so there’s no real difference.

Do Mini-ITX cases overheat?

Honestly, the only time they would overheat is if you don’t do your research and build properly. Thermal dissipation in modern PC case design is pretty big, so they are specifically made to not overheat. In fact, looking at the Skyreach Mini 4, the Core P1 and the Cougar Conquer, you can tell that overheating is unlikely unless you’re pushing the GPU/CPU waaay past its limits.

Why are Mini-ITX cases expensive?

Well, the material alone could ramp up the price massively, like the all-aluminum body of the Mini 4. Add to that the fact that tooling for smaller cases is a big pain, and you start to realize why these things are expensive.

Of course, that being said, there are lots of mass-produced Mini-ITX cases these days that are pretty cheap, starting at around $40 – $50 or so. If price matters for you, check out our list of some of the best budget PC cases.

Xigmatek Nebula

Can Mini-ITX fit an ATX case?

Almost all ATX cases have mounting holes for smaller sized motherboards and while we’d like to tell you that all ATX cases can fit Mini-ITX motherboards, we can’t account for all the crazy knock-off cases on the market. Your best bet is to just look at the specification of the ATX case you’re thinking of buying, and check if it can support Mini-ITX.

Whatever you choose, if you’re into video games, for example, it’s important for you to pick the best motherboard for gaming that can fit inside your PC case, ’cause what’s inside, in this case, matters just as much.


Conclusion

Mini-ITX is really cool tech, especially if you’re working with size limitations. The downside though, is that they are pretty hard to build since you need to put a lot of effort in researching and picking the right components, as well as the difficulty of assembling in such a small workspace.

If Mini-ITX seems a bit too finicky for you, why not check out some of our favorite full-sized PC cases?


Sources:

  1. Case Modding, Wikipedia
  2. How to Install a Desktop Computer Fan, WikiHow
  3. PC Case Sizes Explained, TechQuickie, June 18th, 2014
  4. PC Case FAQ, Corsair
  5. Steve Lander, How to Install a Thermal Sensor on a PC Case, Chron
  6. Types of Computer Cases and Motherboard Factors, November 30th, 2011
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