While SFF building seems to be on the rise, and micro-ATX has been available for years, there is still nothing anywhere near as popular as the standard ATX format for building your own PC. ATX motherboards are the easiest to find and have the best price-performance options of any size, and the ease of build that comes along with not trying to save every bit of space possible is much more user friendly than using an ITX mini-build.
Accordingly, the most popular case size and the one with the most options available is similarly the ATX standard. ATXh cases are typically described as mid-tower or full tower, with both offering the right screw placements to support ATX motherboards. Today, we are spoiled by an overload of ATX cases, which may lead to what we can call ‘paralysis by analysis’, where you have just too many choices. Luckily, you have us at PremiumBuilds and this guide to help you decide which case will be the home for your next ATX PC.
When it comes to choosing a case, there are really only a few things that we can guide you on: thermals, noise, and features (which really means front-panel connectors mainly, and maybe HDD/SSD slots). What we cannot do is tell you which design looks the best. We certainly have our opinions (*cough* Lian-Li 011 Dynamic), but aesthetics is subjective. What we can say is that you should take your time and look at lots of photos to be sure you will enjoy the look of whichever case you end up getting, while still ensuring it will give you great performance. And all of this without spending a fortune on your case that you could better put to getting more powerful components for the PC itself.
One last thing to get out of the way: a big thank you to Gamers Nexus for their hard work on benchmarking cases, they really do a great job measuring thermals and noise for a huge number of available cases. We recommend looking at their article on cases from 2018 to understand their methodology as we use their numbers often when deciding between different cases.
With that in mind, here are our recommendations for the best ATX cases available in 2019:
Best ATX Cases – My Recommendations
Best Airflow ATX Case
Arguably the most important performance measure of a case is how cool it allows your components to be run, based on how well the inside allows for airflow and fan set up. And based on Gamers Nexus, there are a few cases that allow for strong airflow and therefore cooler thermals, including our recommendation for the best mesh front (airflow designed) ATX case: the CoolerMaster H500P Mesh.
CoolerMaster is known for making a wide variety of components (AIO coolers, PSU’s, peripherals, and cases) that are well-built and reasonable in terms of pricing, and this particular ATX case is no different. The H500P Mesh takes the previous tempered glass panel version and converts the front to mesh, vastly improving the thermals while maintaining a similar aesthetic. At $160 this case isn’t cheap, but with the right fan set up, it will let you get the most out of your rig with plenty of cool air flowing through the inside.
Honorable Mention – Fractal Design Meshify C
If $160 is too much to spend on the case (which we understand!), a great option for cool thermals that won’t break the bank is the Fractal Design Meshify C. With a similar approach to the H500P Mesh, the Meshify C has black/white options and a mesh front to allow for strong airflow with the right fans. At just $95 for the white version, the Meshify C is a great cheaper option for a nice-looking, well-built mesh front ATX case.
Best Quiet ATX Case
While the option next on this list might be the true king of low noise cases, its price tag is prohibitive for many people when they are budgeting out their build. For most people, saving one or two decibels is not necessarily worth $100. So with that in mind, our recommendation for the best quiet ATX case is the be quiet! Silent Base 601.
At a much more reasonable price tag of $140, the be quiet! Silent Base 601 is affordable and for someone looking for a very quiet case, very appealing. Aside from the (in my opinion) awful brand name of be quiet!, which I always read as an old lady yelling at me through my screen, there are not many things to reproach the Silent Base 601 for when you consider its fantastic noise performance, decent thermal performance, (arguably) nice aesthetics, and more affordable price tag. If you want a silent rig and have a limited budget, this case is a strong contender.
Best Combination Airflow/Noise ATX Case
When looking at the very top of noise performance charts from Gamers Nexus, and right near the top of the thermals chart, there is one case that appears on both lists: the be quiet! DBP 900 rev 2.
Finding a case that can combine both is rare, which is why there really isn’t another choice we can recommend for pure airflow/noise performance. The case performs simply amazingly, and has great build quality and features to go with it. The aesthetics are of course subjective, but it seems that this case will be appealing to at least a large number of people.
The only fault we can find, and the reason we put this category as ‘luxury’ is the price. At around $270 (with three fans), this case is the most expensive on the list. You clearly have to pay for performance, but unless you really have a high-end rig in mind, that money may be better spent on a better GPU/CPU.
Best XL-ATX Case
As you may have noticed in our-not-so-subtle remark in the introduction, we really like the aesthetics, quality and noise/thermal performance (for such a good looking case) of the Lian-Li 011 Dynamic. It does not quite fit into any of our categories…so we made a new category for Best XL ATX Case (or E-ATX case) and recommend the big brother to the 011 Dynamic: the Lian-Li 011 Dynamic XL.
The Lian-Li 011 Dynamic XL is newly announced and not cheap (MSRP is rumored to be $200), but it takes the already spectacular Lian-Li 011 Dynamic and makes it bigger for anyone looking to do a crazy custom loop or just wants a larger case. The noise/thermal performance and build quality (assuming it is like the original) should be top-notch, and the feature set looks like packed with plenty of choices for front-panel connections, hot-swap hard drive bays, and a variety of mounting choices for your favorite fans/cooling solutions. So if you like the way it looks, this case should be perfect for anyone that wants a bigger case for their ATX build.
Best Wall Mounted ATX Case
If you have built a PC or two before, you might be looking for something a little different. And while the interior components almost always stay the same, changing the case style can totally change the way your build feels and looks. And nothing is more different in terms of cases than the wall mount case, allowing you to hang your rig as a piece of art for everyone to see. And if you are going for a wall mount case, nothing is a better combination of features, build quality, noise and thermals than the Thermaltake Core P3.
The main major advantage of the Thermaltake Core P3 for an open stye wall-mount case is that it isn’t too loud. When we think wall-mount, we often fear that the open nature of the case will allow noise to easily escape, but the Core P3 performs really well in the Gamers Nexus tests and we have no reason to doubt them. As long as you are on board with the very striking aesthetics (which look great to us), the Core P3 will serve you well for your next wall-mount PC and won’t break the bank at $140.
Best Budget ATX Case
If after reading all of this, you are still unsure about why you would ever spend more on a case because you want to dedicate as much of your budget as possible towards getting the most powerful components available, we still have a recommendation for you: the NZXT H500.
The H500 won’t perform the best for noise or thermals, but it isn’t the worst either. It has strong build quality for the reputable NZXT brand, offers plenty of features, and can be found at very reasonable prices right now due to the release of the newer version NZXT H510 (which we don’t recommend over the older version for the increased price unless you very specifically need USB-C front panel). Available for $70 if you can find one in stock, this case is hard to beat for the price. And if you can’t find it in stock, the H510 is only $10 more and will serve you just as well in the budget case category.
No matter what case you end up, remember to try and balance performance (noise/thermals), features, and price while always getting the best build quality you can afford. Aesthetics are subjective, but you should love your rig, and a big part of that is looks, so don’t be afraid to sacrifice a degree or two of thermal performance to get the case that really achieves the style you are looking for.
ATX builders are spoiled with choices, so take your time and look at plenty of photos before selecting your case. And when you do decide, don’t be afraid to go with one of the options we’ve recommended to help choose the case that is right for you.