Computers used to be very different back in the day before gaming went stratospheric. They were thought of as tools primarily and therefore their main purpose was to perform. “Ain’t nobody got time for aesthetics” was just as true as it was in, say, military industry or the like.
Nowadays with all the resources invested in the world of gaming, the competition is fierce. And since looks matter and sell, things have rapidly evolved to top fashion levels.
This is a community where every gamer wants to have their own style. So every possibility to make a statement shall not be overlooked. Designers now strive to turn the once simple, bulky, deprived of any personality ugly crates into gamers’ beloved sweethearts. And here we go – shiny gaming setups worthy of wall posters and social media love and affection. Stunning looking tempered glass cases, RGB LED hardware and all sorts of extraterrestrial parts make both manufacturers and users happy. In the end of the day making others envy you for your rig or making you appear as a formidable enemy is essential. So go custom or go home.
Start with the shell. This article is on computer cases, as they have become a major component to take account of in the process of showing off your inner aesthetical feeling and character.
Today’s market is dominated by a trinity of three main form-factor cases: ATX, mATX, and ITX. With the ATX taking too much space, and the ITX making you have to deal with a bit more sophisticated component placement, the mATX prevails and is easily considered top choice for hot-blooded PC freaks. It is slim-sized and yet able to comfortably accommodate internals providing sufficient component exposure. Manufacturers go with the flow and the logical outcome is a wild variety of mATX cases for you to choose from. Our mission, therefore, is to capture all this information and try to unearth hidden gems for you. As usual, our accent will remain on the latest releases but there will always be a special place for well proven, instant and potential classics, as recognized by the global gaming sect, and we wouldn’t want to neglect them either.
Table of Contents
Corsair Crystal 280X – Best Overall (Editor’s pick)
The Corsair’s Crystal 280X is just imperative. The case itself is a thing of beauty. Amazing even when it’s empty. Glass will expose eye-candy and provide cover in the right spots. Designers have fashioned a dual chamber solution to save space and facilitate building and cable management. There is enough room so you could opt for either fairly sized air coolers or different variations of water cooling. Advertised as able to accommodate a front-loaded 280mm radiator, the Crystal 280X makes a bold statement. You can buy the case alone for approximately 110$ in black or white, and there is another option for you to get it with two LL120 fans and the Lighting Control Pro module included for about 160$.
Corsair has hit the sweet spot with this unit, fairplay to them. Should we recommend it to a friend? Why, yes, Sir! Absolutely!
- Massive cooling potential with room for up to six 120mm cooling fans, or a 240mm radiator in the top, 240mm radiator in the front, and 240mm radiator in the bottom
- Two included CORSAIR LL120 RGB fans boast a total of 32 individually customizable LEDs, controlled by an included Lighting Node PRO digital RGB lighting controller and CORSAIR iCUE software to deliver a symphony of color.
- Three stunning tempered glass panels put your system on display like no other Micro-ATX case
Runner-up: NZXT H400i
NZXT attempt to come up with a clear definition for a proper smaller build with its H400i case. In contrast with the multiple features, it comes with an impressively clean and sleek silhouette. System builders will undoubtedly enjoy the four color options provided. The case is spacious and therefore rather inviting for cooling choices. It supports fans just as good as all-in-one combos. The clean looking build that NZXT take so much pride in would be hard to achieve without good cable management. Very good indeed in this case.
We are positive that this is one of the best cases around. In terms of price, this would be one of the not higher-priced choices. However, if you compare what you pay for against what you get, you will come to terms with the little red guy on your shoulder trying to talk sense and make you go easy on your savings. The NZXT H400i comes with a preinstalled fan and RGB controller, including two 120mm fans, and that is what you call a good bargain.
- SMART CASE: An all-new Smart Device is built in that combines features of the HUE+ and GRID+ digital controllers. Supports 3 fan channels and one lighting channel
- ADAPTIVE NOISE REDUCTION: Up to 40% noise level reduction. Automatically finds the optimal compromise between cooling and silence
- ADVANCED LIGHTING: Full features of the HUE+ digital controller includes 9 Presets, 3 Dynamic, and 1 Sync Modes for all CAM-Powered devices. Customized lighting is streamlined
Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L – Best Budget Pick
Of course, there is a chance for you to stay down with the crew and enjoy the benefits of a Micro-ATX computer case even if you’re on a tight budget. But will it be able to keep up with the bling-bling thugs? What about features? And after all, how low could it go?
The MasterBox Q300L has all the answers. Its looks are pleasing even with acrylic used instead of glass. It all makes sense when you realize that the price tag of about $40 is simply in a league of its own. You get the features you need and you are good to go. The MasterBox Q300L is definitely a bang for the buck.
- I/O panel can be adjusted in 6 different locations and the Case can be positioned: vertical or horizontal
- Edge-to-Edge Acrylic Transparent Side Panel offers a full view inside
- Body depth height: can support normal size ATX power supply
Runner-up: Fractal Design Focus G Mini
Silver in this category goes to the Focus G Mini. Simplicity is key for the manufacturer here in their take on creating a case that is looking good in the company of the big guns. Not an easy task but quite well executed. Compact size – check. Accommodation for air and liquid cooling – check. Accommodation for almost every GPU available – check. The Focus G Mini costs about 50$, and for that, you get a solid case with a nice view to your components that is perfectly functional and has only a few minor drawbacks. As we said in the beginning competition is fierce, and we give credit where it’s due – Fractal Design wins by adding two 120 mm white LED fans to the pack and taking the edge over other racers in the same category.
- Two preinstalled Fractal Design Silent Series LL 120mm White LED fans
- Six total fan positions for high-airflow capability
- Support for high-profile CPU coolers and multiple radiator configurations
Fractal Design Meshify C Mini – Best All-rounder
Now there’s a contender lurking in the shadows. The Meshify C mini would have totally stolen the show if it weren’t for the recent release of our winner chassis listed above. The angular mesh design is a breath of fresh air and the build quality is up there with the best. We have got used to the concept of mATX cases being smaller, slimmer, cleaner, etc., so size would be a drawback here. No included fan controller purchase option included. It features a dark glass panel which looks lethal. It would be a disadvantage though if the internal illumination of your rig is not strong enough. Understandably, case internals will not enjoy good visibility. Those, however, are just minor considerations especially given the great airflow, very good storage, and cable management options. Boss appearance at a boss price – under $100. This is as good as it gets.
- •Streamlined high-airflow design
- •The performance and capacity of a larger tower in a remarkably compact mATX designed tower
- •Angular mesh front panel maximizes air intake
You don’t want and you just can’t afford to be ill-geared and irrelevant. Avoid the surrounding hype and craze and you might just come upon what you’re looking for. You really couldn’t go wrong with any of the above picks for best cases. Tempered glass, acrylic, dark glass, cooling options, cable management, money… fundamentals discussed and now the stars aligned for you. Look no further, your time is your most valuable asset.
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