It’s finally time to get started on your dream PC build. You’ve figured out which CPU you’re going to go with, picked out the best GPU you can get to run all of your favorite games, and have decided on your motherboard. With your Micro ATX or Mini-ITX motherboard selection, the last thing you need to find is the smallest ATX case so you can start your build. This article will go over what you should look for during your search and a review of the seven best options on the market.
What to Look For in the Smallest ATX Cases
As anyone who is into building computers would tell you, not all cases are created equal. Depending on what type of PC you’re building and what you’re hoping to achieve with it, you’ll want to be sure you get the perfect small or regular sized quality ATX case for your specific build.
Deciding on a case shouldn’t be based on just one or two factors such as price or how the case looks. You’ll want to take everything about the case into account before making a final decision on which one you want to buy. Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind when you’re looking to buy a computer case.
Supported Format of Motherboard
The motherboard is one of the most important components of any computer, as it helps in getting all of the other major components — CPU, RAM, graphics card or GPU, and more — to interact together correctly.
When you’re looking for a small ATX case, this is a reference to the size or format of the motherboard. Motherboards can be all sorts of different formats including ATX, Mirco ATX, Mini-ITX, Nano-ITX, and Pico-ITX. It’s important to keep this in mind when you’re looking for a case since you want to be sure your motherboard will fit!
Any time you’re in the market for a computer case, chances are you already have most of the build planned out to some degree. It typically isn’t the very first thing that people buy, since the other components of the build will need to work with the case. As mentioned previously, the motherboard is typically what’s referred to most when searching for computer cases, but you need to keep the other components in mind as well.
The case needs to be big enough to support your CPU, GPU, RAM, fans, and more. You may also want some RGB components, which come with some cases but not others. Just be sure to keep the overall build in mind when searching for the perfect case.
Case Build Quality
The build quality of the case is a pretty straightforward one. You want the quality of the case to be high. The case is meant to house all of the components of the inner workings of the PC together in one place to allow them to work efficiently with one another.
You want the case to be able to house everything, protect them outside damage, and hold everything secure for mobility and to ensure that no parts or pieces move around when they shouldn’t. You don’t want to have a shoddy case that barely holds itself together when you’re counting on it to protect all of the other components.
Whenever you’re building a PC, it’s important to keep the expandability of the case in mind when you’re looking for your next case. You want to get one that either already has everything that you’ll ever need and therefore has no need for expansion slots — who really knows what they’ll need in the future. Or you want to make sure that the case can be expanded if necessary with expansion slots, external drives, and more.
Heat is one of the biggest issues when it comes to computer parts. That’s why the majority of computers — both desktops and laptops — come with a fan of some sort, to make sure there is enough airflow going over all the components to keep them cool and operating correctly.
Your computer case is the biggest part of the build that has to do with airflow for a couple of reasons. Cases will typically include fans, usually more than one, that ensure constant airflow is moving through the case. They are also designed with airflow patterns in mind so that even once it’s full of parts, the air can still flow through the case and keep everything cool.
One of the most common reasons that computers fail is due to dust buildup in and around all the parts. Going hand in hand with airflow, this dust buildup prevents the components from getting the air that they need and then they start to overheat and eventually fail.
This is why it’s so important to have proper dust filters for your case, as well as enough locations to add them. Most cases take air in through the back and blow it out the front, but some will take air through the back and top for added cooling. You’ll want to be able to add dust filters to any inlet of air to keep as much of the dust out as possible and make your computer last longer.
When you are in the process of building a PC, you want to keep cable management in mind. This refers to the ways in which all the cords and cables will remain organized after the build is done. You want a case that helps to promote cable management to make the PC look better and be easier to work on without having a tangled mess of cables in the way any time you or someone else needs to perform maintenance.
One of the best features of some of the highest-quality cases on the market is its tool-less design. This feature is often overlooked but it makes the whole build process much smoother. With tool-less design cases, you can build the entire PC and assemble everything without even needing a screwdriver. These are the types of cases designed especially for builders and should be kept in a bit higher esteem than their tool-requiring counterparts.
Editor's Rating: 4.8/5
Dual chambers designed to deliver cooler air to all of the components inside
Fans that operate at lower than normal noise levels for a quieter machine
Designed specifically for advanced cooling in mind, allowing for easy installation of extra fans or even water cooling
Built with PC builders in mind with tool-free PCI-E and storage installation
An oversized flush-mount window lets you show off your build
From one of the biggest names in PC building, Corsair offers the Corsair Carbide Series Air 540. As the name suggests, the Carbide Series Air 540 was designed with airflow and cooling in mind. It includes dual chambers to deliver cooler air to all the components inside — CPU, GPU, motherboard, and memory. Not only does it have the dual chambers for increased cooling capabilities, but it was also designed with advanced cooling in mind.
Corsair Carbide Series Air 540
16.3 x 13.1 x 18.0
ATX, Micro ATX, Mini-ITX
(4) 140mm fans
With the Carbide Series Air 540, you get intake and exhaust fans included but you also get the ability to add on as many fans as your heart desires. In addition to the included fans, you can add up to (6) 120mm fans or (5) 140mm fans as well as an additional 280mm radiator to the top and a 360mm radiator to the front panel. Now that’s a lot of cooling!
My only real complaints with this case are relatively small in the grand scheme on things. Getting to the dust cover — the only dust cover included — requires removal of the top panel and front panel to access it. This is a bit more work than a lot of cases have when it comes to accessing dust filters. Secondly, the feet are fairly small and the case sits super low to the ground, so it might be better to put it on the desk rather than carpeting.
Even with these few very small issues in mind, they don't do nearly enough things negative to the case to prevent it from reaching the top of the list as the best over small ATX case on the market. With all of the cooling features kept in mind in conjunction with the tool-free design, quieter than normal operation, and the flush-mount glass panel, the Corsair Carbide Series Air 540 is the best overall option on the market!
Editor's Rating: 4.7/5
Magnetic dust filters allow for easy removal and replacement after cleaning them off
Minimally-sized case that still supports standard ATX motherboards
Additional fan and radiator support to add advanced air and water cooling methods if you desire
Designed with cable management in mind, offering 27-30mm worth of space behind the motherboard tray to route cables
Drive bay support offering two combination 3.5/2.5” drive bays to support one HDD or two SSDs each.
CoolerMaster MCB-Q500L MasterBox
15.2 x 9.1 x 15.0
ATX, Micro ATX, Mini-ITX
(1) Rear-mounted fan
If you’re looking for a great computer case for your PC build but you’re on a bit more of a budget, the CoolerMaster MCB-Q500L MasterBox might be the perfect option for you! Even though this computer case is touted as a small ATX case and is even smaller in size than the top-ranked Corsair unit above, the CoolerMaster is fully capable of supporting standard ATX with its compact size.
This is done with the efficient placement of all of the mounting hardware inside the case, allowing for larger motherboards and PSUs to be installed in such a small case. Don’t think this case can only be used for standard ATX components, however. With the CoolerMaster MasterBox, you can mount Micro ATX and Mini-ITX hardware as well as the standard form factor ATX. All you need to do is mount the PSU differently to allow for necessary ventilation and voila!
As can be expected from a more budget-friendly case, it isn’t without its fair share of issues— although nothing too major where it detracts from the case being a great option. The most prominent issue that I’ve had with this case is the acrylic side panels being easily scratched. As for myself, I can be a bit less careful at times and acrylic is not very forgiving when it comes to being a bit reckless. This shouldn’t be an issue for someone that’s more careful with the case though than I am. Secondly, it’s a bit tough to imagine getting a 3.5” HDD into the allocated location, but thankfully I only used a 2.5” drive so I didn’t have to fiddle with it.
For the price, the CoolerMaster can’t be beaten. Not only do you get the compact design, but you also get easily changeable magnetic dust filters, fan and radiator support for additional cooling needs, and dedicated space for cable routing to get the most out of your cable management. If you’re on a budget and looking to buy a new computer case for your build, this option from CoolerMaster should easily make your shortlist of options!
Editor's Rating: 4.6/5
Incredibly slim front panel (120mm) offers great styling and more options for placement of the finished PC
Supports motherboards up to standard ATX but can be used for smaller ones as well
Specifically designed for liquid-cooling to offer the ability for 4K and virtual reality gaming
Customizable to let you choose between using it vertically or horizontally depending on what you’re looking for
Ports galore — (2) USB 3.0, (2) standard USB, (1) microphone, and (1) headset ports for all of your connection needs
Includes (2) 120mm fans mounted on the front panel for efficient cooling right out of the box
Thermaltake Core G3
17.9 x 14.6 x 5.5
ATX, Micro ATX, Mini-ITX
(2) 120mm fans
If you’re a fan of devices designed to be as slim as possible for aesthetic reasons, look no further than the Thermaltake Core G3 case for your next PC build. The Core G3 was designed to be the slimmest case on the market that is still capable of offering support for standard ATX (and smaller) motherboards. With a width of only 120mm (only about ~4.7 inches!) across its front panel, it’s about as slim as a computer case can get!
Other than its incredibly slim design, the Thermaltake Core G3 was engineered with performance and customization in mind. With performance in mind, the Core G3 was designed to add extra water-cooling to the case with the ability to add in radiators and AIO liquid coolers as you wish. Thermaltake boats that this case was designed with performance in mind as the added cooling can offer you the ability to play 4K and virtual reality games with no fear of overheating.
This case is also highly customizable. First and foremost, you can actually choose to place the case vertically or horizontally depending on your own spacial needs and how you want it to look. Incidental to this is the modular design which allows you to reorganize the interior and mount components in a way that best suits your build.
Overall the Core G3 is a fantastic case, but it isn’t without its drawbacks. Firstly, this is a reverse ATX case, meaning that the see-through panel is on the right of the case (when looking at it from the front) and the motherboard mounts upside down. For those of us who like to look into the case after a build (all of us, right?), this case would need to be placed on the left side of your desk, opposite of most. Secondly, there isn’t any real cable management incorporated into the design, but it can be worked around.
With everything in mind, the Thermaltake Core G3 is a great case, and you won't find a better slim case out there. Especially not one that's able to offer the same form factor support like this one while being this slim!
Editor's Rating: 4.5/5
Designed specifically with high airflow in mind, it has strategically placed fans to increase the cooling capacity and protect those components inside
Flexibility allows you to add extra cooling if needed, removable motherboard tray for easier install, and removal HDD cages to make it as simple as possible
Includes two durable fans pre-installed for instant cooling out of the box
Rigid handles of each side of the case make transporting your system a breeze
Innovative design will make your build stand out among your friends
CoolerMaster HAF XB EVO
17.4 x 13.0 x 16.7
ATX, Micro ATX, Mini-ITX
Two front-mounted fans
If you're in the market for a computer case and you want to have something different from what everyone else typically goes with, you may want to consider the CoolerMaster HAF XB EVO. The box-like design of this case will make your build stand out among your friends while offering additional benefits as well.
The "HAF" in the name stands for "high airflow", which is possible due to the unique design of the case. With this design, fans can be strategically placed to allow for optimal airflow through the case to keep the temperatures on all of your components as low as possible during use.
Not only was this case designed with optimal airflow in mind, but it is also made for builders like you and me. Due to the removability of the motherboard tray and HDD cages, the installation of these parts is easier than ever. Not only is the motherboard easier to install than ever, the CoolerMaster HAF can support up to, and including, standard ATX units while also allowing for the use of Micro ATX or even Mini-ITX. This means it's a great case no matter what types of components you're planning on using.
Due to the innovative box-like design, the biggest problem I had with this case was the limited space on the inside. It’s not so limited that everything isn’t going to fit or anything, but it required a bit more care and precision when installing everything and routing the cables — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing! Secondly, there aren’t any dust filters on the openings on the top or the sides which is a bit strange, but nothing to make this case a bad option.
Overall, the CoolerMaster HAF XB EVO is a great option for anyone looking to build a new PC. As one last bonus, this case comes with sturdy built-in handles on the side, making it easier than ever to move your system anytime you need to!
Editor's Rating: 4.4/5
Designed to keep a positive air pressure inside itself which increases the cooling capability of the case as well as prevent dust from easily entering
Supports motherboards up to and including standard ATX units — can of course be used for smaller motherboards as well.
Innovative design makes it appear like a home theater system to easily fit inside your entertainment center and fit right in
Due to the high cooling capabilities of this case, it’s perfect for 4K gaming systems or virtual reality
Dust filters are integrated into both sides of the case and easily accessible
SilverStone Technology Home Theater Computer Case
17.32 x 14.09 x 6.69
ATX, Micro ATX, Mini-ITX
Two rear-mounted fans
If you’re interested in another innovative design when it comes to computer cases, the SilverStone Technology Home Theater Computer Case (HTPC) may be right up your alley. The design of the case is made to look like part of your home theater or TV/entertainment system to fit right in and not be an eyesore no matter where you mount it. Not only is it a sleek design that looks great, but it also has its own slew of features built right in.
First and foremost it is designed to have as much airflow as possible going through the case. It even takes this a bit further and is designed specifically to keep a positive pressure inside the case. This means that the pressure is higher inside the case than the surrounding environment, so dirt and dust have a harder time getting into the components while promoting efficient cooling.
It’s sleek and compact design is also the root cause of its biggest issues. Due to the compact size, it’s difficult to get many large components to fit inside the case easily, but with a bit of care and precision, you should get able to get all of the components inside. When I was using this case for a build, I did have to buy some extra SSD PCI brackets to get the SSDs to mount where they can be properly cooled, but that was no big deal.
Once you get all of the components inside, however, the case looks and performs great. The cooling capabilities of this case make it perfect for any 4K or virtual reality gaming system and you won’t play in fear of overheating and parts failing. It will also look amazing sitting there and can seamlessly tie into any part of the room without sticking out like a sore thumb.
Editor's Rating: 4.3/5
- Side panel door opens easily and latches closed using magnetics, so it’s super easy to access the inside for assembly and disassembly of your components
- Compatible with 240mm radiator for additional water-cooling to make the PC case work with the most demanding parts
- Great color options are unique and stand out while looking amazing
- Micro ATX and Mini-ITX motherboard support with plenty of room for everything else you need
- Tempered glass side panel allows for viewing of the components
darkFlash Micro ATX
14.2 x 8.0 x 16.2
Micro ATX, Mini-ITX
Anyone in the market for a great looking case that is sure to turn some heads should consider the darkFlash Micro ATX case. This case is offered in a few different color options including the standard black and white but also a rarely-seen pink color and my personal favorite, a gorgeous mint green. These color options are not often seen on computer cases and can add that extra bit of flair to your next build.
The best design feature of this case is the door opening design on one of the side panels. The side that has the tempered glass panel — which itself is a great feature for viewing the inside of your build — rides on hinges for easy opening and closing. It’s held closed by magnets to ensure it stays closed when you aren’t working on it but makes the case incredibly easy to access when you are!
The darkFlash Micro ATX was designed to be used for Micro ATX motherboards, but it is also compatible with Mini-ITX units to give you a bit more freedom. Its space-efficient design has allocated areas for your power supply, motherboard, SSDs, CPU, GPU, and fans/radiators to make your build as easy as possible.
While it is a great overall case, there is one main minor issue that is worth mentioning with this darkFlash unit. Not only are there plenty of color options, but there are also front panel options. Each color can come with either a mesh front panel or a solid front panel. The issue with the solid front panel is that it restricts a lot of the airflow inside the case which can potentially lead to other issues down the road.
With that in mind, this option from darkFlash is a great choice for your next PC build, but I would recommend going with the mesh front panel option just for a bit more peace of mind with the airflow!
Editor's Rating: 4.2/5
Designed for optimal air intake in mind with dual-sided mesh on the front panel to increase airflow into the case
Front panel includes illuminated SilverStone logo for that added flair we all love
(3) USB ports as well as headset and microphone jacks
Internal 3.5” HDD cage with dual 2.5” mounts for smaller SSDs
PSU shroud designed to hide cables and drives for the best looking PC possible
SilverStone Technology FARA B1
17.56 x 8.15 x 15.35
ATX, Micro ATX, Mini-ITX
(1) 120mm fan
Rounding off our list of the top seven small ATX cases available is another option from SilverStone Technology, this time with their FARA B1 case. This case was specifically designed with looks and airflow in mind, both of which are obvious just by looking at it. Prominently displayed on the front of the case is the SilverStone Technology logo which illuminates when the case is powered up. The front panel is also clearly designed to improve the intake airflow as both sides are constructed with a mesh design to allow for more air to enter in.
This case includes one rear-mounted 120mm fan to get the airflow going right away, but the case also supports additional cooling as needed so you can keep your components at the perfect operating temperature. The FARA B1 also includes the space and mounts for one 3.5” HDD or two 2.5” SSDs, with the ability to add expansion slots as necessary for serious PC builders.
The biggest issue with this case is the construction quality due to the seemingly very thin metal that it is made out of. When I was handling this case it seemed a bit more flimsy than most other cases that I’ve used, and it would bow and flex a bit more than normal with light pressure applied to it. This is nothing major as long as you never set anything heavy on your case or don’t move it a lot, but it’s worth keeping in mind while shopping.
Overall, the SilverStone Technology FARA B1 is a great case that will provide you with plenty of space and cooling capability to build the perfect PC you’ve been dreaming of, just don’t expect the highest quality construction for the price. One last bonus of this case is that it, like many others on this list, includes a tempered glass side panel so that you can easily peer inside and see the beauty of what’s powering your PC!