Best PC Cases 2023 – airflow, water cooling, gaming
Whenever the planning begins for a new build, the case is usually one of the first things to consider aside from maybe the motherboard. Which case you choose will affect cooling, what kinds of motherboards you can use, how many drives you can put in, and several other factors. If you’re looking for the best PC cases on the market, then you’ve come to the right place.
Below you’ll find our reviews of ten hand-picked cases. Whether you are looking for the coolest PC cases (literally or figuratively), or you just want the overall best desktop case, we have you covered with cases that each excel in their ways. There is sure to be a case that is right for you here. Below that you can find our short buyer’s guide with some information regarding what to look for when shopping for the best PC case for you
Products at a Glance
How we picked the best PC cases
We focus on cases that offer a balance of excellent airflow, water-cooling capabilities, and features conducive to gaming setups. We look for cases that are consistently praised for their build quality, ease of assembly, and efficient cooling setups.
In addition to user reviews, we consult publicly available benchmarks and expert opinions to understand the cooling efficiency and build quality of these cases. Factors like air and water cooling support, noise levels, dust filtration, and cable management are scrutinized
Features and Considerations
Good airflow ensures that cool air can enter and hot air can exit efficiently, preventing heat buildup that can affect component performance. Cases with well-designed fan placements, mesh fronts, and ample ventilation are ideal for airflow. For those interested in water cooling, cases that support multiple radiator sizes and have space for pumps and reservoirs are critical.
PC cases come in various sizes like ATX, micro-ATX, and mini-ITX, each catering to different motherboard sizes and component configurations. It’s important to ensure that the case you choose can accommodate your motherboard, GPU, and other components, as well as leave enough room for cable management and air circulation. Find out more on all of this lower down, and also check out our guides for the best Corsair PC case, as well as our best PC case for cable management round-up. If you’re shopping with a smaller budget have a look at the best PC cases under $100.
Best PC Cases 2023 – airflow, water cooling, gaming
- Massive space for components and cooling
- Dual-system motherboard capability
- Superior build quality and aesthetics
- Very high price point
- Large sizes may not fit all spaces
- Overkill for average builds
The Corsair Obsidian 1000D is a behemoth in the PC case market, boasting a super-tower design capable of housing an E-ATX and a Mini-ITX motherboard simultaneously. It features expansive room for up to 18 fans and four 480mm radiators, making it a dream case for both air and water cooling enthusiasts.
Corsair’s case also includes smart RGB lighting and fan control, accessible via Corsair’s iCUE software. Its tempered glass panels and clean lines offer a luxurious aesthetic that showcases the components within.
This case is tailored for the serious PC builder or enthusiast who demands space, cooling efficiency, and aesthetic appeal. Its dual-system capability makes it an ideal choice for streamers or content creators who need a separate streaming setup alongside their primary rig.
- Excellent airflow design
- Sleek and minimalist aesthetic
- Good build quality and cable management
- Limited radiator space
- No RGB lighting is included
- Front panel may restrict airflow
The NZXT H7 Flow is designed with a focus on maximizing airflow, featuring a perforated front panel that ensures optimal air intake. It supports ATX, micro-ATX, and mini-ITX motherboards, and can accommodate up to seven fans. The case also offers ample room for radiators, making it suitable for both air and water cooling setups. Its cable management system and tool-less design facilitate easy building and maintenance.
This case is an excellent choice for gamers and PC builders who prioritize efficient cooling without sacrificing aesthetics. The H7 Flow’s design is sleek and minimalist, fitting well in any setup. It is particularly well-suited for high-performance gaming rigs that require consistent cooling under load.
- Massive space for water cooling
- Highly customizable and modular
- Supports a wide range of motherboard sizes
- Very large and heavy
- Premium price point
The Thermaltake Core W200 is a colossal PC case designed specifically for water-cooling enthusiasts. It supports a wide range of motherboard sizes, from Mini ITX to XL-ATX, and offers an unprecedented level of space for custom water cooling setups. The case can house multiple radiators of various sizes, reservoirs, and pumps with ease.
Its modular design allows for a high degree of customization in layout and component arrangement. Additionally, the Core W200 includes options for vertical GPU mounting and extensive drive storage, making it a versatile choice for complex builds.
This case is perfect for users who are serious about custom water cooling and require a case that can accommodate intricate loops and multiple components. It’s also well-suited for professional builders and enthusiasts who enjoy creating showcase PCs, as the ample space and modular design offer a canvas for creativity.
- Sleek design with RGB lighting
- Good airflow and cooling options
- Easy to build in and manage cables
- Limited space for larger components
- Price may be high for budget builds
The Corsair Obsidian Series 4000X RGB is a mid-tower case that combines aesthetics with functionality, especially for gamers. It features a tempered glass side panel, three pre-installed RGB fans, and a dedicated lighting controller.
The case supports ATX, micro-ATX, and mini-ITX motherboards, and has ample room for multiple fans and radiators, making it suitable for both air and water-cooling setups. The 4000X RGB also focuses on ease of build and cable management, with tool-free access and a well-thought-out interior layout.
This case is ideal for gamers who value both performance and the visual appeal of their setup. The pre-installed RGB fans and lighting controller make it easy to create a visually stunning build. It’s also a good choice for those who want a balance between a spacious interior for component upgrades and a case that doesn’t take up too much room.
How to pick the best PC case for your needs
In many ways, the case is the backbone of your PC build so picking the best gaming PC case for you is important. While there is a lot to consider– more than we can reasonably talk about here– we’ve gathered the most important factors to look at when shopping for a new case. After all, what starts as the top PC case on your list, might best computer case.
Case Type, motherboard compatibility, and you
After you’ve selected a CPU (often the first part of a PC build), you’ll need to get a compatible motherboard. And when you do, you’ll need a case that is big enough to fit, and which has the proper mounting support for, the motherboard you choose.
There are a number of different case sizes out there that are uniform so that consumers know what cases can use what types of motherboards and how large that case is, etc. However, while there are some popular types of cases, there isn’t a single set of industry standards.
The most popular cases are ATX mid-tower and ATX full-tower with some smaller sizes also being popular, like the mini-ITX or the Small Form Factor ITX (SFF ITX). There are also less common types, like uper towers (larger than full towers).
Small form factor cases usually fit mITX or ITX motherboards. These small motherboards have fewer RAM and PCIe slots. This limits them to usually one graphics card meaning that small form factor cases that use these kinds of motherboards might not be ideal for workstation builds that might need tons of RAM or multiple GPUs.
ATX is more or less the standard when it comes to motherboard layouts and has ample RAM and expansion card space for most builds. eATX is a non-standardized motherboard size and the exact dimensions and specs vary from board to board so be sure to cross-check your case with your motherboard when buying these. However, these are only for the most hardcore builds, so you’ve been warned. Both ATX and sometimes even eATX will fit into mid-tower cases, while any motherboard will fit into a full tower or “super tower” case.
Drive bays determine how many drives your build can potentially have, and therefore how much storage your rig will be capable of. Typically there are three sizes of drive bays:
- 2.5-inch bays are for SSDs (solid state drives)
- 3.5-inch bays are for HDDs (traditional hard drives)
- 5.25-inch bays are for CD/DVD drives; they are nearly extinct in modernity
Arguably the most important thing to address when picking a PC case is cooling. While this is hard to quantify, there are a few things you can look at when looking at how well a given case will be able to cool your hardware.
For one, how open the case is can determine how well your PC parts will be able to breathe. Cases like the Thermaltake P7 or the Cougar Conquer will offer exceptional airflow and will allow all the components on your motherboard to get fresh air.
The number of fans a given case can accommodate will also affect cooling. Some cases like the Obsidian 1000D can hold an insane amount of fans, which in turn will push tons of air through the case to help keep everything operating at a good temperature.
If you plan to water cool your rig, then making sure you pick a good case for water cooling is essential. Most cases these days have specially designed mounting points for water cooling equipment, but can often only hold radiators of a particular size. Also, some cases can only fit AIO water coolers and do not have the internal space needed for the reservoir and pump of a custom water cooling setup.
Front I/O (In/Out)
The last thing to pay close attention to is the front I/O. These are the different inputs and outputs that are present on the front of the case. All of the cases on this list, and most computer cases in general, have headphone and microphone jacks on the front.
In addition to this, you’ll want to look at what kind of USB ports and how many there are on the case. Some cases only have two USB 2.0 ports on the front. For some, this is enough, while for others a more modern front I/O is demanded.
If you’re looking for the best I/O possible, then make sure you have USB type C and USB 3.0 ports on your case, as these are faster and far more up-to-date than USB 2.0 ports. Crucial for the best PC cases.
Do cases matter for PC?
Yes, cases do matter for PCs. A good case not only defines the aesthetic of your PC but also plays a crucial role in cooling efficiency, component compatibility, and overall system longevity. Factors like airflow, space for components, and build quality can significantly impact the performance and durability of your PC.
Is it OK to let the PC case open?
While leaving a PC case open might seem like a good idea for cooling, it’s generally not recommended. An open case exposes the components to dust, pet hair, and other environmental factors that can harm the hardware. It also disrupts the designed airflow pattern, which can lead to inefficient cooling.
The Corsair Obsidian 1000D, top of our best PC cases list, is a testament to what a high-end PC case can offer. Its ability to house extensive water cooling systems and numerous components, combined with its luxurious design, makes it the ultimate case for users who seek the best in both functionality and aesthetics.
The NZXT H7 Flow excels in airflow, making it a solid choice for users who prioritize efficient cooling in a sleek package. The Thermaltake Core W200 is a dream for water-cooling enthusiasts. Meanwhile, the Corsair Obsidian Series 4000X RGB combines form and function, appealing to gamers who desire a visually impressive setup without compromising on performance.