Best Mini ITX Cases for 2018/2019
As a gamer, you can build a small factor PC with a Mini-ITX rather than the bulky towers for more flexibility and space. The ultra-compact and light cases bestow portable benefits. Similarly, the slimmer profile and decreased complexity cuts their costs to the bone than full-sized models.
With a tiny nippy machine packing the horsepower of bigger CPUs, you get a media and gaming powerhouse with the added bonus of convenience. With the recrudescence of ITX motherboards, Mini ITX cases have become increasingly popular.
Below, we dissect the best Mini-ITX cases to give a whack for your next gaming rig.
Best Mini ITX Cases for improved air cooling and air flow
1. Thermaltake Core V1 SPCC Mini ITX Cube Gaming Computer Case Chassis
Thermaltake has a name for pushing out a variety of PC cases that yield a sterling bang-to-buck ratio. If you thirst for a cube-steeped design, the V1 will stack your tons of hardware at half cheap twice the price. You get a fraction of the Mini-ITX towers’ footprint with generous space for a full-size graphics card, power supply and water cooling. It comes with a unique mesh design and a 200mm front fan for natural ventilation eliminating the need for numerous in-built fans. It has radiator support with 1x 140mm room.
While the mesh design sticks out like a sore thumb, the Core V1 box has interchangeable top, bottom, and side panels. They allow you to utilize the space with optimal airflow. It gobbles graphic cards of a maximum 285mm. With the flood of mini versions and small footprint cards offering performance boost, it will get off to a flying start. The interior has different chambers to keep the Thermaltake in shipshape. The upper compartment carves out space for the core components like your graphics card. As a result, it has efficient cooling and ventilation between these parts.
All in all, this case packs a lot of room for a mini ITX case. The Core V1 supports a couple of storage devices and comes with two ports. On the downside, you cannot use a graphics card exceeding 10 inches in and a cooler above 140 mm long. You can go for smaller cooling alternatives but this will bring constraints in airflow and cable management. However, the solid and compact build in a more modest footprint offsets this tradeoff.
2. CORSAIR CRYSTAL 280X RGB Micro-ATX Case
You don’t have to grapple with a case as broad as a barn’s door when you put a premium on space. Corsair’s chassis brainchild best suits you if you want a mini-ITX or micro-ATX system in sync with top-of-the-line hardware. The Corsair Crystal Series 280X RGB dovetails into mild and bigger builds. It’s a premium-grade mATX case equipped with three tempered glass panels, a dual chamber configuration, and stunning RGB lightings. It stands out with ultra-quiet performance, elegant look and optimum ventilation. With the cables, PSU and drives under the cloak, you rig has a cleaner appearance.
The dual-chambered configuration with tempered glass paired with the dual LL120 fans made it a smash hit on hitting the stores. The 280X’s cooling options work like a charm. For water cooling, it carves out room for six 120mm fans and three 240mm radiators. It boasts Corsair’s Direct Airflow Path Cooling Technology that cools your system by aiming air to its hottest parts. It supports up to two 3.5-inch and three 2.5-inch drives along with dust filters in front, top and bottom of your rig. All major dust vents have magnetic dust covers that pop out in a snap.
In the end, the 280X has a superior airflow system, well-organized cable management and effortless hardware installation. It has an excellent build quality that looks like a million bucks with the three tempered glass panels. The drawback is the top dollar price tag. If you can dig deeper in your pocket for its big bucks, this head-turning Micro-ATX case dwarfs its counterparts in magnificence and elegance.
3. InWin 301 Black Tempered Glass Premium Micro-ATX Mini-ITX Tower Gaming Computer Case
The InWin 301 has a high-quality feel from its solid construction that gives your rig a striking look. It comes with shock-proof bodywork made from 1.2mm SECC steel that shield your hardware from high impact. It has high-end materials and streamlined design for a compact rig hitting on all cylinders. The 3mm tinted tempered glass side panel will make a spectacle of your rig’s internal grids. You still win your bargain on price-performance ratio with a slimmer-than-ATX motherboard. A single graphics card and few drives into this beautiful, solid-feeling chassis seal the already-sweetened deal.
The 301’s tool-less function gets unbolting thumbscrews off your chest as you can remove the tempered glass panel in a flick of the switch. LED lights illuminate the façade panel I/O, thus enriching its overall visual appeal. You can mount a CPU cooler of up to 6.2” high. A smaller cooler leaves you generous headroom. You have 1x3.5”/2x2.5” internal drive bays and front ports at your disposal. It comes with four PCI expansion slots that broaden your versatility in compact size. The two 120mm fans at the base, accommodation of one 240mm radiator in the front and one 120mm radiator at the back.
Clean cable routing is a devil of a job with most MicroATX motherboards out there with a vast majority of fan headers positioned along the bottom edge. We had a hard time tucking it behind the graphic card. However, we found the fan on the base of the case a solution for hiding the multitude of sins. The fans also add aesthetic value even without using the added airflow. Bearing in mind the case includes a tempered-glass panel and more robust construction; it has a highly competitive price.
4. Fractal Design Cases FD-CA-DEF-Nano-S-BK-W
Fractal Design has charted its course in the market with proven functionality and design. The Fractal Design Nano S starkly contrasts the obtrusive full towers and sports a minimalist design. Unlike the InWin 301, it has a neat construction with seamless cable management and compatibility for full-size parts. The case fills the bill if you have cut your mini ITX system in stone. At a glance, it slightly dwarfs the tiniest mini-ITX cases, but the extra room promotes optimum ventilation once you set up your PC. The price alone makes a strong selling point, and even better, it offers sound dampening material on the panels.
The open interior stands out as the most salient feature enhancing an unclogged airflow path from the front to the rear exhaust. It has adequate water cooling or air cooling support, which means you can custom loop. Users agree it makes cable management a breeze thanks to the grommets around the chassis and cords tuck behind the rear panel. The smart design makes it easy to knock into shape for users learning the ropes. It integrates clean-friendly filters on the top and bottom. The filter at the base ejects from the front for easy accessibility.
You can hardly pinpoint a deal breaker for this case. Importantly, the case packs a bit more ounces than the most compact mini-ITX cases. In the same vein, the case lacks a tempered glass panel mainly because it came with previous generations but packs a punch. Overall, it’s a cream of the crop to build a mini-ITX system.
5. Cooler Master RC-130-KKN1 Elite 130-Mini-ITX Computer Case with Mesh Front Panel and Water Cooling Support
Are you bloodthirsty for more horsepower in a modicum form factor? The revved-up Cooler Master Elite 130 comes in an ultra-compact, sleek and minimalist design with an easy-to-build interior. Its small form factor has put a premium on airflow. It sports a meshed front panel for better uptake of ambient cool air. With cooler components, your Cooler Master delivers increased longevity and high dynamic performance. Unlike other mini ITXs, it’s compatible with long graphics card of up to 343mm long for performance boost. To sweeten the deal, it has a solid stainless steel build quality.
The case features meshwork and pores on every side as well as a sizable 120mm fan in the front to discharge the hot air towards the rear of the chassis. Furthermore, there’s an extra in-built 80 x 15mm fan in the rear left side of the chassis. When it comes to the graphic card and power supply compatibility, it outshines the competition. It can accommodate any full-sized ATX power supply measuring 150mm (W) x 86mm (H) x 140mm (deep). Any GPU dovetails into with this arrangement up to 13.5” or 343mm such as the GTX 780 TI and HD 7990.
Above all, the super-customizable system means you can install more storage drives, a liquid cooler, and more. It has adequate ventilation to work like a stink without sacrificing portability. The only drawback noticeable from the case is the labyrinthine cable matrix inside. But this comes from the power supplies and does not obstruct airflow. Simply put, you can hardly find a product that beats it with its variety of features at that price.
6. NZXT H200i Mini-ITX Computer Case with digital fan control and RGB lighting
NZXT unveiled the H200i as the runt of the mid tower H700i case family for a more compact alternative. It packs cutting edge technologies and improved acoustic performance. You can carve out your own fan curves and a profile for each port. When stacked up against its H700i big brother, it has impressive performance. NZXT smart design ensures you utilize every inch of space available by securing unnecessary cabling. For cable management, you’ll run a tight ship with superior airflow for peak performance. Do note the H200i omits the USB 2.0 ports but features a pair of USB 3.0 ports and audio jacks.
The 140mm fan ensconced in the rear of the H700i has been tailed off to 120mm. In the same vein, NZXT ditched the push-button style of side panels in favor of thumbscrews. Removable air filters survived this purge but not the front panel and power supply inlets. Under the hood, it has a tray for the mini ITX motherboard. This tray has a detachable 2.5’ SSD mounting bracket. It has a pre-installed RGB LED strip along the top edge of this case. It features a connector that allows you to throw in 3rd party LED strips.
It has room for one 120mm fan at the back, one 120mm fan atop, and dual 120mm fans in front of the case. On top of that, you get two AER fans accessories for this case. Given it’s a mini ITX; you can’t expect much wriggle room for cable management. NZXT’s smart design allows versatile cable management with dual-position neat organization bar and cord routing kit positioned behind the motherboard tray. Velcro straps mean you can readjust on the fly. The drawback is the dual position cable management bar makes routing a pain in the neck. But it does not cast a pall over anything.
7. Antec Performance Series P6 Mini PC Computer Case with 4mm Tempered Glass Side Panel
The Antec P6 comes from the Performance Series of Tower cases. It works with microATX and mini-ITX motherboards. A built-in logo projector at the bottom of the fascia illuminates the machine. It has a horde of features at a wallet-friendly price that come with high-end models at a premium price. It comes in a lightweight profile and the Antec cuts its weight to the bone. It has generous room for cable management and comes at a budget-friendly price tag. The P6 also carves out room for other hardware. With up to six fans pre-loaded and ultra-quiet operation
The cooling arrangement works with clockwork accuracy with the fan in the power supply and the CPU cooler. It endows your rig with a 4mm thick tempered glass for a side panel with 4 PCI expansion slots, a 120mm fan with LED on the back and dual removable air filters atop and in front. With chunks of space, it can support up to six 2.5” hard drives, two 2.5” hard drives and four 2.5 hard drives. Up to four 140mm or five extra 120mm fans, and a 240mm radiator in the front makes this cooling system well-tuned.
In the end, the P6 has a total interior room four up to four 2.5” and two 3.5” drives, up to 390mm long graphic cards, CPU air coolers and power supply units. It has a clean cable management network. Admittedly, the P6 has something other Micro-ATX cases omit generous room for bigger components, tempered side panel and advanced features. The drawback is the water pipe contacts the optical drive, however, you can move it to the outside enclosure.
Buying Guide-Factors to Consider
If you want the cream of the small form factor (SFF) PCs, look for high-end components in the performance department. Upgradability and a more wallet-friendly price tag has made mini ITXs increasingly popular for gaming rigs, office use and day-to-day browsing. To pick out a powerful gaming or media powerhouse crammed in an SFF case, consider the following factors:
Size and Type
Size is a salient trait of a mini ITX case. As the name intimates, it comes in ultra-compact silhouette. The general rule is a small form factor case should have a maximum volume of 20 liters. The volume comes encapsulated in formats such as cube, tower, nettop, and home theatre box. For instance, a cube-shaped chassis will not fit tight installations or mounting.
The size or format of the case will determine the motherboard you can snap together. You have to investigate whether the model dovetails into your mini-ITX, nano-ITX or micro-ATX motherboard. A case that can support a mini-ITX or micro-ATX usually comes with additional parts such as a branded GPU, decent cooling and plethora storage options.
New mini ITX cases break away with tradition by synchronizing builds with a high-end GPU and facilitate desktop-grade performance. The exact specifications of the supported graphics card vary widely. A vast majority of the models accommodate two-slot graphics cards measuring between 250mm to 300mm.
Cooling System Support
Cooling lies at the heart of your build. It goes without saying that the top-of-the-range Mini-ITX should accommodate a superior ventilation system. For instance, consider the clearance room in the CPU if you want AIO solutions. An all-rounder case should carve up room for at least one fan. A high static pressure cooler will bring a breath of fresh air.
A decent case should come with super-fast storage without compromising space. Most cases come with an added 2.5” drive and two or more bays. Some cases go the extra mile to support 3.5” drives. If you want an HTPC, consider picking out a case with support for an optical drive.
Build & Design
A solid stainless steel construction provides a shock proof cover to protect internal components. Aesthetics play an instrumental role as a deal breaker or maker for many builders. Additionally, look for a functional design and tap into every millimeter of space. Accordingly, a decent design has a concordance between appearance and functionality with a cohesive element. Under the hood, a modular concept means you can tailor the internal layout slightly.
ConclusionThe best Mini ITX cases now encapsulate a compact HTPC or gaming build. Products like the Cooler Master Elite 130 have generous GPU clearance to broaden your repertoire. It also comes in a chic appearance and ultra-compact chassis making it space efficient. The Fractal Design Cases dwarfs most SFM models but has optimal airflow and optimization options. Tiptop quality mini-ITX cases boast plethora cooling and storage options. But we still consider the Thermaltake Core V1 the holy grail of the niche with its compact, premium-grade components, superb design along with a GPU slot of 280mm. Others like the Antec P6 compete with their high-end counterparts with a thick tempered glass and shipshape cable management.