The Best Mini ITX Cases in 2021
If you’re a gamer, then you know how important customization is. We all drop stacks on skins to feel superior when playing, we use animated desktops to relive our favorite moments, and when a developer provides modding support for a videogame, we mod it straight into the ground. We value customization both online and offline, and the first step in customizing your PC is picking the right case. The best Mini ITX cases will allow you to build a full-fledged gaming rig in a petite form-factor.
When you’re using a Mini-ITX case, then you want to make sure that it still has features that support good airflow, enough storage mounts so that you won’t struggle to save all of your games, and plenty of traits that facilitate easy building and cable management.
Additionally, when building in such a small form-factor, you’ll have to make sure that you can still use top-of-the-line components, so a mini-ITX case with enough clearance for the CPU fan and GPU length is essential for building a high-performing, compact system. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the best mini ITX cases you can currently find.
- 4 Fan Mounts (2 x 120/140mm front, included 120 mm top and rear)
- 165 mm CPU heat sink clearance
- 325 mm GPU length clearance
- Dimensions W 210 mm H 349 mm D 372 mm
- 5 drive bays (4 x 2.5’’, 1 x 3.5’’)
From some of the most prolific case manufacturers that are currently in the PC market comes the H210, NZXT’s affordable, compact, versatile chassis. It comes in a wide variety of colors, has plenty of SSD and HDD mounts to cover your storage needs, and supports great airflow.
The CPU fan clearance is 165 mm, similar to something you’d find in a Middle-tower case. This allows you to run power-hungry CPUs, overclock, and hit a high level of performance even though you’re using a compact chassis. Additionally, the 325 mm GPU length clearance allows you to use most high-end graphics cards and just shred through any modern-day AAA release.
You get plenty of fan mounts with this case, and even radiator support, so you can easily overclock and use a high-end CPU if you’re willing to add a few aftermarket fans or an AIO cooler. Cable management options are superb in this case, so the little airflow you have will be very efficient and the case’s beautiful design will be complemented by a tidy interior.
In addition to its other superb features, the NZXT H210 also comes with 10 included cable ties and a GPU mount, so you can achieve amazing cable management and install your GPU vertically for that great gaming aesthetic without going into your own pockets. The only downside is the lack of included frontal fans, so you’ll have to cover those at your own expense.
- A lot of drive bays
- Good fan support
- Great cable management
- Support for full-length GPU
- USB Type C on front panel
- No frontal fans included
- A bit bulky on the bulkier side
Thermaltake Core V1 SPCC Mini ITX
Good Price-Performance Balance
- 2 Fan mounts (120/140/200 mm front, 80 mm exhaust)
- Dimensions W 260 mm H 276 mm D 316 mm
- 160 mm CPU heat sink clearance
- 255 mm GPU length clearance
- 4 Drive bays (2 x 3.5’’, 2 x 2.5’’)
Thermaltake has always surprised the PC enthusiast community with well-designed, affordable products. The Core V1 is a testament to quality and simplicity, giving builders a customizable and compact case at a good price.
Thermaltake really understands the importance of air pressure when using a small form-factor, so the Core V1 is designed to maximize air intake despite its dainty constitution. While the number of fan mounts is limited, the perforated panels will make the most out of your cooling capabilities. This does come at the cost of increased dust build-up, but that’s to be expected in most mini-ITX cases.
Furthermore, Thermaltake didn’t equip the Core V1 case with dust filters, since they will only hinder the air intake. While it is compact, it does hold a respectable number of four drive bays (two 2.5 and two 3.5’’), making it a versatile pick in all aspects. The GPU clearance is a bit small, but there are a lot of high-performing GPUs that fall within these limitations.
- Good verticality, great for cramming as much power into the compact form factor
- Flexible storage options
- Good cable management options
- Not the best air cooling options
- Liquid cooling will limit GPU length and is basically a bad trade
SilverStone Technology SG13 Ultra Compact Mini-ITX
The Best Budget Mini ITX Case
- 1 Fan mount (120/140 mm front fan/radiator)
- Dimensions W 222 mm H 181 mm D 285 mm
- 61 mm CPU heat sink clearance
- 263 mm GPU length clearance
- 3 Drive bays (1 x 2.5/3.5’’, 2 x 2.5’’)
If you’re looking for a compact case but are on a tight budget, the SilverStone SG13 is a great choice for you. The SG13 is a value-oriented Mini-ITX case that comes at a very attractive price. It’s a great case in terms of verticality, so you can install a normal GPU, a standard ATX PSU for part compatibility, without compromising airflow (too much).
The only real downside is that you’re pretty limited when it comes to the height of the CPU heatsink, but that’s pretty normal in a small form-factor case. Otherwise, you’re getting grated side panels for good airflow, a meshed front panel for good air intake, USB 3.0, GPU vertical mount, and can even fit a frontal, single-fan AIO. The side panels are grated in strategic locations, to provide optimal cooling for the CPU and GPU.
The SG13 houses a single 120/140 mm fan on the front panel. While it’s interswappable with a single-fan radiator, the fan struggles a bit to output enough airflow for the CPU. That’s why we recommend you get an aftermarket cooler for the CPU or go with an AIO. The GPU is fine, just make sure to avoid blower-style cards in a compact chassis.
- Very compact
- A lot of vents for good passive air intake and exhaust
- Limited air cooling capabilities
- Passive exhaust system
Cooler Master NR200
The Best Mini-ITX Case For Most Users
- Fan Mounts: 7
- Dimensions: W 185 mm H 292 mm D 376 mm
- 155 mm CPU Heat Sink Clearance
- 330mm GPU Length Clearance
- 5 Drive Bays (2 x 3.5’’, 3 x 2.5’’)
Cooler Master NR200 made quite a mark on the Mini-ITX case market once it came out earlier this year. It offered a bunch of features, great build quality, excellent airflow, and toolless and modular design that allows for a wide variety of builds. All that for a very competitive price.
The NR200 is the perfect choice for your first Mini-ITX build because of its size and toolless design, which makes it great to work with and also makes the case compatible with a wide range of components. It can fit multiple AIO radiators (240mm on the bottom, 280mm at the side), it can house triple-slot GPUs (great for RTX 3000 and RX 6000 GPUs), and it supports CPU coolers up to 155mm in height (you can go to 158mm if you don’t plan to use a side radiator).
The case also supports both SFX and SFX-L PSUs, sparing you the headache of finding a power supply that fits. Airflow is much better than in most other Mini-ITX cases thanks to all four sides featuring mesh design. You also get magnetic dust filters on every panel. They aren’t of the highest quality but good enough to keep the dust out. Overall, the NR200 from Cooler Master is a perfect Mini-ITX choice for most users.
- Supports Tall CPU Coolers And Triple Slot GPUs
- Supports Both SFX And SFX-L PSUs
- Excellent Design
- Great Airflow
- Easy To Work With
- Too Large For Mini-ITX Purists
Lian Li Tu 150-WA Aluminum Mini-ITX Case
The Best Portable Mini-ITX Case
- Fan Mounts: 4
- Dimensions: W 202 mm H 312 mm D 375 mm
- 165 mm CPU Heat Sink Clearance
- 320mm GPU Length Clearance
- 2 Drive Bays (2 x 3.5’’, or 1x 2.5” And 1 x 2.5’’)
The Lian Li Tu 150 isn’t the smallest Mini-ITX case but the built-in handle makes it one of the best choices for gamers who move their case a lot. Whether you’re always on the move, or like hanging out at old-school LAN parties with friends, this case is just what you need. Aside from being carry-friendly, the TU 150 is also great for users who want a great looking Mini-ITX case that’s easy to build in.
The TU 150 can host CPU fans up to 165mm in height as well as triple-slot GPUs that are up to 320mm in length. In other words, this is the perfect Mini-ITX case for high-end gaming builds centered around the RTX 3000 and RX 6000 GPUs. When it comes to the airflow, it’s average out of the box since you don’t get any fans with the case. We recommend everyone getting a couple of case fans to get better CPU and GPU thermals.
The TU 150 can host both SFX and SFX-L power supplies and its cable management is in line with much larger cases. The only major downside of the TU 150 is the AIO radiator support. You can mount one 120mm radiator on the back and that’s about it. Also, the bottom side comes without a dust filter. Everything else is excellent, especially the blackout area on the glass side panel that hides the PSU and cabling. Brilliant.
- Supports 165mm CPU Fans And Triple Slot GPUs
- Stunning Design
- Supports Both SFX and SFX-L PSUs
- Comes With A High-Quality Carrying Handle
- Easy To Work With
- No Dust Filter On The Bottom Side
- Poor AIO Radiator Support
How to Choose a Mini ITX Case
When you’re using a compact form-factor chassis, there are certain caveats that you need to be aware of. It’s nothing too complicated, but there’s certainly a learning curve involved if you’re a new builder. Routing is harder because of the limited space, and as most cables are pretty stiff, you need to plan ahead and get a case that’s comfortable to work with.
OK. The main issue with cooling is that a lot of cases, as you can see, rely on passive negative pressure (air leaving your system). If you’re planning on running high-performing components, you need to invest in a product that doesn’t compromise on fan or radiator support.
If you’re interested in a high-end gaming rig, then make sure you can install at least two intake fans and an exhaust fan. This should be the basic setup of any air-cooled system. Adding more fans will only bring diminishing results, so as long as you cover the basic setup, you should be fine.
Additionally, adding radiators will limit the accepted length of your components. Take the thickness of the radiator and subtract it from the GPU length and you’ll find out what the updated hardware limitations are.
Some mini-ITX cases do fit full-sized components, but some don’t. Based on the limitations, you’ll have to source ITX form-factor CPU coolers and GPUs. You will notice a significant drop in performance when working with a smaller GPU, even if, on paper, it has the same specifications as its full-sized variant.
Overall, all case manufacturers specify the maximum length or height of the components, so it’s very easy to pick compatible hardware. Just note that some cases provide better hardware support than others without sacrificing a lot of space.
Innate storage support is also a big topic when building in a Mini-ITX case. Sure, it helps if you can install an nVME SSD on your board, but you also need bulk storage for your PC games, work-related files, media, and more. So, if storage is a big factor for you, then the case with the most drive bays is definitely the way to go. There are plenty of cases with flexible storage options, so just browse ‘till you find one that meets your needs.
If you’re going with full air cooling, noise becomes an issue when running high-end hardware. That’s why you need to get a case with industrial sound-dampened steel panels and, why not, sound dampening pads, as we’ve seen with some cases. Picking up silent-branded case fans will also help with noise.
Cable Management and Routing
Oof. Big oof. Cable management is a real drag when building in a small form-factor chassis. That’s why we highly recommend that you go with a fully-modular PSU to make things easier. A lot of manufacturers choose to limit cable management options to keep manufacturing costs down and to keep dimensions as small as possible. Having a PSU cage, rubberized grommets, and a roomy back cage, these are all indicators that the case is optimized for cable management.
Overall, if you’re running an APU or a low-profile GPU, cable management isn’t crucial. While it will further limit the airflow and will increase dust build-up over time, the negative impact will be minimal.
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