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Which PC Case Size is Best for Your Next Build?

PC Case SizesUnsure of what PC case size you should get? In this post, we’ve highlighted the main differences between the different computer case sizes to help you find the right option for your needs.

When deciding on parts for a new gaming PC, many gamers overlook the humble computer case. After all, having one of the best graphics cards or best CPUs is more exciting than having a bigger and more versatile tower.

But your computer’s case size is important because it changes what kind of hardware you can use, how easy your system will be to build and upgrade, and how much airflow your PC will have.

Of course, the size of your PC will also affect how much room your setup takes up and how portable it is. This is one of the biggest considerations for many gamers, because everybody’s work environment is different, and different people need different levels of portability.

Fortunately, case sizes are broadly standardised and separated into different ranges, so you don’t have to judge it on a ‘case by case’ basis. By and large, PC cases are either ‘full tower’, ‘mid tower’, ‘mini tower’, or ‘small form factor’ (SFF).

Each of these sizes comes with its own pros and cons, and which is the best PC case for you depends on your own environment and needs.

PC Case Size Comparison Chart

  Case height
Full tower 22—27 inches
Mid tower 17—21 inches
Mini tower 14—16 inches
Small form factor < 14 inches

As you can see, ‘full tower’ cases are the biggest, followed by ‘mid tower’, then ‘mini tower’, and finally by ‘small form factor’ cases, which are the smallest by far. Full towers and mid towers very often fall into the ranges described above, but mini and SFF cases can vary a lot in size.

Computer Case Size Comparison

In fact, there’s no hard line between a mini tower and a SFF case, but SFF cases are usually ones that require special kinds of hardware—such as a small power supply—for everything to fit. There are also cases that are taller than 27 inches, which are often called ‘EATX’ (extended-ATX), ‘super’, or ‘ultra’ towers.

How Are Computer Case Sizes Linked to Motherboards?

Which sized case you opt for is often influenced by which kind of motherboard you want, and vice versa. This is because different kinds of motherboards have different form factors, so if you want a small motherboard you can opt for a small case, and, similarly, if you want a small case you’ll have to opt for a small motherboard.

The three most popular motherboard form factors, from biggest to smallest, are ATX, micro-ATX (mATX), and mini-ITX. None of these are objectively better than the others in every respect—the best motherboards on the market can be found in all three form factors. Usually, smaller motherboards have fewer RAM slots, PCIe slots, and storage expansion ports. If you want a small PC case, you’ll likely have to opt for a small motherboard and sacrifice some of these things.

Here’s which cases most often support these motherboard form factors:

Motherboard form factor
Full tower EATX / ATX / micro-ATX
Mid tower ATX / micro-ATX
Mini tower Micro-ATX / mini-ITX
Small form factor Mini-ITX

These somewhat standardised case ranges aren’t set in stone, however, and motherboard compatibility can sometimes vary, so you should double check case and motherboard compatibility in each instance.

Which Case Size is Best for a Gaming PC?

Which PC case size you should opt for can’t be considered in isolation from both the motherboard that it supports and what you want out of your gaming rig. There are several things that you should consider.

If You Need a Small PC…

Phanteks Evolv Shift 2
The Phanteks Evolv Shift 2 is an excellent mini-ITX case option that offers versatility in a small form-factor design.

If your main concern is having a small PC, you should opt for either a mini tower or SFF case.

If you can find a mini tower that’s small enough for your needs but still supports micro-ATX motherboards, this will likely be the best option, because micro-ATX motherboards offer more than mini-ITX motherboards in terms of RAM slots, PCIe slots, and storage expandability.

Such mini towers should also be easier to work with than SFF ones.

However, if you need the smallest case possible—perhaps you need to travel with it a lot, or you have a very small working environment—then a SFF case might be your best bet. But this will likely mean you need to opt for a mini-ITX motherboard which is often more expensive and has fewer capabilities, so only go for this option if you’re sure you won’t need many storage options, RAM slots, and PCIe ports. You’ll also likely have to opt for small form factor CPU coolers and power supplies.

If Size is No Concern…

be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900
be quiet!’s Dark Base Pro 900 is an example of a high quality full tower case that offers plenty of room for a high-end system.

If size is no concern, it will likely be best to opt for a full tower case, because these cases offer more room for your hardware, allowing for more RAM, storage, and PCIe card expandability.

They also allow for bigger cooling solutions, and usually allow better airflow for your components.

Opting for an ATX motherboard in your full-size case should give you all the versatility you need for future upgrades.

However, if you know you won’t need storage and PCIe expandability in the future, and if you’re conscious of your budget, opting for a micro-ATX board in your full tower case could save you some money.

If Money is No Concern…

Thermaltake Core P8
The Thermaltake Core P8 is a huge case that has support for EATX motherboards.

If neither size nor money is a concern, you could consider opting for an ‘ultra’ tower with an EATX motherboard. These motherboards are even bigger than ATX ones and offer expansion capabilities beyond the vast majority of gamers’ needs.

But if price and size don’t enter the equation, it’s certainly better to have more options than less, and with an EATX motherboard you can rest assured that future you won’t be worried about where to fit in additional components or upgrades.

However, such systems really shouldn’t be underestimated. An ‘ultra’ tower is very big, and very heavy, so you should balance its pros against the fact that you’ll likely never want to move it.

If there’s any chance you might want to take your PC elsewhere in the future, it might be best to opt for a normal full tower case with a regular ATX motherboard.

If You Want the Best Value…

Lian Li 205M
The micro-ATX Lian Li 205M is an excellent option for gamers who are working with a restricted budget.

If you’re a regular gamer looking for the best bang for your buck, opting for a mid tower case with a micro-ATX motherboard is likely your best bet. Most micro-ATX motherboards offer a couple of PCIe ports with x16 lanes, and this is more than enough for most gamers’ needs.

Similarly, many of them now offer four RAM slots and NVMe storage capability.

Many mid tower cases also offer enough room to host slightly larger colling solutions and have a reasonable amount of room for cable management.

Of course, you should check reviews and specifications for each individual motherboard and case to confirm this. But if this is true for your chosen case and motherboard combo, as is increasingly common these days, then your mid tower build with a micro-ATX motherboard should be easy to build in and offer enough room for all that the average gamer might want, all for a lower price.

Jacob Fox

Jacob's been tinkering with computer hardware for over a decade, and he's written hardware articles for various PC gaming websites. Outside of the wonderful world of PC hardware, he's currently undertaking a PhD in philosophy, with a focus on topics surrounding the meaning of life.

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