You’ve spent the past hour or so looking for the perfect airflow case for your rig. At this point, you’re either torn between a couple or just straight-up confused with all the options. Either way, here’s your last stop.
You see, we’ve been rounding up computer parts for years now, so we know exactly what you need. We have the best airflow PC cases for various sizes and forms rounded up, but we also included essential tips for both new and advanced builders to ensure you understand the technical terms.
Essential Things You Should Know About PC Cases
You can’t just pick out any PC case and call it a day, no! There are a few things you’ll want to know first beforehand, such as your motherboard form factor, the length of your graphics card, the number of drives you’ll be using, fans, and more.
Considering these before buying your case will save you from headaches and keeps you from having problems fitting all your computer parts in the case.
Motherboard Form Factor
There are three motherboard sizes or form factors: ATX, E-ATX, Micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX, each of which is designed specifically for different setups.
While it’s true that large motherboards (or mobo, as tech enthusiasts usually call it) have more features and benefits, it doesn’t always mean it’s great for everyone’s needs.
Smaller motherboards may have fewer features, but they’re more than enough (and even perfect in some cases!) for compact builds and small airflow cases like the one we have in this roundup.
Like how mobos have different sizes, cases also come in 3 different prominent case types:
- Full-tower case – these are the biggest motherboard case that can accommodate all of the motherboard forms. Their large size also means more features and can fit more components.
- Mid-tower case – are the most popular case types as it can work with different mobo sizes as large as ATX sizes (in some models).
- Mini-tower case – these are small case types that can fit smaller boards such as Mini-ITX and Micro-ATX.
Depending on what components or parts you have should be how you choose the type of PC case for you, and knowing this beforehand will make your investment worth.
To maximize your investment in the perfect airflow PC case for your build, you have to consider airflow.
Most PC components can handle high temperatures without being damaged. But this doesn’t mean that you should keep it that way. When computer components overheat, this will significantly reduce its lifespan and possibly damage rendering it useless.
This means having at least 2 case fans to keep the air flowing in and out is essential to keep the system run at colder temperatures. However, more powerful, high-end systems would require a case that can accommodate more than just two fans.
In some cases, professional- and enthusiast-level systems would need more airflow (and even water cooling setups) to cool their hot components.
Knowing how much airflow you can put in a mobo gives you an idea of how many fans or which type of cooling configuration is perfect for your PC’s needs.
Drive Bays and Expansion Slots
PC cases come with drive bays and expansion slots but can only handle so many. This makes it essential for buyers to always check how many drive bays or expansion slots mobos can hold.
If you’re looking to have a couple of SSDs or HDDs for all your media files, you’ll need a PC case with many storage devices. The same goes if you need expansion slots for audio, video, advanced graphics, memory, or ethernet features.
But it has to be noted that these usually come at a higher price.
How We Choose PC Cases
The PC cases rounded up below are there for a reason as we didn’t just pick random computer cases only to come up with something. Having invested years in this industry, we balanced the PC user’s demand and actual product reviews, and features.
On top of that, we value and take into account reviews from other manufacturers and reviews from other PC gaming industries.
|Fractal Design Meshify C|
|Lian Li Pc 011 Dynamic Chassis|
|Rosewill Gaming Challenger S|
|Corsair Crystal 280x|
|Cooler Master Silencio S600|
|Thermaltake Core P1|
|Cooler Master H500m|
Top 5 Best Airflow PC Cases in 2020
With all that in mind, let’s look at each of the cases, examine the pros and cons, and discuss notable features that make it unique.
|Model||Number of fans and sizes||Motherboard Support||Dimensions |
|I/O Ports||Drive Capacity / Expansion Slot||GPU Card Length|
|Fractal Design Meshify C||(2x Top) 120 mm/140 mm |
(3x Front) 120 mm or 2x 140 mm
(1x Rear) 120 mm
(1x Bottom) 120 mm
|ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX||413 mm x 217 mm x 453 mm||(2x) USB 3.0, |
|(2x) 3.5” or 2.5” HDD |
(3x) 2.5” SSD
(7x) Expansion slots
|Lian-Li PC-011 Dynamic||(3x Top) 120 mm or 2x 140 mm |
(3x Front) 120 mm or 2x 140 mm
(3x Rear) 120 mm or 2x 140 mm
(3x Bottom) 120 mm or 2x 140 mm
|E-ATX, ATX, M-ATX, mini-ITX||446 mm x 272 mm x 445 mm||(1x) USB3.1 Type-C Port, |
(2x) USB 3.0 Ports,
|(2x) 3.5″ HDD |
(4x) 2.5″ SSD
(8x) Expansion slots
|Rosewill Gaming Challenger S||(1x Top) 120 mm or 140 mm |
(1x Front) 120mm
(1x Rear) 120mm
(2x Side) 120 mm or 140 mm
|ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX||445 mm x 209.8 mm x 407.9 mm||(2x) USB 2.0, |
(1x) USB 3.0,
|(3x) 3.5” |
(2x) 5.25” HDD
(2x) 2.5” SSD
(7x) Expansion slots
|Corsair Crystal 280X||(2x Top) 120 mm or 1x 240 mm |
(2x Front) 120 mm or 1x 240 mm
(3x Bottom) 120 mm or 1x 240 mm
|Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX||398 mm x 276 mm x 351 mm||(2x) USB 3.0, |
|(2x) 3.5” |
(3x) 2.5” (+ 2 convertible from 3.5”)
(4x) Expansion slots
|Cooler Master Silencio S600||(2x Top) 120 mm or 140 mm |
(2x Front) 120 mm or 140 mm
(1x Rear) 120 mm or 140 mm
|Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX||478 mm x 209 mm x 470.5 mm||(2x) USB 3.2 Gen 1, |
(1x) 3.5mm Headset Jack (Audio+Mic),
(1x) SD card reader
|(1x) 5.25” |
(7x) Expansion slots
|Thermaltake Core P1||(2x Side) 120 mm or 1x 240 mm||Mini-ITX||422 mm x 332 mm x 380 mm||(2x) USB 3.0, |
|(1x) 3.2” / 2.5” |
(5x) Expansion slots
|Cooler Master MasterCase H500M||(3x Top) 120 mm or 2x 140 mm / 200 mm |
(3x Top) 120 mm or 2x 200 mm
(1x Rear) 120 mm or 140 mm
|Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX||546 mm x 248 mm x 544 mm||(4x) USB 3.0, |
(1x) USB Type-C (Gen 2),
|(2x) 3.5” |
(7x) Expansion slots
1.Fractal Design Meshify C
Best High-End Airflow Case
Fractal has been notable for producing quality casing for years now. And if you’re looking to invest in the best high-end airflow case, this is your stop.
It has an angular mesh shape at the front panel that maximizes air intake. Not only that it comes with 2x 120mm fans, but you can also fit a 280mm radiator should you wish to use one. On top of that, it’s water-cooling ready should you want to up your cooling game down the line.
The case also comes with vibration-dampening rubber grommets, so even if you max out the fans, it should still be able to give out a smooth, quiet, and reliable operation. But do note that a few individuals found the sound leak at the front to be a little annoying, though nothing too serious.
You can install up to 5 storage devices with configurable drive cases beneath the PSU shroud to maximize space and airflow inside. And considering it’s under $115 at the time of writing, I’d say nothing can beat this in terms of price to performance.
Hands down, this is the best high-end airflow case in the market.
2. Lian-Li PC-011 Dynamic Chassis
Best Mid-Range Airflow Case
Taking the spot as the best mid-range airflow case is the Lian-Li PC-011 Dynamic Chassis. This reasonably-priced case has a fantastic foundation for an exceptional system build.
It has excellent value, great looks, and quality craftsmanship at a fair price tag that won’t hurt your budget. After all, it’s one of the 2 Razer-designed PC cases in existence. And between the two, you can tell right now, which is the better one.
It can find a wide range of motherboard sizes, including the E-ATX or the Extended-ATX mobo. With a total of 8 expansion slots and up to 4x 2.5″ SSDs you can fit inside, this case is something to consider.
On top of that, this is compatible with Razer’s proprietary software, Synapse 3, which lets you adjust the lighting effect to your heart’s intent.
3. Rosewill Gaming Challenger S
Best Budget Airflow Case
Rosewill is a brand name dominating this price range for years that you’ll never go wrong with any Rosewill product.
So, when you’re strictly out-of-budget that you have to compromise for the casing, Rosewill’s Gaming Challenger S will save the day. This chassis offers great price-to-performance that you’d compromise little to nothing in the airflow department.
This PC case can accommodate up to 5x 120mm fans to keep your system fresh without compromising space and airflow inside the case. In fact, even if you fill in the 5 case fan slots, you still have some headroom inside.
Cleaning the filters is a breeze with its magnetic feature. And just like some of the high-end PC cases you’d find around, the motherboard area features a roomy space behind so you can easily conceal and route power cables.
But note that the stand-off screws can be hard to install. Overall, it’s the best you can get when you’re after the best airflow PC case in this budget category.
4. Corsair Crystal 280X
Best Micro-ATX Airflow Case
Sometimes, we just need a PC case that isn’t too large, or too compact. In short, some of you just need the Corsair Crystal 280X.
The Crystal 280X has a very sleek design that offers more than how it visually looks. Unlike the other airflow PC cases in this roundup, this can hold up to 6x 120mm cooling fans, or 3x 240mm radiator in the top, front, and bottom. But thanks to its direct airflow path cooling, airflow won’t be interrupted with the drive cages.
Moreover, this has three sides of tempered glass panels to maximize its potential to look good. And this can be easily achieved because of its dual-chamber layout. The PC case also lets you easily hide the hideous cables, drives, and power supply in the rear chamber.
To top it all off, it comes with an RGB mobile that lets you set the mood by adjusting the lights. If you’re ready to go all out on aesthetics without the need to worry too much about the cost, you won’t go wrong with the Corsair Crystal 280X.
5. Cooler Master Silencio S600
The Best Silent Airflow Case
Cooler Master products are no stranger to our reviews. And we specifically included the Cooler Master Silencio S600 for its noise-reduction feature.
Investing in one of the best PC cases is all about achieving max airflow without being too noisy. And if that’s the reason why you’re here, you’re in for a treat. The CM Silencio S600 excels in this department.
At the same time, it doesn’t feel left out in the design department as well. You see, the Silencio S600 comes in two variants: one having a solid steel panel with sound-reduction features and one with tempered glass panel.
Personally, it’s all about preference. Because you can never go wrong either way as it already comes with 2x 120mm PWM fans. If you wish to up your cooling game, it can support radiators up to 280mm in size.
6. Thermaltake Core P1
Best Open-Air Airflow PC Case
Among all the airflow PC cases on the list, Thermaltake’s Core P1 is surely among the most uniquely designed PC case. They have been serious about their hardware design that it almost always dominates booths and shows around the world.
It has an open-air design with a transparent panel that exposes your hardware at a different level. But building this isn’t as easy as taking it out from the box and fitting your hardware components inside.
This airflow is built for computer builders, as the process means building the case as you install your hardware. While the entire idea doesn’t make it less complicated, this simply isn’t going to be suitable for first-time builders.
When you take out the Core P1 from the box, you’re first presented with a square steel section of the chassis along with the support beams, brackets, tempered glass panel, and screws. The central part of the Core P1 has a more substantial weight than you’d expect it to be and feels well built.
With the manual’s help, you can easily fit everything together, and it shouldn’t be a problem for intermediate to advanced builders. On top of that, you can also install the GPU either horizontally or vertically.
The backside of the square steel section has a decent space for all your wires and cables. It also has a panel that conceals the entire back for a neat look.
The front I/O panel, or more accurately, the side I/O panel on the front, has two 2 USB 3.0 ports as well as audio jacks that present themselves aesthetically without taking too much attention.
The only downside that we see from this kind of setup is that it accumulates more dust than an enclosed PC case. Also, we wish that screws were separated accordingly instead of just putting everything together. They may be easy to group according to their shape, but it can help if we don’t have to worry about separating them manually.
7. Cooler Master H500M
Best Airflow PC Case for Water Cooling Enthusiast
The H500M by the Cooler Master offers plenty of features and outstanding thermal and acoustic performance. Because of its flexibility, you can easily recommend the case to anyone you know. But note that the design has an aggressive theme that’s aimed towards gamers and enthusiasts who are looking to go over-the-top looks.
The chassis has a plastic and steel material, but the entire case is simply a refresh and a more fine-tuned version of the H500P– but with a slightly better design and better material. At a glance, the design is like a cross-breed between the H500P and the H500P Mesh, but with more RGB lighting to make it stand out more.
After Cooler Master had developed the H500P and the H500P Mesh, they came up with the H500M. Quite honestly, this is genuinely a more-refined version from the two as issues have been taken care of. But because they share a very similar look, many have wondered just what makes this apart from the two, and what makes it worth getting this time around?
The front panel has three sections: a glass panel in the between with mesh panels on both sides. You’ll also see two pre-installed fans that run at 800 RPM. The two fans are large enough to pump in fresh, cold air without being too noisy to ensure your system gets the cooling it needs.
There’s also one more pre-installed 140 mm fan at the rear as an exhaust– but that’s going to be as big as it gets. With a tempered glass panel on the side, you can appreciate how everything lights up if viewed from outside. And take note: you can also look at it from the top of the case as the top-most part is covered with mesh materials.
Overall, this is an excellent option for people looking for an open-air designed airflow PC case.
Unfortunately, Buying the Best Airflow PC Case Isn’t Enough…
You can’t get the best airflow by buying the most fitting PC case as you still need to fill it up with fans. On top of that, you have to ensure you’re installing them in the right direction.
Fortunately, in this article, we included everything you possibly need to get the most from buying the right PC case to ensuring you’re hitting maximum potential airflow. Read on to read to learn how to attain optimal airflow.
Tips on How to Manage Your PC’s Fans for Optimal Airflow and Cooling
To further optimize your computer’s cooling potential, we have prepared everything you need to know on how to manage everything you need for optimal airflow.
Invest in the Best Fan for Your Case
The first thing you should opt to get after deciding on a PC case is a case fan. If you’ve noticed, the specifics of the PC cases above include the exact number of fans you can fit in and their respective sizes.
Fans come in a variety of sizes (80mm, 120mm, 140mm, 200mm), and it’s helpful to know what fans are compatible with your preferred casing. If there’s one thing that makes them apart, it’s the sound.
That’s because smaller fans run at higher revolutions per minute or RPM since the tiny electric motors in the fan mechanism need to spin fast to provide an adequate amount of airflow. On the other hand, a larger fan doesn’t need to spin as quickly, which makes them quieter. Compared to smaller fans, they produce the same amount of airflow.
Understand the Basics of Airflow and Static Pressure
There are two types of fins that case fans have: one that’s designed for airflow and another for static pressure.
When should you choose one over the other? It’s entirely more straightforward than you think.
Airflow-optimized case fans are usually quieter and best installed in open spaces (like the front of your PC case). These fans pull in air from the front and distribute as much air volume in the opposite direction.
Static pressure case fans don’t directly produce as much air volume as airflow fans, but they do push the air more strongly. Because of this type of technology, it would be best to install them on top of radiators like your CPU or your AIO radiators.
Balance Your Air Pressure
The idea of adding case fans is to ensure that cold air comes in and hot air goes out. Your computer components heat up when they operate, and you should install the right amount of intake and outtake fans to achieve optimum airflow.
How will you know you’re doing it correctly? Let’s take a more in-depth look at the different air pressure types below (don’t worry, it’s not going to be as complicated as rocket science):
- Positive air pressure – This setup has more fans drawing air into the PC case than exhausting air out from the PC case.
- Negative air pressure – This is the exact opposite of the positive air pressure setup, where there’s more exhaust fan than intake fans.
- Equal air pressure – as the name suggests, equal air pressure has the same numbers of intake and exhaust fans.
Which is the more preferred air pressure setup for most users? That depends.
While negative air pressure creates a slightly cooler environment inside the PC case by taking more volume of hot air out from the PC case, it also draws air in from unsealed areas such as vents and unused PCIe slots the rear panel, and other gaps. Because of this, your case will end up accumulating more dust.
Positive air pressure setups may not produce as cool as negative air pressure setups, but because they take more air in, gaps and vents will act as exits from all the air pressure inside the case. This air pressure design takes away any worries about dust accumulation inside your system.
Overall, both present their benefits and drawbacks. Even the computer community can’t come up with a definitive answer. But most people would opt for more balanced or equal air pressure with a slight mix of negative air pressure for the cooling benefit.
To ensure you’re getting the right setup for your cooling needs, observe how your system performs. If you see more dust buildup inside the case, consider changing your exhaust fan’s position into intake position.
If there is no dust buildup, but you want to see cooler temperatures, you might want to check your CPU and GPU temperatures first with a third-party software monitor. Other software allows you to make fan configurations to achieve optimum airflow inside.
Plan Out Your Airflow
When installing a case fan, you must note which side is the intake and which side is the exhaust. Fortunately, they all work the same across the board. The open side of the case fan is the intake, while the fan’s grille-side is the exhaust.
There are also other case fans designed with a precise directional airflow to make it easier for consumers. Other companies even go the extra mile by indicating whether or not the fan goes on the front of the case or the back. In multi-fan setups, fans are indicated if they go to the top or the bottom.
Regardless, the general ideal airflow usually goes like this:
Do note that your CPU probably has its heatsink and fan. If you wish to add your own, you can always upgrade to a better one.
However, the fan placement is something you should keep an eye out as it expels hot air out directly into the PC case’s main airflow lane. To ensure you’re taking this warm air out as fast as possible, attach a fan directly to where the hot air is expelled from the CPU.
CPU coolers that come with the CPU can be installed horizontally or vertically. Regardless of the position, this can be adjusted to accommodate various placements. The idea is to place them directly facing your exhaust case fan, as mentioned above.
Proper Cable Management
You don’t just fit your case fans and call it a day– no! You have to get rid of obstructions so air can go freely inside and out.
Among the most troublesome things are wires and cables, and proper cable management allows your case to breathe freely. Looking back at the reviews, you’ll see how I briefly discussed how each PC case has enough space at the back for you to tuck in your excess cables.
PC cases with larger spaces for cables are exceptional for people looking to hook up quite a few components. Also, large PC cases come with holes so you can conveniently navigate your cables more efficiently.
Here is a comparison between a system with poor cable management and one with excellent cable management.
Poor Cable Management
Good cable management
Should You Consider Water Cooling?
While it may not improve your PC’s airflow inside, it does significantly improve your CPU and GPU temperatures. If you’re going to use water-cooled setups, know that this only has minimal effect on the airflow inside the case.
The radiator can be mounted to the front, the rear, the top, or the bottom of the case. Most people install their radiators in an intake position. But this is actually wrong as it pushes warm air into your PC instead of cold air. Ideally, you’d want to mount your radiator and fans as exhaust at the top instead of installing them at the front as an intake.
If you compare the radiators with actual case fans, they are less efficient in pushing cold air.
Even though airflow is often overlooked, choosing the right type of PC case for your components cannot be overstated. It’s what protects the system unit as a whole and ensures they’re running at cool temperatures.
- If you want to get the best airflow PC case, get the Fractal Design Meshify C.
- The Lian-Li PC-011 Dynamic Chassis is a great choice for dedicated Razer consumers out there.
- If you’re on a budget, you won’t go wrong with Rosewill Gaming Challenger S.
- The Corsair Crystal 280X offers a balance of great aesthetics and great airflow.
- Go with the Cooler Master Silencio S600 if you’re here to find the best silent PC case.
- The open-air design of the Thermaltake Core P1 is also perfect for people looking to show off without being too loud.
- Lastly, if you wish to take the water-cooling path down the line, then it would be wise to future-proof your investment by getting the Cooler Master H500M.
We sincerely hope this roundup helped you understand the importance of choosing the right PC case, and make smarter, better decisions when buying the best airflow PC case.
What do you think about our lineup? Do you think we got everything covered, or do you have any other suggestions or questions?