It might not seem important to the laymen… yet, PC case sizes are important! Especially, if you’re looking to house your machine into a casing that keeps it in shape and protects it from damages.
That’s easier said than done. Well, we have heaps of options to choose from. It’s easy to get lost in the jungle. The ideal case should house all your ports, USB connectors, have proper space for GPU(s) (yes, for you SLI-freaks), and more. That’s if you don’t want a compact one.
There are so many factors to consider — the airflow, design, I/O ports, drive bays — the list goes on. That’s why it can be tricky to determine which case would suit your build the most without losing anything in terms of aesthetics.
That’s why in this article, I’ll be going over popular types and sizes of pc cases we’ll find on the market. Read this before you buy!
Different Types & Sizes of Computer Case
The most significant distinction in PC cases is their size. That’s because the rest of the properties often rely on that property — the airflow, the motherboard’s size, and so forth.
PC cases are typically categorized into five categories:
- Full tower PC Cases
- Mid tower PC Cases
- Mini Tower PC Cases
- Small Form Factor PC Cases (SFF)
- Slimline PC Cases (considered a variation of SFF cases by many)
Here’s a chart to give you an idea in short:
Now that we have an idea about the cases, let’s start looking at them in detail.
Full Tower PC Case
Full tower PC cases are the largest mainstream options you can opt for (there are bigger options, but not as popular). These cases usually measure between 55 to 75 cm in height and 22 to 32 cm in width.
These products provide an impressive amount of space for your components. Power-horse builds with more than one processor or graphics card often use these cases. Even E-ATX and CEB motherboards are supported here.
Full tower PC cases can have 3-4 5.25″ drive bays. But 3.5″ bays are probably more important, as most hard disk drives are of that size. In those terms, it’s easy to find cases with more than 5 drive bays!
Another crucial factor is the number of expansion slots. From Wi-Fi receivers to sound cards, everything relies on these slots. There are often more than 6-7 of them. Moreover, you can add multiple graphics cards (although SLI isn’t as popular anymore).
These cases are helpful regarding cooling too. You can add bigger radiators and fans (and increase the number of fans too). It’s possible to even add custom AIOs with fans larger than 200mm with ease.
People with powerful workstations often prefer these cases due to these reasons. However, there are some limitations regarding the lack of portability. These are the least portable options among all the types.
Should You Buy a Full Tower PC Case?
If you want to build a powerful rig and want to keep it as cool as possible, full tower cases are well suited. Not only that, you can use the extra slots and bays to increase the number of components with ease.
Therefore, if you require an array of chungus hard drives for your (hopefully legal) seeding build, you know where to go. Builds for heavy rendering or gaming will also benefit from a full tower PC case.
It’s also easy to use full-sized components, so you never have to worry about their sizes. However, you should not opt for them if you require portability. They are tough to move around, and I’d recommend not buying one if portability matters to you.
You should also look elsewhere if you want the best budget PC case, as these are a tad costlier.
Mid Tower PC Case
Since full tower cases can accommodate E-ATX motherboards, you probably guessed this one. Yes, mid tower cases are suitable for ATX motherboards (or smaller, of course). Many people even call these ATX format cases.
In terms of size, these range between 35 – 55 in height and 15 – 25 cm in width. These cases can be much smaller than your typical full tower case. Whether that’s a good thing depends on your build.
Let’s start with cooling. You can accommodate most of the large air coolers, too (unless the heatsinks are humongous). It’s possible to install even 200mm fans in them, allowing the components to stay cooler.
Extended graphics cards also have enough space in mid tower cases, so your gaming experience won’t take a hit. There are also sufficient drive bays — usually 3-4 (3.5″). There are hundreds of different options in this category, providing more control.
Like full towers, these also provide sufficient space for cable management. Not only that, but these are also somewhat easier to carry due to the smaller form factor.
Mid tower cases are usually the most budget-friendly, as they’re quite popular and mainstream. With an ATX motherboard, it’s also easy to get 7-8 expansion slots.
Should You Buy a Mid Tower PC Case?
Thanks to the versatility they provide, mid tower PC cases are usually the way to go for most users. Still, there are many factors to consider. First off, you can find a ton of options within a decent budget, which is beneficial.
Secondly, you can use full-sized components without any worries. These cases don’t lose anything in terms of cooling either. Even the larger radiators with 200mm fans are usable, and sizeable air coolers don’t cause any issues.
Another benefit is that they’re a tad more portable and take less space. However, this isn’t the best path if you want the highest storage with hard disk drives.
Furthermore, I’d recommend going for something smaller if you intend to move with it frequently. Of course, many people prefer smaller cases only for the aesthetics, so that’s a fair consideration too.
Overall, mid tower PC cases are arguably the safest bet!
Mini Tower PC Cases
Now we’re inching toward the enthusiast-level PC cases among the computer case sizes. In terms of size, these cases are 30 – 45 cm in height and 15 – 25 cm in width (some manufacturers make even smaller custom cases).
These cases are some of the most portable ones. As expected, people who need to move around with their rigs often prefer this form factor. These also look compact and minimalistic, so there’s another appealing aspect.
Nevertheless, there are a bunch of caveats with these products. First of all, they fall behind when it comes to cooling. A smaller form factor means worse air circulation, which always making cooling more challenging.
Additionally, these boards don’t support many of the cooling solutions either. For example, you can’t attach large AIO radiators due to size constraints. That same issue applies to air coolers as well.
You get fewer expansion slots and drive bays, too (usually 1-2). Of course, that shouldn’t be an issue as long as you know what you need and plan accordingly. For the average Joe, however, it can be problematic.
Future upgradability might also suffer, depending on what you plan to upgrade. Lastly, these are only suitable with mATX or ITX motherboards, so keep that in mind too.
Should You Buy a Mini Tower PC Case?
Mini tower cases are the way to go if you need to move around with your computer often. In addition, these cases are excellent if you’re trying to build a minimalistic setup to match the aesthetics.
Nonetheless, I’d only recommend buying a mini tower PC case if you know what you’re doing and understand the limitations. The first limitation is regarding the lack of expansion slots and drive bays.
Next, the cooling performance also takes a hit. Lack of airflow often results in a congested system. And that isn’t ideal if you have heavier workloads like gaming or rendering. You also won’t be able to attach whichever cooler you want, making things trickier.
You can only install Micro ATX motherboards in these cases, which will lack some features compared to a larger board.
Even with all these limitations, these mini tower PC cases can be excellent with proper implementation. They’re also becoming quite common thanks to more efficient cooling systems and processors!
Small Form Factor (SFF) PC Cases
If mini towers are the entry paths for enthusiast-level builds, SFF cases are in the middle of the hallway. Since these aren’t as streamlined, the dimensions aren’t as precise.
As a ballpark, we can say around 15-30 cm in length with varying width (usually around 20 cm). Thanks to these surprisingly compact dimensions, you have fewer options regarding components.
You’ll need to use mini ITX motherboards, and that’s just the start of it. The power supply, fans, and cooling system will also need to be much more compact. As a result, these builds cost significantly more.
Furthermore, the lack of space disrupts the cooling performance. Users will find higher temperatures even within a few minutes of heavy load. That’s why many people use such builds for media consumption.
SFF cases are pretty handy since they’re usually more powerful than laptops without costing as much. These cases have fewer expansion slots and drive bays, however. Along with the smaller components, they can be pretty limiting.
The best usage for these cases is in situations where you don’t need a lot of power. They look minimal, provide decent power, and take little space. However, the cost can be a tad high in most cases.
Should You Buy a Small Form Factor PC Case?
As I said, you should consider these builds if you don’t require a lot of power. They’re easy to move and provide more power than a similarly-priced laptop.
Not only that, but you can also use passive cooling if the power requirement isn’t too much. This allows for a silent system, which many people prefer. There are SFF cases with custom motherboards and cooling systems to keep temperatures at bay.
SFF cases also take less space on your desk and are much easier to carry. It’s even possible to tuck your computer in a bag and walk around with it! If you want a sleek and portable media unit, this is a solid option.
However, cable management would be a chore, as there isn’t a lot of space. The same applies to the graphics card, DIMMs, power supply, and fans.
The setup will also have a higher temperature as a direct result of having less space. That means you might face thermal throttling when utilizing the hardware to its fullest. Tasks like heavy gaming might even result in FPS drops.
It’s tougher to find components for such cases as well. Not many manufacturers have suitable options, and you might have to throw in a bit more cash when they do. Many brands even make custom cases for a better experience. However, those are costlier.
Overall, these PC cases can be pretty useful when appropriately implemented.
Slimline PC Cases
You’ll find options called Slimline PC cases. If I had to explain them in two words, I’d say squished towers. There are many slimline options with length and height around 40 cm, but the width usually stays below 20 cm.
As a result, these take less space than your typical ATX cases. Many users even lie them down and put the monitor on them to save space. There are prebuilt products with these cases too, although I wouldn’t recommend them.
Users primarily use Micro ATX motherboards with these cases. There aren’t many expansion slots or drive bays, which can be problematic.
Should You Buy a Slimline PC Case?
As long as you’re using low-power hardware in these cases, you’re good to go. Heavier workloads aren’t suitable with them due to the size constraints. You might even face thermal throttling with these types of PC case.
These cases can look pretty sleek and minimal with excellent portability. However, you might find it tricky to find suitable components for the size, although not as tricky as SFF cases.
A slimline PC case can be a great idea if your purposes include typical internet surfing, media consumption, or office work! If you can’t commit enough to opt for an SFF case, then a case like this can be the perfect middle ground.
Knowing the types & sizes of PC cases is crucial when building a setup. Not only does the case create the outline of the build, but it also protects and keeps the components in ideal conditions.
I would suggest a middle tower PC if you’re having difficulty choosing one, as it provides all the features within budget. Of course, you can select any one of them if you know your requirements!