The computer case is more important than we usually give it. For starters, it plays a critical role in cooling the system, which will extend the life of the components. Also, if you have good airflow, the fans will be able to spin more slowly making less noise.
Of course, depending on the size and design of the box, we can install or not all the components we want. And let’s not forget the visual aspect, another fundamental characteristic.
Things to consider when choosing a box
Find out what parts you have or want: Case aesthetics are important, but before you get down to it, you’ll want to know which motherboard, graphics card, and the cooler you’ll use, plus how many drives you’ll want to install. This will dictate the size and shape of the boxes you should consider.
You probably don’t need a huge tower – multi-card setups are on the decline, storage is getting smaller (SSD, M2, etc.), and coolers are getting more efficient. So unless you’re building a full-featured workstation or you like the look and upgradeability of a full-size tower, something smaller is probably the best choice.
Cooling is key – Air circulation is important in choosing the best PC tower, especially when it comes to high-end components in tight spaces.
Small boxes are more difficult to assemble: This is especially important if you are a novice builder, but even veterans can find it difficult to fit components into a small Mini-ITX chassis.
Choose a chassis that you like: the towers usually last for many years… So you will spend a lot of time looking at the same box every day. Pick one that you like visually.
The Lian Li Lancool II Mesh is an impressive looking enclosure with incredible airflow performance. It is available in various colors and with normal or RGB fans. The Performance version has a switch on the front of the box to regulate the speed of the fans without using any program.
In addition to having great performance, mounting the computer on the Lancool II Mesh is a joy. All the details are very well thought out, it offers a multitude of placement options, the quality of the materials is exquisite and the case is extremely solid. Of course, it also weighs its own … It is clear that it is a box that will last us many years.
The normal versions come with two 140mm front fans and a 120mm rear one, while the RGB version comes with 3 RGB front fans. Of course, they can be regulated by PWM and have a pretty decent cooling-noise ratio.
Both sides of the case have tempered glass panels that are held in place by magnets. This means that, if we do not order the cables well, we will see them from one side or the other. Fortunately, Lian Li has put covers over the cables to make it easy to hide clutter.
At the top front we have two USB 3.0 ports, a combo microphone and headphone jack, power and reset switches, and a three-speed fan controller with an automatic mode (the latter only on Performance versions). There is also a space for an optional USB Type-C port (the accessory costs about 15 euros). Honestly, one of the few things that I see room for improvement in this box is that it could come with USB-C by default because the cover it comes with is a bit shabby.
The front can be a bit bland, but the important thing is that it allows optimal airflow. By the way, at the bottom of the front there is a hole under the Lian Li logo. It can be covered with tape if we want to prevent a lot of dust from getting into the box if we place it on the floor. As for the refrigeration it is hardly noticeable.
If you liked the old Corsair 350D or 450D, then you will love the new 4000 series cases. It is available in white, in black and with RGB fans (it is a bit more expensive and comes with an additional fan). In addition to that, you can buy the Airflow version that does not have a glass panel on the front or the normal version.
If you are going to build a powerful PC, I recommend that you go for the Airflow, you will be able to maintain the lowest temperatures.
- 4000D: 2x 120mm non-RGB fans with plain front
- 4000D Airflow: 2 x 120mm non-RGB fans with mesh front
- 4000X: 3 x 120 RGB fans with tempered glass front
Corsair’s RGB implementation is very well achieved, especially with the white box as it reflects more light from the LEDs. The fans are regulated by PWM and the lighting effects are not controlled from the motherboard. Even so, we can individually regulate the brightness and effects on each fan. Something that looks especially good through the fine mesh filter on the front panel.
The aesthetic of the box is simple and minimalist, although there are a few touches at different points of the box that give consistency to the design. Also included are some details with the new Corsair yellow.
The side panels are attached with screws that can be turned by hand and then swung out. It is a pretty good method if we have a hole on the sides and it is more comfortable than the sliding mechanism, especially on the side where all the cables must be placed since we avoid the usual problem of the panel getting stuck caught by some cable.
At the top front we have a USB-A 3.0 port, a USB-C and a combo microphone / headphone jack. From my point of view, I miss one more USB-A port.
The case allows the graphics card to be mounted vertically, however, there is not much room to the side so it will not have enough space to take in air and the temperatures of the graphics will rise.
In short, the Corsair has a few more details than the Lian Li, but materials and cooling are one step behind.
La be quiet! Pure Base 500DX may be one of the quietest boxes on the market, the downside is that the airflow isn’t that good. However, I think it can be one of the best boxes for those who seek silence, as long as they mount graphics that consume less than 150W.
It is a relatively compact ATX tower, but with a lot of interior space to work comfortably. The tempered glass side panel is untinted, and the right panel that hides the system cables includes a sheet of noise-damping material on the inside.
The internal layout is very standard, a good thing there is not too much space in the front for external drives and hard drives anymore. At the top, we can mount two 2.5-inch drives, along with a cover to hide the cables. The rest of the drives can be mounted behind the motherboard tray and in the bottom hard drive cage next to the power supply. At the back, we have plenty of space for cable management and plenty of velcro straps to keep everything organized.
The case comes with three 900 RPM voltage-controlled (3-pin) Pure Wings 2 fans. Although those controlled by PWM are always preferable, being the ones in the box we do not require such precise control either. In the upper part we can put a 240 mm radiator and in the front a radiator of up to 360 mm enters.
The RGB lighting is very well executed. It has two strips on the front of the chassis (14 LEDs each) and a strip inside (10 LEDs) that is hidden on the tempered glass panel.
In short, the be quiet! Pure Base 500DX is a very well thought-out box to make a simple assembly and that the cables are perfectly placed. Depending on the components we put in, it can be one of the quietest boxes on the market.
The Phanteks Eclipse P400A is another box focused on optimizing airflow and dispenses with some hot features like vertical GPU mounting. However, it doesn’t have a front USB-C port either, something that will annoy more users.
The P400A is available in two different models. The P400A D-RGB includes 3 Phanteks D-RGB fans that can be controlled with the motherboard or with a controller built into the front. The second model is usually cheaper and instead of 3 RGB fans it has 2 black fans and a normal controller on the front (without RGB).
The finishes are good, but they do not reach the level of the boxes we just saw. In addition, other details such as cable management is less worked. Even so, we do have velcro straps and points for cable management.
The front part is a mesh without a dust filter, yes, we can remove the front without problems (it does not have any cable or circuit) and we can clean it under the tap.
At the top we have 2 USB-A 3.0 ports, a headphone jack, a microphone jack and the power and reset buttons.
As we can see, the Phanteks Eclipse P400A is a simple, inexpensive box that offers great air flow.
The Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L is a very compact case for Mini-ITX and Micro-ATX boards, but it is capable of accommodating ATX / PS2 size power supplies.
In addition, it is a very affordable and quite attractive box. It has magnetic filters with an original design that are also very useful when it comes to keeping dust away from the interior of our PC.
Even though it is small, its design makes it easy to mount and you even have space to mount compact liquid cooling systems like the MasterLiquid 120 AiO from Cooler Master.
Of course, they have to cut back on some aspects such as the side window which is made of acrylic instead of tempered glass.