When it comes to building your PC, the most important thing to consider is your PC case. The type of computer case you choose not only gives your machine an appealing look but also decides what type of hardware you can install later on. PC cases are available in different sizes or form factors, so for beginners, it’s hard to decide which one to go with.
In this guide, we will take a look at different PC case sizes available on the market. I believe this will enhance your knowledge in choosing the right PC case for your build. To make things simple, I will give examples of what type of hardware you can install in a specific form factor case.
For instance, here’s an updated table showing different PC case sizes and the amount of headroom you can expect to install different hardware.
|Case Type||Number of Bays||Expansion Slots||Maximum Motherboard Size||Graphics Card Length||PSU Length|
|Full Tower||6-10||7-10||E-ATX||Up to 400mm||Up to 220mm|
|Mid Tower||4-6||4-7||ATX||Up to 320mm||Up to 160mm|
|Mini Tower||2-4||2-4||Micro-ATX||Up to 280mm||Up to 140mm|
|Small Form Factor||1-2||1-2||Mini-ITX||Up to 200mm||Up to 130mm|
|Cube/Compact||3-6||2-4||ATX/Micro-ATX||Up to 330mm||Up to 180mm|
|HTPC||1-2||1-2||Mini-ITX||Up to 180mm||Up to 120mm|
PC Case Sizes
Your gaming or productivity experience is affected by the type of PC case that you will choose. It’s because a PC case provides you with a base for building the rest of your system. Choosing the wrong case size can hinder your upgradeability options in the future.
1- Full-Tower PC Case
As the name suggests, a full-tower PC case is the maximum size chassis with enough space for all types of motherboards (E-ATX, ATX, Micro-ATX) and bulky components. You can even fit two different-sized motherboards at the same time in a full tower case.
Full tower PC cases are ideal for building high-performance workstations and gaming PCs. The vast room inside these cases allows you to install bulky CPU coolers, multiple storage drives, and other much-needed components at the same time.
The dimensions of a full tower case usually depend upon the model and brand. But in general, the height of a full tower case is anywhere between 20 and 24 inches (50 to 61 centimeters).
Similarly, full-tower PC cases are wider and can attain a width of anywhere between 8 and 10 inches (20 to 25 centimeters).
As I’ve said earlier that the height and width usually depend upon the manufacturer and you may come across full tower cases that are slightly taller or shorter than the dimensions I’ve mentioned here.
Due to their bigger dimensions, full-tower PC cases weigh heavier than their other variants. On average, a standard full-tower PC case can weigh anywhere between 20 to 30 pounds (9 to 13.5 kilograms).
This is just an estimate depending on what I’ve experienced with most full-tower PC cases in the past. Truth is, modern full-tower chassis is much heavier and some can even weigh as much as 40 pounds.
But larger dimensions in a full tower case contribute to better cooling performance and vast room for adding peripherals. And these are the main reasons you will ever need such a big case.
There’s plenty of room for fresh air to circulate inside these types of PC cases. There are multiple spots on full-tower PC cases where you can mount large-size radiation fans to improve airflow.
Here are the main reasons why you should get a full-tower PC case:
- Building a Gaming Machine: For sure, building a gaming PC would require you to install bulky peripherals like a large graphics card, water cooling kit, beefy CPU cooler, multiple storage drives, and other accessories at the same time. In such situations, a full tower case would offer you plenty of room to accommodate all of these components.
- High-End Content Creation PC: If you are a professional content creator, then rendering your videos or retouching 3D graphics would require you to have powerful hardware inside your system. And full tower cases offer plenty of room to install these beefy parts.
- Building a Powerful Workstation: Building a server or workstation requires you to have a lot of storage space on your system. Full tower cases come with numerous drive bays and expansion slots to install multiple storage drives. As full tower cases are taller and wider in dimensions, it’s much easier to maintain the airflow in order to cool down your server.
- Advanced Cooling Solutions: There’s enough space on a full tower case for installing large radiator fans and water cooling kits. If you are building a machine that requires efficient cooling, then you must consider building that machine around a full tower case. Adding large radiator fans on such a chassis would help you in efficient cooling if you are overclocking your PC.
2- Mid-Tower PC Cases
Mid-tower cases are slightly shorter than full-tower cases and are widely used for building gaming or content-creation PCs. You can easily install a standard ATX motherboard inside a mid-tower case.
Furthermore, there are expansion slots and multiple drive bays available on an ATX motherboard. You can also mount up to 200mm radiator fans on a mid-tower case for high airflow.
There’s no fixed standard when it comes to the dimensions of a mid-tower PC case. But most mid-tower cases have a height between 16 to 18 inches (40 to 45 centimeters).
And in terms of width, a mid-tower case is anywhere from 7 to 9 inches (18 to 23 centimeters) wide. Furthermore, every mid-tower chassis has a different net weight which usually depends upon the type of material used in constructing it.
Steel PC cases are usually heavier than plastic PC cases. Most mid-tower cases that you see on the market are designed to provide a balance between expandability and compactness, they provide you enough room for adding beefy hardware but in a much more compact manner.
Most mid-tower cases can easily accommodate graphics cards with a length of up to 2 to 14 inches (30 to 35 centimeters). You can also create extra space by removing the drive cages for installing lengthy graphics cards.
When it comes to adding cooling peripherals like bulky air or water CPU coolers, then there’s a clearance between 6 to 7.5 inches from the base (where the motherboard installs) to the side panel of a mid-tower case.
So, you can add most performance-based peripherals inside a mid-tower case just like you can add in a full-tower case.
Here are the main reasons why you should go for a mid-tower PC case:
- Compact: A mid-tower case allows you to fit in standard-size peripherals while maintaining the ratio between size and functionality. These are compact in size and are easy to carry around in your workplace. There’s sufficient expansion room inside a mid-tower chassis to install any type of beefy graphics card, CPU cooler, or PCI Express card.
- Gaming or Productivity Machine: You can build a high-end gaming or content creation PC inside a mid-tower case. Modern mid-tower cases are long enough to easily hold two full-size graphics cards at the same time. With up to 9 inches in width, there’s enough space for the fresh air to pass through the components.
- Adequate Cooling: Just like its elder sibling, a mid-tower case comes with proper fan mounts and vents for well-designed high airflow. There are a handful of fan mounts and ventilation features (mesh panels or air vents) for pulling more air inside the case.
- Budget-Friendly: Going after a mid-tower case is the most cost-effective solution if you want to fit powerful components inside your machine. If you are tight on budget but still need to fit in full-size graphics cards, CPU coolers, or beefy power PSUs, then mid-tower chassis is the right option to go with.
3. Mini-ITX or Mini-Tower PC Cases
From the name you can easily understand that mini-ITX or mini-tower cases are shorter in size as compared to mid-tower or full-tower cases. These cases are designed to fit in smaller components or you can say space-saving machines.
Generally, a mini-ITX PC case is anywhere between 10 to 14 inches in height and 4 to 8 inches in width. These dimensions could be slightly different when it comes to different brands out there.
Mini-ITX cases are popular among users who don’t need an extremely powerful PC or the ones who just need a tiny PC due to less space on their desks. You’ll find a lot of mini-ITX builds in an office environment or in educational institutes.
The reason mini-ITX or mini-tower PC cases are preferred by productivity users doesn’t mean that you cannot fit performance-based hardware inside them.
Yes, you can install a standard-size graphics card or CPU cooler inside a mini-ITX case, however, you’ll have to sacrifice in order to do so.
Most mini-ITX cases allow you to install standard hardware but this also limits you from accessing other features on your motherboard.
For example, installing a full-size graphics card can block other PCIe slots or you may end up with a cramped space inside your mini-ITX case. The reason for this is that you can only install a mini-ITX motherboard or micro-ITX motherboard in a mini-ITX case, and there are limited slots on such mobos.
In addition to this, the airflow inside a mini-ITX case is not optimal due to the cramped space. So I’ll advise you to go with low TDP parts when it comes to building a PC around a mini-ITX or mini-tower PC case.
I’ve written an entire guide about whether ITX PC cases are good for gaming or not. Don’t forget to read that if you are planning to build a gaming PC around it.
Here are the main reasons why you should go for a mini-ITX or mini-tower PC case:
- Small-Size Build: It’s better to go with a mini-ITX PC case if you are not planning to install a full-size component. If you planning for a space-saving build that you can easily move around your workplace, then mini-ITX cases have smaller footprints as compared to mid-tower or full-tower cases.
- Portable: Due to their smaller size, mini-ITX cases are lightweight and easy to carry around. A mini-ITX case is good for someone who often moves from one place to another along with the machine.
- Minimalism: With trimmed dimensions and minimalist design, mini-ITX cases are aesthetically appealing and suitable for getting a cleaner look on your desk.
- No overclocking: If you are not interested in boosting the performance of your machine by overclocking or installing high-TDP hardware, then going with a mini-ITX case would be the right bet.
- Power-efficiency: It’s obvious that due to the smaller size of a mini-ITX case, you will be installing low-power-consuming hardware inside it. This makes mini-tower PC cases more power efficient as compared to mid-tower and full-tower cases.
- HTPC or multimedia: Due to its small size and limitations for installing standard parts, you can build a decent HTPC, small server, or a light-gaming PC around a mini-ITX case.
I think you now have enough knowledge about different PC case sizes. I personally prefer a mid-tower PC case as it offers the perfect balance between expansion and size. You can install any type of hardware in a mid-tower case and it comes with plenty of fan mount options. Lastly, a mid-tower case is reasonably priced as compared to a full-tower or mini-ITX case.
Hi, this is Masab, the Founder of PC Building Lab. I’m a PC enthusiast who loves to share the prior knowledge and experience that I have with computers. Well, troubleshooting computers is in my DNA, what else I could say….