Sometimes, you just have to go big. Whether it's a custom cooling loop or an extended-ATX motherboard, there are plenty of reasons to consider going with a full-tower in a build.
Full-sized towers can get really big really fast. The only real limit to how big a tower can be is the length of the PSU and SATA cables you've got. With their size comes immobility: Full-sized towers are a major pain in the ass to move. When you've got $2,000 (or more) of parts in a steel two-feet-tall behemoth, you tend to try to move the rig with care.
One thing to consider about a big case is its looks. It's hard to hide a big tower in a room, so you might as well make sure it looks handsome. Cases with excessive lighting or garish color themes might not be the best way to spend your hard-earned cash when it comes to a machine that you'll likely be looking at every day.
Best ATX Full-Tower Case
- Easy access to your system with door latches
- Compatibility for 360mm and 280mm radiators
- Great air flow
- Removable HDD cages for improved air flow
- 2.5-inch drive mounts to keep SSDs out of the cages
- No carrying handle
There's a reason Corsair's monstrous 780T stayed on the build list for the Maximum PC print edition of Blueprints for so many months. The case is big, spacious, and above all, accessible.
Once you put your rig together and close up everything, it sometimes happens that things don't work as planned the first time around. Maybe a PSU cable is loose. Maybe a SATA cable was disconnected. Maybe a RAM module isn't fully seated. Hell, even we've started up a system once only to realize that the PCIe power cables weren't connected to our GPU. When that happens, you want the fix to be quick and easy. The 780T makes it simple.
Best High-End ATX Full-Tower Case
- More room than you can shake a stick at
- Panels pop off for customization and painting
- Removable motherboard tray for easy mobo mounting
- Big and heavy
There's big cases, then there's big cases. This case is in the latter group.
The CaseLabs Magnum SMA8 is bigger that what many would define as a full-tower. In fact, it's a good deal bigger than, say, the Corsair Graphite 780T. This case is big enough to pack in three reservoirs, two 360mm radiators, and two PSUs. How do we know this? We packed all of that stuff into an SMA8 when we built our 2015 NASA-Inspired Dream Machine.
Best Midrange ATX Full-Tower Case
- Solid build quality
- Good air flow
- Carrying handle
- Good filter system
- Side bevel makes cable management easier
- Heavy steel case
- Hard drive cage tower isn't removable
One case we keep coming back to is the CM Storm Trooper from Cooler Master. This chassis has everything you'd want in a full-ATX case: good airflow, good cable management, and plenty of room to work. All in all, you can't go wrong with the Trooper. It's a solidly built steel case that won't let you down.
Best Budget ATX Full-Tower Case
- Great ATX full-tower for under $100
- Removable drive cages offer more room for large video cards
- Room for a 240mm radiator up top
- Flat side panels make cable management more challenging
- Lack of grommets for cutouts make builds look slightly more cluttered
Let's face it, if you're building an extended-ATX build, there's a good chance you've got a fairly large budget to work with. However, not everyone likes the idea of dropping nearly $200 on a case.
Options tend to slim out when you edge close to the $100 mark. But that doesn't mean there aren't some great cases to choose from. NZXT's entry with the Source 530 offers all of the basics for a relatively low price.
Form and function
When it comes right down to it, choosing a case is a highly personal decision. Regardless of the components you choose, your case will have the biggest impact on the look of your build. Choosing a case to meet your needs and style can take lots of time, and we encourage you to spend the time on choosing the right one.
There are lots of big full-towers to choose from, and few of them are going to come cheap. While mid-towers or mini-ITX cases can cost as little as $50, a full-tower will run you about $90 at minimum. The better looking towers will go for $150 to $200, while the most advanced and fancy-schmancy cases can cost well over $350. We feel that going toward the middle of that range offers the best balance of cost and features, and as we see with the CM Storm Trooper and Graphite 780T, it's a good bet to budget around $200 for a good full-tower case.
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