At PC Gamer, we are no strangers to the pursuit of portability. Ideally, if you can carry your rig wherever you go, without compromise, why wouldn't you? Whether you're a fan of atmospheric, narrative-driven games like Metro Exodus or a shameless frequenter of the satisfying, but oftentimes formulaic gameplay loop of The Division 2, it's no stretch to assume you'd probably enjoy playing these games even more if they weren't bound to that big heavy box on your desk. Luckily, there's a solution that doesn't involve shelling out for a laptop you can never upgrade.
It's called a mini-ITX case, an enclosure reserved for small form factor motherboards and pint-size graphics cards that typically aims to keep your performance and thermals under lock. Unlike the best full tower case and even the best mid-tower PC case, the best mini-ITX cases are, quite naturally, designed to house mini-ITX motherboards. To be clear, to meet the mini-ITX spec, a motherboard has to measure 6.69 x 6.69 inches. Nice. But it also demands a power supply rated for less than 100 Watts. In most cases, however, a mini-ITX mobo is limited more by its lack of expansion slots than by insufficient power.
As for the positives, because of their compact size, the best mini-ITX cases are perfect for travel. They're no GameCube, meaning you won't find many lunchbox-like carrying handles, but most of the best mini-ITX cases are small enough to fit in your luggage or on a shelf in your home entertainment console. Deviating from the norm, they're cute and convenient, and you won't have nearly as much trouble blending one into the center of your living room. Of course, the best mini-ITX cases are equally suited for clicking and clacking away in your home office. Despite some negligible shortcomings, all five of these towers are well worth your buck.
1. NZXT H200i
The best mini ITX case in 2019
Form Factor: Mini-ITX tower | Motherboard Support: Mini-ITX | Dimensions: W: 210mm H: 349mm D: 372mm | Weight: 6.0 kg | Radiator Support: 120mm, 240mm | I/O Ports: 1 x Audio/Mic, 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 | Drive Bays: 2.5”: 4, 3.5”: 1
NZXT’s H200i is essentially a tiny version of our favorite mid tower, the H700i. Built to only support mini-ITX builds, the H200i does a great job fitting a high end system into a compact, minimalistic package.
Like its bigger brother, the case comes equipped with NZXT’s smart hub and also includes two fans and one RGB LED strip. Priced at $130, the H200i is the same price as most mid sized towers but we still think its worth it. The case has a lot of features you'd find in a high-end mid-tower including great cable management options and a full sized tempered glass panel.
Thanks to NZXT's CAM-powered Smart Device, the H200i features intelligent digital fan control and offers plenty of room to expand the built-in RGB lighting with additional strips. With added support for liquid cooling and large graphics cards, the H200i is the perfect solution for those who want to make a small but powerful gaming PC.
2. In Win A1
The best high-end mini ITX case
Form Factor: ITX tower | Motherboard Support: Mini-ITX | Dimensions: 273 x 216 x 355.5mm | Weight: 6.9 kg | Radiator Support: 120mm | I/O Ports: 1 x Audio/Mic, 2 x USB 3.0, Wireless Qi charger | Drive Bays: 2.5”: 2, 3.5”: 2
When it comes to innovative case design, In Win frequently pushes the boundaries and creates some remarkable cases. The latest A1 mini-ITX tower is one of those cases with its sleek compact design and innovative feature set.
The A1 features a preinstalled and pre-cable managed 600W power supply that eliminates one of our least favorite things about building in tiny ITX cases. It provides just enough power for most ITX builds with discrete graphics cards. One of the nice modern touches is the integrated wireless qi charger at the top of the case that allows you to effortlessly charge your phone.
Unlike some of the other ITX cases in this list, the A1 isn't capable of supporting big powerful builds with large radiators and lots of storage. It's designed for a more compact build that is meant to sit comfortably in the living room or on your desktop.
3. Corsair Crystal 280X RGB
The best mini ITX case for big builds
Form Factor: Micro-ATX tower | Motherboard Support: Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX | Dimensions: 398mm x 276mm x 351mm | Weight: 7.1 kg | Radiator Support: 120mm, 140mm, 240mm, 280mm | I/O Ports: 1 x Audio/Mic, 2 x USB 3.0 | Drive Bays: 2.5”: 3, 3.5”: 2
This guide is specifically for mini-ITX builds but Corsair's micro-ATX Crystal Series 280X is such a great case we just had to mention it. The cube-like tower features a dual chamber design that makes very efficient use of space for easy cable management and installation. The 280X RGB comes with two preinstalled addressable RGB fans and a Lighting Node PRO controller.
Like the other Crystal Series cases, the 280X features three smoked tempered glass panels that allow you to easily show off your RGB interior. The case offers a wide assortment of cooling options with support for radiators up to 280mm in length.
Despite its micro-ATX classification, we would highly recommend the 280X RGB for both mATX and micro-ITX builds. The spacious interior and versatile dual chamber design makes it one of the easiest compact cases we've ever built in. It isn't a whole lot larger than other mini-ITX cases, so it still looks fantastic wherever you place it.
4. Phanteks Evolv Shift
The best living room mini ITX case
Form Factor: Mini-ITX tower | Motherboard Support: Mini-ITX | Dimensions: 170 mm x 470 mm x 274 mm | Weight: 7.6 kg | Radiator Support: 120mm | I/O Ports: 1 x Audio/Mic, 2 x USB 3.0 | Drive Bays: 2.5”: 3, 3.5”: 1
When it comes to PC cases, it’s incredible to see how far we’ve come along from the boring old beige boxes of the early 90s. Gamers and enthusiasts are now proud to display their systems on their desks. And while there have been a few options that are great for the living room as well, Phanteks topples the competition with the new Evolv Shift and its larger brother the Evolv Shift X.
With its brushed aluminum front, dual tempered glass panels and slim design, the Evolv Shift is easily one of the most elegant cases we’ve seen to date. It sits beautifully on any desktop and can even be placed horizontally to fit various configurations in the living room.
We were surprised to see how roomy and simple it was to build in because of the small footprint measured at 6.7 in x 18.5 in x 10.8 in. Phanteks accomplished this feat by inverting the motherboard and including a reversible GPU mount that allows you to install your graphics card vertically behind the motherboard. This means the “rear” i/o is moved to the top of the case, hidden away with a door that has a nifty RGB LED in it.
The Phanteks Evolv Shift may not be the first or the smallest ITX case for the living room, but it is by far our favorite. A stunning exterior combined with a well-engineered interior layout makes it the perfect case to bring 4K PC gaming to your living room. And if you want to take things one step further with custom liquid cooling, the larger Evolv Shift X offers even more bang for your buck.
5. Cooler Master Elite 110
The best budget mini ITX case
Form Factor: ITX tower | Motherboard Support: Mini-ITX | Dimensions: 260 x 208 x 280 mm | Weight: 2.65 kg | Radiator Support: 120mm | I/O Ports: 1 x Audio/Mic, 2 x USB 3.0 | Drive Bays: 2.5”: 4, 3.5”: 3
If you’re looking to build a simple compact gaming system or HTPC, Cooler Master’s Elite 110 is as accessible as it gets. It may not have all of the bells and whistles compared to the other ITX options mentioned in this guide, but it certainly gets the job done.
When you boil it down to basics, this case is about as basic as you can get. While feature reduction has it's ups and downs, this case minimizes the negative and offers one of the smallest form factors we've seen.
The Cooler Master Elite 110 is a very inexpensive case that manages to pack all the basics into a tiny form factor. At under a cubic foot in size volume, this little guy is about as small as you can get while still using an ATX power supply.
A smart interior layout with a vertical GPU mount allows you to fit quite a bit in this little package. The Elite 110 supports a large range of graphics cards up to 8.3" long and even leaves enough room for 120mm all-in-one liquid coolers. Unlike other small form factor cases, this one actually supports most regular ATX-sized PSUs. At a mere $40, it’s really easy for us to recommend the Elite 110 for builders on a budget.
Judge me by my size, do you?
When it comes to building PCs, the mini-ITX form factor is where we've seen the vast majority of innovation in design. The small form factor allows for a number of forms for the PC to take, since cases aren't slaved to the long rectangular prism needed to accommodate a full-size ATX board.
While a mini-ITX build takes a little more patience and experience to do well, the rewards are much higher. Having a small, clan build in an interestingly compact package makes you feel good. Mini-ITX rigs make it easier to take your rig to a BYOC LAN party, or play PC games in the living room (if that's your thing).
Big PC power really can come in small packages.
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