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Deciding to set up your very own desktop PC can be a challenging task. But if you have even an essential list of what to do, your job will immediately be better. There are many things to consider when it comes to setting up your desktop system: your budget, the hardware-based on what the PC will mostly be for, the software you’ll install after, the peripherals you will use, and so on. Mostly, however, the bulk of the assembly task will depend on the hardware you will get, specifically the internal hardware. Knowing what internal hardware you will get will determine one key element in the assembly process: deciding what tower case to get.
The tower case is an essential decision because not only will it contain all your hardware, it can also mean the difference between the hardware functioning correctly or not. Also, when it comes to aesthetics, the most immediate thing you and others will see is the tower case. So getting one that suits your aesthetic tastes and sensibilities, as well as one that matches your peripherals and overall setup, is essential.
But are all tower cases the same? To the uninitiated, they’re all the same thing: a rectangular box that has a switch you press, and then the PC turns on for you to work or play. However, it’s not as simple as that. There are a variety of tower cases, each one offering features that will suit your needs and will fit your desktop PC setup. Choosing one is perhaps the most significant aesthetic design choice for your assembly plans.
Think of it as creating a car from scratch. Sure, it can have a great engine, responsive steering, high-end cooling system, and an interior to match. But what you and people will see and remember about the car is how it looks, specifically, how it looks at first glance, from the outside. So you have to decide if you want a sedan, a coupe, a truck, or a minivan shell.
Picking a tower case is similar to that. And just like how car chassis vary in sizes depending on what you’ll put in, so too do tower cases. For many, the best mid-tower case for their budget and purpose will do the trick.
What Is A Mid Tower Case?
At first glance, it seems natural to determine what a mid-tower case is. It has something to do with the size, right? For the most part, yes. Mid-tower cases are smaller than full tower cases, and for the average desktop PC setup, it is the default choice of the tower case.
However, taking a closer look, the line between the mid-tower and the full tower is blurred because expert enthusiasts and even professionals don’t have one solid answer on how to truly define a mid-tower case and a full tower case. There are some benchmarks you can use as a reference, but for the most part, it all boils down to averages.
On average, a mid-tower case is smaller than a full tower. It also has just enough room to install certain motherboards, as well as the primary components necessary to build an everyday work or gaming desktop. It has enough slots for two, maybe three regular hard drives or SSDs, and has enough intake and exhaust fans to keep the entire rig at an optimal temperature. On average, a mid-tower case is also around 8.5 inches wide, 18 inches long, and 18 inches tall, with some mid-tower cases a bit bigger, or a bit wider, or a bit taller. But for the most part, the best mid-tower cases will be around these numbers.
Unless you are going to be creating a mighty machine that is capable of doing intensive jobs like heavy 3D modeling and rendering, FHD movie editing, and more, chances are you won’t be needing a full tower case. You can, of course, choose to have a full tower case regardless. But unless your budget allows getting extra components to take advantage of the full tower case fully, you will probably underutilize the chassis.
So before you decide whether you need a mid-tower case or a full tower case, it’s good to know what the pros and cons are of getting the best mid-tower case over a full tower case.
Pros and Cons of Getting A Mid Tower Case or Full Tower Case
Here is an essential list of pros and cons to help you decide whether or not to get a mid-tower case or a full tower case:
Mid Tower Pro: Space Saver – Because a mid-tower case is smaller than a full tower case, it is easier to find a spot for your desktop PC. It can quickly go under a desk (as long as you have proper ventilation for it) or over a desk or even above a desk on a sturdy enough shelf. Not only that, but a PC with a mid-tower case even at full capacity is lighter than a full tower, so it will be easier to reposition if needed.
Mid Tower Con: Less Room For Components – The size advantage a mid-tower case gives can be a disadvantage if the internal hardware you choose to use is bulky and large. In general, a mid-tower case can fit most motherboards except an E-ATX. A mid-tower is easier to cool because there will be fewer spots that the fans cannot reach if any. But if the major components of your rig are close to each other, then it might be harder to cool in the long run due to less room for air circulation.
Full Tower Pro: More Space – If a mid-tower can suffer from a shortage of internal space, a full tower will have room to spare. A full tower can accommodate all motherboards up to the E-ATX and have room to spare for multiple hard drives and two or more GPUs. If you’re getting all those components, however, chances are you’re either building an overpowered gaming desktop or a machine that will handle loads of work anyway. So a mid-tower isn’t going to be an option at all. However, if you won’t have anywhere near the amount of hardware an industrial PC will have, then a full tower might be overkill.
Full Tower Con: Cooling – One would assume that with more interior space, a full tower will be easier to cool. In some ways, this is true. If components have enough space between them, air can circulate better and in theory, can make it easier to cool the entire rig. However, in practice, unless the fans are properly positioned or are powerful enough, there will be dead spots that cold air cannot reach, and this is where heat can build up. Even if a full tower case features enough fans, the physical components installed will vary. Fortunately, because there is enough room, a liquid cooling system can be installed to counter this. But that costs extra money, and unless you’re getting a full tower to make an industrial-level PC, this feature is often unnecessary, especially with modern hardware.
Mid Tower Pro: Variety – Being the most common choice for tower case means manufacturers create a wide variety of mid-tower cases regularly. They vary in terms of capacity, size, cooling capabilities, and slot numbers. However, perhaps the most crucial element in the variety is the aesthetic design. There are a lot of mid-tower case designs to choose from. These cases will have different colors and different shell angles. Some will have clear panels to show off the internals; others will have multiple LED lights to illuminate the interior, and so on. Some will have a very sleek appearance, while others will be more “out there” when it comes to the external design.
The variety when it comes to choices also means that you can pick exactly the one that fits your overall assembly plan. Whether you’re going to be using your desktop PC for games, personal work, or both, there is a mid-tower case for you.
Mid Tower Con: Variety – Yes, the same variety that gives you nearly countless choices for mid-tower options can also prove to be a disadvantage. Too many decisions mean it is challenging to be indeed satisfied with one. Not only that, the price differences could prove to be a hindrance as well. Two mid-tower cases could have the same price. However, one might have more features than the other. If you end up getting one, only to find out after that you got short-changed, it can be cause for disappointment.
You might also spend lots of time trying to decide on a color and style of case and finally settle for one. Then, a few weeks later, find out that another case that fits your design tastes more exists. But because you didn’t see it in the store or is from a brand you have no idea about, you didn’t know about that dream case of yours until it is too late.
Full Tower Pro: Bigger Canvas – Think of a tower case like a piece of art, in that it is pretty much the first impression to anyone who sees your desktop PC. A full tower case, being a bigger choice, gives you more options to play around with how the final look of your desktop PC will be. A bigger shell means it is more visible and allows you to put more aesthetic features. You can customize your LED lights, including a cooling system that is more pleasing to the eye, and so on. If one panel is transparent, then more of the internals can be seen, and you can better show off the hardware your computer has installed. For the more experienced and daring PC assembler, you can even dismantle the case to remove any critical electronics and paint on what’s left.
Overall, a bigger case means more room to play around with both internally and externally.
Full Tower Con: Cost – Yes, there are full tower cases that cost just the same, and sometimes less than, a middle tower case. However, on average, a full tower case will cost more than a mid-tower case counterpart. Earlier, we mentioned that unless necessary, like if you will have more components installed than the average PC user needs, getting a full tower case is not always the best choice. For the most part, that is also because of the cost.
On average, a full tower costs around 50% more than a mid-tower case. That sounds like a big number in itself. But if you go on the higher end of the spectrum of choices, the number increases rapidly. For example, one of the high-end choices for mid-tower cases, the Cooler Master SL600M, costs US$ 190. A full tower counterpart, the Cooler Master Cosmos C700P, costs US$ 550!
So unless you genuinely need a full tower case, it is highly recommended not to go overboard and get the best mid-tower case your budget can accommodate.
What To Look For From The Best Mid Tower Case
By now, you’ve probably decided to choose the best mid-tower case for your budget. But before you jump right in and spend your money, it’s better to understand what you need to look and watch out for before you get your case.
Not all mid-tower cases are the same, even though they have one significant purpose altogether: house your precious hardware. The best mid-tower case options are more than just a container. It not only protects your hardware and ensures it is adequately cooled, but it is also meant to make each piece have enough room to function correctly. And of course, look aesthetically pleasing as well.
Here are the factors you need to consider before getting your mid-tower case:
Internal Layout – The interior layout is perhaps the most crucial element you need to consider when getting a mid-tower case. Knowing what motherboards it can support, how many input-output ports it has, the number of drive bays present, and of course, the overall measurement. The best mid-tower cases will have enough room for an A-tier setup, and not feel too cramped within.
And you want to know a secret? Remember earlier; we mentioned that most mid-tower cases could not accommodate E-ATX motherboards? The good news is these days; the best mid-tower case options can. So if you’re looking to get an E-ATX motherboard, there’s no need to choose a full tower case. Pick the best mid-tower case option that allows for E-ATX installation, and you’re good to go.
Of course, the downside is that a mid-tower case can only fit so much. But as long as you understand your hardware specs enough, you should be able to find a mid-tower case that will house everything you need for your desktop assembly.
Cooling System Support – A mid-tower case could have a lot of room inside, but if the cooling system support isn’t up to par, you’ll find your desktop PC overheating when used to its fullest. The best mid-tower case will have powerful enough radiator support systems in the right locations to keep your internals cool.
But it’s not just about powerful fans. An excellent mid-tower case, related to the internal layout, has proper spacing for each component so that the airflow will be sufficient enough. The reason is it doesn’t matter how strong your mid-tower case’s fans are, if everything is cramped up together that there’s barely enough room for the air to circulate, then the temperature will climb very quickly.
Here’s another secret: remember we said earlier that most mid-tower cases wouldn’t have enough room for liquid cooling? These days, with technology improving at the rate, it is the best mid-tower case options that can support liquid cooling. These options might cost a bit higher than your average mid-tower case. But if you know that the hardware you will pick will cause a lot of heat, or live in a scorching location, you might opt to get a mid-tower case that can handle liquid cooling.
Just remember that the presence of liquid, in particular, water, in and around electronics, poses its own set of risks. So while it might seem like the only choice when it comes to cooling, consider all possibilities when choosing to install liquid cooling.
Materials Used – A case might have more than enough inside space and could cool for continuous use, but if the materials are inadequate, the tower case can look cheap at best or malfunction at worst.
The average mid-tower case will have high-quality anodized aluminum for the main shell. This material is both lightweight and durable and will stand the test of time. Some mid-tower case options will have steel, and in rarer cases, titanium. Titanium is a very light, very durable material. But it is also costly, so while it is an option, it is not as common as aluminum.
The use of plastic is unavoidable, especially for certain aesthetic elements. However, the excessive use of plastic is not good. Not only does it make the case look cheap, but it also isn’t as durable as aluminum. Be very careful when checking the internal mount slots of a mid-tower case. If you see elements like the HD frame, screw ports for the board, or other mounts made of plastic, it is best to avoid that case. Fortunately, though, the best mid-tower case options won’t have this problem.
For mid-tower cases that have transparent panels to show-off the internals, they use high-quality tempered glass. However, tempered glass is weighty, and it smudges easily with fingerprints. So many high-quality mid-tower cases will use transparent acrylic, which is lightweight and less prone to accidental breaking.
Choosing the right case with the best materials available will not only make your purchase worth every dollar but also ensure that your expensive hardware is safe for many years to come.
Overall Design – Now that you have checked off having sufficient interior space, enough radiator ports for fans and cooling, and made sure the case is of high-quality materials, it is time for the design. Going back to our previous analogy, the outside aesthetic design of a mid-tower case is the first thing people will see. It is a reflection of your style and taste, and can also show exactly what the PC setup is meant to do.
Some mid-tower cases have sleek, sophisticated designs. No extra frills on the outside. Just crisp lines, sharp corners, and smooth, clean surfaces. Buttons are flush, ports are subtly visible, and colors are usually neutral, if not black, white, or gray. These are suited for desktop PCs for professionals, or just only for people who prefer a simple yet sophisticated look.
Other mid-tower cases will have a sleek but more industrial looking design. These cases will highlight functional elements like the fans, and will often have a clear panel to showcase the internals of the machine. It is a blend of function and form, with both working in tandem to become a piece of art.
And then there are mid-tower cases that feature extra design elements to show off the fact that the computer within is a gaming machine, or a powerful device capable of doing anything. It has aesthetic design elements borrowed from all sorts of things, like sports car lines, heavy machinery angles, and everything in between. These mid-tower cases will be visually loud and will catch the attention of anyone who might get a glimpse of your hardware.
Whatever the case may be, the best mid-tower case for you is out there. But the last element must be significantly considered before making your final choice.
Cost – The last but definitely not the least important element when choosing a mid-tower case is the cost. The good news is that most mid-tower options, even the best mid-tower case options, are roughly in the same price range. So you won’t have to worry about having too flexible a budget to accommodate your choices. The slightly bad news is that the price isn’t a good initial indicator of a case’s features. So you have to go beyond just looking at the numbers before deciding which case to buy.
You can get budget cases with some essential features for as low as $90. And there are mid-tower cases with all the bells and whistles for a little under $300. So, for the most part, the range isn’t that big, and it’s easy to add a few bucks or go a bit lower depending on budget restrictions.
Just be very mindful of the other factors that you need to consider before buying the best mid-tower case for your needs, and you should make the right choice when the time comes.
The Best Mid Tower Case List
Without further ado, here is our list of the best mid-tower cases. We based the choices in this list on the following: functionality, extra features, aesthetics, and overall value-for-money.
Overall Best Mid Tower Case – Cooler Master SL600M
- Overall measurements: 21.4 x 9.5 x 22.5 inches, 30 lbs.
- Motherboard Options: E-ATX to Mini-ITX with a maximum of 12 inches x 10.7 inches
- Cooling: multiple radiator options for 120mm to 360mm
- Input/Output: 4 USB ports (1×3.1 Type C, 2×3.0, 2×2.0)
- Drive Options: 2.5 inch:8, 3.5 inch:4
- Materials: Sand-blasted aluminum, minimal plastic.
Other features: noise reduction, chimney-type cooling, adjustable cooling vents, proximity sensor lights for the I/O front panel, rotatable PCI bracket, optional clear panel.
Cooler Master is one of the top brands when it comes to reliable, functional, and aesthetically pleasing tower cases. And the best value-for-money mid-tower case we picked is the Cooler Master SL600M. It is a perfect blend of aesthetics and functionality that is very hard to beat for people who are looking to set up a desktop PC that both looks good and keeps the hardware safe and working correctly.
The exterior shell is sandblasted anodized aluminum, giving it a futuristic appearance that looks like it came straight out of a spaceship cockpit. Even the all-important cooling vents are in such a way that it looks good and functions great. The top vent is adjustable and can be configured to have one of three possible positions. Keep it flushed to retain a sleek appearance, or raise it open for times when maximum ventilation is needed. You can even remove it entirely if necessary.
The Cooler Master SL600M also features noise-reducing technology. Even if the fans are powerful, you’ll barely hear anything. It is ideal for gaming, or when peace and quiet are needed to get all-important work done.
In a continuation of form and function working together, a very modern I/O front panel blends seamlessly in the design. It even features a proximity sensor that illuminates the USB ports if it senses your hand coming close. Perfect for night time or low light use.
And lastly, if you decide to install GPUs vertically, or if you want more clearance for whatever reason, the Cooler Master SL600M has a rotatable PCI bracket.
All of these, along with the perfect blend of form and function, make the Cooler Master SL600M our top pick for an overall best mid-tower case. And for the $190 price tag, it’s a hard item to beat.
- Anodized aluminum shell for durability and aesthetics
- Noise reduction technology
- Powerful cooling system, upgradable for maximum cooling
- Intuitive and reactive front I/O panel, illuminated for low-light use
- Rotatable PCI bracket
Best Mid-Tower Case For Showing Off – Thermaltake Core P5
- Overall measurements: 25.5 x 7.2 x 26 inches, 27 lbs.
- Motherboard Options: ATX, Micro-ATX Mini-ITX
- Cooling: multiple radiator options for 120mm to 360mm
- Input/Output: 4 USB ports (1xDual 3.0, 2×2.0)
- Drive Options: 1x exterior chassis 3.5” or 2.5” HDD tray, 3x 3.5” or 2.5” inside chassis
- Materials: Clear acrylic windows, aluminum.
Other features: multiple mounting options, dual GPU positions, fully modular, Thermaltake Liquid Cooling Certified.
PC hardware has gone beyond just a bunch of chips on a circuit board covered by a fan. These days, even the internal hardware has aesthetic design elements that would be a waste if it is not visible in one way or another. And the best way to showcase your internal hardware is with the Thermaltake Core P5.
The moment you see what the Thermaltake Core P5 looks like, you’ll immediately understand why. It features a clear panoramic open-frame design that gives an uninhibited view of what’s inside your PC from nearly all angles. Aside from the main mount panel, all the other panels are clear acrylic, which is both robust and very transparent. Make no mistake, whatever you put inside will be very visible outside, which if the goal is to show-off your GPUs and your liquid cooling system, is precisely the point of this mid-tower case.
Speaking of liquid cooling, the Thermaltake Core P5 is certified and capable of handling liquid cooling systems. Nearly all high-end and mid-tier liquid cooling systems are possible with the Core P5.
The Core P5 is designed to allow for nearly endless modifications and customization, with a chassis that supports 3D printed mods. Its highly modular design also enables the Core P5 to be dismantled and rebuilt from scratch, according to the builder’s own personal plan.
If showing-off your creativity and hardware is the goal, then the Thermaltake Core P5 is the best mid-tower case for you. Just be sure to be ready for a bit of work!
- Durable clear acrylic panels for maximum visibility
- 3D printed model support for maximum customizability
- Modular design for highly experienced builders
- Perfect liquid cooling support, augmented by powerful fans
- Multiple configuration and mounting options
Best Quick Build Mid Tower Case – Corsair Carbide Series Air 540
- Overall measurements: 16.3 x 18 x 13.1 inches, 16 lbs.
- Motherboard Options: E-ATX to Mini-ITX
- Cooling: three AF140L air fans, dual chamber design, liquid cooling capable
- Input/Output: 4 USB ports (1×3.1 Type C, 2×3.0, 2×2.0)
- Drive Options: 2.5 inch:8, 3.5 inch:4
- Materials: Aluminum, plastic.
Other features: dual chamber design for segregated air cooling, ample interior space, noise reduction, flexible build, tool-free PCI mounts, and multiple expansion slots.
If you don’t want to overthink about assembly, and air cooling is your preferred method of keeping temperatures low, then the Corsair Carbide Series Air 540 is your case of choice. It was designed to assemble quickly, and at the same time, make it a no-brainer when worrying about temperatures.
Its main feature is the dual-chamber design that segregates the parts in such a way that maximizes the cooling capacity of the compact case. The parts that become the hottest are in the direct path of air, while the other components are out of the way. It allows you to worry less about temperatures and more about what parts to put inside your case.
Make no mistake, however. Just because its basic design relies on air cooling, doesn’t mean it is not capable of liquid cooling if necessary. The Air 540 has enough room, despite its compact frame, for liquid cooling components that can be tucked away and not be a hindrance to other parts. But even without cooling, the three powerful fans that come with the case are more than enough to keep temperatures in check. You can also swap out some of the fans for radiators and still include a fan for push-pull temperature control.
In terms of assembly, the Air 540 is for quick builds. PCI-E and storage are tool-free, and it also has two internal hot-swap drive bays that are easy to use. The meshes that cover the fans are quickly snapped off, and the filters attach with magnets making maintenance or upgrading quick and easy.
Sure, it might not have the same customizability as other cases, but if you’re the type of person who just wants to get the job done, quick and painless, then the Corsair Carbide Series Air 540 is the case for you.
Dual-chamber parts segregation to maximize powerful airflow
- Compact size with ample interior space
- Strong fans for optimal cooling
- No tool installation for quick and easy assembly
- Optional clear acrylic side panel
Best Budget Mid Tower Case – Cooler Master HAF 912
- Overall measurements: 19.5 x 9.1 x 18.9 inches, 20 lbs.
- Motherboard Options:ATX and Micro-ATX
- Cooling: 1x 120mm front fan,1x120mm rear fan, optional radiator support, optional 1x 120mm top fan
- Input/Output: 2 USB ports (1×3.0, 1×2.0), audio and mic
- Drive Options: 4x exposed 5.25 inch, 1x exposed 3.5 inch, 4x exposed 2.5 inch
- Materials: Aluminum, plastic.
If you absolutely must cut down on costs or have a minimal budget that you’d like to devote most of for other hardware elements, then this is the case for you. The Cooler Master HAF 912 is only $67 and is definitely its main selling point. However, don’t let the low price fool you. It is not a piece of junk that just “does the job,” and that’s it. Checked side-by-side with most mid-tower cases, whatever the Cooler Master HAF 912 has to offer, it does so with excellent value for money. So despite the low-price, it is a prime choice for people with minimal budgets.
The Cooler Master HAF 912 has no frills, no extra bells, and whistles. But it has all the necessary elements to be able to have an assembled desktop PC, with a few surprises of its own.
It has enough fans to keep temperatures in check and can upgrade for radiator fans. It has a CPU retaining hole, enough HDD/SSD mounts, and an easy access front input/output panel. Pretty standard stuff, even including the eight expandable slots.
However, one surprise the Cooler Master HAF 912 has is the presence of water cooling outlets. You read that right. This mid-tower case that is less than $100 can support water cooling. Not only that, HAF stands for High Air Flow, which tells you a great deal about one of its key features. The HAF 912 is designed with strategically placed fans in mind to provide proper intake and exhaust of air. Combine this with water cooling capabilities, and all of a sudden, this affordable mid-tower case seems like the best value-for-money option.
Along with a rugged exterior design that tells the world that this case means business, the Cooler Master HAF 912 is an excellent choice. Ideal for quick gaming builds, or a beginner PC for kids and teens, or just as an extra back up PC for home or office use, the HAF 912 is a hard choice to beat.
- Very affordable, less than $100
- Simple and easy design for quick builds and assembly
- Deceptively powerful airflow and liquid cooling option
- The rugged look and practical design
There you have it, our list of the best mid-tower case options out there. Whatever mid-tower case you choose, remember that there is one specifically for your own needs. Whether you want a simple, easy to use case for a quick, no-brain assembly, or a highly customizable one, a mid-tower case is the best choice for a PC build. But don’t let the mid-tower case dictate your build. Rather, it should be the opposite. Pick your internal hardware components first, based on what you want to achieve for your desktop PC. And from there, you can decide what kind of mid-tower case to get. You should decide what mid-tower case to get based on the internal parts you’re looking to get. Don’t do it the other way around, where a mid-tower case option will dictate what hardware you will pick.
Do this properly and you can end up with the perfect PC for your needs.