Best Mini ITX and Micro ATX Gaming PC Cases for the Money 2016
Having used Raspberry Pi, the Patriot Box, Chromecast, as well as several Rokus I keep going back to my media PC. Nothing compares with its flexibility. The form factor can be a little annoying; however, use the right case and it can add to the look of your theater room. You'll also have the option for any file format, browser, or game you want to use.
As someone who has built HTPCs in the past and is in the process of building a new machine I've taken an in-depth look at the cases available in the under $100 price range for 2016 and narrowed it down to six options that work well for small form factor builds.
For me, this machine will be put in front my TV and used as a HTPC, gaming rig, and LAN party machine. However, it could also be used as a smaller profile PC on your desk.
I'll be using a dedicated graphics card so any of the cases featured here will be able to at least house most higher-end options.
I've also eliminated cases that were overly large or that could not house a standard PSU. In doing so I have the power to not only have a performance PC now, but also upgrade to whatever I want in the future.
Features like USB 3.0 were also important to me while cases that included a low-end power supply were avoided. In addition, cases with high-airflow were given a priority.
6 Good Mini and Micro ATX Gaming Computer Cases 2016
#1 Cooler Master Elite 130 - A Good Value Gaming Case Under $50
I used the Cooler Master Elite 130 in a budget HTPC build I did for my YouTube channel a couple years back. While there are a few HTPC cases out there with as many features as the 130 there are very few that can compete with it in terms of price. This includes, the next generation models that Cooler Master came out with after the 130.
Airflow is a Priority in Cooler Master's Design:
Cooler components lead to increased longevity and performance. Since heat and airflow can be a problem in many HTPC cases I wanted to find one with plenty of fan and cooling options.
I really like that Cooler Master has made airflow such a priority with this case. As you may be able to see in the picture there are mesh and open air holes on every side and a large 120mm fan in the front to expel the hot air towards the back of the case. In addition, there's another 80 x 15mm fan that comes preinstalled in the back left side of the case.
Graphics Card and Power Supply Compatibility Not an Issue:
This case can house any full-sized ATX power supply which is typically 150 mm Wide, no more than 86 mm tall, and 140 mm deep (supports up to 180mm). Any GPU can also be used with this setup up to 13.5in. or 343mm including the GTX 780 TI and even the HD 7990.
Storage and Expansion:
While I plan on simply installing a hard drive and SSD in this build it's good to know that many other options are available should you want to upgrade in the future.
Here's a basic outline of what drives can be stored within this case:
ODD x 1 + HDD x 2 + SSD x 1
+ HDD x 3 + SSD x 1
+ HDD x 2 + SSD x 3
+ HDD x 1 + SSD x 4
+ SSD x 5
Overall I'm very satisfied with not only the stainless steel build quality, but most importantly the price and features of this case. In my opinion, it's the one to get under $50. If you're looking for a more cubed style case, also take a look at the Cooler Master 110.
CM 130 Vs. #2 Bitfenix Prodigy
More in line with what a typical gaming case looks like, the BitFenix Mini-ITX case has many of the same benefits of the CM 130 with the added benefit of carrying handles.
On the other hand, it's a taller case than the CM 130 so you lose out on the ability to put it in front of some media centers.
Dimensions Allow for More Fans:
With dimensions of 9.84" x 15.91" x 14.13" or 250mm x 404mm x 359mm it's a bit larger than the CM 130 and as so you get a few additional features including space for an additional 120mm fan in the front (or up to 230mm) and a fan in the rear (included) and top (not included).
In addition you have room for a 240mm radiator while the CM 130 only supports a 120mm radiator. Space for drives includes up to 1 5.25" 5 3.5" or up to 9 2.5" drives.
PSU and Fit:
Max PSU depth for this case is listed at 160mm; however, it's a pretty tight fit. You'll want to go with something modular for sure and, if possible, 140mm.
As shown by Anandtech, the BitFenix also has another plus in that it relatively quiet when compared to other cases in its category.
The BitFenix is a good case for those who have an entertainment center large enough to house it. The PSU size may be an issue for some; however, it's still a budget price at under $75 for a case that has a few more options.
#3 - New Corsair 250D - A Good Mini ITX Case for Overclocking
Recently released in January of 2014 the Corsair 250D is Corsair's first attempt at an obsidian series Mini ITX case.
Compatibility and Space:
Unlike the Prodigy the 250D has plenty of space for a full-sized graphics card and an ATX power supply without using modular cables or having to squeeze it in there. In addition it has room for a rear 80mm fan while including a 120mm side fan and a 140mm front fan.
Dimensions for the 250 D are 13.8" x 10.9" x 11.4" (L x W x H) or 290mm x 277mm x 351mm making it less than half the size of some tower cases.
Cable Management a Plus?
Have to have everything a certain way in your case? The 250Ds cable management is, in my opinion superior to the previous 2 models I've reviewed. Better cable management leads to more airflow and cooler components overall.
While it's a bit more expensive than the other two models the Obsidian 250D definitely has it's place in the Mini ITX world among enthusiast builders.
Another popular choice from Corsair is the Core V1 Mini ITX Cube. Here are a couple of quick measuring stats for it. Max GPU Length: 285mm Max CPU Cooler Height: 130mm
#4 A Good Mini and Micro Case With a Power Supply Included - EVGA Hadron
Most of the time I avoid cases that include power supplies. I just don't like the quality of the component you're getting or how it limits you in your build.
That being said the EVGA Hadron case, released in September of 2013, comes with an EVGA 500 Watt 80 Plus gold power supply which should be more than fine for most builds here.
At that capacity and rating you could expect to spend anywhere from $60 on sale or as much as $80 for that particular power supply. While this won't work with many high-end builds it does work with those who are building on a budget.
In my opinion, the case itself can be overpriced if you don't find it on sale; however, in the $140 range it seems to be worth it considering how much that PSU would cost you otherwise.
Fit and Design:
The case is somewhat taller than some of the other cases we featured in this post at 12in (305mm) high; however, smaller in its dimensions overall with a width of 6.6in or 169mm. It includes 2 120mm fans.
The case itself is well built with stainless steel and a window that allows you to see the hardware inside. Despite its smaller form factor this case allows a double slot GPU up to 10 inches or 267mm in length.
While it doesn't allow for the longer cases that many of the other cases do it still works out for *most enthusiast cards including some GTX 770s and R9 270X. A standard optical drive won't work with this case; however, a slim fit one will.
*Check the manufacturer's card dimensions before buying.
Overall this is a stellar looking case with solid middle-of-the-road value and features. It's much smaller than cases like the Bitfenix Prodigy and gets rid of a multitude of drive options to accomplish it. That could be a plus for those looking to get it into a small vertical space.
#5 Silverstone Tek GD05B-USB 3.0 - A Good High-End Micro ATX or Mini ITX Aluminum Case Option
If you're looking for something to fit into your entertainment center as slick as a receiver would, then look no further than the Silverstone Tek GD05B. This is the USB 3.0 updated version of the GD04B from Silverstone that has been a popular case for several years now.
It supports a full-sized ATX PSU and graphics cards up to 11 inches. That covers most of even high-end cards, but like the previous case it's always a good idea to look at the manufacturer's card dimensions just in case.
While this case can technically support an entire PC build you'll want to keep in mind a few of its limitations. If you're wanting to use an aftermarket CPU cooler, then you'll need to likely eliminate the optical drive. Even then, you'll probably be best off with one that has a slimmer fit.
If you're looking for something to blend in to your home entertainment environment, then this is one of my favorite cases to use. It has a lot of the benefits of the more boxy designs without the height requirement.
#6 Lian Li PC-Q25B - A Good Quality Aluminum HTPC Case Under $100
When system builders think of the name Lian Li they think of not only quality construction, but also a smart space saving design. All of this equals great value when you couple this manufacturer's strengths with a compact mini itx case.
This case comes with a 120mm top and 140mm front fan and can house a graphics card up to 320mm in length. PSU length may be an issue at some at 140mm so a modular PSU is almost a requirement here. Check on your power supplies length before automatically assuming it will fit. I wouldn't go beyond 150mm.
Overall it's a well-built and good looking case with few flaws. That being said all of the cases built in this category seem to and the few that it has can be easily worked through.
Budget ITX Case Video Review
While I regularly update this post I wanted to leave this older poll here for those who are curious.
Best Mini ITX Macro ATX HTPC Gaming Case Under $100 2014?
Vote for your favorite:See results without voting
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