Cooling is ironically one of the hottest topics in PC enthusiast circles. While the average person will often overlook this side of PC building, a seasoned veteran or a well-informed builder knows that a high airflow case gives you a noticeable bump in performance and adds longevity to your components. But not all PC cases have high enough airflow levels to improve overall thermals inside the case.
The best airflow PC cases are products that compliment your expensive hardware by giving you the tools to unleash its maximum potential. They will maximize your cooling hardware performance and allow you to go above and beyond when it comes to overclocking. Below you’ll find the best PC casesfor airflow for every price bracket and form factor.
If you want to improve the airflow of your system without having to buy a new chassis, check out our lists of the best RGB case fans and the best 140mm case fans. Installing a couple of extra fans could dramatically improve thermals as long as the internal layout allows the air to flow freely. If you’re looking for alternative ways to decrease temperatures, we have a guide on CPU & GPU undervolting that could help.
1. Phanteks Eclipse P400A: Best value airflow case
If you’re in the market for an airflow case, you probably want it to have solid thermal performance while not being too expensive. Well, the Phanteks P400A fulfills both of these requirements and then some. This is the best value airflow case you can get at the moment. It has brilliant thermal performance, it’s not loud, it’s cheaper than its direct competitors, and it comes with three 120mm RGB fans.
On top of all that, the P400A is easy to work in, it comes with pretty solid cable management, it supports a vertical GPU mount, and it can be fitted with a 360mm radiator. The case can also house two HDDs and two SSDs, with optional HDD trays for more. P400A also has a handy RGB controller on the front I/O, which is always nice to have.
2. Lian Li Lancool II: Airflow case with best performance
Performance-wise the P400A is very good, but the Lancool II from Lian Li is even better. It comes in performance (2x140mm fans on the front, one 120mm on the back) and RGB (3x120mm RGB fans) versions, and both have excellent airflow.
The thermals are low, the case looks quite nice (especially the RGB version), it’s roomy with excellent cable management, and it’s available in white.
If you have an AIO, the Lancool II can house radiators up to 360mm in length, so it’s got you covered. And, with room for up to nine SSDs (or six SSDs and three HDDs), this case is an excellent choice for data hoarders.
3. Cooler Master MasterBox NR600: Best budget mid-tower airflow case
The budget mid-tower airflow market has a couple of interesting cases. The best overall budget airflow case featuring the ATX form factor is the Cooler Master MasterBox NR600. First of all, its stock airflow is excellent, leading to great thermals. You can put another fan on the front, but even without it, the NR600 has better airflow than other budget cases.
Design is minimalistic, with straight lines and without unnecessary details. The case also supports radiators up to 360mm on the front and up to a 240mm radiator on the top. If you want to find some good 240mm AIOs, check out our list of the best 240mm AIO liquid coolers.
You can put up to four additional fans in the case on top of the two that come with the NR600. As for the storage, there’s room for five 2.5” drives and four 3.5” HDDs. Overall, this is an excellent airflow case sporting a highly competitive price.
4. be quiet! Pure Base 500DX: Best-looking airflow case
The Pure Base 500DX from be quiet! looks stunning. Instead of the regular mesh front, gilded with a couple of RGB or regular fans, the 500DX features a mesh panel divided in two, each side equipped with three RGB LED arrays. This makes for a good-looking and rather original RGB implementation, augmented by a couple more RGB LEDs found on the top of the case.
But being pretty isn’t the only thing 500DX is good at. The case has pretty solid airflow, but on the other hand, it’s exceptionally quiet for an airflow case. That’s mostly thanks to the three Pure Wings 2 140mm fans the 500DX comes with.
You can mount two additional fans, one on the top and one on the front. There’s also room for a 360mm radiator on the front or a 240mm on the topside. Storage support includes five SSD brackets and two brackets for 3.5” HDDs. The 500DX is also quite roomy, despite being far from the biggest mid-tower case on the market. And all that for a lower price than other top-performing airflow cases.
5. Fractal Design Meshify 2 XL: Best full tower airflow case
The full tower airflow market isn’t blooming, but there are a couple of interesting options you can check out. The best of them all is the Fractal Design Meshify 2 XL. This is a huge case that can house even the chunky SSI EEB motherboards.
It supports full-size server boards, and has enough space for more than two dozen storage drives. The ability to house dozens of storage drives at once, makes the Meshify 2 XL a perfect choice for a home server case. It also has pretty solid airflow and comes with three preinstalled 140mm case fans (one on the rear and two on the front).
The Meshify 2 XL is also great for custom loops since it can house up to 480mm radiators on the front and top. And even with a 480mm radiator installed, there’s room for an E-ATX system and a dozen storage drives. Of course, the design includes the signature fractured front mesh panel, which looks stunning on every part of the Meshify lineup. The price is a bit high but justified.
6. Cooler Master MasterBox MB311L: Best mATX airflow case
When it comes to the best airflow mATX case, we like the Cooler Master MasterBox MB311L the most. It’s affordable, looks great considering the price, comes with two RGB case fans and has a pretty solid thermal performance.
There’s also a tempered glass side panel, room for a 280mm AIO radiator, space for two additional fans on the top and one on the back, as well as three dust filters despite the budget price point of this case.
As for the storage bays, you get four 2.5” bays, two of which can host both 2.5” and 3.5” drives. Overall, the MB311L ARGB is an exceptional mATX airflow case that has a very attractive price.
7. Anidees AI Crystal Cube MAR 3: Best cube ATX airflow case
Last but not least, we have an interesting, cube-shaped airflow case from Anidees. The AI Crystal Cube MAR V3 is an exceptional-looking airflow RGB case that’s there for people who want great airflow but also want a great light show, all packed into a square box with a dual-chamber design and glass side panel.
The case comes with five 120mm RGB fans (four on the front, one on the rear side) with room for five more. Liquid cooling support is solid but not great. You can install up to a 280mm radiator on top or at the front.
The chassis can host a 168mm CPU tower, meaning you can go with a high-end air CPU cooler without issues. When it comes to storage bays, you get six 2.5” brackets and three 3.5” bays. Not bad at all.
Despite its original shape and form factor, the AI Crystal Cube MAR V3 has enough room for E-ATX and ATX boards as well as for full-sized GPUs. Overall, this is a well-performing airflow case that looks like no other.
8. Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L TUF: Best budget micro-ATX airflow case
Cooler Master is another well-reputed manufacturer. With plenty of experience in cooling, it makes sense that they’ll be part of our best airflow cases list. The MasterBox Q300L TUF is a great choice for anyone interested in optimal airflow at a very affordable price.
The case has a mesh-like front and top panels that are fully covered by dust filters. The dust filters are magnetic, so you can either keep them on to slow down the dust build-up or take them off to improve air circulation. You’ll see solid temps either way.
The six fan mounts provide amazing air cooling capabilities when paired with the open-case design (meshed front panel). With support for a 280 mm front radiator and a 240 mm top radiator, you have some of the best cooling capabilities that money can buy, all in a relatively compact package.
The front panel supports dual 140mm fans while staying compact. Cooler Master decided to put the audio I/O and USB ports on the side panel to keep the overall height as small as possible. With four expansion slots and the ability to install three exhaust fans, it’s a really solid case for the money.
InWin is a big name in the PC case industry, and its line of products includes a lot of high-end cases. The InWin A1 Plus is a premium Mini-ITX case. It comes with a 650-watt 80+ gold certified PSU, RGB fans and strips, a premium design, and even a 10-watt wireless phone charger.
The case can fit a Mini-ITX motherboard and a dual-slot GPU, so you can build a pretty powerful rig in this tiny monstrosity. The PSU isn’t modular, which is a bit of a bummer, but it doesn’t have a lot of cables since it’s designed to be used with a Mini-ITX mobo.
While it’s tiny, the InWin A1 Plus can house up to four 120 mm fans. Two at the bottom for intake, one side fan dedicated for the GPU, and an exhaust fan on the back panel. With a 320 mm maximum GPU length, InWin has provided enthusiasts with a case that can fit desktop-grade components in a mobile package without hindering airflow too much.
The RGB elements can be used in sync with your other components via software or hardware solutions. The routing space is large enough to facilitate good cable management and contains two SSD mounts. Overall, it’s a great-looking case, and it does pack a fair bit of features.
If you’re looking to add more fans to your lit InWin A1 Plus case, then you should stick to the theme and add additional Sirius Loop ASL120 fans. They spin as fast as 1800 RPM, they’re silent, and they look nothing short of amazing.
10. Cooler Master MasterCase H100: Best budget mini-ITX airflow case
The Cooler Master MasterCase H100 is another great Mini-ITX case. While it’s not screaming RGB and doesn’t feature a wireless charger, it’s a solid choice for those who are interested in a less conspicuous aesthetic.
It supports up to two 2.5-inch SSDs/drives and a 3.5/2.5-inch combo if you want to add a full-sized HDD for bulk storage. It comes with a 200 mm RGB fan on the front panel, which is also meshed for great air circulation. On the downside, it doesn’t support an exhaust fan, but that’s not that big of an issue given the size of the included fan.
While the Cooler Master H100 is a very compact case, the open face facilitates good airflow from front to back. The 200 mm fan that comes with the case hits the CPU and GPU in all of the right spots, allowing you to do modest overclocks without jeopardizing your components. For the money, it’s an amazing product that we highly recommend.
Overall, it’s a great choice for a Mini-ITX build. You have clearance for a good CPU fan, a dual-slot GPU, and room for plenty of storage for games, software, and media.
Why cooling is critical
Cooling, in general, is tricky. You need to invest time in researching the best products that match your future system. Your selection of cases will revolve around the performance you’re trying to reach, your available budget, the form factor of your rig, and premium features (sound-dampened paneling, RGB, USB support).
When you’re planning out a build, cooling is one of the things that you just can’t ignore. Playing AAA titles will make your CPU and GPU run hot, and if you don’t plan, you can hinder their long-term performance and functionality.
What you’ll need to get good temperatures are good fans, a case that’s fitted with vents for air intake (bonus points if it has mesh panels), and good fan placement. For starters, let’s discuss the topic of pressure.
Air pressure basics
Understanding air pressure is really simple. We have neutral pressure, negative pressure, and positive pressure.
Negative pressure is when your case is blowing air out (like the standard exhaust fan), and positive pressure is when you have air coming into your case. You achieve these types of pressure by placing your fans facing inwards or outwards to your case’s interior.
Neutral pressure is when you have a balance between the air that’s being pushed in and the one that’s being pushed out. The consensus between PC enthusiasts is that optimal air cooling is reached when you have slight positive pressure.
How many fans do you need?
Most cases come with at least an intake and an exhaust fan. If you’re planning on building a PC, you’re going to ask yourself, “Is this enough?”
Benchmarking shows that any air cooling system encompassing more than two intake fans and an exhaust fan will bring diminishing results.
If you’re looking for value, then we’d argue that two intake fans and one exhaust fan are enough to reach good temps in any application.