If you want to show off your PC, getting an open-air PC case seems like the best idea. Further, open-air cases have, on average, much higher airflow than regular PC cases and thus the best possible thermals. There’s the small issue of dust accruing all over the components, but if you don’t mind that or have found a way to solve it that doesn’t include daily dust wipes, getting an open-air PC case will give you the best thermals alongside providing the most attractive way to present your PC building prowess.
Now, the best open-air cases are usually covered in glass, have lots of airflow, and are designed to put the build at the front. Many models support custom loop water cooling systems with a ton of RGB and tempered glass. The thing is, the market isn’t teeming with open-air cases because they’re a niche inside a niche. That said, you can find quite impressive open-air cases out there, and while most of them are on the flashier side, there are a couple of models made for, what we see as the true meaning of open-air systems, minimalist builds revolving around components, not around the case. Below you’ll find the best open-air cases on the market.
The Core series from Thermaltake contains some of the best open-air cases on the market. They look stunning, support a wide variety of cooling solutions, most can be wall-mounted, and every single case comes with a single or multiple glass panels. The best choice for most people is arguably the Core P3.
The P3 is a mid-tower case that’s compact but still large enough to house a 420mm radiator on the left side. If you aren’t using an AIO, you can mount up to 3 120mm or 140mm case fans on the left side, creating a solid RGB light show. The Core P3 is also great for vertical GPU builds since its open-air design allows the GPU to breathe despite it being quite close to the glass side panel when mounted vertically.
As for the drive bays, you have enough room for up to five 2.5” drives or four 3.5” drives. That’s lots of drive bays for a showoff PC case. The case is easy to work in but if you want perfect cable management (completely understandable given the open-air design), get ready to spend hours on making it right.
Ideally, an open-air case should be a skeleton used for hooking up the real stars of every rig – the components. And the best-looking open-air chassis of them all is the XTIA Xproto. This is what a minimalist case should look like. Two thin slabs of steel are screwed together and sculpted in a way to provide stability to the case but also to make it extremely attractive.
The installation process can be a pain since the case only supports Mini-ITX systems, and cable management in ITX housings can be a proper hell. You see, all of the cables and SATA disks go into the slim sandwich between the two metal plates, so tucking all cables inside without them protruding or not fitting inside the slim housing can be quite a complex task.
But once you finish the build, you’ll see that all the pain has been worth it because, when done properly, a build based on the Xproto is CES-worthy. Now, when it comes to actual specs, the GPU clearance is 330mm unless we’re talking about RTX 3000 cards, then it’s 315mm. There’s no limit when it comes to the CPU tower height, but you’ll want to use a slim air CPU cooler to follow the case’s aesthetics.
Finally, there’s room for a couple of SATA drives in the sandwiched area, and the case should receive some nice-looking RGB add-ons in the future. You can mount the case horizontally or vertically.
The only major downside of the Xproto, aside from the steep price, is the fact that all cables protrude from the top of the case when used vertically. You can fix this to a degree but still, creating a case as breathtaking as the Xproto and then making all cables stick out the top is almost sacrilegious.
3. Cougar Conquer 2: Best full tower open air case
The Cougar Conquer 2 is one of the best RGB cases, and if you look closely, you’ll notice this enclosure features an open-air design. While covered in metal and glass from all sides, the rear side is fully accessible and completely open. This chassis is the best choice for RGB aficionados who like open-air case design.
It comes with insane RGB “pipes” on the front, assisted by a single RGB fan that comes with the case. You can mount additional three 120mm fans on the top side or opt for up to a 360mm radiator. The enclosure is roomy but a pain to work in since you cannot remove the exoshell. You have to pull the entire system cage out of the case and only then install the components. And yes, this is the biggest downside of the Conquer 2.
As for the airflow and thermal performance, they aren’t great since glass and metal cover most of the case. But, they are good enough not to worry about any form of thermal throttling. As for the other specs, you can install up to four 2.5” drives or two 3.5”, the CPU tower clearance is only 150mm (it’s highly recommended you use an AIO or a custom loop), and it can house even the huge SSI-CEB motherboards.
4. Cooler Master MasterFrame 700: Best open air test bench case
The MasterFrame 700 is a highly original open-air case coming from Cooler Master. After the company shocked the ITX market with the exceptional NR200, Cooler Master tried to offer something new in the open-air case market. The result, MasterFrame 700, looks amazing.
It’s completely open, with the front and back panels being able to rotate for more than 180 degrees. This allows you to place the case in various positions, depending on your preferences. You can use it vertically, with both panels open or closed. You can also mount the case horizontally, thus turning it into a proper open-air test bench, with two movable panels placed at any angle you want.
The case is modular, a breeze to work in, and great for cable management since all cables can be tied to the back of the case. The MasterFrame 700 supports custom loops and the longest radiators you can find. It also has a built-in VESA mount, so you can wall-mount it.
There’s also an optional tempered glass side panel that you can install by closing the two movable panels around the case and then doing some screwing. Overall, this is one of the most original PC cases we’ve ever seen and definitely one of the best open-air PC cases.
5. InWin D-Frame Mini: Best Mini-ITX open air case
Last but not least, we have the best Mini-ITX open-air case. Well, the InWin D-Frame Mini case is one of the best Mini-ITX open-air cases. It isn’t the most attractive, we’ve given that prize to the aforementioned Xproto. But, the Steel Tube Mini is much easier to find, and it doesn’t look half bad.
First of all, the chassis looks very sturdy and allows for unrestricted airflow inside the case while protecting it from damage. The glass side panel is here for a better look at the components. You can mount the GPU vertically thanks to the unique motherboard mount, and the case supports up to 120mm case fans and 240mm AIO liquid coolers.
There’s room for up to five 2.5” drives or two 2.5” and three 3.5” drives, and the case can house both SFX and ATX power supplies, which is always nice to see in a Mini-ITX case. Aside from being a dust magnet, the second major downside of the D-Frame Mini is the pretty steep price.