ITX cases are a great choice for those wanting to build a PC, but are short on space. This is usually for students that are in dorm rooms. However, it also extends to those that are looking to build a Home Theatre PC (HTPC). These are PCs that are usually stored in living rooms. They allow users to watch and stream content from the internet in their living room. The benefit of having an ITX PC is that it’ll take up a lot less space than a full size tower case.
Likewise, with the increase in use of all in one water coolers, many gaming enthusiasts are building a small form factor gaming PC. The benefit of these all in one setups is that you don’t need to worry about the usual problems that accompany water cooling. Also, many of them now support normal sized components. The only exception to this is that for these cases, you need to use smaller motherboards, otherwise known as Mini ITX motherboards. It should also be noted that generally these cases can’t accept multiple GPUs. Therefore, you won’t be able to have an SLI gaming PC. That’s not to say though that you can’t use these options as a gaming computer case. They all excel in being used in this manner.
There are a lot of ITX cases on the market. However, this brings its own problems. How are you supposed to know what the best option is? To save you searching for hours on this, below are the three best ITX cases that you can currently buy.
Thermaltake Core V1
Thermaltake are well known for their excellent cases, especially in such a small form factor. With the increase in streaming, it has seen a decrease in the support of optical drives in the chassis. The Core V1 is no different. Off the bat it’s important to mention that it doesn’t have any mounting points for an optical drive. Therefore, if you want to use a DVD or Blu-Ray disc then the only way to do this is to buy an external drive instead. As a plus, it does have interchangeable side panels.
In terms of ports, there are two USB 3.0 ports on the front of the unit, along with a headphone input. This is in addition to any ports that you may have on your motherboard.
One thing that is a worry for those building a small form factor PC is how well ventilated the unit will be. In the case of the Core V1, PC cooling isn’t an issue. The front and side panels are well ventilated by way small holes in the case. Therefore, the heat won’t ever build up. In addition to this, there is one 200mm fan included for a bit of extra value. There is also the ability to add a radiator into it for an AIO water cooler with the supported sizes being 120mm and 140mm, whichever you prefer. This is a great way to making to get the maximum amount of CPU cooling. However, if you prefer to use a more conventional CPU cooler than you’re more than welcome to do so.
There are a variety of normal coolers on the market that you can use which is connected to a fan. The maximum height that the Core V1 will accept is 140mm.
Out of the three cases that we’re reviewing today, the Core V1 has the smallest graphics card support. In terms of the total length of the GPU, the maximum that this chassis will support is 255mm. Having said that, there are still a lot of graphics cards that will fit into this offering from Thermaltake.
In terms of storage devices, there is the option to 2 solid state drives (SSD) and 2 full size hard disk drives. Due to this, there should never be a situation where there isn’t enough storage on the rig.
It is also extremely easy to build inside in the case. One of the normal constraints in smaller units is the PSU getting in the way. However, that isn’t a problem here. Rather, there is a ‘basement’ which allows your full sized power supply to sit comfortably without there being any problems. This basement also helps with cable routing. Normally cable management can be an issue in a mini ITX build when compared to a desktop case.
However, because a lot of the cables can be buried in this recess, it makes the whole system look cleaner. This can also improve airflow around the system since a mess of cables can inhibit the amount of air circulating around it. A way of making cable management even easier would be to use a modular power supply. By doing so, you only need to connect the cables to the PSU that you need.
There are also thumbscrews included in the unit. This means that you can easily remove components without having to crack out the screwdriver. For added peace of mind, there is a 3 year warranty included. This is an inexpensive way to build an enthusiast gaming rig in an ITX form factor. It is available from Amazon.
Corsair Obsidian 250D
Corsair are well known for a wide range of PC accessories, ranging from water cooling setups, fans and also power supplies. They also make great mini ITX cases, and the Obsidian 250D is no exception.
One of the stand out features of the 250D is the fact that it is one of the very few Mini ITX cases on the market that offers full optical drive support for Blu-Ray or DVD drives. Some other setups allow this, but this is in way of sacrificing 2.5” and 3.5” inch drives. The Obsidian has a dedicated optical drive bay which is rather refreshing. Thanks to this, you’ll be able to put in the maximum amount of storage drives which is a real bonus. As mentioned above, cooling is always a worry no matter what the build is. However the 250D has 2 fans included. One is 140mm and the other is 120mm. This is actually really good value for money and a great way to keep the insides cool.
Of course, you’ll also need a way to cool the CPU. There are a few options to doing this. You can opt for a conventional cooling setup. By this we mean that you could use the CPU heatsink that comes with the CPU and mount a fan to it. You could also buy an aftermarket cooler if you wanted to use a more sophisticated air cooler. The tallest CPU cooler that you can use is 95mm in height.
Given that the 250D is a bit bigger than the V1 discussed above, it is a lot easier to use a liquid CPU cooler also. In terms of radiator support, the longest radiator that you can use is 240mm in length. There are plenty AIO coolers on the market that will easily fit into it, including ones from Corsair. This should definitely be considered if you’re thinking about doing any overclocking and these are a great way to get over the hurdles that used to be associated with liquid cooling. It can also help to make the system run quieter. This is more important in a living room environment as there isn’t any noise dampening material in the case. The last thing you want to hear is an excessively noising CPU fan running your enjoyment of a movie.
It also looks great with its brushed aluminium finish, as well as having a window on the top to show off what’s inside. There is however no fan filters included with the case.
As standard now, it will also take your normal sized PSU. You’ll also be able to use a larger GPU than that of the V1 with the maximum length supported being 290mm. This means that you should be able to fit an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 without issue. It is advisable that you check the specific length of the card of your choice though as this can vary between manufacturers. The warranty is only 2 years. However given the excellent quality of Corsair products, there should be no reason to ever use this. Whilst it does cost a bit more than the other two cases reviewed here, it really does offer excellent value for money and is avaible from Amazon.
Phanteks Enthoo Evolv
Lastly, we have the Enthoo Evolv from Phanteks. Out of the three cases we’ve discussed here, this is easily the largest. It is able to support (like the other two mentioned above) a full sized PSU. However, it can also support the longest graphics cards with the maximum supported length being 300mm. Likewise, when it comes to the maximum supported height for a CPU cooler, this clocks in at 200mm.
This is great since you’ll be able to show off your components with pride thanks to side panel that is approximately 85% windowed. Moreover, unlike the Corsair and Thermaltake variants, the Evolv comes equipped with fan filters in it. This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. However, given that it can be a pain to clean out dusty PCs, it’s good to know that dust inside it will be minimised thanks to these filters.
Connectivity on the front is brought about by 2 USB 3.0 ports. Currently there aren’t any mini ITX cases that had a USB C header at the front of the unit. Also, for those wanting to watch DVD on this, they’ll need to use an external drive instead as there is no optical drive support with the Evolve. In terms of storage devices, there is support for 1 SSD and 2 HDDs which is enough for most people.
Since it is larger than others, it means that air in it can flow a lot more freely. Added to this is the fact that Phanteks have also included a 200mm in the case to aid in keeping it cool.
As with the 250D, there is a basement included for the PSU. This can also be used for cable routing and management. There are also rubber grommets included in it. This means that the cables can be stored around the back of the motherboard tray. This not only keeps it looking neat and tidy, but also helps to improve airflow around the components.
An added bonus is that the warranty of the Evolv is 5 years. This is exceptional and whilst it is unlikely you’ll need to use the warranty, it’s good to know it is there. Read more reviews on the Evolv here.