A case is considered as the first thing to buy when you’re building your new PC, as there are not many drastic changes in the quality and specification of cases, unlike other components. Moreover, the casing defines the compatibility with the components such as the form-factor of a motherboard or a graphics card. Speaking of form-factor, the most popular form-factor of cases are ATX and micro-ATX, which in terms of size, generally lead to full-tower and mid-tower casings.
A micro-ATX case means that it will support a maximum form-factor of micro-ATX i.e. ATX motherboards will not work in such a case. Still, a micro-ATX case provides sufficient space for even high-end builds and the major difference is only going to be in the PCI Express slots limitation. Since there are a lot of single high-end graphics cards available, a micro-ATX case can even be considered to make a gaming rig for 4K Gaming. In this article, we will have a look at some great micro-ATX cases which will not disappoint you in any way.
1. NZXT H400i
Our Rating: 9.5/10
- Pre-installed RGB lighting looks fabulous
- Advanced customization through CAM software
- Dust-filters provide dust-free air flow
- One can consider full-tower cases in this price
- The front dust-filter poses placement issue for AIO coolers
Form Factor : Micro-ATX tower | Motherboard Support: Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX | Dimensions (W x H x D) : 210 mm x 417 mm x 421 mm | Weight : 16.7 lbs | Radiator Support : 120 mm, 140 mm, 240 mm, 280 mm | I/O Ports : 1 x Audio/Mic, 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 | 2.5” Drive Bays : 4 | 3.5” Drive Bays : 1
NZXT products are famous for having a premium design along with needy features. NZXT H400i is another addition to the new lineup of the company and provides pretty much similar features like the bigger brother H700i while having a much smaller form-factor. This i-variant casing comes with pre-installed RGB lighting which can be controlled through the NZXT CAM software. The build quality of the casing is astonishingly good with all-steel construction, although one can worry more about the pricing of this casing.
The case comes with three Aer F120 fans and provides an algorithm for controlling the noise, which goes by the name of Adaptive Noise Reduction, although we found it to be more of a marketing gimmick. This noise reduction algorithm is fixed within the included smart-device which also takes care of fan and led-control. The casing also provides dust-control filters which are located at the front, top and at the PSU vent. The I/O panel is located at the top of the case, which is troublesome for some users as the cables are not kept straight while using a headphone or other wired peripheral.
The airflow of the case was really excellent as the case provided many placements for fans. We believe that this product is really worthy of the NZXT title and it should be your top priority for an mATX case as long as you can bear the cost. Speaking of the cost, this case is surely well above the price of other mATX cases and that is why you can consider many full-tower cases in this range unless you value the smaller size of this case.
2. PHANTEKS Enthoo Evolv mATX
Our Rating: 9.5/10
- Slim and Sleek design
- Available in three elegant colors
- Supports synchronization with RGB motherboards and other products
- The airflow is a bit restrictive
- Side panel is somewhat loose
Form Factor : Micro-ATX tower | Motherboard Support: Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX | Dimensions (W x H x D) : 230 mm x 450 mm x 400 mm | Weight : 19.8 lbs | Radiator Support : 120 mm, 140 mm, 240 mm, 280 mm | I/O Ports : 1 x Audio/Mic, 2 x USB 3.0 | 2.5” Drive Bays : 5 | 3.5” Drive Bays : 3
Phanteks is a name that not many users are aware of. Most of their products provide excellent value and it is quite difficult to get similar features in a particular price range. Phanteks Enthoo Evolv mATX is the micro-ATX version of the Enthoo Evolv series and provides a similar design to its ATX version. The looks of this case are quite unique, especially the front of the case looks spectacular. One can easily judge the build quality of this case just by looking at it. The casing features an aluminum exterior while the basic body is made out of steel. The side panel uses an old style, with half of it having a see-through tempered glass, however, this provides a much better look at the components than the old casings did.
The case comes with a 200 mm fan at the front and a 140 mm fan at the rear. One can additionally install two 120 mm or 140 mm fans at the top or replace the front 200 mm fan with a similar configuration. The I/O panel of the case is located on the right side of the case, although removing the right panel has no effect on the I/O panel, as it is fixed within the inner body. Still, the location of the I/O panel results in an awkward placement for wired peripherals, unless you place the case on the left side of the desk, which would disturb the looks of the left side panel.
The cooling capability of this case was not satisfactory and we felt that the case has rather packed itself a bit too much resulting in a restricted airflow. This can be improved by filling all the fan placements, which might result in a noisier operation. If you are impressed by the looks of the case and want to go for it, then you should definitely buy it if you are making a mid-end setup or can sacrifice the acoustic levels for the sake of performance.
3. Thermaltake Core V21
Our Rating: 10/10
- Motherboard can be mounted both horizontally and vertically
- Provides ample space for efficient airflow
- The Cube form-factor provides premium looks
- The overall build quality of the case could have been better
- Installation of the components is difficult
Form Factor : Micro-ATX tower | Motherboard Support: Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX | Dimensions (W x H x D) : 320 mm x 336 mm x 424 mm | Weight : 14.3 lbs | Radiator Support : 120 mm, 140 mm, 240 mm, 280 mm | I/O Ports : 1 x Audio/Mic, 2 x USB 3.0 | 2.5” Drive Bays : 3 | 3.5” Drive Bays : 3
Thermaltake Core series provides a number of cases which are widely known for their value. The Core V-21 is not the latest of the company’s models but offer quite good features at a minimal price. The casing features a cube form-factor which provides a unique feature that is the placement of the motherboard. Yes, the motherboard can be placed both horizontally and vertically leading to great customization. If you are a person who gets bored by the same style very soon, this feature will spice things up for you.
The casing comes only with a 200 mm fan at the front but due to a large width, the cooling options for this casing are formidable. With a total of thirteen fan placements at your disposal, you can couple it with even the most power-hungry components without having a thermal throttle. The I/O panel of the case is located on the lower right side and we feel that this is the perfect placement for an I/O panel, as the front of the case does not get tangled with wires.
The case provides so much space inside that unless you have a lot of components, the empty-look might be considered as a disadvantage. The casing also introduces the concept of chambers with the upper chamber dedicated for efficient cooling while the lower chamber is used for power supply and holding cables. Speaking of cables, this case could have been much better if the manufacturer would have used a PSU shroud, as the direct look on the cables from the side panel feels awful.
The casing provides great temperatures with both horizontal and vertical motherboard placement and can be easily coupled with custom loops if you are into such stuff. There is absolutely no product like this which would provide such features in this range and unless you do not like the cube form of this case, you should definitely look into it.
4. Cooler Master Masterbox Q300P
Our Rating: 9/10
- The pre-installed RGB fans present exquisite looks
- Provides extensive portability with removable handles
- Extremely light-weight design results in easy handling
- The side panel and the front panel are easily scratchable
- The case administers scant airflow
Form Factor : Micro-ATX tower | Motherboard Support: Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX | Dimensions (W x H x D) : 230 mm x 453 mm x 453 mm | Weight : 14.1 lbs | Radiator Support : 120 mm, 240 mm | I/O Ports : 1 x Audio/Mic, 2 x USB 3.0 | 2.5” Drive Bays : 2 | 3.5” Drive Bays : 1
Cooler Master Masterbox is the company’s latest casing lineup and provides many interesting cases. Masterbox Q300P is a compact, small and light-weight case which makes it very much portable. The casing provides removable handles on the top while a similar design is used at the base as feet of the case. The main body of the case is made out of steel but the exterior of the case is cheap plastic, which can be easily damaged, although this is totally fine considering the price of the case.
The casing comes with three 120 mm RGB fans, where two of them are installed at the front and one is installed at the rear. There is space for two more fans at the top and one fan at the bottom. A unique feature of this case is the modular I/O panel, which can be placed at three different locations on both sides. This results in great ease of use and the user can easily adjust it as per personal preference.
We found the airflow to be rather disappointing which seems to be the result of edge to edge front panel. Things would have been much better if it would have featured a mesh front panel but in the current case, one can only increase the airflow by using the additional fans. Apart from the looks of the case, if you move your setup a lot, especially for gaming parties, this case will provide a valuable service to you.
5. Inwin 301
Our Rating: 8.5/10
- Offers a simplistic yet efficient design
- No fans are included in the case by default
- Pricey for the provided feature-set
- Provides limited storage options
- There is no sign of cable management anywhere
Form Factor : Micro-ATX tower | Motherboard Support: Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX | Dimensions (W x H x D) : 381 mm x 209 mm x 390 mm | Weight : 14.4 lbs | Radiator Support : 120 mm, 240mm | I/O Ports : 1 x Audio/Mic, 2 x USB 3.0 | 2.5” Drive Bays : 2 | 3.5” Drive Bays : 1
Inwin is getting popular day by day. The reason for this popularity is the unique designs of the casings manufactured by the company. Inwin 301, however, does not feature much of a unique design and offers a plain and simple look. This is a shock-proof case as it uses 1.2mm steel construction.
The casing comes with no fans, which feels a bit strange as there should have been at least one intake and one exhaust fan. It supports a maximum of five fans, with two at the front, one at the rear and two fans at the bottom. With this configuration, you might have guessed that the case provides no support for fans at the top. The I/O panel is located at the front and is lit by LED lights, which feels a little mismatching with the theme of the case.
We observed a bit of an issue with airflow and since the top of the case is sealed, the hot air feels to be trapped inside the case. Although some of the hot air was exhausted through the right side panel, the air flow cannot be administered through those vents, which is why we will say that the cooling of the case is subpar. This can be improved if you plan to use AIOs or a low-end system, in which case this casing holds a good value considering the clean aesthetics of the case.
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Prices taken/valid at the time of review.