Custom loop water-cooling is one of the most effective and fun ways to cool your PC components. With the rise of powerful productivity CPUs and GPUs in recent years, it is now much more common for PC enthusiasts to put their PC components under a custom water cooling loop. This practice has been on the rise recently due to its complexity, elegance, and aesthetic brilliance. Not only does a custom water-cooling loop provide efficient cooling performance, but it does so while turning your PC into a beautiful showcase masterpiece. However, getting the best cases for water cooling is not exactly a simple task.
There are some obvious drawbacks of custom water cooling though. Apart from being very expensive and hard to build, a custom water cooling loop also requires a lot of space inside a PC case. Building a custom loop is hard enough on its own and you do not want to practice this technique inside a small chassis. Therefore, PC Case manufacturers have identified this ever-growing need in the market and have designed several beautiful PC cases that are perfectly suited for water cooling builds. Not only are these computer cases beautiful on their own, but they also provide a canvas for your custom water cooling loop to be showcased in its most elegant state. So it’s also important to know the differences between an AIO and custom water cooling loops.
Best Cases for Water Cooling You Can Buy Today
|1||LianLi O11 Dynamic XL||Best Overall Case for Water Cooling|| |
|2||Corsair Crystal 570X RGB||Best Compact Case for Water Cooling|| |
|3||Thermaltake Core P8||Best Full Tower Case for Water Cooling|| |
|4||Thermaltake Tower 900||Best Showcase for Water Cooling|| |
|5||Phanteks Enthoo 719||Best Alternative Case for Water-Cooling|| |
|Product Name||LianLi O11 Dynamic XL|
|Award||Best Overall Case for Water Cooling|
|Product Name||Corsair Crystal 570X RGB|
|Award||Best Compact Case for Water Cooling|
|Product Name||Thermaltake Core P8|
|Award||Best Full Tower Case for Water Cooling|
|Product Name||Thermaltake Tower 900|
|Award||Best Showcase for Water Cooling|
|Product Name||Phanteks Enthoo 719|
|Award||Best Alternative Case for Water-Cooling|
Last Update on 2022-05-17 at 10:41 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Although it is possible to implement water cooling with budget PC cases, we still want you to know what your options are. PC cases that are made with water cooling in mind tend to be better at their job. Watercooling PC cases come in all sizes at different prices so to make it easier for the average Joe we have come up with this roundup. In our opinion, these are the 5 best pc cases for water cooling in 2021. Let’s get started!
1. LianLi O11 Dynamic XL
Best Overall Case for Water Cooling
- Beautiful Tempered Glass Design
- Built with Water Cooling in Mind
- A Lot Of Fan Mounting Options
- Room for Three 360mm Radiators
- Spacious And Easy To Work In
- Not For New Builders
- Unconventional PSU Layout
Form Factor: Full-Tower | Dimensions: 471 x 285 x 513 mm | Radiator Support: 120mm, 140mm, 240mm, 280mm, 360mm | Front Panel: 4x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1 type-C, 1x HD audio | Motherboard Support: E-ATX, ATX, Micro-ATX, mini-ITX
One of the finest cases on the market right now is the Lian Li O11 Dynamic XL which also happens to be the best computer case for custom water cooling you can buy right now (in our opinion at least). The O11 Dynamic series has been hugely successful ever since its release and it has now gained almost legendary status among PC builders due to its unique design, amazing features, and spacious interior. The PC case has been designed in a partnership with renowned overclocker “Derbauer” also known by his community name of der8auer. He has ensured that the case is specifically designed with high-performance PC components in mind and that ties in nicely with custom water cooling builds.
The O11 Dynamic XL is a full tower chassis that measures 471 x 285 x 513 mm and weighs 11.6kg when empty. The computer case supports E-ATX, ATX, Mini-ITX, and micro ATX motherboards so you can have any consumer desktop motherboard easily installed in the chassis, although for aesthetic purposes we recommend avoiding motherboards smaller than standard ATX in this PC case. The unique feature of the Lian Li O11 Dynamic has always been its beautiful tempered glass design which is seamless both in the front and the side. This design has been chosen because the O11 Dynamic does not depend on its front side for airflow.
Speaking of airflow, this case has plenty of airflow options to satisfy the cooling needs of high-performance hardware. There are two main areas in this case that should be used to install intake fans. Not only does the O11 Dynamic XL have fan slots along the bottom of the case, but it also has fan slots on the right side of the motherboard tray. These areas can accommodate 3 120mm fans simultaneously and they can also be used to mount the water cooling radiators. The case supports radiators from 120mm all the way up to 360mm in 3 different areas.
The area on the right of the motherboard tray can also be used to install a water cooling distribution block, with tubes running along the length of the computer case to the heat-generating components. This approach not only creates a beautiful and organized water-cooling loop but also helps in improving the overall aesthetics of the build. Whatever approach you choose, the Lian Li O11 Dynamic XL is the best overall case for water cooling and you will not be disappointed.
2. Corsair Crystal 570X RGB
Best Compact Case for Water Cooling
- Spacious Interior
- Beautiful Aesthetics
- 3 RGB Fans Included
- Easy To Work In
- Great Airflow
- A Bit Pricy for a Mid-Tower
- Might Be Constricted In Space
Form Factor: Mid-Tower | Dimensions: 234 x 480 x 512mm | Radiator Support: 120mm, 140mm, 240mm, 280mm, 360mm | Front Panel: 2x USB 3.0, 1 x HD audio/mic | Motherboard Support: ATX, Micro-ATX, mini-ITX
If building a custom water cooling loop inside a big full-tower case is not your preference then you might want to look at some mid-tower options that can accommodate the loop well. There are not a lot of cases in the mid-tower category that are built with custom water-cooling in mind due to the general lack of space, but there are some that fulfill that role perfectly. One of the best mid-towers for custom water-cooling is the Corsair Crystal 570X which is also one of the most beautiful and practical Corsair cases on the market.
Related Read: Soft Tubing vs Hard Tubing
The Corsair Crystal 570X is a mid-tower case which is great if you want to build a water-cooling loop but do not necessarily have the tablespace to accommodate a large full-tower case. Mid-towers also strike a good balance of price to features so that will be a favorable point for the 570X as well. The Crystal 570X measures in at 234 x 480 x 512mm and weighs 10.9kg when empty. It is an excellent case for custom water cooling as well as for traditional AiO or air-cooled builds due to its spacious interior, versatile features, and good airflow. This is why we nominate this PC case as the best compact case for water cooling.
One of the best features of the Corsair Crystal 570X is the integration of 3 120mm RGB case fans that are preinstalled as intakes in the case. Not only do these fans provide plenty of airflow for your components, but they are also compatible with Corsair’s iCUE software which can control their lighting to personalize your build. The Crystal 570X can also support radiators up to 360mm in length at 2 different places in the case which is great for custom water-cooling. Unlike full-tower cases though, the Crystal 570X does not have support for E-ATX motherboards which is not really a big deal for average builders.
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The case also comes with a PSU shroud and tidy cable management routes which can help to improve the overall quality of your build. For custom loops, the case can support multiple radiators in different positions and also has enough space to comfortably mount the pump and reservoir of the loop on the side of the motherboard tray. Not only that, the Crystal 570X is one of the most aesthetically pleasing cases on the market with its great implementation of dual tempered glass panels and integration of RGB fans.
All in all the Corsair 570X is a beautiful case that can accommodate some stellar custom water cooling loops despite being the best case for water cooling in mid-tower configuration.
3. Thermaltake Core P8
Best Full Tower Case for Water Cooling
- Huge Case
- 20 Possible Fan Mounting Options
- Space for up to four 480mm Radiators
- Lots Of Fan Mounting Options
- Extremely Expensive
- Mediocre Looks
- Heavy And Hard To Move
Form Factor: Full-Tower | Dimensions: 660 x 260 x 626mm | Radiator Support: 120mm, 140mm, 240mm, 280mm, 360mm, 420mm, 480mm | Front Panel: 1x USB 3.1 (Gen 2) Type-C, 2x USB 3.0, x 2 USB 2.0, 1 x HD Audio | Motherboard Support: E-ATX, ATX, Micro-ATX, mini-ITX
Moving on to some of the more insane cases in our roundup, we have the Thermaltake Core P8. This is one of the cases that is specifically designed for custom water cooling and any other form of cooling will not be suitable at all to this case. This is one of the most showcase-worthy cases on the market and you have to be really serious about custom water cooling in order to buy the Core P8.
The Core P8 is another full-tower case that measures in at a whopping 660 x 260 x 626mm and weighs around 22.6kg when empty. That is almost twice the weight of a Lian Li O11 Dynamic XL which is also a full-tower case. However, the Core P8 offers many more dedicated water cooling perks than the O11 Dynamic. Due to its large size, the P8 can easily accommodate an E-ATX motherboard as well in addition to the standard ATX, Micro ATX, and Mini-ITX boards.
When we talk about the water-cooling aspects of this case, this is where things get more interesting. The Core P8 can accommodate radiators of 120mm, 140mm, 240mm, 280mm, 360mm, 420mm, and even 480mm in multiple locations in the case. Not only that, this case has up to 20 possible fan mounting locations which can be used for standard 120mm case fans for airflow or even for radiators. This case also features a dual tempered glass design on the front and the side to showcase your beautiful water cooling build in all its glory.
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Speaking of the aesthetics the Core P8 is a rather extraordinary case due to its large size and lots of fan mounting options. When all the fans are populated in this computer case and the interior is well-lit with RGB lighting then it is one of the most beautiful sights in DIY PC building. Not to mention, the interior of the Core P8 is modular which means that you can change the actual components of the chassis itself in order to suit your own build layout which also helps tremendously in custom water cooling. The P8 can also accommodate a water-cooling distribution plate which can help in organizing the tubing runs of your loop.
Overall, the Core P8 is the best full tower case for water cooling that was designed with a singular goal in mind. The case is very expensive and heavy, so it does require a commitment from the buyer, but the end result is absolutely worth it.
4. Thermaltake Tower 900
Best Showcase for Water Cooling
- Tons of Space
- Can Support 560mm Radiators
- Great for Showcase PCs
- 3 Side Tempered Glass
- Very Expensive
- Unusual Looks
- Extremely Heavy
Form Factor: Super Tower | Dimensions: 752 x 423 x 483mm | Radiator Support: 480, 560mm | Front Panel: 4x USB 3.0, 1x HD Audio | Motherboard Support: E-ATX, ATX, Micro-ATX, mini-ITX
If you have the space for a PC case larger than a full-tower then you might be interested in some of the super-tower cases out there. These cases tend to provide the biggest, most spacious interiors for custom water-cooling and they are designed specifically with custom water cooling in mind. One of the finest super-towers on the market is the Thermaltake Tower 900 which is different than most PC cases in terms of its size as well as its design language. While most PC cases are rectangular boxes with narrow fronts and wide sides, the Tower 900 is a more boxy case that has a wide front and narrow sides which makes it the best showcase for water cooling.
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The Tower 900 can support E-ATX, ATX, Mini-ITX, and Micro-ATX motherboards and it measures 752 x 423 x 483mm. The dimensions are not the only thing about the Tower 900 that might seem over-the-top. This PC case weighs about 24.5kg which is more than twice the weight of a Lian Li O11 Dynamic XL. The Tower 900 is big for a reason though. It can fit any build imaginable under the sun although it might be a challenge to fit this computer case on your desk due to its size and weight.
In terms of water-cooling features, the Tower 900 is loaded. This case can support radiators of up to 560mm in length which is an utterly ridiculous size. Not only that, building a custom loop inside this case is a breeze due to its incredibly large size and well-thought-out design. The Tower 900 is also modular which means that you can change the inside of the chassis to fit your particular build exactly. The case also features RGB lighting controls which is a nice touch.
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All in all, the Tower 900 is a huge computer case that can be a good showcase piece if you have no problem with its price and weight. It is easy to build in, can accommodate huge radiators that no other normal case can, and has a unique boxy design that might appeal to your sense of style. It does require a strong commitment to custom water cooling though because at the end of your build this case might weigh well over 100 pounds.
5. Phanteks Enthoo 719
Best Alternative Case for Water Cooling
- Dual System Capability
- Easy To Work In
- Built-in RGB Lighting
- Plain Look
- Not Great Airflow
- Minimal Lighting
Form Factor: Full-Tower | Dimensions: 240 x 570 x 595mm | Radiator Support: 120mm, 140mm, 240mm, 280mm, 360mm, 420mm, 480mm | Front Panel: 1x USB 3.1 Type-C gen2, 4x USB 3.0, Microphone, Headphone | Motherboard Support: E-ATX, ATX, Micro-ATX, mini-ITX
One of the more reasonably sized cases for water cooling is the Phanteks Enthoo 719. This is a full-tower case that measures in at a reasonable 240 x 570 x 595mm and weighs 14.3kg when empty. The Enthoo 719 can also support motherboards from Mini-ITX all the way up to E-ATX which is a nice feature. It is a dual PC case as well, which is a niche genre. You can take a look at our selection for the best dual PC cases as well, if you’re into that category.
When it comes to custom water cooling , the Enthoo 719 is a decent choice due to its great radiator support, spacious interior, and dual-system capability. Yes, the Phanteks Enthoo 719 can hold 2 systems inside it due to its unique interior configuration, although some compromises will have to be made in regards to the relative size of the two motherboards. The PC case can support radiators of up to 480mm in length which is ideal for water-cooling builds.
Speaking of aesthetics, the computer case does appear a bit dull on the first view. Although it does have a neat RGB strip implementation on the front, the styling of the case itself is nothing particularly special. The front is closed off and you cannot really see the lighting of the case fans behind it as well. This defeats some of the purposes of a water-cooling chassis as aesthetics are a big part of custom loop builds. Still, the side panel is large and made up of thick tempered glass which can show off your build quite nicely from this angle. The closed front panel also means that the airflow in this chassis is not necessarily great, which also counters the purpose of water-cooling builds.
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Overall, the Enthoo 719 is a good alternative to the other options in this lineup if you are looking for a large full-tower for a water-cooling build, or if you are specifically looking for dual-system functionality. The tower is well-built and has a nice interior layout, but is pricy, a little plain-looking, and lacks good airflow so it is up to the end-user to decide whether or not the Enthoo 719 is worth the price. All in all, the Phanteks Enthoo 719 is the best alternative case for water cooling.
Custom Liquid Cooling vs. AIO Cooling
You might be wondering if you should stick with a regular AiO liquid cooler, or go with an expensive custom liquid cooling loop for the ultimate benefit. We are well aware of how both liquid cooling solutions work. One thing that should be made clear is that the AIO liquid cooling is not really on the same page as the custom loop because there are so many determinants that tip the scale in the favor of the custom loop, and at the same time, many determinants suggest that AIO liquid cooling is better.
If you want the answer from the perspective of an enthusiast, then with all things considered, the custom loop is a much better option than an AIO liquid cooler in terms of raw performance. In addition to the performance, you also get the benefit of aesthetics with a custom loop. Lastly, if you are one of those who own an enthusiast-level motherboard like these i9 9900k motherboards, then you might be better off with a custom water cooling solution as the custom loop can be inserted into the motherboard’s pre-installed water-cooling enabled heatsink for better temperatures of the VRM resulting in better thermal performance during overclocking.
However, this is not to suggest that the AiO liquid coolers are useless and should not be considered. If you do not have an unlimited budget for your build, then you should probably stick with AiO coolers, since the benefit in temperatures is not really relative to the additional cost. Moreover, custom liquid cooling loops have to be maintained as well, which is not really the computer PC case with regular AiO coolers. Keeping in mind these points, you should decide whether or not it is worth it to jump to custom loop liquid cooling for your build, or if you should just stick with regular closed-loop cooling.
Frequently Asked Questions
It depends. A custom liquid cooling loop is worth it if you want to improve the temperatures of your CPU drastically while also improving the overall aesthetic of your PC. Custom liquid cooling loops offer better cooling than AIO liquid coolers and are definitely an improvement over air coolers. Even though the loop setup can be a bit expensive, it can be worth it to switch to a custom loop for these benefits. However, if you are looking for the best price-to-performance ratio, then you might be better off with a standard AiO cooler.
Both have their benefits and their weaknesses. Air coolers are generally a bit cheaper and more convenient. They also have no liquid in them so there is no risk of any leakage if that was your concern. Water Coolers or AiOs on the other hand, often offer a bit more cooling performance and also look a little nicer. AiOs also offer a bit of an acoustic advantage but they also cost a bit more. Custom liquid cooling is even more expensive but offers better thermal performance than both other forms.
For beginners, it can be a bit of a challenge to maintain the custom loop in the long run. Nowadays, there are many products available on the market that decrease the likelihood of contamination in the loop, be it in the form of gunk/debris or in the form of bacterial growth. However, personal care and attention have no substitute and even a perfectly prepared liquid cooling loop would require a bit of maintenance from time to time. The degree of difficulty definitely depends on the person’s experience, but it becomes easier the more you do it.
A CPU water block handles the distribution of the coolant (water or other liquid) to the CPU in order to effectively cool it down. The water block also has tiny fins that increase the surface area of the metal that is contacting the CPU, thus improving the efficiency of the thermal transfer from the CPU to the coolant. A CPU water block is thus essential for the proper functioning of a custom liquid cooling loop.