Mini-ITX cases are perfect for when you want to build a compact gaming rig. While they might not look as impressive as the tower ATX cases, they can still accommodate a powerhouse of a gaming rig. You just have to make sure that you buy one that is compatible with the latest processors and have large enough slots for the more powerful GPUs.
Plus they’re easy to move around, which is great when you have a wife that likes to re-arrange the layout of the furniture every so often.
Not sure about which small form factor PC case to buy? In this blog post, I'm going to review some of the best mini ITX cases you can buy.
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|Cooler Master MasterCase H100 Mini-ITX PC Case with 200mm RGB Fan, Fine Mesh Front Panel, Built-in...
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These days, you are very unlikely to find a 'best mini-ITX cases' list without any mention of NZXT. Over the years, they've become quite popular among gamers, including myself.
At 27 liters, the H210i is a bit larger than most ITX cases but it’s certainly not overbearing. Its design is very contemporary and sleek, and it comes with pre-installed channels and straps so that you don't have to spend a lot of time getting things set up. The fully tempered glass door on the side makes sure that everyone can view your handiwork once you're done.
The I/O panel on the H210i features one USB 3.1 Type C, one 3.1 size A, and a headphone jack. This means you're a bit limited when it comes to the number of peripherals you can hook. However, I've already got a USB hub so this wasn't much of a problem for me. If you plan on connecting charging cables, webcams, wireless Xbox controller receivers, and more, I'd highly recommend you get yourself a USB hub as well.
The H210i is very good at cooling your components. It's got 4 fans (2 in the front, 1 at the top and one in the rear) which you have complete control of thanks to NZXT's CAM software. CAM allows you to keep an eye on a lot of things, including the processor's clock speeds and bandwidth consumption and in-game stuff like FPS and GPU load. It also gives you control of the in-built RGB lighting so that you can customize it to your liking.
The NZXT H210i comes with the upgraded Smart Device V2. The Smart device is a little black box found behind the cable management bar and it's responsible for several different tasks. It handles the integration of RGB lighting and fan control and listens to the noise level and keeps an eye on the internal temperature and tweaks fan speeds accordingly. As a result, you could get a PC that performs well but also doesn't get too loud.
Lastly, the NZXT H210i does offer radiator support which means that you can set up water cooling. Water cooling can be useful if you plan on gaming for long stretches at a time and you want to make sure that things don’t run too hot.
The Core V1 Cube is one of the smallest ITX cases I’ve come across but it packs a lot of features in its compact body. First of all, the interior is segregated into an upper and lower chamber. The upper chamber is dedicated to cooling and performance while the lower is mainly for cable management. I found that this helped keep everything neat and organized, allowing me to easily switch things around later.
There's a lot of emphasis on cooling with the Core V1 Cube. It's got a large 200mm fans installed in the front with space enough for two 80mm aftermarket fans in the rear. It supports DIY air and liquid cooling systems as well. This case features a 'Drive Bay Design' which refers to the drive racks being removable. This frees up interior space, improving the performances of the cooling systems. Like the NZXT, the V1 Cube also supports radiators.
Thermaltake Core V1 Cube features a simple, clean I/O panel with two USB 3.0 ports and an HD audio connector. So, just like the NZXT H210, you'll need a USB hub if you plan on using anything other than a mouse and a keyboard.
With the Core V1 Cube, you can install up to two storage device modules and a graphics card with a maximum length of up to 285mm. This, unfortunately, means that you can't connect some of the larger graphics cards like my own NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. However, you should be able to plug in some of the mid-tier graphics cards and have a reliable mini ITX build that lets you play high-end games at lower resolutions. Plus it should run heavy applications without a problem.
Like the NZXT H210, this case from darkFlash is larger than most mini ITX cases. In fact, they're comparable in size. Also like the H210, the darkFlash Mini ITX tower comes with a tempered glass side panel that allows you to access the internal components easily and show off your rigging skills.
I got my hands on the DLM21 White unit and I liked the look of it. There's a polygonal design etched on the front panel that gives it a very three-dimensional feel.
Due to the increased size, the darkFlash can accommodate larger graphics cards like my RTX 2080i. So if you're a serious gamer but need a relatively compact mini ITX gaming case then this is an excellent choice in my opinion. In addition, it's got 4 expansion slots meaning that it'll support a few component upgrades in the future.
With the darkFlash Mini ITX tower, you'll have no trouble keeping your devices cool as it supports up to six fans (2 on top, 2 in the front, and 2 in the rear). Plus it also supports the installation of radiators in the top and rear of the case.
The I/O panel features a single USB 3.0 port and two additional USB 2.0 ports. So while it does have three ports for peripherals, I'd have liked to have at least two USB 3.0 ports. However, it's hard to complain given the price. In addition, you also get a headphone and microphone jack.
The very first thing you'll note about the Cooler Master H100 is the mesh ventilation on the front face of the case. This allows all the hot from the inside to escape more easily. In addition, the mesh is extremely fine which means that a lot of the dust will be filtered out.
While the case is Mini-ITX, it comes bundled with a full-sized ATX power supply. This means that it's compatible with more powerful hardware and it's going to draw power more efficiently.
The Cooler Case H100 comes with a 200mm RGB Fan so you don't have to spend time hunting an aftermarket fan. The case only supports one fan in the front but so far I haven't found this to be a problem. Thanks to the mesh ventilation, the internal temperature never seemed to get out of control and you could always install a radiator for greater reassurance.
I really appreciate the built-in handle on the top of the case. This came in handy when I had to put my rig in the car and transport it over to my friend’s house for a LAN gaming party. It’s one of the best mini ITX cases with handles that I’ve personally tried.
Perhaps the biggest downside with this case is that it only supports small graphics card sizes. Also, if you install a radiator, it cuts into the space allocated to a VGA. So without a radiator, you can install a graphics card that's 210mm in length but if you’ve got one set up, the space available gets further reduced to around 180mm.
The Fractal Design Node 202 features a very covert black design. It doesn't immediately draw your attention in like most cases with flashy RGB lighting, but that's not to say it doesn't look good. If you like minimalist designs, then you'll certainly appreciate the aesthetic that Fractal was going for.
The Design Node 202 can be set to either stand up or lie flat on your desk. This allows for greater flexibility when you're trying to decide how and where you should place your PC rig. It almost resembles a console when you have it lying flat on a surface.
If you prop open the case, you'll see that there are separate motherboard and graphics card chambers. This ensures that the heat doesn't build up in one area and that one doesn't intrude on the other. The graphics card chamber is big enough to house cards up to 310mm in length. This meant that I could easily fit in my RTX 2080i in there.
If you check around, you'll also notice several air filters that are used to keep the interior dust-free at all times. This case supports a maximum of two 120mm fans in the graphics card chamber which means that you can go in a gaming sprint without having to about overheating.
If I was on the market for a small form factor pc case, I'd most likely go with the darkFlash Mini ITX tower. First of all, with this mini ITX case full GPU or rather full-sized VGA support is guaranteed which means that I could easily fit my RTX 2080Ti in there. In addition, the case can keep everything cool, comes with four expansion slots for future upgrades and it definitely looks cool. It’s one of the top mini ITX cases out there, that I’ve had the pleasure of trying out.
While not all Mini ITX cases are suited for gaming, there are a lot of great options for a powerful build. There are a few limitations that commonly come with mini ITX builds. Firstly, most cases don't have enough space to accommodate larger graphics cards, as we've already seen. Also, they may have a limited number of expansion slots and due to the reduced space, more heat can build up.
That's why cool mini ITX cases like the one from darkFlash are very popular among gamers. It’s compact but still has support for large VGAs and gives you 4 expansion slots.
Simply look at the PCIe slot size listed in the product’s specs. You generally need a PCIe 3.0 x16 slot for the biggest cards out there. The greater the number after the ‘x’, the bigger the slot.
There are several things you can do. Firstly, you want to ensure that no components are blocking the air filters inside the case. Dust is one of the biggest contributors to overheating because it can get on your fans and weight them down. Also, they can block out vents. So if your case doesn’t already have any filters, make sure to clean out dust with canned air duster every so often.
In addition to this, you can try adding more fans and a radiator (if your case supports it) so that heat is dissipated much quicker.