Building a powerful but compact PC is easier than ever thanks to innovative small form factor cases. Even full-size ATX components can fit inside tiny footprints rivaling gaming laptops!
In this guide, we‘ll showcase the 5 best smallest ATX cases for compact PCs. You‘ll learn which models excel at portability, features, cooling, and style. With the right mini ATX case, you can enjoy desktop-class performance anywhere.
To start, let‘s overview what to look for when buying one of these tiny cases…
Key Factors in Mini ATX Cases
The most important factors for small ATX cases include:
Dimensions – The smallest mini towers are around 15 inches tall but still accommodate ATX motherboards and full-length GPUs. Measure the height, width, and depth to find your ideal compact case.
Cooling – More fans, radiator mounts, and ventilation provide the airflow needed to prevent overheating in tight spaces. Look for mesh panels and support for 200mm+ fans.
Cable management – Features like rubber grommets, dedicated channels, and straps make tidying cables much easier when space is limited.
Materials – Durable steel and tempered glass add resilience while aluminum and plastic reduce weight for transporting your PC.
Appearance – Many mini cases include stylish minimalist aesthetics and RGB lighting for showcasing your small but mighty build.
Component support – Ensure there‘s adequate room for your particular motherboard size, graphics card length, CPU cooler height, and power supply type.
Prices – Quality compact cases range from $50 budget models to $150+ high-end options. Avoid the cheapest ones with flimsy materials.
Let‘s check out reviews of my top 5 smallest ATX case recommendations…
#1 Pick: NZXT H210i – Feature-Packed Small ATX Case
My top choice for mini ATX cases is the NZXT H210i for its perfect blend of quality and features. This stunning case measures just 16.85 x 8.27 x 16.85 inches but packs a mighty punch!
With steel construction plus a tempered glass side panel, the H210i is as durable as they come. It weighs a transportable 15.4 pounds. The sleek minimalist look suits any desk or living room setup.
Cooling – Two pre-installed high-performance Aer F120mm fans provide ample airflow. There‘s also room to add two more fans or a 240mm radiator for liquid cooling.
Appearance – Integrated RGB lighting behind the front panel creates tasteful accent lights to show off your build. The cable management bar contributes to the streamlined interior look.
Storage – There‘s storage for up to four 2.5-inch SSDs or two 3.5-inch HDDs to handle games and media files. The power supply basement offers room for two more drives.
Ports & Connectivity – Front panel connections for USB 3.1 Type-C and four USB 3.0 ports provide fast access. The 3-pin fan and RGB headers support additional lighting and cooling.
With space for full ATX power supplies and graphics cards up to 325mm long, the NZXT H210i truly makes the most of its micro size. For a feature-packed mini-ITX case, it‘s hard to beat!
Dimensions: 16.85 x 8.27 x 16.85 inches
Weight: 15.43 pounds
Overall rating: 5/5 stars
#2 Pick: Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L – Budget-Friendly Small ATX
The Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L is a wallet-friendly mini ATX case starting at just $54.99. But don‘t let the low price fool you – it‘s built well and supports full-sized components!
Despite costing half as much as many competitors, the Q300L doesn‘t feel cheap. The sleek dark tinted side panel and mesh front panel look great and promote airflow.
Cooling – A pre-installed 120mm fan plus room for up to five additional fans or two radiators keeps temps low across GPUs and CPUs.
Convenience – Thoughtful touches like the movable I/O panel, graphics card support bracket, and open split interior design simplify building and upgrading.
Specs – Despite its micro size of 14.09 x 6.89 x 14.37 inches, this case supports full ATX power supplies, tower CPU coolers up to 156mm tall, and graphics cards up to 360mm long.
Portability – At 9.48 pounds, the Q300L is easy to transport to LAN parties or a friend‘s place to show off your compact gaming rig.
For budget-focused buyers looking for a flexible, no-frills micro or mini ITX case, the Cooler Master Q300L delivers excellent value.
Dimensions: 14.09 x 6.89 x 14.37 inches
Weight: 9.48 pounds
Overall rating: 4/5 stars
#3 Pick: Thermaltake Core V1 – Cube-Shaped Compact ATX Case
If you want a uniquely compact case, check out the near-cubical Thermaltake Core V1 measuring just 10.24 x 10.71 x 12.64 inches.
The cubed shape minimizes footprint while providing ample interior space. Despite being the smallest case on this list, the V1 incredibly supports extended ATX, ATX, micro ATX and mini ITX motherboards!
Cooling – A high-airflow 200mm intake fan plus dual 80mm exhaust fans keep all components chilly. The open layout prevents hotspots.
Style – Available in crisp black or bright white, the iconic cube styling looks stunning displayed on any surface.
Design – Tool-free mounting, an open layout, removable dust filters, and side I/O panel boost functionality. The cubes 17.2 liter volume holds more than it appears!
Storage – Dual 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch combo drive trays allow ample mass storage for games and media.
Whether sitting horizontally or vertically, the Thermaltake Core V1 makes a bold statement. For a uniquely compact and capable ATX case, it can‘t be matched!
Dimensions: 10.24 x 10.71 x 12.64 inches
Weight: 9.92 pounds
Overall rating: 4/5 stars
#4 Pick: Corsair Crystal 280X – Most Compact Full ATX Case
The remarkably small Corsair Crystal 280X proves you can fit full ATX builds into tiny spaces! Measuring just 13.8 x 10.9 x 15.7 inches, it supports the latest powerhouse components.
Despite its footprint resembling micro ATX cases, the Crystal 280X fits full-length GPUs, ATX motherboards, standard PSUs, and sizable liquid cooling radiators – perfect for a compact gaming rig or workstation.
Cooling – Three included SP140 RGB LED fans provide vivid lighting and high airflow. There‘s room for up to six fans or multiple large radiators up to 280mm or 360mm.
Appearance – Stunning curved dual tempered glass side panels showcase your high-end hardware through the clear panels.
Convenience – Removable fan trays and air filters allow quick access to clean and maintain the compact interior with no struggle.
Specs – This small case can house full-sized graphics cards up to 300mm long, CPU coolers up to 150mm tall, and ATX power supplies – virtually no limits for top hardware!
For packing maximum performance into 13.8-inches of height, nothing beats the Crystal 280X‘s full ATX support. It‘s the ultimate compact case for desktop-level power!
Dimensions: 13.8 x 10.9 x 15.7 inches
Weight: 21.06 pounds
Overall rating: 5/5 stars
#5 Pick: Fractal Design Define Mini C – Airflow-Focused Compact Case
Our final pick, the Fractal Design Define Mini C is specially designed for maximum airflow in its micro ATX 14.09 x 8.27 x 15.55 inch frame.
Despite being compact and just 16.3 pounds, smart interior layout allows the Define Mini C to support full-length GPUs up to 315mm, tall CPU coolers up to 170mm, and full ATX power supplies up to 165mm long.
Cooling – An open mesh front panel intakes cool external air. The removable top bracket can mount up to three 120mm or 140mm airflow fans or radiators.
Acoustics – Dense noise-dampening material throughout the panels reduces fan and component noise for distraction-free gaming.
Filters – Washable high-density dust filters on the front intake and side vents maintain positive pressure airflow while trapping particles.
Style – A sleek minimalist Scandinavian design with an aluminum front panel suits any location. Details like drive activity LEDs and a blacked-out window create an upscale look.
For a finely tuned micro ATX case engineered for airflow, quiet operation, and high-end hardware support, the Fractal Define Mini C is a superb choice.
Dimensions: 14.09 x 8.27 x 15.55 inches
Weight: 16.31 pounds
Overall rating: 4/5 stars
Just How Small Can You Go with ATX Cases?
As you‘ve seen, innovative case designs allow packing ATX motherboards and components into impressively compact dimensions. But what are the absolute smallest ATX case sizes?
Standard mid-tower ATX cases are typically around 18-22 inches tall. Full tower cases stretch even larger.
But small form factor (SFF) cases have pushed the lower limits. Cube-shaped cases like the 10.2-inch Thermaltake Core V1 maximize a tiny footprint. Compact towers like the 14-inch Raijintek Styx are among the shortest traditional ATX layouts.
Truly mini ITX cases under 10 inches tall like the Dan A4-SFX can even house modified ATX builds with carefully selected components. CPU cooler height under 45mm and length limits around 185mm for the PSU and 210mm for graphics cards become critical.
Eventually, the width of ATX motherboards, required PCIe slots, and common GPU/CPU cooler sizes impose practical minimums for traditional tower or cube designs. But as components shrink, expect ATX cases to follow into ever more compact dimensions!
Building in Mini ATX Cases – Easy or Challenging?
Small ATX cases don‘t have to be harder to build in. But smart design is required to make the process straightforward.
For example, the NZXT H210i reviewed above has pre-routed channels and straps for organizing cables neatly even in tight confines. Its steel bar holds down straggler wires. And removable filters provide great access rather than painfully fishing around in back corners!
Other helpful features include distinct motherboard and drive chambers, bottom-mounted power supplies, and solid Divide interior layouts from Fractal and Cooler Master into separate spaces to route cables cleanly.
Avoid budget cases with solid front panels or drive cages obstructing interior access. Make sure your components like GPU length and cooler height aren‘t cutting things too close. With smart part choices and case design, small ATX builds can be a pleasure!
Transporting Mini ATX Cases – What to Consider
One of the biggest advantages of compact ATX cases is their easier transport to places like LAN parties. But what should you look for in a "transportable" case?
Size – Bulky giant towers are tough to move. Prioritize shorter cases under 20 inches tall and avoid cube sizes over 12-13 inches per side.
Weight – Look for cases utilizing aluminum, plastic or acrylic rather than heavy steel. Anything over 20 pounds becomes unwieldy.
Handles – Convenient handles integrated on the top make safely gripping and moving the case much easier.
Ruggedness – Sturdy construction and dense side panels prevent panels bowing inward or flexing during transit. Steel and tempered glass hold up better.
Components – Using compact Mini ITX GPUs, SFX power supplies and low-profile CPU coolers reduces weight and stress on the case.
Drives – Solid state SSDs withstand vibration/shock better than mechanical hard drives. M.2 drives avoid drive bays altogether.
With smart hardware selection and cases like the sub-10 lb NZXT H210i or Cooler Master Q300L, your gaming PC can hit the road along with you!
Balancing Noise, Heat and Small Cases
Excess noise and heat are often concerns with compact ATX cases. Thermals become trickier with less space between tightly-packed hot components.
Cheaper cases lacking in design details often result in loud fans constantly whirring on max speed trying to remove heat through solid steel panels.
But quality brands address noise and cooling challenges in clever ways:
Ventilation – Mesh front intakes and rear/top exhausts allow straight airflow paths without resistance.
Fans – Multiple large 120mm or 140mm fans run slower while moving more air. 200mm fans are ideal for front intakes.
Radiators – Supporting radiators and liquid cooling vastly increases cooling capacity over just fans.
Noise Dampening – Sound-absorbing foams and materials built into side panels absorb fan vibrations and noise.
Filters – Front and side air filters prevent dust buildup that can restrict airflow over time.
With smart thermal design small cases like the Fractal Define Mini C can run cool and whisper-quiet! Don‘t settle for a cheap noisy box.
Ready to Pick Your Mini ATX Case? My Top Tips:
Double check max dimensions for GPUs, coolers and PSUs against your existing hardware and plans.
More airflow and cooling options are better. Prioritize mesh panels and fan mounts.
Make sure the case matches the motherboard size you want, whether ATX, micro ATX or Mini ITX.
Well designed interiors have pre-routed channels, grommets and straps for easy cable management.
Look for integrated carrying handles and lightweight construction if you‘ll transport your PC.
Balance features against your budget. But very cheap models often have poor quality.
Carefully read reviews and interior photos to evaluate ease of building and hardware support.
Choose your preferred visual style – from minimalist, to flashy RGB, to uniquely compact.
I hope these smallest ATX case reviews and tips help you pick the perfect model for your needs. Compact desktops are the future, and these innovative cases prove you can pack full gaming and workstation power into tiny footprints!
Let me know if you have any other questions. Happy building!