When you are looking to build your gaming PC, the case isn’t usually the biggest deal. Most people care more about things like their GPU or CPU yet the case of a PC is what makes the appearance and size of the computer, many people want to have a customized RGB case, others don’t care about size but if you want to have a compact gaming computer you will need a case to match it.
We went ahead and examined, used and reviewed these Micro ATX cases to find the best and smallest ones for all your needs, be it home theater or small desk gaming.
|Name||GPU Clearance (mm)||Case Dimensions (in)||Weight (pounds)||Rating|
|InWin 301c Case||330||14.6 by 7.4 by 14.3||14||9/10|
|Thermaltake Core V21 Case||350||16.7 x 12.6 x 13.2||17||9/10|
|Lian-Li Case PC-O6SX||290||24 x 25 x 9||25||9.5/10|
|Fractal Design Meshify C||315||8.35 x 15.55 x 15.71||14||8.5/10|
What would you use a Micro ATX case for?
The cases that I am thinking about are Micro ATX or MiniITX cases, these cases are the smallest cases available on the market today, MiniITX cases are smaller than the smaller MicroATX cases but they also are quite cramped and the MiniITX cases are often quite limited in their hardware compatibility (with bigger GPU’s often not having enough space in a MiniITX case). MiniITX cases often overheat quickly and require more expensive cooling solutions. Micro ATX cases are a good balance of both but often times MiniITX cases are the only sizes available for people who want the smallest gaming PC or HTPC available.
MicroATX and MiniITX cases are also great for HTPC builds, having your PC have to fit into a small storage area under a TV often precludes the big and bulky cases that are required for a normal ATX motherboard. HTPC builds are becoming more common as TV prices drop and compatibility with computers increase, you can also find that MiniITX cases are getting more popular these days.
This begs the question, if you have available two small form factor cases and you have the freedom to choose why would you ever choose the larger form factor instead of the smaller one?
Micro ATX cases generally do not have major issues with hardware compatibility that MiniITX cases do, for example many MiniITX cases do not have the clearance for larger graphics cards. Some MicroATX cases also can support liquid cooling systems that a lot of enthusiasts like.
Without further ado, here is our list for the smallest Micro ATX cases for you to look at today.
Smallest Micro ATX cases
It looks quite large from the picture but it is actually 14.6 by 7.4 by 14.3 in. It’s a quite spacious case and it can be used in conjunction with a water cooling loop. The case features a tempered glass side panel that is quite resistant to damage and it also makes it look high end. The honeycomb formation on the back of the case is quite sleek and allows hot air to rinse out of the case quite easily, the InWin 301 is also one of the better built cases on this list with a metal build and a sturdy chassis.
In spacing, the InWin 301 has 330mm clearance for the GPU, the 160mm clearance for the heatsink. This is a decent amount of space but it won’t be able to do anything spectacular like dual graphics cards of anything of that nature. The larger InWin 303 case is slightly larger and will be better suited for that. For cabling this is the ONLY major issue on the InWin 301, cabling on the case is messy, chaotic and hard to organize. You pretty much need a modular PSU and zip ties to make this work. This makes it very annoying to perform upgrades on this case, you will have to make sure that your cables don’t possibly touch the motherboard in case something happens there. All in all, the cabling is just stupendously hard on this case.
The case comes with a tempered glass panel that enables you to look inside the computer as well as a honeycomb venting system. The aesthetics on the case are one of its strong points, you can also effectively add liquid cooling and possibly even RGB lighting to make it look even better.
The ThermalTake core V21 is a rectangular and compact Micro ATX case that offers great flexibility and is great for any HTPC build. It was designed so that it can be used both vertically or horizontally which makes it great for people who want to fit it in particularly odd confines. It has a 200mm fan on the front which ensures that the case is well ventilated and cooled all the time.
This case also can be used for liquid cooling according to some, which means that the internals of the case must be quite roomy. It has good GPU clearance and is quite good for beginners who are new to PC building. For the most part the cube form factor which might seem odd to some more experienced builders is quite intuitive for new builders.
The case is not the smallest case which makes this sometimes too large for some people, make sure to measure the space you have available and make sure that you have enough to fit this case if you are planning to buy this.
Thanks to the fact that this isn’t the smallest case, the cable management on the ThermalTake Core V21 is quite easy. It’s not really a big deal in comparison with smaller cases, the InWin 301 had a issue with cable management. It’s one of the issues that come with buying a very small case but the ThermalTake Core V21 has a pretty good balance between size and cable management (although a bit more to the size side).
Lian-Li Case PC-O6SX Review
This is an expensive case yet it also looks the nicest and happens to be the best case for some niche uses such as extremely slim, high end and wall-mounted computer builds. The side panel is tempered glass which makes this case quite heavy to carry (which was a nuisance for us). It’s thin profile is arguably what makes this case stand out so much compared to other cases, it features enough clearance for most graphics cards and it looks great for HTPC and high end enthusiast builds.
It is quite annoying to build in given the lack of internal space, you will need to be very careful while putting important components inside. It’s quite tall but it’s so slim that internal space is lacking, this is definitely NOT a case for a new person to PC building. It took a lot of time to build and it’s definitely an annoyance to upgrade components after they’ve been installed. There is some space to stuff excess cables which we found surprising given the lack of internal space that the rest of the case has. The LED is quite bright and it might be bothersome to many, there isn’t much room for more case fans and that can be annoying for people who want their computers to have cool temperatures.
The Fractal Design Meshify C is a good case and is as small as many of the other cases and it’s quite good for beginner builders who are looking to build their first PC or their first HTPC build with some very user friendly features.
The Fractal Design Meshify C is the easiest case to build in for a beginner, there are large open spaces for cabling, hard drives, the power supply and other components. It’s quite easy to make a aesthetically looking case with the beautiful colors and shape of the case even with little to no real experience with building a computer. It’s sleek, dark and even comes with a aesthetically pleasing glass side-panel which is what I liked a lot about it’s visuals.
The case comes with fan mounts and the required room to make cooling your computer quite easy, it also has a fairly good ventilation system and has great airflow so even pretty simple and cheap fans will work great in this case. Water cooling is also quite easy to set up given the space available in the inside of the case.
Beside the good features we already discussed such as the good ventilation system, the ease of building for beginners and the great aesthetics of the case. The overall build quality of the case is great, it is sturdy and made of high quality materials, it also has USB 3.0 ports and it has room for full sized graphics cards.
The GPU clearance is OK but if you add liquid cooling you will find the case somewhat cramped. It’s mid-range in terms of price and it also has a cool glass side panel which many more expensive cases don’t have. It is around the same size as most other cases here.
Overall, the good outweighs the bad by a decent amount for this case. If you are a beginner or are paranoid about screwing up your computer build, this case is great at alleviating your anxiety. The case has great ventilation and cooling, it looks great, it’s built better than most cases and it’s very user friendly for beginner builders. It is a great mid-range option with much of the same visual flairs and high build quality as the other cases on this list might get you, you do get a decent amount of internal room however and the case works wonderfully for HTPC builds.
Things to look for when you are purchasing a Micro ATX case
MicroATX cases have a decent amount of variety, after all it is simply a general size category and not a very specific category that ATX or Micro ATX or ITX are. They come in a lot of different varieties of sizes, aesthetics and specifications. For example many have enough clearance for a large GPU frame and some will not. Some will have space for a liquid cooling system while others are limited to simply normal cooling. You need to know your requirements and your system you are using before hand when looking for a Micro-ATX case.
There are not that many super established brands in the small cases market, there are a lot of smaller more niche players that try to be quite different on their own. This makes it quite difficult to find a “safe” option for your build. Although you should be quite happy with the fact that most of these cases will work absolutely find in almost all circumstances where space is limited. Space being limited doesn’t mean much if you have Micro-ATX or lower so it shouldn’t be too big of a problem unless you have an extremely tiny gaming area.
You will have to put these requirements in your mind when looking for a Micro ATX case. Look at the future of your computer, do you want to upgrade to a larger GPU? Do you want to have liquid or standard air cooling? Do you have any of these in mind? You will have to keep these in account while looking for a MicroATX case.
Some of the benefits of having a small case (MicroATX/MiniITX)
Regardless of what you intend to use it for, be it a home theater setup or a small gaming computer. Smaller computers add more flexibility to where you can store your computer setup and have it be easy to manipulate. You don’t have to worry at all about space when you have a Micro-ATX, if you still do check out our guide for a small Mini-ITX case (even smaller than the Micro-ATX)
Beware that the Mini-ITX is even more restrictive on what hardware you can use due to the small form factor of the motherboard being even smaller than the Micro-ATX. So you should take those factors into account when deciding to choose between a Mini-ITX and a Micro-ATX case.
We hope that this quick guide helped you find a good Micro-ATX to take home! Make sure to look at our guide for a Mini-ITX case for more information!