Here at Tech News Today, we’re dedicated to keeping our readers educated and informed.
Today, we’ll be finding the smallest Micro ATX case for 2021, and walking you through our top five favorite picks.
Whether you want the best MATX case or just a great Mid Tower ATX PC case in general, stick around. We’re here to help.
Best Smallest MATX Case for 2021
|Case||Dimensions||GPU Clearance||Cooling Options||Score|
|InWin 301 Black Tempered Glass Case||14.6 x 7.4 x 14.3 inches||330 mm||Up to 3 case fans, |
1 with a 2-fan radiator
|Corsair Carbide Air 240 Case||15.6 x 10.2 x 12.6 inches||290mm||Up to 3 case fans, |
1 with 2-fan radiator
|Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L||15 x 9.1 x 15.2 inches||360mm||Up to 6 case fans,|
4 with a 2-fan radiator
|Corsair Crystal 280X RGB Case||15.67 x 10.87 x 13.82 in||280mm||Up to 6 case fans,|
4 with a 2-fan radiator
|Thermaltake Core V21 Case||13.2 x 12.6 x 16.7 inches||350mm||Up to 7 case fans, |
5 with a 2-fan radiator (front 200m fan included)
Smallest MATX Case Reviews
Now that you have the basic information about our cases, let’s go into more detail on each.
InWin 301 Black Tempered Glass Case Review
First up, our pick for the list: the InWin 301!
The InWin 301 is a genuinely impressive piece of hardware. Don’t let its tower orientation fool you: it’s actually the smallest of all the cases on this list, even if it doesn’t immediately look like it.
When buying from lesser-known manufacturers, it’s always good to be conscious of quality. Fortunately, InWin didn’t use their lower profile to skimp on build quality: this case boasts a sleek aesthetic and a tempered glass side panel. The InWin 301 looks just as good, if not better than competing options from other manufacturers.
In terms of features, users are pretty well-taken care of. There are two USB 3.0 ports on the front to supplement the ports on your motherboard, and if you opt for the 301C, you also get an additional Type-C port. 301C is virtually identical to the main 301 case, but is an ideal pick for those using devices with Type-C connectors.
While we’d love to keep singing this case’s praises, there is one key downside worth noting: cable management sucks. There is no dedicated compartment for cable management in this case, so a modular PSU is essentially a required purchase. Zip ties may also be a smart investment if keeping your case internals looking clean is a priority.
Since cable management is difficult and this case is so small, it also isn’t very friendly to first-time builders. While experienced PC builders won’t have a problem assembling their build in this case, newer ones may need a helping hand or a lot of time.
- The smallest dimensions of the bunch
- Excellent build quality
- A sleek aesthetic, with a great tempered glass side panel
- Liquid cooling compatibility
- Plenty of room for larger GPUs
- Not a lot of room for case fans
- Not friendly for new builders
- No cable management compartment
Corsair Carbide Air 240 Case Review
The Corsair Carbide Air 240 is a fairly solid chassis. While it isn’t quite the smallest pc case, it does come close, all while offering a litany of superb extra features for a better building experience.
Let’s talk building experience first: the Carbide Air 240 will probably be the most beginner-friendly case on this list. There is a massive compartment set aside just for drives, cable management, and the PSU. This makes it easier than ever to create a visually-pleasing PC build, even if you don’t have much experience.
The cooling on this build is incredible, too- the “AIR” name is not a misnomer. Even if you decide to go without water cooling, there’s enough room for fan mounts on this case that you’re pretty much guaranteed to have excellent airflow- even a basic 3 fan configuration should perform wonderfully!
Aside from the building experience and cooling, the rest of the case’s appeal boils down to personal preference. The build quality is great, and the expected features, like USB3 ports, are there. However, you may choose to opt for a different color…or the RGB version, which we’ll discuss in more detail later on in the article.
As much as we like this case, however, we do need to point out the problems it has.
The most major issue is GPU clearance. If you add a liquid cooler, you’ll lose a good bit of GPU clearance…roughly ~15mm, by our estimation. This means that GPUs that are a bit longer than reference designs won’t quite fit in the case unless you opt for a smaller radiator or make some serious adjustments.
In addition to that little hiccup…the price is a little bit much for what you’re getting. While the quality is great, it’s fairly clear that part of the price tag is for that Corsair branding.
- Great build quality and general aesthetic
- Amazing cooling potential
- Plenty of room for full-sized GPUs
- Dedicated compartment for PSU/drives/cable management for an easy building experience
- Plenty of room for extra drives
- Radiator mounting will interfere with longer-than-standard GPUs
- Corsair name brand comes at a price premium
- A bit larger than our smallest MATX case
Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L Case Review
This is probably the most well-balanced case on this list.
As the “Cooler Master” name may imply, your cooling solutions in this chassis are pretty full-fledged. There’s plenty of room for case fans- up to six if you decide to forego a liquid cooling setup! Even without a six-fan setup, the panels on this case are actually full of tiny holes for airflow, providing by far the best airflow setup we’ve ever seen.
(Don’t worry about the holes, by the way- the included dust filters are aesthetically pleasing, magnetic, and help prevent your airy build from becoming a dusty one.)
In addition to the solid cooling and sturdy build quality, you have an acrylic side panel. While it’s not as good as a proper tempered glass side panel, it does offer a respectable window into your build, and the IO can actually be mounted in any direction you please, making this build suited for multiple sitting positions.
The size of the case is a bit larger than the first two options on this list, but with an upside: this case has the best GPU clearance of all of the builds we’ve listed today, and thanks to its dedicated cable management compartment and size, it’s perfect for new builders.
In addition to all of those benefits…it’s pretty cheap, often the cheapest on this list.
There is, however, one catch worth noting.
While this case is fairly good overall, the quality control is…questionable. Many Amazon reviews indicate occasional problems with missing feet or loose bags of screws inside the case, resulting in a scratched side panel for one unfortunate reviewer.
While this didn’t happen to us, we still feel it’s important to make sure you’re aware of this issue. While our research indicates that Cooler Master will correct these problems when they arrive, it’s an unfortunate issue for such an excellent chassis to have.
- Great build quality
- A ridiculous amount of room for radiators and cooling fans
- Dedicated routing space for cables
- The side panel has I/O and can be mounted in any direction
- The most room for full-sized GPUs
- The plastic panel doesn’t quite meet the quality of tempered glass
- Occasional issues- some users report nonsecured cables and items inside the case when delivered, resulting in a scratched side panel. Cooler Master will issue replacements if this happens to you, though.
Corsair Crystal 280X RGB Case Review
“Hey, wait a second!” one of you might be thinking, “Isn’t this just an RGB version of that other Corsair case?”
Yes. It is.
Most of the things that we said about the Carbide Air 240 still apply here, but with the added addition of RGB. RGB lighting through Corsair’s software will allow a pretty much endless amount of lighting options for your build, allowing you to take your customization to an unprecedented level.
In addition to RGB, the panels have been replaced with tempered glass for an even cleaner presentation (which is pretty much necessary for an RGB PC build).
Aside from those upgrades, the same things we said about the 240 generally apply here. However…
There are a few problems unique to this case.
First, to make room for the RGB fans up front, this case is actually larger. Not by a whole lot, but by a noticeable amount if you place them side-by-side. Unfortunately, this problem hasn’t helped with GPU clearance…in fact, default GPU clearance is now even shorter than on the 240, despite the fact the overall case is larger!
Also, it’s going to cost an extra kidney for that RGB lighting, but you probably expected as much.
- Amazing build quality
- Amazing cooling potential
- RGB fans offer a deeper level of customization
- Three tempered glass side panels for showing off your rig
- Enough room for a full-sized GPU
- Larger than its non-RGB cousin on its list, but with less GPU clearance
- Extremely pricey
- Radiator mounting will interfere with GPU clearance- smaller or reference GPUs recommended
Thermaltake Core V21 Case Review
Last but not necessarily least is the Thermaltake Core V21, one of the most popular budget MATX cases. Taking a look at it, it’s easy to see why: the price is low, the cooling options are plentiful, and it looks pretty clean.
If you don’t want to spend on extra case fans, you’ll be happy to know that this case also ships with a 200mm intake fan included. Pop in a radiator for your liquid cooled CPU and/or an exhaust fan, and you’re in business with a high-airflow system setup.
Like with the Corsair cube cases, the Thermaltake Core V21 is particularly friendly to newer builders, thanks to how roomy it is on the inside and how intuitive the cube form factor really is. This case even has some pretty good GPU clearance- just behind the Cooler Master build’s by a few millimeters.
If you want a budget pick from this list, this is your best bet.
However…this one is also the biggest, and if your goal is to get the smallest one, this isn’t that. It’s smaller than a lot of them, and in our top 5 recommended for small micro ATX PC cases, but its price and features come at a cost.
- Amazing value pricing
- Pretty great cooling
- Second-best GPU clearance
- Clean aesthetic, thanks to the side panel and tight construction
- Pre-installed 200mm intake fan ensures great airflow- plenty of room for additional exhaust fans and a radiator
- The biggest case on this list, by a considerable margin
How To Pick Your Micro ATX PC Case
Finally, you’re probably thinking- how did we pick these out, and how do you choose one?
The way we picked these out was pretty simple: we stuck to reputable brands and found the smallest, but most high-quality options that we could. The result was this list, with the particular highlight of the InWin 301 as our winner.
If all you need is the smallest micro ATX PC case, go ahead and grab the InWin 301. It’s the smallest and it’s high-quality, but we recommend having help from an experienced builder if you aren’t one.
The rest of the cases on offer are all pretty beginner-friendly, especially the Corsair Air 240 and the Corsair Crystal 280X. If you want to spend more for prettier looks or an easier building process, we recommend grabbing one of these.
If you want to balance features with pricing, then the Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L and the Thermaltake Core V21 are your best options. These may not be the smallest overall, but they are friendly enough to first-time builders and much less expensive than the other options provided on this list.
Can I fit full-sized GPUs into my case?
For the most part, yes.
While Micro ATX and Mini ITX Cases are both focused on providing PCs with smaller form factors, Micro ATX serves as more of a middle-ground between ATX and ITX. This means that most full-sized GPUs (10 inches or shorter) will fit into most Micro ATX cases just fine, often with room to spare.
However, some longer GPUs, especially triple-fan designs, may not fit as neatly. If you’re uncertain that your GPU will fit inside your case of choice, just play it safe and find out what your case’s clearance actually is.
Will my components have enough cooling?
If you go with one of the cases we’ve recommended, yes.
All of the cases that we’ve recommended above have great thermal performance and airflow. As long as you aren’t running a nuclear reactor inside one of them, your temperatures should be very manageable. A high-efficiency PSU and a liquid cooling setup reduce your temperatures even further.
Do I need liquid cooling?
No, but it is highly recommended for smaller PC builds.
The basic components of a closed-loop liquid cooling system are its radiator, which usually takes the place of two case fans, its tubing, and the cooler that you actually mount against your CPU. Since all of the heat is being exhausted through the radiator, the cooler that connects to the CPU is very low-profile, moreso than any air cooler could hope to be.
Since most MATX and ITX cases have a thinner width and room for mounting a radiator, liquid cooling setups are particularly ideal. They are not a necessity, however- if you want air cooling, you’ll just need to get one with a smaller heatsink.
What compromises should I expect in a smaller case?
Aside from the aforementioned air cooler issue, not as many as you might expect.
Most popular MATX and ITX cases are made with full-sized GPUs in mind, for instance. As long as you’re buying GPUs that aren’t overly-massive, you likely won’t have any issues.
The main compromises are with multiple GPU setups and multiple hard drives. Fortunately, the former is generally obsolete, so you won’t be losing too much by forgoing it. Multiple hard drives are useful, however, and your average M-ATX case won’t have room for mounting more than a few.
As long as you aren’t running an SLI or RAID setup from your MATX or ITX case, you should be just fine.
Did you find the smallest case for you?
We hope this article helped you find the smallest micro ATX case for your needs- but if it didn’t, comment below and let us know! We’d be delighted to help you find the right case for you.
If you did like this guide and want to see more like it, let the world know! Share us on Facebook or Twitter, or just pass along the link to your friends. Anything helps!