As far as cases are concerned, there are tons of options out there. Different sizes, designs, features. The only problem is that they all feel a bit, well – claustrophobic. And that’s where open-air cases come in.
Open-air cases are great for making some of the fanciest and most unique builds that one can find. All you need is imagination and the right tools.
While we can’t give you the gift of imagination and creativity, we can most definitely provide you with the right tools. Here are our 3 best open air cases in 2019!
As a case that generally costs $100+ USD, this is not exactly a budget option. But, compared to other open-air cases, it definitely is one of the cheapest that you can find.
It comes at a mid-tower size with support for Mini ITX, M-ATX, and ATX motherboards along with a tempered glass side panel that can be removed. So, apart from a standard case, it can also be used as a budget test bench.
As far as features are concerned, there’s plenty of room for CPU coolers, liquid-cooling with radiator support up to 420mm, literally endless room for big GPUs, 4 drive slots with 2 of them being hidden, and a lot of modularity for customizing the case to your liking.
That being said, do keep in mind that large liquid-coolers may limit your storage since the extra drive slots are placed on the same spot.
One small complaint that we have is the lack of fan support at the front of the case. Yes, airflow isn’t something to worry about with open-air cases as both the CPU and GPU have plenty of room to breathe in. But, that doesn’t apply for the motherboard’s VRMs.
Most motherboards are designed with airflow in mind. After all, most gaming systems have intake fans that keep mediocre VRMs at normal temperatures – and that’s clearly not the case here – no pun intended.
There is a small chance that this can be solved with 3D printing fan mounts. But, take that info with a grain of salt.
- Very cheap
- Plenty of modularity options
- Holds radiators up to 420mm
- Hidden drive slots
- Wall mounting is a welcome addition
- Very easy to print 3D accessories for it
- Fits Mini ITX, M-ATX, and ATX mobos
- Good for custom water loops
- Vertical GPU mounting is always a good option to have
- Lack of support for intake fans (Could be dangerous for those who have bad VRMs)
Unique – powerful design
The D-Frame is a case that offers a unique design that looks and feels heavy, well built, and sturdy. It’s frankly a case that you either love or hate.
Thankfully, unlike the Core P3, this one gives us the option of mounting some fans on it. We highly recommend adding at least one intake fan at the front or bottom of the case – your VRMs will thank you for it.
That being said, it also costs about 3 times as much. But, does it justify that price increase? Definitely depends on who you ask. Again, it’s something that you either love or hate.
As far as features are concerned, its strong point is modularity. The whole building process does end up being a bit time-consuming. But, in the end, you’ll be able to freely customize the overall positioning of the motherboard and components.
Do keep in mind that the case arrives in pieces and needs to be assembled. This is good for DIY customization, but it can also feel overwhelming for inexperienced builders.
If there’s one small complaint from us, then that’s definitely going to be the 240mm AIO support. Not only it’s small for a case that costs so much, but it’s also a tight fit – which means that you need to be careful with what you buy, or the radiator may not fit.
That being said, there’s plenty of room for custom water-cooling customization and the case is mostly targeted towards DIY enthusiasts anyway.
- Feels heavy and sturdy
- Very modular and DIY friendly
- Allows for installation of 120mm fans
- Unique design
- Vertical GPU mount
- Good for custom water cooling
- Not a lot of room for thick radiators
- Something so expensive should be able to hold a bigger radiator
Aggressive look and lots of room
The Conquer is another case that offers a very unique and aggressive design. It’s more of a semi-open case rather than one that fully exposes everything – or at least that’s how it is by default.
There is always the option of fully customizing everything. So, if you want to turn it into a full open-air case, sure – the option is there.
As far as features are concerned, there is plenty of room in there for creating custom water loops, 7 drives, 5 fans, and radiators up to 360mm. So, it’s definitely one of the most feature-rich cases in this list.
Modularity is a given while it allows you to remove the glass panels and the top which essentially gives us a ton of options for DIY customization.
Now, we don’t have any complaints with it. But, we do need to mention that it’s not nearly as open as Thermaltake Core P3 – and that can be a con for some people.
- Easier to work with compared to most open-air cases
- Unique design
- Offers the option of installing fans
- 360mm radiator support
- Plenty of space for custom water cooling
- More than enough room for bulky CPU coolers
- Offers more storage than most people will ever need
- Not the best option for those who want a fully open-air case
Things to Look Out for When Buying An Open Air Case
Open-air cases are by far the most bizarre type of case. There is so much freedom for original designs, DIY creativity, and ideas – which is exactly why targeting specific key points is so tough.
Still, with that being said, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Modularity: One of the go-to reasons for buying an open-air case is for extra customization. Make sure that your choice can live up to your expectations
- Design: Unlike other options, open-air cases do not allow you to hide ugly cable management and components. So, keep an eye out for cases that aren’t just feature-rich, but also beautiful
- Upgradeability: Open-air cases are designed to be, well, open. That removes most constraints and you won’t have to worry that much about clearances. But, if you like keeping the tempered glass panel on, do make sure that there is enough room for your components
- Cooling: Both the CPU and GPU are going to be exposed. So, there’s no need to worry about airflow. But, you do need to worry about the motherboard. Budget to mid-range mobos often offer bad VRMs that need require active cooling. So, consider adding an intake fan
Other than that, there are also some other standard stuff to keep an eye on, such as GPU clearance, PSU clearance, etc.
Went through our selections but still can’t choose a case? Here is what each one of them does best in a nutshell:
- Thermaltake Core P3: Full open-air design on a budget with a few modularity options and plenty of room for custom water cooling
- InWin Signature D-Frame: Sturdy build quality with tons of modularity options but comes with a high price tag
- Cougar Conquer: Offers a unique and aggressive design with lots of room for storage and plenty of modularity options
That’s all for now. Don’t forget to make sure that your hardware is compatible with these cases and making your own research before buying isn’t a bad idea either.