These days, getting adequate airflow within a PC case is a strong priority among builders. Heat can shorten the life of components. With replacement parts facing supply shortages, maintaining cool temperatures is a smart move.
The easiest way to lower your temps is to use a high airflow case. You can still take other measures like paying attention to your fan configuration, using a beefy cooler, and even undervolting your GPU, but this style of case has the most dramatic effect. Think of it as a foundational move.
High airflow cases are everywhere now, so finding one isn’t a problem. Picking one, on the other hand, can cause decision paralysis. To help with the process, we’ve highlighted the top mid-tower airflow cases available. In terms of temps, you can’t go wrong with any of these suggestions. Instead, focus on the other features you might need or want.
Why does this roundup focus on mid-tower cases? They’re the most popular case size, striking an excellent balance of affordability, roominess, and good airflow.
The Lancool II Mesh isn’t as compact as other mid-towers, but that’s a feature with this case. You get plenty of room to work with, which not only makes installing components a cinch, but also accommodates a lot of gear. You can fit just about any part inside—the Lancool II Mesh is extremely accommodating of radiators of all sizes, and has generous clearances for GPU length and CPU cooler height. (Triple-slot vertical GPU mounting is supported too via an optional bracket.) You can also squeeze in up to nine storage drives, or about double that of many other rival airflow cases.
Yet despite these spacious accommodations, the Lancool II Mesh doesn’t look overly chunky or blocky. In fact, this mid-tower is rather striking, with four hinged panels. Two are tempered glass and show off the upper sections of the case, while the other two conceal the contents of the shroud at the bottom. Panels on the right side of the case help cover cable management, making for a clean appearance despite the exposure. Choosing the RGB or Performance version of this case doesn’t change this sleekness—it just determines the type of included fans and built-in controls that you get.
This affordable ATX mid-tower case’s signature feature—a modular front panel that can be swapped with other styles from the 4000D series—is what helps keep temps cool. Its stylized cutouts allow air from the two included 120mm fans to pass through freely.
You can add more fans, of course, and you may want to given how much you can fit into this case. The Corsair 4000D Airflow is roomy without being oversized, with space for smaller E-ATX motherboards and two-slot vertical GPU mounting. Longer graphics cards also fit easily, as do most CPU air coolers. And you can attach radiators to the front, top, and the rear, with common sizes all accommodated. (You’ll need to double-check your RAM height for a top-mounted 280mm AIO, though.)
The main drawback of this case is that you’re limited to just four drives max, with two dedicated 2.5-inch mounting brackets and a hard drive cage that can take either two 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch drives. But if the plan is to use at least one or two M.2 drives, most builders should have enough to work with.
Sometimes you don’t need a full tower, but just something a little bigger than today’s compact mid-towers. And you want it to look distinctive, too. Enter the Meshify 2, which not provides plenty of room without taking up too much space, but also sports a distinctive front mesh panel.
Like the Lian Li Lancool II Mesh, this case doesn’t require you to skimp on components (or downsize them) to make them fit. At approximately 1 to 3 inches deeper than the other rivals on this list, the Meshify 2 is the better choice if you love 360mm or even 420mm radiators. The top supports both sizes, while the front supports 360mm. The Lancool II Mesh only allows a front mount for a 360mm rad.
The Meshify 2 also offer ample quarters for storage and fans. Fractal gives you up to 14 universal spots for 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch drives, and up to four for dedicated 2.5-inch mounting. You can add up to nine case fans to keep everything cool.
The primary downside to the Meshify 2 is that its vertical GPU mounting is limited to two-slot cards—if you have your heart set on a fat GPU, you may be better served by the Lancool II Mesh and its optional three-slot vertical GPU mounting bracket.
People love the NZXT H510 for its clean lines and minimalist vibe, but for anyone who wants less of a severe, boxy look, the Phanteks P360A adds a few angles for more visual interest—while providing far better airflow and a lower price.
This is our pick for an affordable compact mid-tower case. It still has a clean, understated look, and its layout makes building in it straightforward. It also makes RGB affordable for anyone hoping to bathe their components in the glow of colored lights. Two 120mm DRGB (Phanteks’ name for addressable RGB) fans are included, along with a control button incorporated into the case.
Choosing between this case and the Corsair 4000D Airflow is more about size of the components you plan to install. For 360mm radiators, you’ll want the Corsair model—but if you’re not planning to use one larger than 240mm or 280mm, need a little more room for 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch drives, or want RGB included, this is the case to get. It’s actually slimmer than the 4000D Airflow as well, so it works better on cramped desks.
Vertical GPU mounting is supported, but does require a separate, optional bracket. It can accommodate three-slot GPUs, however, whereas the 4000D Airflow’s included brackets cap out a two.
Seeking high flexibility in a mid-tower case? Look no further than the Lian Li O11 Air Mini, which borrows heavily from its popular cousin, the O11 Dynamic, but makes airflow the priority.
Just one panel is tempered glass—all the rest are mesh. That allows you to attach fans and/or radiators to the front, top, side, rear, and bottom of the case. In combination with the case’s modularity, which includes a configuration that gives you tons of space up top with micro-ATX and mini-ITX builds, you have wide-open choice in how you mount your cooling. (You can read more about the O11 Air Mini’s modes and the many corresponding component clearances in our O11D Mini versus O11 Air Mini comparison, including those related to optional vertical GPU mounting.)
We actually recommend this case over the Lian Li O11 Dynamic Mini for most people, due to its better airflow and accommodation of ATX power supplies. That’s even despite the Air Mini having just one location where you can install up to three 120mm fans, and zero support for 360 radiators. With two 140mm fans at the front and a 120mm fan at the rear included, the Air Mini makes for a more affordable and practical PC build overall, while still serving as a showcase for tidy cable management and RGB accessories.
Alaina Yee is PCWorld's resident bargain hunter—when she's not covering PC building, computer components, mini-PCs, and more, she's scouring for the best tech deals. Previously her work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.