Building a PC from scratch is an exciting process to undertake, particularly when it’s your first time. One of the big red flags that might arise as you begin accumulating parts is space, both inside the case and around your desk. To solve this problem, many people have started flocking towards horizontal PC cases rather than the traditional vertical tower case.
A major benefit to having a horizontal PC case is the flexibility you have on the interior; with more space, you can arrange your components closer to how you’d like them, and it makes upgrading a far easier process. With more space, you can also increase airflow, which will help your build in the long run.
In addition to that, some gaming desk setups offer little space below the desk to comfortably place your tower, but with a horizontal PC case, you can place the PC on the surface of your desk and place your monitor on top of it to maximize the space available.
In this article, I’m going to walk you through a comprehensive list of the best horizontal PC cases on the market today, and we’ll discuss what to look for when searching for horizontal PC cases.
What to Look For When Shopping for the Best Horizontal PC Cases
Shopping for a horizontal PC case can be overwhelming at first, but if you know what to look for, you can sift through the poor options and find a case that suits your needs easily.
Here’s what to look for during your search:
Before even considering a horizontal PC case, make sure that it can support the form factor of your motherboard. Similar to vertical chassis, the size of your case must be able to fit the size of your motherboard, and you need to be sure that there is enough space for the components you’ll be connecting to the motherboard during your build.
In order of largest to smallest, the current mainstream form factors for motherboards are ATX, Micro ATX, and Mini ITX. If this is your first time building a PC, check out this helpful guide that describes what a motherboard is.
Similar to the form factor, you want to be certain that the horizontal case you intend to use has the proper clearance for your CPU, GPU, and PSU. You can find the dimensions and specifications for these components on the manufacturers’ websites; the same goes for the dimensions of the chassis.
You want to be sure that there isn’t just enough space to squeeze everything in, but room enough to facilitate proper airflow and not restrict future upgrade possibilities. To reduce the need for space further, consider purchasing a CPU with integrated graphics.
Front panel features are always upgrading with new USB ports, headphone jacks, and power buttons, so if this is important to you then you want to check before purchasing a horizontal PC case. You can most often find the information for the front panel on the manufacturer’s website with the specifications.
Depending on your floor/desk space, the orientation of the chassis might affect your comfort when using your PC. Some horizontal cases work fine oriented multiple ways (vertical, horizontal facing left, horizontal facing right, etc.), while others only work while oriented one way.
Determine what will work best for your space and how versatile you want your case to be before purchasing anything.
Many of the latest-gen horizontal cases on the market offer special features, such as RGB lighting or built-in cooling systems. Compare the case(s) you want with the rest of the components you aim to buy; sometimes, you can cut costs by purchasing a chassis with the features you like already included.
Now that you know what to look for, let’s go over some of the best horizontal PC cases on the market right now, so you can apply what you’ve learned and start building that PC!
The Cooler Master HAF XB EVO is a spacious, highly-upgradeable horizontal chassis that supports all sizes of motherboards. It has ample clearance inside for total upgrade flexibility, but the compact nature of the case makes cable management a concern.
One of the main drawbacks to this case is that it does not include an RGB lighting setup or an air filter, which means that if you want those features, you may need to sacrifice something else or spend some time arranging everything properly.
Beyond that, this case is great for supporting the newest GPUs on the market, and it supports overclocking, which will appeal to AAA-title gamers. It comes with two built-in fans specifically for the purpose of overclocking, and there is clearance inside to support another fan. If you aren’t sure what overclocking is, or how to check for it, visit this helpful guide on how to check if your CPU is overclocking.
Another benefit to this case is its robustness, which helps to eliminate GPU sagging and PCIe card sagging.
What We Like
Size - This horizontal chassis is large, but not so large that you won’t be able to find a place to set it. The size also helps facilitate airflow, which will protect your components over the long run.
Clearance - This horizontal case has a 334mm GPU clearance, with 180mm clearance for the CPU and PSU each, thus allowing for easy upgrades in the future.
Capabilities - This case is perfect for gamers looking for overclocking capabilities, and its front panel comes equipped with a USB 3.0 port and HD audio support.
Know Before Buying
Price - The price of this PC case is on the higher end, though it is justified by the high-quality materials it is constructed from. However, if the budget is tight, there are cheaper options that will get you close to where you want to be for less money.
Lack Of Special Features - This horizontal chassis does not come with an air filter or an RGB lighting setup, so if you’re looking for a glitzy case that requires a little less work, this might not be the best case for you.
This is our choice for the best premium case, but don’t let that title fool you; this horizontal case from Thermaltake is only a bit more expensive than our best overall pick, and the gorgeous aesthetics and upgradeability are definitely worth it.
This beautiful horizontal case comes equipped with a 5mm pane of tempered glass for the top surface, and no sides. So, if you aren’t afraid of having your computer components exposed to the environment you live in, this case is a great way to increase the aesthetic appeal of your rig while simultaneously allowing for future upgrades.
I want to be clear: if you have nosy children, meddling pets, or poor ventilation, DO NOT BUY THIS CASE. It looks amazing on a desk, but the visual is not worth the financial repercussions of needing to replace your components because a drink spilled onto it or someone (or something) tampers with the glamorous temptation of your rig.
If that doesn’t apply to you, then this could be a great horizontal chassis for you. It disregards orientation limits by functioning as both a horizontal and vertical case, and you can even mount it to the wall!
It has enough space to fill with the newest generations of GPUs, with a GPU clearance of 320mm, as well as a CPU clearance of 180mm, and a PSU clearance of 200mm. This case will support all sizes of motherboard, and the open sides increase airflow tenfold.
What We Like
Versatility - With only one wall to worry about, this case is almost entirely customizable when it comes to component placement and cable management. The ability to orient this case both horizontally and vertically is an added bonus for people who enjoy flexibility in their setups.
Aesthetic - The 5mm tempered glass top and sleek design make this a visually appealing horizontal case for both owner and guests, and the ability to mount it to a wall allows for additional flair.
Material - This case is made from high-quality, SGCC-certified materials, which means the case itself will outlast your components by a longshot.
Know Before Buying
Exposure - The lack of siding on this case looks great, but it can be a real problem for people with dusty homes, or where airborne particles are densely populated. However, with daily dusting and a great airflow system, this problem can be mitigated.
Optical Drive - If you are still using or want to use an optical drive, this is not the case for you. There is no space dedicated for an optical drive, and will thus not be compatible with some people’s preferences.
Weight - This case weighs nearly 40 pounds, so don’t buy this if you need to move your case around frequently or if you have a flimsy desk.
The Taku is small; it can only fit a Mini ITX motherboard, but that doesn’t mean it lacks the space for gaming-grade components. The aluminum chassis has a sliding tray that contains all of your components, which makes arranging and upgrading a breeze. This also allows for those with an excess of PC components to try different things out before settling on a final setup.
There are also cutouts in the top plate of the case, so you can easily manage cables to suit the needs of your desk. The solid wooden feet on the case are set at a good height for putting a monitor on top of, and they are sturdy enough to not worry about the size of your monitor having an adverse effect on the case.
The pricing for this horizontal chassis is towards the higher end, but the value outweighs the price if you are in need of a compact case that will fit on top of your desk, without sacrificing gaming capabilities or other stress-heavy tasks.
What We Like
Size - For its small size, this horizontal case has a ton of flexibility for arranging components and fitting newer generations of GPUs inside. It also has a small footprint, making it the ideal desktop chassis.
Aesthetic - The white aluminum and solid wood feet make this case stand out from the rest, and with it on display right below your monitor, it’s sure to add a sleek dynamic to your room.
Monitor Stand - One of our favorite things about this case is that you can set a monitor on top of it to maximize desktop space, and with RGB lighting, it could greatly increase the visual appeal of your monitor and desk.
Know Before Buying
Price - This horizontal case is on the pricier end of the spectrum, but it is one of the best Mini ITX cases on the market right now, so if budget isn’t an issue but space is, this is a great choice for you.
Form Factor - This case can support a Mini ITX motherboard at most, so be sure that your build will fit onto an ITX and into this case. You can do this by viewing the specifications for each on the manufacturers’ websites.
This horizontal chassis is very similar to the Cryorig Taku in size and capability, but with much less pizzazz than the Taku. It has a sleek black exterior that sits flat on your desk, but we would not recommend using it as a monitor stand.
The relatively closed-off nature of the case makes airflow a challenge, but it comes equipped with strategically placed dust filters to mitigate that concern. This case can be placed vertically, but to maximize airflow you will want to have it resting horizontally to avoid blocking off some of those ventilation points.
Though small, this case can still fit the components necessary for a mid-range gaming build, and with the case being on the cheaper side, it makes for a nice medium-quality choice for PC enthusiasts that want an affordable case with some flexibility.
This horizontal PC case does not come with RGB lighting included, and with no windows to the interior, RGB would be a waste of money. If you’re working on a tight budget, go for the cheaper, non-RGB components; you won’t be able to see them anyway!
What We Like
Size - The small, elegant design of this horizontal case has a very small footprint, making it a perfect desktop chassis for tucking into a corner and setting a knickknack or two on top of. It is also very light and easy to move around for added versatility.
Price - This case is right in the middle of high and low price points, and the cost is aligned with its value. If you’re looking for an affordable case that’ll get the job done for your mid-range build, this is the one for you.
Dual-Chamber Design - The interior of this chassis was designed with dual chambers, which increases airflow and reduces heat transfer between your components. This comes especially in handy if you decide to set it vertically, but again, that’s not recommended.
Know Before Buying
No Special Features - This horizontal PC case does not come with any RGB or special features, which makes it a bland choice to those chasing glitzy, colorful builds.
Lack Of Aesthetic - This case lacks visual appeal, but it makes up for it in functionality. If you are building on a tight budget and with limited space, you might want to consider sacrificing a glamour build and opting for something more practical, like the Node 202.
There are so many case options to choose from when you’re building a PC such as open air PC case, quiet PC cases, and PC case for watercooling, but the choice is easy to make for budget-minded people with limited space: a horizontal chassis is the way to go. From small, sleek designs to larger, more elegant masterpieces, there are plenty of options to satisfy both your needs and the needs of your build.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it Safe to Vertically Orient a Horizontal Case?
It really depends on the case you buy, and from which manufacturer. Some cases are designed to be functional both vertically and horizontally, but if it’s marketed as a horizontal PC case, I recommend you leave it oriented horizontally.
Don’t just take my word for it, though. Visit the manufacturer’s website, read reviews from different sources regarding your specific question for a specific case, and come to a decision that way. If you buy a horizontal case and try to set it up vertically before checking reviews, you could damage your components, or miss the chance to return your case.
In short, if you want a horizontal case but you intend to set it up vertically for the most part, just buy a vertical tower instead. You’ll save yourself from the risk of accidentally damaging your components, and the headache of trying to return an unpackaged case that doesn’t suit your needs like you hoped it would.
What is the Difference Between Form Factors?
There are three types of motherboard sizes that you need to know about before purchasing a case. The size of the motherboard dictates how many components you can connect to it, and if your motherboard is too big for your case, it won’t fit properly.
There are the ATX, Micro ATX, and Mini ITX. The main differences between these are their sizes; the ATX and Micro ATX are both 9.6” wide, but the ATX is 2.4” longer than the Micro, which comes in at 9.4” long. Both of these are great sizes for having upgrade flexibility, but ATX motherboards require a somewhat large case.
The Mini ITX is much smaller than the other two at 6.7” x 6.7”, and while still able to support a mid-range gaming build (with some clever arranging), it’s not a great size for upgrading and handling stress-heavy loads.
Visit this page for a helpful guide to help you decide which type of motherboard is best for the CPU you intend to buy.
Should I Get a Horizontal Case if I’m Not Worried About Space?
Horizontal cases are good for more than just small footprints, but it really depends on your planned build and needs. If you’re going to build a high-level gaming rig with all the bells and whistles that esports nerds like, a horizontal case is probably not the best choice for you.
You can do a lot of cool things with a horizontal case, but sometimes it’s hard to compete with the spacious, display-case-worthy vertical towers on the market these days. At the end of the day, do what’s right for your budget and your build.
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