Hey there! Let‘s Find the Perfect Tiny PC Case for You

So you‘re looking to build a powerful but pint-sized gaming machine, teeny home theater PC, or other small form factor build?

Well you‘ve come to the right place my friend! I‘ve built high performance PCs in everything from massive E-ATX towers to teensy mini ITX cases. And I absolutely love the challenge of cramming as much power as possible into the smallest PC cases out there.

In this epic guide, I‘ll share everything I‘ve learned about selecting the best mini ITX cases – from tiny cubes literally smaller than your router to portable lan boxes that fit in a backpack. I‘ll be with you every step of the way to help you identify the perfect small form factor case to meet your needs and preferences without compromise.

Here‘s what we‘ll cover:

  • Key factors to consider when choosing a mini ITX chassis
  • 5 smallest mini ITX case recommendations across all budgets
  • Detailed comparisons of case specs like CPUs/GPUs supported, storage options, cooling capabilities and more
  • Pro tips for measuring component clearance and finding the best case configuration
  • Answers to frequently asked questions about building in a mini ITX case

Let‘s get started!

What Are You Looking to Build?

Before we dive into the cases, it‘s important to set expectations around what kind of system you‘re hoping to construct in your tiny PC chassis.

Are you chasing max portability for LAN parties? Do you need to support beefy PC gaming components? What about expandability for future upgrades?

Answering questions like these will help narrow the list and guide our quest for your ideal case!

For starters, let‘s talk gaming performance. Many mini ITX builds rival full sized ATX rigs thanks to support for high end multi-slot GPUs up to ~300mm, liquid CPU cooling, and 750W+ power supplies. You have tons of muscle in a portable package!

But you may need to compromise a bit on expandability – mini ITX motherboards only have one PCIe slot and max out around two 3.5" hard drives.

My advice? Focus on your "must haves" for core components like CPU/GPU and target cases that barely fit them leaving some wiggle room. This way you get killer performance while future proofing a bit for next gen parts.

Now that you‘ve thought through the build, let‘s find you the perfect mini ITX abode!

The Smallest Mini ITX Cases for Powerful SFF Builds

Alright, let‘s kick things off with my all around favorite mini ITX case…

Air Cooling Champ: Lian Li Q58

Starting with the best of the best, the Lian Li Q58 is an absolutely phenomenal SFF case measuring just 13.46" x 6.69" x 9.84" while packing a serious air cooling punch.

Some killer features that earned it the top spot:

  • Handles a full sized 320mm triple slot GPU
  • Awesome modular design that supports ATX or SFX PSUs
  • Outstanding ventilation with removable mesh/glass side panels
  • External hot swap SSD tray for easy upgrades
  • Radiator bracket supports 240mm AIO liquid cooler

I‘m especially impressed by the removable side panels with the Q58. It comes with a tempered glass panel to show off your components, AND a vented steel mesh panel for maximum airflow if you‘re pushing powerful heat-generating hardware.

Having built in the Q58 myself, I was able to fit a beastly RTX 3090 FE graphics card which is 36CM long with massive heat output. Despite that, CPU/GPU temps stayed frosty thanks to the mesh panel and 240mm AIO support.

So if you‘re looking for a beautifully engineered case that can house the most powerful modern components with graceful thermals, the Q58 is an exceptional choice. Let‘s compare some specs between our top mini ITX contenders:

SpecLian Li Q58Silverstone Milo 10Phanteks EVOLV S2CM NR200P MaxSilverstone SUGO 16
Dimensions13.46′′ x 6.69′′ x 9.84′′2.48′′ x 7.72′′ x 8.94′′10.35′′ x 13.86 x 22.6′′14.84′′ x 7.28′′ x 11.49′′11.02′′ x 7.87′′ x 9.13′′
GPU Clearance320mmFull sized328mm336mm275mm
Radiator Support240mmNone120mm280mm120mm
PSU CompatibilityATX / SFXExternal DC-ATX requiredSFX / SFX-LIncluded 850W SFX PSUATX / SFX

As you can see, no other case quite matches the excellent balance of tiny footprint, gpu clearance and cooling capabilities that the Lian Q58 offers!

Now let‘s check out a few more compact mini ITX options:

Vanishingly Small: Silverstone Milo 10

If you want a mini ITX case that practically disappears on your desk, the 1 pound Milo 10 is shockingly tiny at just 2.48′′ x 7.72′′ x 8.94′′. It supports a full length GPU and can even house a 3.5" hard drive with its optional elevated top cover. But there are some definite limitations:

  • Requires a specialized DC-ATX power adapter instead of a normal PSU
  • Very little room for case fans or liquid cooling radiators
  • Limited to 1x 2.5" and 1x 3.5" drive even with elevated cover

But if you‘re building a lean gaming rig with just a single SSD for mass storage and value miniaturization above all else, it‘s an amazing feat of engineering. Plus the included VESA mount allows you to attach it out of sight behind a monitor!

So while the Milo 10 definitely involves some size trade offs versus larger mini ITX cases, it‘s capabilities are impressive given the microscopic footprint.

Stunning Looks: Phanteks EVOLV Shift 2

If you‘re looking for a head turning ITX chassis with gorgeous aesthetics, Phanteks hits a homerun with the EVOLV Shift 2. I love the clean dual tone metal exterior and Side mounted glass panels which show off your components beautifully with integrated LEDs.

Despite its slender 10.35′′ width, the EVOLV S2 still supports some beefy hardware:

  • Up to 2.9 slot GPUs like an RTX 3090 FE
  • Room for up to 5x SSDs or HDDs
  • Capable of housing a small AIO or custom liquid cooling loop

However thermals can be a bit challenging given the limited case fan options and narrow form factor. So you‘ll want to plan your build carefully if running hotter components like Intel‘s 12th Gen CPUs. But if you prize aesthetics and something that looks right at home in a living room, the Shift 2 brings incredible style in a mini ITX form factor that takes up very little surface area.

Easiest Build: CoolerMaster NR200P Max

If this is your first ever mini ITX build, I always recommend the NR200P Max to simplify the process. Despite costing over 2X a typical ITX case, it comes jam packed with great enthusiast grade parts preinstalled:

  • Top tier 280mm all-in-one liquid CPU cooler already plumbed
  • 80 Plus Gold 850W SFX power supply
  • PCIe Gen 4 riser cable for max GPU compatibility
  • Two quiet airflow focused 140mm intake fans with hub

This allows first timers to simply drop in their core components without sweating complex cooler or PSU compatibility. Cable management is also a breeze thanks to the pre-routed inputs for the liquid cooler, case fans and front panel IO.

Just pay special attention to component selection for maximum fit. Some especially long graphics cards can run into clearance issues in the NR200P Max. But with a bit of planning, it‘s by far the easiest small form factor case to assemble your first mini ITX build in!

Best Budget: SilverStone SUGO 16

Proving you can indeed get a lot of case for minimal dollars, the $89 SUGO 16 packs quite a punch. At just 11 liters, you can fit serious hardware into its compact 11.02′′ x 7.87′′ x 9.13′′ frame:

  • Triple slot GPUs up to 275mm
  • Tower air coolers up to 130mm
  • Standard ATX power supplies up to 140mm long

The SUGO 16 does only support two 2.5" drives. So you‘ll want to pick up a beefier 1TB or 2TB SSD rather than juggling multiple disks for mass storage. Cooling is also aided by the mesh panel design with rear/front fan mounts to create solid airflow.

While this case does involve some modest component compromises, I‘m blown away by what Silverstone has pulled off at this price point. If you‘re on a tight budget but still want to go mini ITX without looking cheap, the sturdy steel SUGO 16 is fantastic bang for buck.

Quick Spec Comparison Table

Here‘s a handy reference guide to quickly compare specs across the mini ITX models we just reviewed:

SpecLian Li Q58Silverstone Milo 10Phanteks EVOLV S2CM NR200P MaxSilverstone SUGO 16
Dimensions13.46" x 6.69" x 9.84"2.48′′ x 7.72′′ x 8.94′′10.35′′ x 13.86′′ x 22.6′′14.84" x 7.28" x 11.49"11.02′′ x 7.87′′ x 9.13′′
Sizes SupportedmITXmITXmITXmITXmITX
Radiator MountsTop exhaust: 240mmNoneSide: 120mmTop: 280mmFront: 120mm
Included FansNoneNone1x 140mm Rear Exhaust2x 140mm Top IntakeNone
2.5" Drive Bays21430
3.5" Drive Bays11100
PSU SupportATX / SFXExternal OnlySFX / SFX-LIncludedATX / SFX
Clearance: CPU Cooler184mm47mm83mm156mm130mm
Clearance: GPU320mmFull Length328mm336mm275mm
Max Graphics Card Power400W+75W *650W800W400W

* With external power brick, max card power 75W

Key Considerations for Picking a Mini ITX Case

The cases above give you a taste of the best small form factor models across different priorities like affordability and ease of installation.

But there are lots more mind blowing mini ITX chassis out there from brands like NZXT, Streacom, Louqe and more. Let‘s briefly cover some core considerations I use for picking the best one:

Component Compatibility – First and foremost, a case obviously needs to physically fit all the hardware you want for your build. Triple check clearances for the GPU, CPU cooler, radiator sizes and desired storage drives. Measure twice – buy once!

Thermals – The cramped quarters of a mini ITX case don‘t leave much wiggle room for heat buildup. Prioritize mesh panels and radiator/fan mounts. AIO liquid cooling is almost mandatory for hot CPUs like in the NR200P Max.

Aesthetics – Beyond pure function, cases with great cable management options, windows and lighting can look stunning on a desk. The EVOLV S2 is a perfect example! Evaluate your environment.

Future Expandability – mITX boards max out at 1 slot for a GPU and have limited drive bays. Ensure your case supports next gen components down the road.

Build Difficulty – For first timers, cases like the NR200P Max with pre-installed AIO coolers and PSUs simplify installation. Veterans can handle configuring a fully DIY case.

If you methodically assess these areas against your own wants/needs? You‘ll zero in on your perfect mini ITX match!

Let‘s wrap up with some commonly asked questions:

FAQs: Frequently Asked Mini ITX Case Questions

Are mini ITX builds capable of running intense games or workloads?

Absolutely! Many compact mITX builds rival and even beat full sized ATX PCs. You can configure tiny cases like the CoolerMaster NR200P with high core count CPUs like AMD‘s Ryzen 9 5950X and an Nvidia RTX 3090. Performance depends much more on your specific components than case size alone these days. 240Hz gaming and 4K video editing is totally achievable!

How difficult is it to build inside a mini ITX case compared to a regular ATX mid tower?

Excellent question! The cramped quarters definitely add complexity around component compatibility, thermals and cable management. I‘d rate full sized ATX cases as a 3/10 difficulty versus mini ITX cases at 7/10+ difficulty depending on layout. The NR200P Max simplifies this a bit with its AIO and PSU pre-installed. But in general be prepared for a tougher build!

Why should I consider a mini ITX desktop instead of a laptop?

While gaming laptops have closed the gap in horsepower, desktops still reign supreme when you want uncompromised performance.Components like desktop GPUs outmuscle even the beefiest laptop equivalents by 25% or more. And you can‘t beat the DIY upgradeability, cheaper pricing and better cooling and acoustics of a desktop. Mini ITX cases bring those same advantages in a more portable design.

What should I know before building my first mini ITX PC?

I have a whole separate guide just on this topic with 10 tips that I highly recommend checking out! Some quick hits: seriously overspec your power supply to allow for beefier future GPU upgrades. Invest in an AIO liquid cooler for your CPU for the cramped quarters. And use a modular PSU to minimize cable clutter. Click here for the full guide on What To Know Before Your First Mini ITX Build.

Let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m always happy to help a fellow PC builder.

I hope this guide to the smallest and most capable mini ITX cases on the market helps you select the perfect one to house your new high performance compact system! Let me know which chassis you end up going with down below.

Happy building my friend!

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