The 5 Best PC Cases for First-Time Builders in 2021
Nov 15, 2020
We know that for those new to PC building, picking every part can be overwhelming, especially the basis of what you intend to build everything in!
Don’t worry, today’s feature is here to guide you through the best PC cases for beginners available today.
- Best PC Case for First-Time Builders: Fractal Design Define R5
- Runner-Up Best ATX Case for First-Time Builders: Phanteks P400
- Best Budget PC Case for First-Time Builders: Lian Li LANCOOL 205
Best of the Rest: Quick-Fire Picks
Best PC Case for First-Time Builders: Fractal Design Define R5
This isn’t just the best PC case for beginners, but one of the best PC cases available today in any category.
There’s a lot to love in the R5 which is why we’ve featured it many, many times. If you’re not familiar with Fractal Design, they are, without question, one of the best PC case manufacturers in the business and a perfect starting point on your journey.
Starting with the build quality: you’re getting thick, solid steel on most of the exterior (and a metal-finished plastic front, designed to be lighter for airflow but still looks as excellent as the rest of the outside). The whole case has a beautiful, minimalist design and feels as good as it looks. When considering the best computer case for first-time builders, we like that the R5 has a windowless design for 2 reasons:
- The sound-dampening material used on all sides (including the windowless panel) makes this one of the best silent PC cases on the market (something that Fractal is known for). This is great for new builders who don’t have to worry about the fine intricacies of getting a quiet build (reducing vibrations from certain parts, etc.)
- It’s always good to be a little clean with your internal setup for airflow. But with a windowless design, a new builder doesn’t have to be obsessed with extremely neat cable management (but if that’s something you do want, don’t worry, the R5 has plenty of capability).
This is a mid-tower/ATX case, which is the best form factor for a beginner to build in (plenty of space, ATX motherboards are easy to find and you’re very unlikely to run into any size compatibility). With room inside for:
- 7 x expansion slots
- Graphics cards up to 310mm (this will be enough room for a majority of cards, but you can remove one of the HDD cages to increase this to 440mm, which is very easy to do).
- 8 x 3.5″ / 2.5″, 2 x 2.5″ & 2 x 5.25″ drive bays
- Up to 9 140mm fans with 2 high-quality Fractal Design Dynamic GP-14 fans pre-installed
All these specs check out for a beginner; you have the perfect gaming PC case for a first-time builder with great graphics card room and fantastic airflow/included fans (the fact that you can upgrade your cooling to include an additional 7 140mm fans is fantastic if you ever want to pursue overclocking, but for a beginner, there is more than enough to get your base build cooled).
The storage capability of this case is also fantastic, we expect for first-time builders you’ll just be looking at 1 SSD & potentially 1 HDD, but there’s an option to add so much more at a later date if you want your build to also operate as a server PC case or something else with high storage requirements (video editing, production work, etc.)
With great internal cable management, a really intuitive layout, and easily removable doors on both sides, there’s so much to appreciate here for every type of builder.
We love that you don’t have to compromise and get a PC case “for dummies”, the R5 has everything a great gaming/work build needs, but just also happens to be the best PC case for first-time builders too!
Runner-Up Best ATX Case for First-Time Builders: Phanteks P400
The P400 is a really fantastic balance between build quality, design, cooling performance, space, and price (it’s certainly the best tempered-glass PC case of its price range).
Although our favorite pick is the R5, if you are more drawn toward a PC case with a window, then this will be the better choice for you.
The P400 has a thick steel exterior and full-length tempered glass that are deceptively high quality and aesthetically pleasing for the case’s price-range (topped off by that slim, understated LED lighting you see at the bottom of the front). It really is a great looking chassis built to last.
Another ATX case, this is beginner tower has space for
- 7 x expansion slots
- Graphics card lengths up to 395mm (will be enough for close to every GPU on the market)
- Space for 2 x 2.5/3.5″ & 2 x 2.5″ drive bays (with the possibility to add 4 more 2.5/3.5″ spaces with the purchase of additional trays, but this will be unnecessary for new builders).
- Air cooling: 6 x 120mm fans with 2 high-quality 120mm fans included
As you can see, like the R5, this case has all the room and cooling to get you off to a great start. There’s a little less in the way of fan slots on the P400. But really, this won’t matter for a majority of builds (certainly not for beginners), you can get very far with the cooling in the case, and it has a superb internal ventilation design (you really will be fine with the included fans alone if you’re not overclocking and keep the internals fairly neat).
Similarly to the R5, there is a great inner layout that aids cable management and ease of installation. You of course have to be a little more careful removing a tempered glass window, but this is something even a first-timer builder will be fine with.
If your idea of the best beginner computer case includes a window to show off you cool hardware, then the P400, with its fantastic value and quality, is for you.
Best Budget PC Case for First-Time Builders: Lian Li LANCOOL 205
As great as the Fractal and Phanteks offerings are, we appreciate some of you will be looking for an extra cheap PC case suitable for beginners.
The best chassis that hits the mark is the LANCOOL 205 from Lian Li, another one of the top PC case brands in the business (we’ve kept this list focussed on high-quality producers, as think the last thing a beginner wants is to be worrying about subpar manufacturing quality).
This is another case with a deceptively high-quality build for its price. Boasting a fully SPCC steel /tempered glass exterior (a little thinner than our top picks, but still great for the budget). Like the other choices, the LANCOOL 205 also a decent internal layout that provides even a budget gaming PC build with good airflow and ventilation.
This chassis is an ATX case, with room inside for:
- 7 x expansion slots
- 350mm GPU clearance length (enough for nearly all mainstream cards)
- 4 x 2.5″ & 2 x 2.5″ / 3.5″ drive bays
- Up to 5 x 120mm fans with 2 included
We love that the LANCOOL 205 still comes with 2 fans pre-installed at its low price, which will be enough to get a beginner gaming PC case up and running. The rest of the specs also match nicely with what a budget build will be looking for, with plenty of hardware space. You won’t have quite the same noise cancellation and airflow as the top choices, but this case still does a fantastic job for the price.
Simply put, if your wallet can only stretch as far as the LANCOOL 205, know you’re still getting an excellent product, and what we consider the best cheap PC case for first-time builders.
Quick-Fire Picks (Best of the Rest)
While the top 3 picks are our top choices for the best PC case for beginner builders, we’ve added a couple of extra choices for those with more specific requirements may want to consider.
Cheapest PC Case for First-Time Builders: Cooler Master N200
While the LANCOOL 205 is the better PC case for beginners, we know some of you will be on very tight budgets. The N200 is an absolutely ridiculous value offering for first-time builders. with its Micro ATX form factor, it will be a little tighter to build in but still more than doable, read more about it here.
Cheaper Define R5 Alternative for First-Time Builders: Fractal Design Meshify C
If you like the style, quality, and quiet-focus of our Define R5 pick but want something a bit cheaper/with a window, the Meshify C is perfect.
It won’t give you the same level of silence as the R5, but it makes up for that with improved airflow; easily one of the best budget towers for beginners to consider. Read about it here.
The largest towers worth buying
For the low-budget builders
Budget cases that keep cool.
For your next high-end build