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When you’re building an absolute monster of a PC and want to get the best out of it, you’ll have to invest a lot of time and money in the cooling solution. One of the most overlooked aspects of a liquid-cooled computer is the case. A water cooling case is simply a PC case that is designed with liquid cooling in mind.
Whether it’s AIO cooling or custom loops, a water cooling PC case will accommodate either one and offer users the ideal platform for your liquid cooling solutions.
Best Water Cooling Cases Reviewed
Building a powerful PC with water cooling isn’t just for the results. It’s for the experience itself. To accommodate a gorgeous custom loop or even a sexy AIO cooling solution, a water cooling case will provide ample radiator mounting options as well as dedicated slots and mounts for things like reservoirs.
Keeping the water cooling aesthetics, performance, and application in mind, we’ve picked our favorite water cooling cases for PC enthusiasts. Whether you’re building a gaming PC or a high-end desktop computer with a Threadripper, you should find the ideal case you’re looking for in this article.
CORSAIR Crystal Series 680X
Crystal Clean Look
It is hard to talk about casings and not mention the Corsair Crystal Series, specifically the 680X, which houses ATX form factor motherboards. The casing is designed in such a way that it has tons of cooling options, especially great water cooling potential.
With the dual-chamber layout, you get a clean and open airflow to your motherboard and components, with 3.5” drive slots in the back, you can hot-swap drives with great ease without needing to open the side cover.
The thing that captivated us in this casing was the clean look, befitting the name Crystal, the 680X model is an ATX casing which has massive air cooling and water cooling potential. You already get 3x 120mm LL120 model fans from Corsair in the casing, which are connected to a control node. When connected via the Corsair iCUE software, you can get tons of RGB effects that match other RGB components.
The three tempered glass panels, one up front, one on the side, and one on top give this casing an amazing look. You can fully admire your RGB rig with the Corsair Crystal Series 680X. Unfortunately, though the front panel glass does choke up a little bit of the airflow that it could have had with more spacing.
With a dual-chamber layout, you get less clutter and you can easily tuck away your wires without even needing to cable manage. But we strongly suggest you do cable management for better airflow in the back compartment.
The back compartment also has plenty of drive mounts, you get 3x 3.5” and 4x 2.5” drive housing slots which are easy to install due to their tool-free configuration.
But we did not choose this casing in our top list just for all the cool features and its considerate design, because Corsair Crystal Series 680X has some massive water cooling potential.
You can mount up to 4 radiators in this casing to water cool your components. For the front, we have space for 1x 360mm or 280mm radiator with easy to install radiator mounting brackets. You get 1x 280mm to 240mm radiator installation space for the bottom, the same size radiators can also be mounted on the top radiator bracket. For the back you can only install a 1x 140mm to 120mm radiator. With that, you get a total of 4 radiators you can install in this casing.
Since Corsair Crystal Series 680X is featured as a max-airflow design casing, you have more air cooling options than water cooling ones, but even then you have more than enough radiator mount points to fit large radiators to cool your system impressively.
With the definitive look and the water cooling potential, the Corsair Crystal Series 680X is our top pick for the category.
The Corsair Obsidian 500D is a great alternative to the Fractal Design case. However, it doesn’t offer as much of an expansive setup for water cooling as the Define R6. The case is available in either a standard or RGB version with various included RGB case fans, though you should also expect a significant price hike.
The Obsidian 500D uses high-grade aluminum across the chassis. However, the front panel feels a little cheap, and the case is rather heavy. Furthermore, cable management isn’t as intuitive and easy as what’s offered on the Fractal Design Define R6. Although we may even claim to like the aesthetics of the Obsidian 500D more than the Define R6 TG, the latter simply offers more at the same price, and for that reason manages to nudge ahead.
Best Open Frame Case
Thermaltake Core P5
Beautiful Case with Great Features
The Thermaltake Core P5 is an open frame water cooling case that provides a high-quality aluminum mounting base surrounded by tempered glass. The case is highly modular and can be oriented in multiple ways, providing plenty of flexibility to advanced PC builders.
The Thermaltake Core P5 is simply the best open frame case you can buy. It blows more expensive and less ideal competition from the likes of InWin out of the water and offers a practical, gorgeous solution that has both the looks and the versatility you need from such a form factor.
Though open frame cases still aren’t as popular as your standard ones, they make for an incredible spectacle and are an excellent choice for anyone looking to run a stylish, aesthetically pleasing water-cooled PC build with custom loops.
Places that are plenty dusty will give open frame case users plenty of headaches, but if you live in a relatively clean and cool environment and consider yourself a heavy tinkerer, they can be a fantastic choice. It’s still not a market that is rife with a choice like contemporary PC cases, nor has it grown as much in the past few years as we’d hoped. This is primarily because most manufacturers have failed to effectively release an open-frame case that is appealing to the eye, practical, and of great value all at once.
And it’s here where Thermaltake has succeeded in making a name for itself. Their open-frame cases are simply unparalleled in all three aspects. They provide the aesthetics that make open frame cases so stylish and loved, they provide the versatility and practicality for a highly effective liquid cooling solution, and they don’t demand an exorbitant price.
Thermaltake’s “Core P” series open-frame cases have a number of different models available for users to choose from, but we feel the best one for a powerful ATX build is the P5. It’s a more spacious variant of the Core P3, offering the luxury of complete custom loops for water cooling where the P3 cannot.
Technically, the Core P5 is a mid-tower case that supports ATX motherboards. It has tempered glass panels located everywhere except the mounting wall, which is made of high-quality machined aluminum alloy. The case has a lot going for it, as it can be wall-mounted, placed horizontally, or used vertically like a regular PC tower.
As with all open frame cases, Thermaltake expects you to use water cooling instead of an air cooler in their open-frame case. The Core P5 provides plenty of options for that, with support for a beefy 480mm radiator to cool your components. There are also 120mm and 140mm fan mounting points on the left side of the case, but if you’re packing a beefy radiator there, it’s unlikely you’ll use it.
The case can support graphics card up to the length of 570mm if you’re not using a reservoir, but with the reservoir, the length is restricted to 280mm. CPU cooler height with this case is limited to 200mm and the PSU length to 200mm. Thermaltake is generous enough to offer a standard (but completely viable) riser cable for the PCIe slop to mount your graphics card vertically.
The front port features two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, and audio ports alongside the power button.
The case offers plenty of great features, but it’s not large enough to support dual custom water loops with two radiators. That shouldn’t stop anyone from creating a highly effective custom loop that runs through but your CPU and GPU and keeps them cool.
It’s important to note though that this case is rather heavy even without any components due to the extensive use of thick tempered glass, aluminum, and steel. Once you have it set, you shouldn’t expect to be moving it around with ease.
Even for an open frame case, the Cougar Conquer is very unique looking. This beastly piece of aluminum and glass is one of the most aesthetically appealing cases money can buy. Pictures don’t do it justice. The case supports multiple radiators at the top and front (360mm and 240mm respectively). You can mount a graphics card up to 350mm in size in this case.
The Cougar Conquer is specifically designed for custom water loops. However, this is a freakishly large case, and it will require extensive tubing and cable management. A lot of space appears to be wasted for aesthetics in this case and routing the loops and cables can be a challenge. You’ll need plenty of extensions, and that’s why we can’t recommend it above the Core P5 despite being fan of it.
Phanteks Enthoo Elite
The Elitist’s Water Cooling PC Case
The Phanteks Enthoo Elite is a high-end water cooling case for PC enthusiasts. This case is inundated with high-end features, such as specialized 5.25” bays for optical drives or fan controllers. It has specialized RGB LED strips on offer. For cooling, the case also provides a plethora of options for the radiator, reservoir, and pump mounting.
If you have the cash to burn and want a case that you can cram some of the craziest, most elaborate custom liquid cooling loops in, the Phanteks Enthoo Elite is the best one out there.
The Phanteks Enthoo Elite is a behemoth. It costs a lot, but it’s an absolutely gorgeous case that provides an ample amount of space for some of the largest, most elaborate custom loops you could think of.
This case is simply a beast, boasting addressable LED strips across the internals as well as the front contours of the case. These can be controlled from either the LED controls in the front panel or from all of the most popular RGB software such as MSI Mystic Light Sync, ASUS Aura Sync, and Gigabyte RGB Fusion. The front panel also has USB ports including a Type-C as well as HDMI for VR users.
Phanteks Enthoo Elite case has a tempered glass side panel and is designed to be multipurpose. You get a plethora of drive bays including 5.25” bays which few modern cases offer. Internally, there are 6 3.5/2.5” drive bays and 4 2.5” drive bays to meet all the storage requirements you’ll ever need.
Airflow is the name of the game with this case as well. The front, top, and bottom all support radiators of sizes that can go up to 480mm, with the front even capable of housing a colossal 560mm radiator. The read supports a single 120mm or 140mm exhaust fan.
The CPU cooler height is a generous 210mm, and the case can support basically any graphics card you could ever want to fit in it. Phanteks also includes a vertical GPU mount to show off your graphics card. We’d call them generous for it if the case didn’t cost so much. Thankfully, the accessories are plentiful with all the brackets, mounts, and plug-ins you’ll ever need.
Enthoo Elite is designed to house multiple systems in it as well. It can handle an eATX motherboard with ease, and you could cram in an additional smaller board in it if you wanted to.
This is a case designed for the most hardcore PC enthusiasts looking to build monstrous high-end desktop computers or for seeking the most extreme cooling solutions for record-breaking overclocking numbers. This is an extreme case that demands an extreme price, but it’s designed to be used by only the most extreme users.
While we were writing about the Phanteks Enthoo Elite just above, we couldn’t help but think of the Corsair Obsidian 1000D. This beast of a case rivals the Phanteks Enthoo Elite in-terms of space and storage options it provides and costs significantly less as well. However, in terms of pure features and the water cooling options, even this incredible case from Corsair cannot beat the Enthoo Elite.
It’s however perfectly reasonable to expect anyone looking to build a high-end desktop computer to opt for the Corsair Obsidian 1000D over the Phanteks Enthoo Elite purely from the point of value. Nevertheless, from a purely feature standpoint, it comes as a distant second.