PC cases are essential to a computer build. Not only does it hold your components together, but it is also a factor when deciding which PC parts to go for.
Two of the most common PC case sizes are the Full Tower and the Mid Tower. If you are hunting for a new PC case, the ones you immediately saw most likely fall under these two categories.
That said, which one should you get between the full tower vs mid-tower PC case? Well, we are here to talk about these two common case choices and determine which one works best for you.
What is a Full Tower PC case?
Full Tower PC cases are designed for expansion or airflow in mind. These large PC cases have room for multiple PCIe slots and also include multiple drive bays. Sometimes full tower cases include rooms for 3.5-inch drive bay accessories.
These cases are at least 20 inches or 50 cm in height. Full tower cases also fit ATX motherboards with extra space to cater to extended ATX (eATX) motherboards.
For airflow purposes, full tower computer cases can fit three to four 120mm or 140mm fans on the front (sometimes 200mm fans) and they also have slots for two to three 120mm or 140mm fans up top.
Some full tower cases have a dual-chamber design to hide unpleasing cables. Regular full towers often have a PSU shroud to cover cables as well.
What is a Mid Tower PC case?
Mid Tower cases fit ATX motherboards but they are more compact than a full tower case. It cannot fit eATX motherboards since the design is smaller. There are multiple expansion slots as well but the 3.5-inch DVD drive is eliminated to fit multiple fans up front. These cases are usually under 20 inches or less than 50 cm tall.
There are two types of Mid Tower PC cases. The ATX mid-tower and the micro ATX mid-tower. The difference between the two is size and parts compatibility – specifically the motherboard.
Mid-tower cases still offer great airflow and expansion and are perfect for a regular PC build.
Full Tower Vs Mid Tower PC Case: The Comparison
We are going to dig deeper and compare the two case types side by side in different categories – size, motherboard compatibility, expansion slots, storage drives, cooling, and price.
Let’s get started.
Full Tower cases, as mentioned above, are 20 inches in height, or higher, while mid-tower cases are around 18 inches in height.
The size difference is not that drastic and the build experience is likely the same. However, full-tower cases are better when it comes to ease of assembly since there is a lot of room to work with. This means you do not have to squeeze your hands on tight spaces just to screw fans or hard drives.
Mid-tower cases can fit high-end components without a problem so the choice depends on desk space and location. If you have a small desk and you need a lightweight PC then a mid-tower case is a great choice. But if you want to go all out and you have all the space needed then a full tower is the one for you.
This one can be explained easily. Full tower cases fit all the motherboard types ranging from extended ATX motherboards to compact ITX motherboards.
EATX and XL-ATX motherboards are larger and wider than ATX boards to accommodate more RAM and other ports. The wide dimension means that it will only fit on a full tower case.
Meanwhile, mid-tower cases fit ATX to ITX motherboards without a problem. But it is highly recommended to go for an ATX or mATX board for visual purposes. Using an ITX board, in this case, is not that pleasing to look at since there will be a lot of space left on the case.
In this case (pun intended), both options are great since the compatibility is not limited. Besides, extended ATX and extra large ATX motherboards are rare when it comes to gamers and regular consumers.
Like motherboards, there is very little difference when it comes to the expansion slots of these case types. Full tower cases have 7-10 PCIe slots while mid-tower cases have 7-8 PCIe slots.
The choice here relies on the parts that you will use and your intended usage. Do you have a dual-graphics card setup? Are you going to use PCIe Wi-Fi cards? Are you planning to use a PCIe capture card?
If your answer above is yes, then you will have to measure how many slots are going to be used by your PC components. Sometimes the 8 slots of a mid-tower case are more than enough. If not, then a full tower is really needed.
There is also a downside if you are going to squeeze in multiple components on the PCIe slots. You will encounter heat and if the PCIe devices are too close to each other then the temperature may rise and affect performance.
Mid-tower cases are a little short when it comes to storage drive space. The common theme across modern mid-tower cases is two 3.5-inch hard drive bays in the PSU shroud, two SSD slots at the back of the motherboard, and two SSD slots on top of the PSU shroud. This setup is more than enough for a regular PC build.
On the other hand, full tower cases have a lot of storage slots – both for 3.5-inch hard drives and 2.5-inch drives.
For example, the Corsair 7000D Full Tower case can fit six 3.5-inch hard drives and four 2.5-inch drives.
If you need a lot of storage space and you still use multiple hard drives, then the choice is clear – a full tower case is perfect for your needs.
Cooling and Airflow
It depends on the design of the case, but in general, both mid-tower and full tower cases provide great airflow.
The difference between the two is the number of fan slots, radiator support, and CPU cooler height.
Full-tower cases can accommodate four fans up front, multiple fans up top, and long radiators up to 480mm in length. These cases are also perfect for a custom water cooling setup since there is a lot of space to work with.
Mid tower cases can only accommodate three fans on the front and two or three fans up to. Radiator support is often locked into 360mm or lower. Custom water cooling is also supported but you will have to be more creative when it comes to radiator placement, pump position, and tube length.
Since full tower cases are larger, they may also fit large air coolers such as the Noctua NH-D15. Mid-towers fit regular-sized air coolers at around 165mm height or lower.
Between the two choices, again it is up to you. If you want great airflow then these two case types will work great. What you need to look out for is the case design. It should not be impeded and if possible, choose one with a mesh design such as the Corsair 7000D.
Price is subjective since different manufacturers have their own basis when it comes to pricing their products.
A decent mid-tower ATX case costs around $50. These are basic cases with mesh front and good airflow. The smaller micro ATX mid-towers are around the same price as well.
However, going to the larger ATX full tower would cost you around $100 for a decent unit such as the Fractal Design Pop XL. The airflow version costs even more at around $125.
The mid-tower ATX wins in the price-to-performance department is there are a lot of affordable options. The full tower ATX cases are great but it is more than double the price of their other mid-tower counterparts.
Full Tower Vs Mid Tower PC Case: Which One Should You Get?
There is no clear winner between the two since everyone has different priorities. What you need to do is to list down the parts that you need and the case features that you are looking for.
Are you going to use a standard ATX or a micro ATX motherboard? Are you going to use a single GPU? Is your budget limited?
If you answer yes to the questions above then a mid-tower PC case will work well for you.
However, if you are going to use a large motherboard with massive graphics cards and tons of PCIe accessories, then go for a full-tower setup. You are going to pay the price for extra features such as tons of drive space, custom water cooling support, and customization possibilities but if it fits your needs, then it is still a winner in your books.
The full tower vs mid-tower PC case is an endless debate with no clear winner since it all depends on personal preference. But one thing is for sure though, the market is full of options and it is hard to make a bad case choice. You just have to stick with your budget, check your parts, and the possibilities are endless.
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