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Best PC cases for airflow 2022

be quiet! Silent Base 802
be quiet! Silent Base 802 (Image credit: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

The best PC cases for airflow generally offer unimpeded intake and exhaust, whether via mesh construction, lots of fans, or both. Even if you don't have a powerful PC, good airflow can help you achieve peak performance. The Lian Li Lancool 2 Mesh RGB case is our best overall choice thanks to its stacked feature set, though there are plenty of other fantastic choices if you'd like to maximize airflow across your hardware.

Best overall: Lian Li Lancool 2 Mesh RGB

Lian Li Lancool 2 Mesh Rgb

Source: Lian Li (Image credit: Source: Lian Li)

Lian Li Lancool 2 Mesh RGB

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent airflow and thermals
+
Three RGB fans included
+
Not as expensive as you might think
+
Easy cable management
+
Hinged panels and glass

Reasons to avoid

-
Mesh panel is a bit boring compared to other options
-
Might be a bit loud due to all the mesh

Lian Li's Lancool 2 Mesh RGB is a case that really does everything it can to promote airflow short of just building a PC on a flat board with fans blowing on it. It has a steel mesh front panel, mesh panel below the tempered glass side panel, full honeycomb venting on the back, and tons of fan and radiator support throughout.

On the top it can handle up to a 240mm radiator or dual 140mm fans, on the front it supports a 360mm radiator or three 120mm fans, and there's even space for two 120mm fans above the PSU shroud (taking in air from the side mesh panel). It still has a hinged tempered glass panel for viewing inside, and there are still seven PCI slots for easy building. The case comes with three 120mm RGB fans on the front.

Behind the motherboard tray are a bunch of removable panels and bars to make cable management a breeze, and there's even a pulldown panel that holds extra storage drives. If you're truly serious about getting the best PC cases for airflow and don't mind a mid-tower ATX size that offers easy and intuitive building, this is the way to go.

Also great: be quiet! Pure Base 500DX

be quiet! Pure Base 500DX

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

be quiet! Pure Base 500DX

Reasons to buy

+
Amazing airflow
+
Beautiful design
+
RGB lighting
+
Great cable management

Reasons to avoid

-
Dust filter obscured by front panel
-
Top dust filter is noisy with high RPM

We took a close look at this beautiful case in our be quiet! Pure Base 500DX review, where it proved to have very few downsides besides a high MSRP. Now that it's coming down in price, the 500DX is better than ever for building an air-cooled PC with any motherboard size up to E-ATX. It features a clean and subtle design, focused on its mesh panels throughout, providing superior airflow paired with its fantastic cable management options.

The 500DX has six potential fan mounting points and comes with three be quiet! Pure Wings 2 fans pre-installed. Radiators can mount on the front, rear, and top of the case, up to a 360mm maximum if you choose the front space. Building with this case is a painless and straightforward process, since everything comes to pieces just like you expect. The PSU is removable, which helps if you're sticking to non-modular power supplies.

On the front I/O you'll find one USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 port, two USB-A 3.0 ports, and your standard headphone and microphone ports. There's plenty of space to work with, enough for five SSD and two mechanical hard drives, plus a graphics card up to 369mm. Throw in the addressable RGB lighting, and the 500DX is a very admirable case that you should consider in your search for efficient airflow performance.

Best ITX case: NZXT H210i

Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

NZXT H210i

Reasons to buy

+
Easy cable management
+
Premium design and build quality
+
Room for larger GPUs
+
Excellent airflow

Reasons to avoid

-
On the large side for ITX
-
Bit pricey

There are a number of high-quality cases from which to choose in NZXT's stable, but the H210i is one of the best PC cases for airflow if you want a smaller ITX build with easy building. There are two PCI slots on the back of the case, but that should still be enough for most modern GPUs thanks to 325mm of clearance toward the front and 44mm thickness clearance. Inside there's room for three 2.5-inch drives and a 3.5-inch drive.

While there are two 120mm fans included, the case has room for up to two 140mm fans on the front (protected by a dust panel), and 120mm fans on the top and rear. If you're going with a radiator, the front has space for a 240mm rad with removable bracket for easy installation. There's also room for a 120mm radiator in the back.

The case comes in black, black and white, and black and red color combinations, and all have a large, tempered-glass side panel for easy viewing. If you're going for a smaller build and want good airflow and a premium case, the NZXT H210i is the way to go.

Best value: Fractal Design Meshify C

Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

Fractal Design Meshify C

Reasons to buy

+
Beautiful mesh panel up front
+
Open interior design for easy airflow
+
Lots of space despite a compact design
+
Tinted tempered-glass side panel
+
Good price

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as much noise dampening through front mesh
-
Not great for water cooling

Fractal Design's Meshify C with dark tempered glass is a gorgeous mid-tower ATX case with a focus on airflow and easy building. The inside is as open as possible, providing unimpeded airflow through the case to the rear exhaust. This also allows for a slightly smaller case than you might be expecting.

The front has a stylized mesh panel with space beneath for three 120mm fans, two 140mm fans, or up to a 360mm radiator. The top is also accommodating, with 240mm radiator and dual 140mm fan support. As for the rear, you can fit a 120mm radiator or a 120mm fan (which is included). Everything has a dust filter to keep your hardware clean.

There are tons of space inside for storage drives, there are seven PCI expansion slots, and the cable management hardware behind the motherboard tray makes cabling easy. I/O on the front includes two USB-A 3.0, as well as 3.5mm audio and mic. Bottom line? If you want a mid-tower ATX case with satisfying mesh design and tinted tempered glass, this is the way to go.

Understated style: Cooler Master MasterBox NR600

Cooler Master Nr600

Source: Cooler Master (Image credit: Source: Cooler Master)

Cooler Master MasterBox NR600

Reasons to buy

+
Value pricing
+
Excellent airflow and thermals
+
Minimalistic design
+
Flush side panel without visible mounts

Reasons to avoid

-
Might be too dull for some
-
Bit cramped behind motherboard

Many people aren't looking to spend more than $100 on a PC case, but that doesn't mean airflow and looks aren't important. Enter the Cooler Master MasterBox NR600, a mid-tower case with support for up to ATX motherboards. It's certainly geared toward those who aren't looking for much flash, with its flat mesh front panel, flush tempered-glass side panel, and clean lines throughout. Nothing sticks out, even on the glass, thanks to hidden mounts.

The front panel has a fine mesh that keeps out dust but allows plenty of air through. There's support there for up to a 360mm radiator or dual 140mm fans, with space up top for dual 140mm fans or 240mm radiator. On the back there's a 120mm exhaust fan.

The case might be sort of plain on the outside, but inside you're looking at easy cable management, room for up to nine storage drives, and seven PCI slots for easy expansion. The front has two USB-A 3.0 ports and a 3.5mm headset jack. If you're looking for one of the best simple PC cases with excellent airflow, this is the one you want.

Best RGB: Phanteks Eclipse P400A RGB

Phanteks Eclipse P400A

Source: Phanteks (Image credit: Source: Phanteks)

Phanteks Eclipse P400A RGB

Reasons to buy

+
Lots of room inside for building
+
Three RGB fans included
+
Steel mesh front for good airflow
+
Good price

Reasons to avoid

-
No top radiator support

If you like the exterior look of Lian Li's Lancool 2 Mesh but prefer tempered glass covering the entire side panel, the Phanteks Eclipse P400A RGB mid-tower case might just be the right choice. It can fit up to an E-ATX motherboard for larger builds.

It has an ultra-fine steel mesh panel on the front that keeps out dust but allows in plenty of air, and the included three 120mm RGB fans are good from the start to pump air through the system. There's even a simple fan controller on the front where you can swap between colors and modes.

The front supports either the three 120mm fans or two 140mm fans, the top has room for two 120mm or 140mm fans, and the rear has space for one 120mm exhaust fan. As for radiators, the front can fit up to a 360mm piece. There's also room for up to eight storage drives with an optional bracket seated behind the side tray. There are seven PCI expansion slots on the back, as well as plenty of venting on the shroud for extra airflow. Two USB-A 3.0 ports and 3.5mm audio and mic ports round out the front I/O.

Best mid-range: Lian Li Lancool 205 Mesh

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Lian Li Lancool 205 Mesh

Reasons to buy

+
Looks incredible
+
Great cable management
+
Integrated PSU shroud
+
Three 120mm fans included
+
Great airflow

Reasons to avoid

-
No 360mm rad support
-
No GPU support bracket
-
Radiator bracket could use extra fix points

Lian Li's Lancool 205 Mesh adds a full mesh front panel to the standard Lancool 205, giving it a whole lot more airflow. Not only that, the fine mesh keeps out most of the dust you'd find during regular operation. The case is otherwise made of steel, with a tempered-glass side panel for internal viewing.

The case fits up to an ATX motherboard inside, as well as plenty of cooling solutions. The front and top can each handle up to a 280mm radiator, or a couple of 140mm fans. There's plenty of space for storage, cable management can be as clean as you want it to be, and the included fans are quiet and effective.

The Lancool 205 Mesh is one of the best PC cases for airflow, but it's also simply a great mid-range pick for anyone not looking to eat up their entire budget. Be sure to check out our Lian Li Lancool 205 Mesh review for a deeper look.

If we're making some suggestions

These cases promote airflow and will do a great job of keeping your PC's hardware cool, keeping the interior clean and dust-free in the process. The Lian Li Lancool 2 Mesh RGB takes the top spot here, featuring a mesh front and honeycomb rear with lots of room for exhaust and a side mesh shroud below the hinged glass panel. All the radiator and fan support you could want, plus extensive cable management around the motherboard.

If you're sticking to a budget, the Fractal Design Meshify C is easily the best value for money, but our list of the best PC cases under $100 should have something for you, too. And if you're less interested in airflow, perhaps leaning towards all-in-one coolers or a purely liquid-cooled setup, we can help you find the best PC cases on the market today. Whatever you choose, keep that hardware cool and enjoy the build.

Ben Wilson
Ben Wilson

Ben Wilson is a freelance writer working for Windows Central with technical expertise and a background in electronics retail. Fueling a technology and video game obsession with coffee, you can usually find him behind one screen or another.