Navigating the world of PC building can be overwhelming, especially when you’re on a budget. But cost-effective doesn’t mean compromising on quality. Enter the arena of budget PC cases under $50. This guide will explore high-performing and affordable PC cases that provide great value, aesthetics, and functionality. Whether you’re into mid-tower cases, mini-ITX, or tempered glass options, we’ve got something for everyone.
Let’s dive in and discover quality and performance that doesn’t break the bank!
Our Top Picks
- Best Pick: AeroCool Bolt – Mid-tower case that offers an RGB strip, tempered glass side panel, one preinstalled fan, and a full length PSU shroud. It is only slightly over $50 and has 355mm GPU clearance.
- Best for Airflow: Thermaltake Versa H18 – Micro-ATX case that provides good airflow. It can support graphics cards up to 350mm long and CPU coolers as tall as 155mm. It’s also priced at about $50.
- Best Tempered Glass: FSP CMT260 – Mid-tower case that features a tempered glass side panel. It is one of the cheapest PC cases on the market, with its biggest drawback being its lack of a fully-ventilated front panel.
- Best Small Case: Thermaltake Core V1 – Mini-ITX case under $50 that’s perfect for small form-factor gaming PC builds. It can accommodate graphics cards up to 260mm long and CPU coolers up to 140mm tall.
- Best Design: Aerocool Cylon – Mid-tower case that comes with a full-length PSU shroud, an acrylic side panel, and an RGB strip. It can hold graphics cards up to 371mm in length and CPU coolers up to 155mm in height.
🏆 Best Pick: AeroCool Bolt
The AeroCool Bolt offers an appealing combination of affordability, functionality, and design, making it a solid contender in the realm of budget PC cases.
The Bolt boasts a mid-tower format, which affords ample space for components and provides flexibility for future upgrades. With a maximum GPU clearance of 355mm, it accommodates even some of the most robust graphics cards, including the RTX 3080 Ti. This capacity underscores the case’s ability to house powerful gaming systems, defying its budget classification.
One of the key attractions of this case is its aesthetics. The Bolt features a stylish black exterior and comes fitted with an RGB lighting strip on the front panel, lending it a modern, gamer-oriented look. A tempered glass side panel adds a touch of elegance, allowing users to showcase their components and the system’s internal layout.
Airflow is an essential consideration when selecting a PC case, and the AeroCool Bolt makes a respectable effort in this area. The grilled front panel facilitates airflow, albeit only on half of the panel. A fully grilled panel would have been ideal, but even so, the Bolt’s design should provide adequate cooling for most setups.
The Bolt also comes with a preinstalled fan and a full-length PSU shroud. These features are impressive for a case that retails around $50, which further elevates the value proposition it offers.
|👍 Pros||👎 Cons|
|Mid-tower format offers ample space for components||Front panel is only grilled/meshed on half of the panel, limiting airflow|
|Supports GPUs up to 355mm, suitable for high-end graphics cards||Only available in black|
|Affordable, offering good value for money||Comes with only one pre-installed fan|
|Includes a full-length PSU shroud for a clean look|
|Integrated RGB lighting adds aesthetic appeal|
|Comes with tempered glass side panel for showcasing components|
🥇 Best for Airflow: Thermaltake Versa H18
The Thermaltake Versa H18 stands out in the budget PC case market with its strong focus on airflow and compact form factor. A micro-ATX case that merges affordability, versatility, and a visually pleasing design, the H18 is an excellent choice for budget builders.
The H18 provides ample space despite its micro-ATX size. It can support graphics cards up to 350mm long and CPU coolers as tall as 155mm. This level of accommodation allows for a range of high-performance components, making the H18 a robust foundation for a gaming system.
One of the key strengths of the Versa H18 is its focus on airflow. The design offers an all-black exterior that allows for adequate airflow, ensuring your components stay cool even under heavy workload conditions. This is a critical aspect to consider for gamers and PC enthusiasts who plan to push their system’s performance boundaries.
Another impressive feature is the case’s compatibility with different radiators. It can hold up to three radiators at once—front, top, and back—with the capacity for a radiator as long as 280mm at the front. This makes it an ideal candidate for builders planning on a water-cooled system or those who might consider it for future upgrades.
The H18 is not just about function; it also delivers on aesthetics. Its sleek black finish contributes to a subtle, elegant look that will appeal to users who prefer a minimalist, clean setup. The design can accommodate both micro-ATX and mini-ITX motherboards, offering flexibility for different build types.
|👍 Pros||👎 Cons|
|Micro-ATX case size allows for a compact but powerful build||Only available in black|
|Supports GPUs up to 350mm, suitable for high-end graphics cards||Does not include a power supply unit (PSU)|
|Can support up to three different radiators simultaneously||May lack some of the advanced features of higher-end cases|
|Affordable, offering good value for money|
|Excellent airflow due to all-black case design|
|Can support micro-ATX and mini-ITX motherboards|
🥇 Best Tempered Glass: FSP CMT260
The FSP CMT260 positions itself as a standout option among budget PC cases, offering users a pleasing blend of style, affordability, and compatibility.
In terms of design, the CMT260 offers a tempered glass side panel, a feature often reserved for higher-end cases. This allows users to display their internal components, adding to the aesthetic appeal of their setup. The mid-tower design, with its sleek black finish, lends the CMT260 a professional yet modern look that can easily blend with most desk setups.
The case’s compatibility specifications are also notable. It supports a maximum GPU length of 325mm and a CPU cooler height up to 170mm, ensuring it can accommodate a range of powerful components. These specs, combined with its mid-tower design, offer builders the flexibility to house a solid gaming or productivity system.
However, the CMT260 is not without its drawbacks. The front panel is not fully ventilated, which could limit airflow to a certain degree. While this might not drastically affect performance for most setups, it could be a concern for those intending to run high-end, power-hungry components that generate a significant amount of heat.
Despite this, the CMT260 is one of the most affordable options on the market. Priced just under $50, it’s a steal for those looking for a stylish case that doesn’t break the bank. Even with its limited airflow, the case offers good value for money considering its tempered glass side panel and robust compatibility.
|👍 Pros||👎 Cons|
|Mid-tower size provides ample space for components||Front panel is not fully ventilated, limiting potential airflow|
|Supports GPUs up to 325mm and CPU coolers up to 170mm, allowing for a variety of hardware configurations||Only available in black|
|Budget-friendly, offering a good value for the price||Not as well-known or widely reviewed as some other options|
|Tempered glass side panel is a premium feature at this price point||Does not come with a power supply unit (PSU)|
|Reasonably good aesthetics with RGB-lighting on the front panel|
🥇 Best Small Case: Thermaltake Core V1
Compact, efficient, and budget-friendly – the Thermaltake Core V1 encapsulates these qualities into an impressive mini-ITX form factor. Despite its size, the Core V1 packs a punch with its ability to support a robust range of hardware.
The Core V1 is designed to accommodate graphics cards up to 260mm long and CPU coolers up to 140mm tall. While this does limit options compared to larger cases, the Core V1 nonetheless supports a wide variety of low-profile components.
This, along with its compact form factor, makes it an excellent choice for those looking to build a small footprint gaming PC without compromising on performance. For instance, it can house a mini RTX 3070, offering the potential for a powerful gaming system.
One standout aspect of the Core V1 is its cube-style design. While this is largely a matter of personal preference, many find this unique look appealing, especially for compact builds. Available in both black and white, the Core V1 provides aesthetic flexibility to match various setups.
However, potential builders should note the Core V1’s limitations due to its size. The case only supports mini-ITX motherboards, so those considering future upgrades or expansions should take this into account. Despite this, the case offers good value for its price tag, particularly for those who have set their sights on a compact, efficient build.
|👍 Pros||👎 Cons|
|Compact size perfect for small form-factor builds||Only supports mini-ITX motherboards|
|Can house GPUs up to 260mm, suitable for a variety of graphics cards||Limited CPU cooler height at 140mm|
|Affordable, offering good value for money||Only available in black and white|
|Can support low-profile graphics cards and CPU coolers||Limited internal space compared to larger cases|
|Innovative cube-style design|
🥇 Best Design: AeroCool Cylon
The AeroCool Cylon strikes a distinctive balance between functionality, affordability, and aesthetics. This mid-tower PC case brings an alluring design to the table without compromising the necessary room for essential components, making it a commendable choice among budget-friendly PC cases.
The Cylon stands out with its sleek black design complemented by a striking RGB strip on the front panel, stretching from the bottom to the top. This not only enhances the case’s aesthetic appeal but also adds a customizable touch, making it a favorite among users seeking to add a personal flair to their builds.
In terms of compatibility, the Cylon delivers solid specifications. It supports graphics cards up to 371mm in length and CPU coolers up to 155mm in height, providing plenty of room for a powerful system. Additionally, it can accommodate radiators/AIOs up to 240mm on the front of the case, which is sufficient for most cooling needs.
However, the Cylon falls short in its ventilation design. The front panel lacks sufficient ventilation, limiting the case’s airflow capabilities. Though it offers the option to install two 120mm fans on the PSU shroud to mitigate this, the overall air intake may still be less than optimal for high-end, heat-intensive builds.
Another feature worth mentioning is the full-length PSU shroud, a characteristic usually found in more premium cases. This not only helps manage cables better but also contributes to a cleaner look by hiding the PSU and other less aesthetic components.
|👍 Pros||👎 Cons|
|Supports GPUs up to 371mm, suitable for high-end graphics cards||Lack of sufficient ventilation on the front panel, possibly impacting airflow|
|Unique design with a full-length RGB strip on the front panel for added aesthetics||Only available in black|
|Includes a full-length PSU shroud for better cable management and cleaner look||Comes with only one pre-installed fan|
|Affordable, offering good value for money|
|Can house radiators/AIOs up to 240mm on the front of the case|
PC Case Buying Guide
Choosing the right PC case is a significant decision when you’re on the path of assembling your own computer. While it may seem like a straightforward choice, the case is more than just a protective housing for your components. It influences system performance, cooling, ease of build, and upgradability, and it also gives you an opportunity to showcase your style.
In the sub-$50 price range, you might wonder about the quality and features you can expect. While you may need to make some compromises, there’s still a broad range of cases available offering a surprising array of features. This guide is specifically crafted to help you navigate through the essentials when choosing a budget PC case without breaking the bank.
Whether you’re setting up a gaming station, a home office PC, or a simple workstation, we will guide you through key considerations, the features to look for, and how to align your preferences within the budget.
Understanding Your Needs
Before diving into the specifics of PC cases, it’s crucial to identify what you need from your computer system as a whole. The type of case you select should cater to your specific requirements and fit seamlessly into your workspace or gaming station. Here are some aspects to consider:
- Purpose of the PC: Are you building a gaming PC, a work-from-home setup, or a general-purpose machine for browsing and streaming? Gaming PCs may need better airflow and cooling options, while a work PC might prioritize noise reduction and a professional look.
- Space Availability: Consider where you’re going to place the PC. Do you have ample space for a full-tower case, or do you need a compact case like a Mini-ITX for a smaller desk or room?
- Aesthetic Preferences: Do you prefer a minimalist design or a case with a window panel to display your components? Although the budget may limit the choices, there are still various styles available in the under-$50 range.
- Noise Tolerance: If you are sensitive to noise or need a quiet environment for work or recording, you might need a case designed to minimize system noise. This can be achieved through sound-damping materials or a design that accommodates quiet fans.
- Future Upgrade Plans: If you’re planning to upgrade your system down the line, make sure to pick a case that offers room for expansion. This includes additional drive bays for increased storage and enough space to accommodate larger or more advanced components.
By understanding your unique needs, you can begin to narrow down your options and focus on finding a PC case that not only fits your budget but also aligns with your requirements. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all PC case; the best choice will vary based on individual needs and preferences.
Key Features to Look for in a Budget PC Case
When shopping for a budget PC case, it’s essential to focus on the key features that affect the functionality and longevity of your build. While you might not find all the high-end features in a sub-$50 case, you can still find quality options with careful consideration. Here are the key features to look for:
- Size and Form Factor: Cases come in various sizes, typically classified as Full-Tower, Mid-Tower, and Mini-ITX. The size you choose depends on your space availability and the motherboard you plan to install.
- Quality and Durability: Even at a lower price point, it’s important to find a case that offers decent build quality. Look for sturdy materials and good fit and finish to ensure that the case can adequately protect your components.
- Cooling and Airflow: Good airflow is critical for maintaining system performance. Check whether the case supports enough fans for proper ventilation. Also, consider whether it supports your desired cooling method (air or liquid).
- Drive Bays and Expansion: Depending on your storage needs and future upgrade plans, make sure the case has enough drive bays and expansion slots.
- Cable Management: While you might not find extensive cable management options in budget cases, basic cable management support can help keep your build tidy and improve airflow.
- Front Panel Connectors: Make sure the case comes with the necessary front panel connectors like USB and audio ports. Depending on your needs, you might also want a case with a USB-C or HDMI port.
- Ease of Installation: Features like a removable motherboard tray or tool-free design can make the building process easier.
Remember, at this price point, it’s all about finding the right balance between your needs and the available features. Prioritize the features that matter the most to you, and you’re more likely to find a case that suits your preferences and offers great value for your money.
How to Decide on a Budget
Setting a budget for your PC case is an essential step in managing your overall build’s cost. If you’re working with a limit of $50, here are some factors to keep in mind:
- Overall PC Build Budget: The cost of the PC case is a portion of your overall budget for building your PC. A rule of thumb is that the case could account for around 10% of your total build budget. However, this rule can be flexible, especially for budget builds, where you might want to allocate more funds to critical components like the CPU and GPU.
- Prioritize Key Features: Decide which features are most important to you in a PC case. If certain features are crucial for your build, like cooling and airflow for a gaming PC, or a compact form factor for a small workspace, it may be worth stretching your budget a little to get these features.
- Consider Future Upgrades: If you plan to upgrade your system in the future, consider a case with room for expansion. It might cost a bit more now, but it can save you from having to buy a new case when you upgrade your components later.
- Balance Cost with Quality: While it might be tempting to opt for the cheapest case available, remember that quality matters, even for budget PC cases. A well-constructed case can protect your components, make your build process easier, and last through multiple upgrades.
By keeping these factors in mind, you can set a realistic budget for your PC case. The goal is to find a case that fits your needs and offers good value for your money, without overspending.
Choosing a PC case, especially on a budget, can be a challenging yet exciting part of your computer building journey. Your PC case not only houses your valuable components but also significantly contributes to the functionality and aesthetics of your system. Even under $50, a variety of options exist that can meet your needs without compromising on important features or quality.
Through this guide, you’ve gained insights into understanding your needs, the key features to look for in a budget PC case, and how to wisely decide your budget. With this knowledge, you can navigate the market confidently and choose a PC case that brings you satisfaction while aligning with your budget.
Remember, the goal isn’t about finding the cheapest case; instead, it’s about finding a case that offers the best value for your money, serves your needs, and complements your style. Building a PC is a rewarding process, and every component, including the case, is a testament to your choices. So choose wisely and enjoy the build!