The 5 Best Airflow PC Cases in 2022

Written by Azzief Khaliq
Last updated May 31, 2022

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best airflow pc cases

Keeping components cool is a huge part of building a good computer. Lower temperatures generally mean longer component lifespans and sometimes even better performance. The best way to keep temperatures low is to have good airflow, and that’s why you want to build a rig in one of the best airflow PC cases.

PC cases with good airflow are relatively common now, so picking out the best ones is a bit harder than it was before. To help you with that, we’ve picked out five of the best airflow cases available, from budget mid-towers to high-end full-towers, that will keep those CPUs and GPUs cool. Let’s get started.

Our Picks for Best Airflow PC Case

1. Lian Li Lancool II Mesh

Best Mid-Tower Airflow PC Case

Measurements (H x W x L)19.44 x 9.01 x 18.81 inches
Motherboard SupportE-ATX, ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
PSU SupportATX
Maximum GPU Length15.11 inches
Maximum CPU Cooler Height6.92 inches
Expansion SlotsSeven
Fan Mounts• 3x 120 mm or 2x 140 mm (front)
• 2x 120/140 mm (top)
• 2x 120 mm (PSU shroud)
• 1x 120 mm (rear)
Radiator Support• Up to 360 mm (front)
• 240 mm (top)
Drive Mounts• 3x 3.5”/2.5” drives
• 6x 2.5” drives
I/O Ports• 1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C
• 2x USB 3.0
• Audio In/Out

Lian Li knows how to make cases, and the Lancool II Mesh proves it. It’s not flashy, but it offers some of the best stock cooling performance from a mid-tower PC case, and at a reasonable price too. This makes it a no-brainer if you’re looking for the best PC case for airflow in this form factor.

The Lancool II Mesh follows the standard template most airflow cases use. It has a free-flowing front mesh panel and an unrestrictive interior layout without any drive cages or other metal getting in the way. These are the basics of any airflow case, and the Lancool II Mesh gets it right.

Unlike some more affordable cases, the Lian Li Lancool II Mesh comes fully equipped from the factory with two 140 mm intake fans and a single 120 mm exhaust. So you get great temperatures out of the box. How great? Just look at the numbers:

65.5 degrees Celsius in total on an Intel Core i9-9900K running at 4.6 GHz is impressive, as is 57.5 degrees on a stock RTX 2070 Super. This puts the Lancool II Mesh on par with the pricier Phanteks P500A, making it the better overall deal. The P500A is a great case and has its advantages, but the Lancool II Mesh is its equal as far as cooling goes.

In addition to cooling performance, there are a few small touches to the Lancool II Mesh that we really like. Firstly, the front intake fans (or radiator) mount to a “multi-way bracket” that lets you shift your fan and radiator position slightly to suit your cooling hardware.

For example, you can move your fans closer to the motherboard for air-cooled setups or push the bracket out to accommodate thicker radiators. This gives the Lancool II Mesh extra flexibility for changing hardware setups. It’s the same story with the drive cage: it’s on rails so that it’s easy to move it forward and backward to accommodate differently-sized PSUs.

Lian Li Lancool II Mesh

Source: Lian Li

We also like that the Lancool II Mesh has a hinged tempered glass side panel on both sides of the case. This would usually be a visual nightmare, as many of us do botched cable management jobs behind the motherboard tray. But the Lancool II Mesh sidesteps this issue by having metal cover plates that help hide the cable mess, so you get the best of both worlds.

Overall, the Lian Li Lancool II Mesh is a great total package of price and performance. We don’t think it’s the most aesthetically-impressive case you can buy, but the value and great building experience make up for its minor flaws. It’s likely the best airflow PC case for most users.

And if you really can’t get over how boring it looks, you can always get the RGB version for a bit more bling.

2. Phanteks P500A Digital

Best Premium Mid-Tower Airflow PC Case

Measurements (H x W x L)20.07 x 9.45 x 19.88 inches
Motherboard SupportE-ATX, ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
PSU SupportATX
Maximum GPU Length17.12 inches
Maximum CPU Cooler Height7.48 inches
Expansion SlotsTen
Fan Mounts• 3x 120/140 mm (front)
• 1x 120/140 mm (rear)
• 3x 120/140 mm (top)
• 2x 120/140 mm (bottom)
Radiator Support• Up to 360/420 mm (front)
• Up to 280/360 mm (top)
• 120/140 mm (rear)
Drive Mounts• 10x 2.5”/3.5” drives (2x included)
• 3x 2.5” drives
I/O Ports• 1x USB-C 3.1 Gen 2
• 2x USB 3.0
• Audio In/Out
• LED mode button
• LED color button

The P500A Digital sits at the top of Phanteks’ airflow case stack, offering the expected high airflow performance with some premium extras that set it apart from the rest of its cases. It’s not the case for everyone, but builders who want a high-end, roomy case without stepping up to a full tower should check it out.

The P500A’s all-steel mesh front panel will be familiar to anyone who’s seen or used a Phanteks airflow case before. It’s an “ultra-fine performance mesh” with one-millimeter (0.039-inch) perforations that let air through while minimizing dust ingress. It’s fine enough that Phanteks can ship the P500A without an extra dust filter, keeping airflow high.

Phanteks ships the P500A with three 140 mm RGB intake fans. These take full advantage of that front mesh panel and unobstructed airflow path to provide excellent stock thermals.

Phanteks P500A temperatures

Source: Gamers Nexus

25.2-degree Celsius CPU and 47.2-degree GPU deltas are great and put the P500A in the upper echelon of airflow cases. That said, these numbers aren’t significantly better than the competition, with more affordable cases like the Lancool II Mesh and Phanteks’ own P400A Digital turning in similar numbers.

But you don’t buy the P500A solely for cooling performance. Instead, the Phanteks P500A works best for those who want more room than a standard mid-tower without the potential wasted space and cost of a full-tower. With room for up to 17.2-inch GPUs and 10 3.5” drives (after buying some extra HDD brackets), the P500A is designed for complex systems with high-end parts.

The P500A even has room for a second Mini-ITX system once you install the optional bracket. It’s not necessarily ideal, but it is a good option to have. We can see it coming in handy as a quicker and cheaper alternative to buying a whole new case, at least.

Phanteks P500A

Source: Phanteks

Another minor but welcome touch is that Phanteks ships the P500A’s screws in one of its plastic screw sorting boxes. It doesn’t affect performance or looks, but we like extras like these and wish more companies would do this. It’s certainly better than the mess of individually-bagged screws that you get with even some similarly-priced cases.

The Phanteks P500A Digital isn’t a value-centric case, especially not if cooling performance is your primary concern. But if you need an airflow-friendly mid-tower with extra room and great component compatibility, then this is a case you need to consider.

The Phanteks P500A Digital comes in white (which is actually black and white) and an all-white color scheme the company calls Matte White.

3. Phanteks P300A

Best Budget Mid-Tower Airflow Case

Measurements (H x W x L)17.91 x 7.87 x 15.75 inches
Motherboard SupportE-ATX (10.8 inches max) ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
PSU SupportATX
Maximum GPU Length13.97 inches
Maximum CPU Cooler Height6.49 inches
Expansion SlotsSeven
Fan Mounts• 2x 120 mm / 2x 140 mm (front)
• 1x 120 / 140 mm (top)
• 1x 120 mm (rear)
Radiator Support• Up to 240 / 280 mm (front)
• 120 mm (rear)
Drive Mounts• 2x 3.5” / 2.5” drives
• 2x 2.5” drives
I/O Ports• 2x USB 3.0
• Audio In/Out

Phanteks’ P300A is one of the few readily-available airflow cases that comes in well under the $100 mark. Of course, the company has cut some corners to hit this price bracket. Still, they’ve retained the core design features that make its higher-end cases such airflow monsters.

Despite the huge price gap between the P300A and the higher-end Phanteks products (like the P500A) above, you still get the same front mesh panel here. It’s identical to that on the pricier models, so it still boasts a perfect balance between airflow and dust protection.

The open internal layout also helps keep your components cool by limiting airflow obstructions. So the basics of a good airflow case are present and accounted for. There is one issue, though: Phanteks’ cost-cutting involves shipping the P300A with only a single intake fan.

Phanteks P300A temperatures

Source: Gamers Nexus

This limited fan setup means that the P300A has relatively high temperatures by default. Gamers Nexus’s 3DMark testing resulted in 34.5 and 56.4-degree Celsius deltas on the CPU and GPU, which isn’t particularly great for airflow cases.

However, since the P300A’s basic design is sound, bringing temperatures down is as simple as adding a few extra case fans. Of course, you’ll only want budget fans to keep the cost down, but even those should do the trick, given the airflow-friendly design. You can check out our best 120 mm fans list for some value and budget options that’ll work perfectly in the P300A.

Phanteks P300A

Source: Phanteks

Overall, the Phanteks P300A is a solid choice if you want a good airflow PC case for less than $100. You will need to budget for at least an extra 120 mm fan, but the small additional cost will be worth it for great cooling at a great price.

4. Fractal Design Torrent

Best Full-Tower Airflow PC Case

Measurements (H x W x L)20.87 x 9.53 x 21.42 inches
Motherboard SupportE-ATX, ATX, SSI-EEB, SSI-CEB, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
PSU SupportATX
Maximum GPU Length16.65 (with front fan) / 18.15 inches (without front fan)
Maximum CPU Cooler Height7.40 inches
Expansion SlotsSeven
Fan Mounts• 3x 120/140 mm or 2x 180 mm (front)
• 3x 120/140 mm or 2x 180 mm (bottom)
• 1x 120/140 mm (rear)
Radiator Support• Up to 360/420 mm (front)
• Up to 360/420 mm (bottom)
• 120/140 mm (rear)
Drive Mounts• 2x 3.5” drives
• 4x 2.5” drives
I/O Ports• 1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C
• 2x USB 3.0
• Audio In/Out

Fractal Design’s Torrent is the company’s biggest departure yet. While the company’s known for its silence-focused cases, the Torrent is an out-and-out airflow full tower with a unique internal layout and impressive default fan setup.

The fan setup is arguably the Torrent’s star attraction. It comes with two 180 mm intakes and three 140 mm bottom intakes by default, which goes some way to justifying its price. Bottom fans usually don’t work that well in a PC case, but they’re perfect here because the Torrent has a top-mounted PSU.

Moving the PSU to the top makes room for three intakes and eliminates the cable clutter that usually impedes airflow performance. It also means the Torrent doesn’t need a PSU shroud, which ensures that the front fans can push all of their air to your heat-generating components. What you get, then, are some of the best stock temps you’ll find in a case:

Fractal Torrent temperatures

Source: Gamers Nexus

An 18-degree Celsius delta on a 4.4 GHz overclocked Intel i7-6700K is particularly impressive. The Torrent’s 47.0-degree delta for the MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X is excellent, too. Combine both, and you get some of the best overall thermal performance you can get in any case, regardless of the form factor.

However, that performance doesn’t come cheap. The Torrent will set you back more than $200, making it one of the pricier cases you can buy in 2022. And it’s not like the Torrent is perfect, either: there’s more plastic than usual for a Fractal Design case, and its storage drive setup is relatively limited for a full-tower case. Two 3.5” drives are nothing compared to the six 3.5” drives that some rivals can accommodate.

All in all, though, those are minor complaints. Neither detracts from the fact that the Fractal Design Torrent is a stunning airflow case capable of cooling any PC hardware you throw at it. If airflow is your main priority and you don’t mind the cost, this is the full-tower case to get.

The Fractal Design Torrent is available in black and white, with various tempered glass tint options. Fractal also has an even pricier RGB version available, which swaps the default fans for their RGB equivalents.

5. SSUPD Meshlicious

Best Mini-ITX Airflow PC Case

Measurements (H x W x L)14.1 x 6.55 x 9.64 inches
Motherboard SupportMini-ITX
PSU SupportATX, SFX-L, SFX
Maximum GPU Length13.22 inches (four-slot mode) / 13.1 inches (three-slot mode)
Maximum CPU Cooler Height2.08 inches (four-slot mode) / 2.87 inches (three-slot mode)
Expansion SlotsThree
Fan Mounts2x 120/140 mm (front)
Radiator SupportUp to 240/280 mm (front)
Drive MountsFull-length GPU and ATX PSU:
• 2x 2.5” drives

Full-length GPU and SFX PSU:
• 3x 2.5” drives

SFF GPU and SFX CPU:
• 7x 2.5” drives
I/O Ports• 1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C
• 1x USB 3.0

SSUPD may have an odd name, but there’s nothing odd about the company’s Meshlicious case. As the name suggests, it’s a mesh-centric Mini-ITX case designed for optimal cooling in a small form factor, with some impressive component compatibility to boot.

The SSUPD Meshlicious’ highlight is definitely the airflow-focused design. Mini-ITX cases are generally cramped and not great for airflow, but SSUPD sidesteps this by going with mesh for almost every panel.

SSUPD sells the Meshlicious with two mesh panels or a one-mesh, one-glass setup. Unfortunately, most reviews are of the latter setup, which doesn’t show the case’s full potential. But the numbers should give you a good idea of what you can expect with two mesh panels.

SSUPD Meshlicious temperatures

Source: TechPowerUp

TechPowerUp stuffed an Intel Core i5-9600K and a Zotac RTX 3060 Ti Twin Edge OC into the Meshlicious and tested it with the mesh panel on either side. Placing the mesh panel on the CPU side led to a 55.4 degrees Celsius CPU temperature and an 86.4-degree GPU temperature in gaming tests.

Moving the mesh to the other side brought GPU temperatures down to 73.9 degrees but pushed the CPU up to 91.7 degrees. So going with the tempered glass version means you’ll have to sacrifice one component for the other. However, the all-mesh option should give you a good balance between the two and keep all your parts relatively happy.

Beyond the cooling, our favorite thing about the SSUPD Meshlicious is its GPU and storage flexibility. The Meshlicious’ motherboard tray doubles as the divider between the CPU and GPU compartments, and you can move it to either make room for a four-slot GPU or a slightly taller CPU cooler.

SSUPD Meshlicious

Source: SSUPD

Drive support is decent, too. An SFX PSU will let you fit three 3.5” drives with a standard GPU and up to seven if you go with a small form factor (SFF) GPU like the MSI GTX 1650 4GT LP. It won’t necessarily make for a great gaming rig, but the option’s there if you need more storage than GPU power.

Overall, the SSUPD Meshlicious is one of the best cases for airflow in the SFF category. We like that SSUPD offers an all-mesh configuration, which puts the Meshlicious a cut above many other small cases for ventilation. The flexible internals are a great touch, too.

The SSUPD Meshlicious is also available in white. You can also choose between versions that ship with a PCIe 3.0 or 4.0 riser cable. The latter is much pricier, but you may need it depending on your GPU.

Before You Buy

We’ve discussed the fundamental aspects of choosing a case—component compatibility, form factor, and so on—before, so we won’t repeat them here. Instead, let’s take a quick look at some airflow-specific topics you’ll want to know when shopping for a cooling-friendly case.

What Makes an Airflow Case?

There are two main criteria that define cases with good airflow. The first and most important is a front panel that lets the fans suck in as much air as possible. Usually, this takes the form of a full mesh front panel, with or without additional dust filtering.

A mesh front panel means that the fans can suck in as much air as possible from across the whole front, unlike the restrictive side or front slots on most solid front panels. And more air, of course, means better cooling in general.

Mesh front panel vs solid front panel airflow

Source: Voltcave

The other key characteristic of an excellent airflow case is an open internal layout. This means that the case should have as few—ideally, no—restrictions or obstructions between the front intakes and the motherboard. So no drive cages or other bits of metal. Usually, this leads to airflow cases having fewer drive mounts than non-airflow cases, but that’s a sacrifice you’ll have to make.

Fractal Design Torrent internal layout

The interior layout of the Fractal Design Torrent. Source: Fractal Design

To be clear, these design choices don’t mean that the case is automatically set up with good airflow from the factory. Instead, these are good indicators that the case can perform well if it has the proper fan setup, which takes us neatly to our next topic.

Fans and Airflow

Just because a case has a mesh front panel and unobstructed airflow doesn’t mean that it’ll cool your components perfectly from the start. While many airflow cases will perform great in their default configurations, some cases ship with limited fans to keep the price down.

Our budget mid-tower pick, the Phanteks P300A, is a perfect example. Phanteks ships most of its pricier cases with three fans, but they cut that down to a single exhaust with the P300A. As a result, the P300A’s stock thermal performance is sub-par, even with its mesh front. But that’s not an issue with the case itself. Adding two extra fans to create the ideal two-intake, one-exhaust setup improves temps significantly:

Phanteks P300A fan setup temperatures

Note the two highlighted results. Source: Gamers Nexus

By default, Gamers Nexus’ overclocked Intel i7-6700K hit a 65.1 degrees Celsius delta in a CPU torture test, which is hotter than even poorly-ventilated cases like the Fractal Define 7. However, adding two fans brought the delta down to 47.4 degrees, pushing it to nearly the top of Gamers Nexus’ results. Not a bad turnaround and proof that the P300A has the basics right.

So if you’re interested in an airflow case but the temperature results don’t seem to be that impressive, check its default fan setup before dismissing it entirely. Maybe all it needs is a couple of the best 140 mm fans to push it into top-tier territory.

Noise

If you’re moving over to an airflow case from a quieter, silence-focused case, you may be concerned with fan noise. It’s a valid worry; the lack of sound dampening foam and closed-off front panel makes fan noise much more noticeable. Without those features, there isn’t much stopping the noise from reaching your ears.

However, it’s really not a huge deal if you’re willing to put in some work. Giving up all the sound-dampening features just means you can’t brute-force silence by blocking the noise; it doesn’t mean you can’t have a silent PC at all.

FanControl

FanControl’s main interface. Source: Voltcave

Keeping noise levels under control with an airflow case has a lot to do with getting the right fans and setting up fan curves that find a good balance between noise and cooling performance. Check out our guide to setting fan curves for a step-by-step walkthrough to getting your CPU, GPU, and case fans just right.

Closing Thoughts

The best airflow PC cases have free-flowing front panels and interior layouts designed to provide as much airflow as possible to all those heat-generating components in your rig. Unless you have specific needs, we think everyone should be building in airflow cases; they’re that good.

If you’re looking for a straightforward, good-value pick, the Lian Li Lancool II Mesh is the case we’d go for. It’s not the most premium offering, but it gets all the basics right and has some clever design touches. If you’re after the very best, there’s no overlooking the Fractal Design Torrent and its massive dual 180 mm intakes.

The world of PC cases with good airflow is vast, and our picks are only a small selection. If none of our picks really strike your fancy, take some time and explore. Our buying guide has the core information you’ll need to make an informed decision. All the best!

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