The 5 Best Budget PC Cases in 2022

Written by Azzief Khaliq
Last updated Feb 15, 2022

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best budget PC cases

Anyone building a rig on a tight budget will want to dedicate as much as possible to important components like the CPU and GPU. Even $80 might be too much to spend on a PC case. If that’s the situation you find yourself in, it’s time to look for the best budget PC case for your new build.

We’ve decided to define “budget” as cases that cost around $50. These cases won’t be the flashiest or most exciting products, but they’ll do a decent job for cheap rigs or anyone building their first-ever PC. Besides, if buying a budget PC case helps you afford a better CPU, a relatively dull case is worth the sacrifice.

Our Favorite Budget PC Cases

1. Cougar MX330

Best Budget Mid-Tower Case

Measurements (H x W x L)16.81 x 7.67 x 18.62 inches
Motherboard SupportATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
PSU SupportATX
Maximum GPU Length13.77 inches
Maximum CPU Cooler Height6.10 inches
Expansion SlotsSeven
Fan Mounts• 2x 120 mm (front)
• 2x 120 mm (top)
• 1x 120 mm (rear)
Radiator Support• Up to 240 mm (front)
• 120 mm (top)
• 120 mm (rear)
Drive Mounts• 1x 5.25” drive
• 2x 2.5” drives
• 3x 3.5” drives
I/O Ports• 2x USB 3.0
• 2x USB 2.0
• Audio In/Out

The Cougar MX330 has a lot going for it: a mesh front panel, a reasonably roomy interior, a PSU shroud for easy cable management, and enough room for a front-mounted 240 mm AIO. It’s not necessarily a great-looking case (check out the Aerocool below if you’re after aesthetics), but you can’t have it all at this price range.

Cougar equipped the MX330 with a mesh front panel, with enough room for two 120 mm intake fans. YouTuber SeanfromSydney tested an Intel Core i7-8700K and Gigabyte GTX 1070 Ti in the MX330 and recorded 74 degrees on the CPU and 71 degrees on the GPU.

These aren’t the most amazing temps, but more than fine for a cheap gaming PC case. But if you’re after the lowest CPU temperatures possible, you can always install a 240 mm AIO in the front. However, the Cougar MX330’s low price and lack of design finesse will become evident if you do so.

How so? Firstly, you’ll have to choose between a 240 mm AIO and an optical drive, as the case isn’t tall enough for both. Probably not a problem for most users, but worth pointing out for those hoping to use both. Secondly, an AIO also blocks the two dedicated SSD mounts, requiring you to either use M.2 drives or stuff them into the 3.5” drive bays instead.

Cougar MX330

Source: Nxck.Visuals

The Cougar MX330 isn’t perfect, of course. Build quality is allegedly spotty (sticky power buttons are a common complaint), and the interior could’ve been designed a bit better. But if you’re after a solid cheap mid-tower case suitable for even a mid-range gaming rig, the MX330 is worth a look.

2. Aerocool Cylon

Best Budget Mid-Tower Case Alternative

Measurements (H x W x L)16.26 x 7.8 x 18.1 inches
Motherboard SupportATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
PSU SupportATX
Maximum GPU Length13.6 inches (with drive cage) / 14.6 inches (without drive cage)
Maximum CPU Cooler Height6.1 inches
Expansion SlotsSeven
Fan Mounts• 3x 120 mm (front)
• 1x 120 mm (top)
• 1x 120 mm (rear)
• 2x 120 mm (bottom)
Radiator Support• 1x 120 mm (front)
Drive Mounts• 3x 2.5” drives
• 2x 2.5”/3.5” drives
I/O Ports• 1x USB 3.0
• 2x USB 2.0
• Audio In/Out
• SD and microSD

“Budget cases” and “RGB” don’t often go hand-in-hand. But there are always exceptions, and the Aerocool Cylon is a perfect example. If you’re after a good-looking PC case on a budget, then the Aerocool Cylon is the one for you.

The most eye-catching feature of Aerocool’s Cylon is the diagonal RGB slash on the solid front panel. It has 13 lighting modes: six RGB flow patterns and seven solid colors (including cyan, blue, red, and white). The LEDs aren’t addressable, though, so these 13 modes are what you’re stuck with.

Unsurprisingly, the solid front panel does have an impact on temperatures. User reviews unanimously agree that temps aren’t the Cylon’s strong point. While fan support is decent, including room for three 120 mm intakes, the mostly-solid front panel means airflow will always be a problem for the Cylon. There’s a small vent at the bottom, but it’s not nearly large enough for high-quality cooling.

Aerocool Cylon

Source: K_M-A-Y_ on PCPartPicker

Aerocool includes a magnetic dust filter for the top fan position, which is a nice touch that you don’t often see on cheap cases. That said, the fan mount’s position towards the case’s rear means it’s only useful for an exhaust fan. So the filter will be more of a hindrance in that situation.

Overall, the Aerocool Cylon is a reasonable, aesthetically-pleasing case for a budget build. The poor airflow will hold you back if you upgrade components down the line, but it’s one of your best budget PC case options if you need a slick case with RGB lighting for the here and now. The Aerocool Cylon is available in black (linked above) and white.

3. Thermaltake Versa H18

Best Budget Micro-ATX Case

Measurements (H x W x L)15.4 x 8.1 x 15 inches
Motherboard SupportMicro-ATX, Mini-ITX
PSU SupportATX
Maximum GPU Length13.8 inches (w/o front fan)
Maximum CPU Cooler Height6.1 inches
Expansion SlotsFour
Fan Mounts• 3x 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 2.5” drives
• 2x 3.5” drives
I/O Ports• 1x USB 3.0
• 2x USB 2.0
• Audio In/Out

Thermaltake’s Versa H18 punches well above its price class, offering a mesh front panel, solid cooling options, and a cable management-friendly PSU shroud for not much more than $50.

The Versa H18’s biggest selling point is the front mesh panel and support for up to three 120 mm front intakes (or a 240/280 mm radiator). It’s great for cooling and airflow, but it also helps make the H18 a case that can grow with your rig as your cooling needs increase. Upgrade to a hotter, more powerful CPU? Install an extra couple of intakes or swap to one of the best 280 mm AIOs, and you’ll be good to go.

Cooling isn’t the only thing the Versa H18 gets right. It offers other now-standard features like a tempered glass side panel, PSU shroud, and cable management holes. These aren’t anything to shout about, admittedly, but it’s still good to see all of them present on such a cheap PC case.

Thermaltake Versa H18

Source: jtrigg20 on PCPartPicker

While objective review data for the Versa H18 is hard to come by, user reviews on sites like PCPartPicker often praise the H18’s “good airflow.” So while we can’t guarantee good thermal performance, the positive user opinions combined with an airflow-friendly design on paper should help keep temperatures at acceptable levels.

Overall, there’s a lot to like about the Thermaltake Versa H18. We think it looks great, and the mesh panel and open interior should mean it performs well too. If there’s a downside, it’s that it only comes with a single exhaust fan from the factory. But as you can get a decent three-pack of fans for around $10, that’s not necessarily a huge issue in our books.

4. Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L

Best Budget Micro-ATX Case Alternative

Measurements (H x W x L)15.26 x 9.05 x 15 inches
Motherboard SupportMicro-ATX, Mini-ITX
PSU SupportATX
Maximum GPU Length14.1 inches
Maximum CPU Cooler Height6.2 inches
Expansion SlotsFour
Fan Mounts• 2x 120/140 mm (front)
• 2x 120 mm (top)
• 1x 120 mm (rear)
Radiator Support• Up to 240 mm (front)
• 120 mm (rear)
Drive Mounts• 2x 2.5” drives
• 1x 3.5” drive
I/O Ports• 2x USB 3.0
• Audio In/Out

Cooler Master’s MasterBox Q300L is one of the more stylish Micro-ATX PC case options at this $50 price point. But the Q300L is more than just style; it also boasts some interesting modularity and versatility that sets it apart from the competition.

The Q300L’s modularity and versatility go hand-in-hand. The Q300L has movable case feet, which let you orient the case horizontally or vertically. To this end, the Q300L has a modular side-mounted I/O panel that you can reposition to suit whichever orientation you’re using.

Fan and radiator support is also solid for a PC case of this size in this price range. The Q300L has room for a 240 mm front-mounted radiator and an extra two 120 mm fans in the top, which should be more than enough for most mATX builds. That combination is probably overkill for most budget rigs, but it’s good to have the option.

Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L

Source: Carsonosu1 on PCPartPicker

You’ll probably want to use some of those options, as user reports indicate that the Q300L runs hot. Even with extra cooling to supplement the stock 120 mm exhaust fan, temperatures in the Q300L tend to hover on the high side. This is despite Cooler Master’s claims of “excellent thermal performance,” which is disappointing.

So, while there are some things to like about the Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L, it’s also less suited as a long-term cheap gaming PC case than the Thermaltake Versa H18. But if you’re only building a low-powered rig for internet browsing and casual gaming, the Q300L might be all you need.

5. Thermaltake Core V1

Best Budget Mini-ITX Case

Measurements (H x W x L)10.9 x 10.2 x 12.4 inches
Motherboard SupportMini-ITX
PSU SupportATX
Maximum GPU Length11.2 inches
Maximum CPU Cooler Height5.5 inches
Expansion SlotsTwo
Fan Mounts• 1x 120/140/200 mm (front)
• 2x 80 mm (rear)
Radiator Support• 1x 120/140 mm (front)
Drive Mounts• 2x 2.5” drives
• 2x 3.5” drives
I/O Ports• 2x USB 3.0
• Audio In/Out

Thermaltake’s Core V1 won’t win any awards for style; it’s an old PC case and it shows, especially in its somewhat dated front panel design. But don’t let that fool you; it’s still a case worth considering for those building a Mini-ITX rig on a budget.

The Core V1, like many of the best cube PC cases, has a dual-chamber internal design. The top half, which receives the most airflow, is for heat-generating components like the CPU and GPU. The lower half is for the PSU and storage drives and has extra room for storing cable slack. The latter will come in handy for cable management, minimizing the change of stray cables impeding the airflow in the top half.

Speaking of airflow, the Core V1 comes from the factory with a 200 mm fan pre-installed. Stock temperatures are fine, with Gamers Nexus recording a 25.7-degree delta on an AMD Ryzen 5 2400G and a 54.1-degree delta on a GeForce GTX 1070 while running 3DMark.

Thermaltake Core V1 tempreratures

Source: Gamers Nexus

The Core V1 has room for two extra 80 mm exhaust fans, and we think it’s probably a good idea to take advantage if you want to try and reduce temperatures further. Two of Arctic’s 80 mm PST fans will set you back less than $20, with the extra benefit of only needing one fan header.

Thermaltake’s Core V1 is quite large for a Mini-ITX case, but that means you have room for standard GPUs and CPU tower coolers. This isn’t just convenient; it also saves you money since you can opt for common desktop parts. No need to spend extra on relatively niche PC components like low-profile CPU coolers and SFX PSU here, thankfully.

Thermaltake Core V1

Source: waleismer on PCPartPicker

Overall, the Thermaltake Core V1 is a great Mini-ITX case that comes in very close to that magic $50 mark. It’s not the best-looking case, but we think performance trumps looks at this price point. The Core V1 has got it where it counts. The Thermaltake Core V1 is available in black (linked above) and white.

Before You Buy

Generally, the same core points you should pay attention to when choosing a PC case apply when shopping for cheap PC cases as well. However, there are some topics worth going into more detail about when you’re buying a cheap PC case.

Airflow and Fans

While some cheap PC cases have adopted mesh front panels for airflow, manufacturers sometimes skimp on fans to keep prices low. Let’s use the Thermaltake Versa H18 as an example. Even though it seems set up perfectly for solid airflow with its mesh panel and unobstructed interior, the single exhaust fan isn’t ideal for optimized case airflow.

pc airflow direction diagram

Even the most airflow-friendly PC case will struggle without actual airflow, after all. So pay attention to the default fan setup when you’re shopping around for a cheap gaming PC case. If the case you’re interested in only has a single fan, try to find some room in your budget for at least an extra fan to help with cooling.

On the plus side, fans are straightforward to install, so there’s no harm in running with the stock setup first and adding fans later when your budget allows. And when you’re shopping around for fans, look for multi-fan packs like these if you need to keep the cost low:

Uphere’s fans aren’t the most amazing fans on the market, but it’s hard to argue with the price. Just over $10 for three fans is a steal in our book.

Cable Management

Budget PC cases often reuse older internal layouts to save money. While that’s usually not a problem, you may find that these older cases don’t have the cable management features that we’re used to on pricier cases. Features like motherboard tray cutouts, a PSU shroud, and convenient cable tie points might not always be present in cheaper cases.

None of this is disastrous, of course. And, with some basic cable management know-how, you’ll be able to get a clean-looking rig going even without all those modern amenities. Sure, it might take a bit more effort and creativity, but why not treat it as a challenge?

Cable management

No PSU shroud? No problem. Source: u/yourboycharliebrown

Build Quality

The old saying “you get what you pay for” doesn’t always apply to tech. But it does apply to the build quality of these cheap cases. The sheet metal panels will be flimsier, the edges rougher (sometimes sharp enough to cut, if you’re not careful), and the build quality definitely won’t impress.

However, those failings generally won’t stop you from using the case itself. While some issues can be troublesome, more basic failings such as thin side panels and unimpressive build quality aren’t that bad in the grand scheme of things. After all, they don’t matter much (if at all) when you’re sitting at your desk playing games.

However, one aspect that can be a bigger issue is the general lack of quality control with cheaper cases. We’ve read reports of cheap cases like the Cougar MX330 arriving damaged from the factory, so that’s something to look out for too.

You should always be alert when unpacking a computer case, but doubly so if it’s a cheap one. Try to buy from a retailer with a good return policy, too, so you can get a replacement or refund if your PC case arrives damaged.

Closing Thoughts

While we’ve tried to choose cases that offer a good combination of price and performance, the best budget PC case for you will depend entirely on how much you can afford to spend. If your budget can accommodate it, the Thermaltake Versa H18 is possibly our favorite of the bunch here. It’s well worth checking out if you’re ok with a Micro-ATX build.

But what if you’re shopping at an even lower price point? In that case, just keep our buying guide in mind, and you should be able to find something that’ll work for you. And if you’ve decided to stretch the budget a bit more, check out our list of the best sub-$100 cases for some great reasonably-priced options. All the best!

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