The 5 Best HTPC Cases in 2022

Written by Azzief Khaliq
Last updated Apr 4, 2022

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best htpc cases

Thinking of building a home theater personal computer (HTPC)? A lot of the excitement in the PC case space focuses on high-performance gaming cases, leaving those of you looking for low-key, living-room friendly cases in a bit of a lurch. While we can’t change the way the market is heading, we can at least help you in your quest by listing the best HTPC cases for your new living room PC.

Technically, almost any PC case can be a “home theater PC case” if you use it for a living room system. But we presume that anyone looking specifically for HTPC cases wants something relatively small and horizontal that fits in a home theater cabinet. So that’s exactly what we’ve picked out for you here.

Our Picks for Best HTPC Case

1. SilverStone GD09

Best ATX HTPC Case

Measurements (H x W x L)6.69 x 17.32 x 14.09 inches
Volume26.8 liters
Motherboard SupportSSI-CEB, ATX, Micro-ATX
PSU SupportATX
Maximum GPU Length12.2 inches / 5.25 inches
Maximum CPU Cooler Height5.43 inches
Expansion Slots• Seven vertical
• One horizontal
Fan Mounts• 2x 120 mm (right side)
• 1x 120/80 mm (left side)
• 2x 80 mm (rear)
Radiator SupportNone
Drive Mounts• 1x 5.25” drive or 1x 3.5” drive or 2x 2.5” drives
• 1x 3.5” drive
• 1x 2.5”/3.5” drive
• 1x 2.5” drive
I/O PortsGD09B:
• 2x USB 3.0
• Audio In/Out

GD09C:
• 1x USB Type-C
• 1x USB 3.0
• Audio In/Out

SilverStone has a range of HTPC cases perfect for those of you who want a no-compromises solution perfect for both media viewing and living room gaming. They’re all worth checking out, but we like the GD09 for its reasonable price, component compatibility, and unobtrusive looks.

The main benefit of going with a larger HTPC case like the GD09 is that you don’t have too many component size restrictions to worry about. There’s room for a standard ATX motherboard, a full-sized two-slot gaming GPU, a decent tower cooler, and a full-size power supply unit. That said, it’s not without compromise.

You’ll have to use a less-ideal pull configuration on your CPU tower cooler if you want to install one alongside a 5.25” disk drive. However, testing has shown that a pull configuration is only slightly worse than the standard push (or push/pull) fan setup, so it’s not too bad. Don’t go overboard with your CPU choice, and you’ll be fine.

SilverStone GD09

Source: JezzaChiv on PCPartPicker

SilverStone has tried to ensure that the GD09 will offer enough airflow even for high-performance components. The case has room for six fans (of varying sizes) across both sides and the rear panel. It only comes with a single 120 mm fan out of the box though, and you’ll probably want to add at least a couple to help cool your components.

DVTests tested the GD09’s default fan configuration with an Intel Core i7-4970K and MSI R9 270X and recorded 79 and 78 degrees Celsius, respectively. Not bad, but bear in mind that it’s pretty old hardware.

silverstone gd09 horizontal pc case build

Source: u/d3cyph3ruk

Overall, the SilverStone GD09 is the best HTPC case if you want a powerful living room rig. There’s enough room for almost any hardware you desire, and the multiple fan mounts should help keep everything at reasonable temperatures. Just make sure you leave some room to the sides of the GD09 to give the intake fans access to fresh air.

SilverStone also sells a variant called the GD09-C with a single USB Type-C port in place of one of the GD09’s two USB 3.0 ports. Unfortunately, it seems to be out of stock everywhere as we write this. Still, it’s worth keeping an eye out for if a front USB Type-C port is a must-have.

2. SilverStone GD06

Best mATX HTPC Case

Measurements (H x W x L)5.91 x 17.32 x 13.39 inches
Volume22.4 liters
Motherboard SupportMicro-ATX, Mini-ITX
PSU SupportATX
Maximum GPU Length10.98 inches / 4.92 inches
Maximum CPU Cooler Height2.75 inches (4.72 inches without ODD)
Expansion SlotsFive
Fan Mounts• 2x 120 mm (right)
• 1x 80/120 mm (left)
• 2x 80 mm (rear)
Radiator SupportNone
Drive Mounts• 1x 5.25” drives
• 3x 3.5” drives
• 1x 3.5”/2.5” drive
• 1x 2.5” drive
I/O Ports• 2x USB 3.0
• Audio In/Out

SilverStone’s GD06 is the smaller brother to our ATX HTPC pick, the SilverStone GD09. It has many similar features: solid intake options, good component compatibility, and an unobtrusive, plain design that won’t attract attention to itself.

The biggest compromise to the smaller GD06 is the CPU cooler restrictions. Where the GD09 had enough height for a mid-tier tower cooler and an optical drive, you’ll have to choose one or the other in the GD06. It’s not a deal-breaker, as 2.75 inches is still enough for a good low-profile cooler like the Scythe Big Shuriken 3. But it’s something to bear in mind when choosing a CPU.

GPU height clearance is also slightly restrictive, and you’ll have to check GPU height before committing to a card. Length won’t be an issue for most RTX 3070 variants, but the 4.92-inch height limit means you’ll need a slightly shorter card like the MSI RTX 3070 Ventus 2X OC.

SilverStone GD06

Source: SilverStone

The SilverStone GD06 has one advantage over the larger GD09: drive support. With room for up to four 3.5” drives, the GD06 is arguably better if you need affordable mass storage for audio and video files. And you’ll probably want that, considering that playing locally-stored media is one of the big reasons to build an HTPC in the first place.

However, while we like the SilverStone GD06 overall, it’s hard to ignore the slightly awkward positioning of an mATX HTPC case this size. You get more compatibility issues than an ATX equivalent without the compact, “it-just-fits-anywhere” nature of our next, smaller case.

It feels like it’s in no-man’s-land, and you might as well get the GD09 if you want to build a relatively high-end HTPC gaming rig. But if the size is right for you, feel free to go for the GD06. As long as you’re aware of the CPU cooler situation, you’ll be fine.

3. InWin CJ712

Best mATX HTPC Case Runner-Up

Measurements (H x W x L)3.74 x 12.0 x 10.86 inches
Volume7.9 liters
Motherboard SupportMicro-ATX, Mini-ITX
PSU SupportFlex ATX (built-in)
Maximum GPU Length9.9 inches / 2.39 inches
Maximum CPU Cooler Height1.77 inches
Expansion SlotsFour (low-profile)
Fan Mounts• 80 mm (front)
Radiator SupportNone
Drive Mounts• 1x slim ODD
• 1x 2.5” drive
• 1x 2.5”/3.5” drive
I/O Ports• 2x USB 2.0
• 2x USB 3.0
• Audio In/Out

The SilverStone GD06 is a solid option if you want to game with your mATX HTPC rig. But that extra room will probably be wasted if gaming’s not in your plans. If all you want is a tiny, no-fuss HTPC for basic media consumption, check out the InWin CJ712.

The CJ712 is smaller than most mainstream Mini-ITX cases (including our pick for the best Mini-ITX HTPC case below), making it a great candidate for a compact, low-power HTPC. Unsurprisingly though, its compact size does come with even more sacrifices. CPU cooler height is quite restrictive at 1.77 inches, for one. In addition, you’re limited to low-profile expansion cards and have to deal with the power constraints of a Flex ATX PSU.

InWin CJ712

Source: InWin

Gaming-grade low-profile cards exist, sure, but we don’t think the built-in 265-watt Flex ATX PSU is enough to power one comfortably. Of course, you can install a higher-wattage power supply, but we don’t recommend that. Why not? Take FSP’s 500-watt Flex ATX PSU as an example. It’s way more expensive than the CJ712, which arguably defeats the purpose of buying the CJ712 in the first place.

Besides, the single 80 mm intake doesn’t offer enough airflow for any sort of serious GPU. So if you want gaming power in a small package, consider our next pick instead.

However, if you’re OK with an integrated GPU, the InWin CJ712 is worth considering. Compatibility with Micro-ATX motherboards and a built-in power supply unit means you won’t have to pay that infamous “ITX tax” on a small motherboard and SFX PSU. That makes the CJ712 a great option for a compact living room rig on the cheap.

4. Fractal Design Node 202

Best Mini-ITX HTPC Case

Measurements (H x W x L)3.22 x 14.84 x 12.99 inches
Volume10.2 liters
Motherboard SupportMini-ITX
PSU SupportSFX
Maximum GPU Length12.2 inches / 5.7 inches
Maximum CPU Cooler Height2.2 inches
Expansion SlotsTwo
Fan Mounts2x 120 mm (GPU chamber)
Radiator SupportNone
Drive Mounts2x 2.5” drives
I/O Ports• 2x USB 3.0
• Audio In/Out

If you want a small HTPC that still has enough room for gaming-grade hardware, the Fractal Design Node 202 is the case for you. At just a shade under 10 liters, it’s small enough to fit almost anywhere in your living room. However, unlike some smaller HTPC cases, there’s still enough room for a full-sized gaming GPU in the Node 202.

The Fractal Design Node 202 makes the most out of its tiny size with a dual-chamber design. You have the main chamber, which houses your CPU, Mini-ITX motherboard, and SFX (not SFX-L) PSU. Your GPU goes in the other chamber, connected to your motherboard using the included PCIe 3.0 riser cable.

The GPU chamber houses the Node 202’s only two fan mounts, positioned right below the GPU’s heatsink. These may come in handy if your GPU needs some help with cooling. However, note that installing a dual-slot GPU will restrict you to slimline 120 mm fans like the Arctic P12 Slim.

Fractal Design Node 202

Source: makaseo on PCPartPicker

The main chamber has no fan mounts, but there is decent ventilation right above your CPU cooler. So temperatures shouldn’t be an issue, at least in the context of SFF PCs with low-profile CPU coolers. Stick with reasonable mid-range processors like the Intel i5-12400, and you’ll be OK.

On the other hand, your GPU might be of more concern depending on how you use the Node 202. Fractal designed the Node 202 for horizontal and vertical use; unsurprisingly, GPU temps can be significantly higher in the former configuration.

Bit-Tech measured a 13-degree difference between an AMD R7 250X in horizontal vs. vertical orientation. Seventy-two degrees while lying flat isn’t too bad, but the R7 250X isn’t a particularly power-hungry card. Slap a modern mid-range card in there, and you’re probably looking at temperatures closer to 80 degrees.

Fractal Design Node 202 temperatures

Source: Bit-Tech

80 degrees is still safe, of course. However, it’s hot enough for your GPU to start reducing clock speeds. So if you want to build a gaming-capable rig in a horizontal Node 202, we recommend adding a couple of fans to help your GPU.

Despite the possible thermal challenges, the Fractal Design Node 202 is an excellent Mini-ITX HTPC case that offers the best of both worlds: size and gaming prowess. Add that to solid cable management options and an agreeable price, and it’s a winner.

Fractal also sells a Node 202 and 450-watt SFX PSU bundle for those who don’t feel like shopping around for a new power supply. It’s not the most powerful SFX PSU money can buy, but it’s good enough.

5. SilverStone Milo 10

Best Ultra-Compact M-ITX HTPC Case

Measurements (H x W x L)Standard top cover:
• 2.48 x 7.72 x 8.94 inches

Elevated top cover:
• 3.31 x 7.72 x 8.94 inches
Volume• 2.8 liters (standard top)
• 3.7 liters (elevated top)
Motherboard SupportMini-ITX
PSU SupportExternal AC adapter
Maximum GPU LengthNone
Maximum CPU Cooler HeightStandard top cover:
• 1.22 inches (with SSD)
• 1.69 inches (without SSD)

Elevated top cover:
• 1.14 inches (with HDD)
• 1.22 inches (with SSD + ODD without HDD bracket standoff)
• 1.41 inches (with M.2 drive + 120/140 mm fan)
• 1.85 inches (with SSD and HDD bracket standoff)
• 2.48 inches (with M.2 drive only)
Expansion SlotsNone
Fan Mounts• 3x 50 mm (side)
• 1x 120/140 mm (elevated top cover)
Radiator SupportNone
Drive MountsStandard top cover:
• 2x 2.5” drives

Elevated top cover:
• 2x 2.5” drives or 1x 3.5” drive
• 1x 9.5 mm slim optical drive
I/O Ports2x USB 3.0

Is the InWin CJ712 still a bit too big for you? Maybe you want a portable HTPC that you can carry in a backpack? Say hello to the SilverStone Milo 10. Coming in at less than five liters even with its extended top panel, the Milo 10 is the case for anyone that must have the smallest possible HTPC.

Size isn’t the only thing the Milo 10 has going for it, though. It’s a surprisingly flexible case, with two top panel options and various drive mounting possibilities. The taller top adds about 0.83 inches to the case’s total height and opens up extra CPU cooling and drive options. That’s not a lot, but the extra bit of CPU cooler room will be important if you want any sort of 3D performance with the Milo 10.

The Milo 10 doesn’t have room for a dedicated GPU, so anyone interested in 3D performance will want a modern Zen 3 APU like the AMD Ryzen 7 5700G for optimal performance. It’s not a super-hot CPU with its 65-watt TDP, but you’ll still want something like the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 (which is 1.45 inches thick) to keep the CPU and built-in GPU cool in 3D workloads.

SilverStone Milo 10

Source: hpelgrift on PCPartPicker

That said, you won’t need the relatively powerful integrated graphics of a Zen 3 Ryzen APU if you just want to play movies and watch YouTube. If that’s the case, you can safely drop down to a super-low-power CPU like the AMD Athlon 3000G or Intel Pentium G7400. One of those will likely let you get by with the standard top and a low-profile cooler like the 1.18-inch high ID-COOLING IS-30.

To be fair, the Milo 10 is creeping into NUC territory. However, we’ve seen more than a few people use a NUC as their HTPC, so this is a strong contender if you want a tiny, portable HTPC. The small size also makes it easy to hide, and you can even mount this behind your TV for a seamless HTPC experience.

The Silverstone Milo 10 won’t be for everyone. The limitations of its five-liter volume and the AC adapter’s extra cost will severely limit its audience. But if you want a backpack-friendly HTPC and don’t mind the sacrifices you’ll have to make, the SilverStone Milo 10 is a case worthy of your time.

Before You Buy

Much of our standard case buying advice applies to HTPC cases. This includes, but isn’t limited to: checking component compatibility thoroughly, having the right components ready, and ensuring the case has enough drive bays for your needs.

But we think there are also a few HTPC-specific topics worth discussing in slightly more depth.

Ventilation

If you’re eyeing an HTPC-specific case, you’re probably thinking of putting it in your A/V rack alongside components like a home theater receiver. If that’s your plan, one crucial thing to check first is whether there’s enough room to the sides and behind your case for ventilation and airflow.

Some HTPC cases draw air in from the sides, unlike conventional PC towers. This fan arrangement allows for a clean, minimal front panel that matches other home entertainment gear. If the case you’re eyeing has side-mounted intake fans, ensure that your rack or shelf is wide enough to give the fans some breathing room.

HTPC setup

Consider putting the HTPC on top of your rack for optimal airflow. Source: u/joe-h2o

Similarly, make sure there’s enough room behind the case so that the fans aren’t exhausting hot air directly into the back panel of your rack (or your wall). While this is less important than the intakes, it’s always a good idea not to have fans blowing directly into a solid surface.

Noise Levels

It’s imperative to keep fan noise down if you plan to watch movies or TV series on your HTPC. Games are often immersive enough to drown out fan noise, but nothing ruins your enjoyment like fan noise during a quiet moment in a movie.

So even if you’ve never bothered with fan noise on your desktop rig, you’ll probably want to pay more attention when setting up your HTPC. There are a couple of ways to keep your living room rig quiet: first, you can opt for silence-focused fans from brands like Noctua or Arctic. Fans like the Noctua NF-P12 redux-900 or Arctic P12 Silent (or the 140 mm equivalents) will excel here.

The other option is to spend time tweaking your fan curves. Human ears are particularly sensitive to constantly changing noise levels, so minimizing fan speed changes will help create a much more pleasant HTPC experience. Our guide to setting fan curves can help you here.

Do You Need an HTPC?

The rise of Android-based streaming devices such as the Nvidia Shield has made the HTPC much less integral to a living room entertainment setup. So think about the content you’re interested in before committing to any of these HTPC cases.

Suppose you’re only interested in YouTube, Netflix, and other streaming services. In that case, save your money (and time) and go with a digital media player like the Roku Streaming Stick or Nvidia Shield. The Shield will even let you stream games from your gaming rig, giving you access to your entire gaming library in your living room.

However, what if game streaming simply won’t work for you and you really want a living-room gaming experience? That’s where a mid-sized HTPC with a dedicated GPU starts making sense. You can pack a surprising amount of power into an HTPC, enough to put even the latest generation of consoles to shame.

HTPCs also make sense if you have a lot of local media to watch, whether physical or digital. One benefit of using an HTPC compared to an off-the-shelf media player like a Blu-Ray drive is the potentially improved upscaling available via a renderer like madVR or a player such as MPV. Of course, not everyone will care about upscaling. But an HTPC gives you the option, which is what building a PC is all about.

If you’re keen on having that typical PC flexibility and gaming potential in your living room, an HTPC is probably for you. Gone all-in on streaming and don’t plan to change that? If that’s the case, you may want to consider spending your money elsewhere.

Closing Thoughts

The eagle-eyed among you will notice that most of our picks today are relatively old cases. It’s not that we’re trying to be “retro”; it’s just that there hasn’t been much development in the horizontal HTPC case market. So, while we think the SilverStone GD09 and Fractal Design Node 202 are the best HTPC cases for anyone seeking an A/V cabinet-friendly case, they aren’t the only options for an HTPC in 2022.

The rise of affordable compact Mini-ITX cases means it’s possible to build a bonafide SFF rig for your living room without spending an arm and a leg. Sure, they won’t fit in an A/V rack, but that might be a small sacrifice for the extra flexibility and liquid-cooling options that these Mini-ITX cases offer.

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