Best Open Air PC Case In 2020

Best Open Air PC Case

For PC enthusiasts, getting the best open-air PC case could be crucial to finishing off a stunning looking build. Open-air PC cases have been around for some time and give you a unique and complete view of your system. If used correctly, open-air PC cases can make a mundane system build look outstanding and can elevate a build in terms of creativity.

These can be the perfect types of cases to house your water cooling loop design and offer you more aesthetically than some of the best PC cases out there.

The advantages of an open-air case are mostly aesthetics but there are a few other benefits to note. The open-air nature of these cases gives your system better thermals and improved heat dissipation. While ventilation might be at its best, you should be aware there is an increase in dust and a lack of protection from your surroundings with open-air cases.

Obviously, if you are planning a custom water-cooled build, then the chances are you don't have to worry about dust protection. Any builders out there considering an open-air case for air or AIO cooled builds will want to clean your system much more frequently.

Best Open Air Case: First Look

Editor's Pick
Thermaltake Core P5

Thermaltake Core P5

Best Open Air Case

The highly versatile Thermaltake Core P5 is a premium open-air case with some fantastic modularity. This feature-packed case is smothered in tempered glass side panels and is visually superb.

This interesting approach to an open-air case design is nothing short of brilliant. Its open frame and modular nature can really drive some creative builds from enthusiasts, but it's not for everyone. The Thermaltake Core P5 is certainly harder to build in compared to your average full-tower PC case.

If you think you may struggle then consider the Thermaltake View range which offers large tempered glass side panels and a great view into your case but without some of the hassle that may come with the P5.

The fact is, there are not many open-air cases on the market, certainly not ones that look this good. For a good mid-tower sized water-cool build, the P5 doesn't have much competition.

Runner Up
InWin D-Frame

InWin D-Frame

Next Best Open Air Case

Although this may appear to be a case with a roll-cage, it is actually just a very interesting design. This highly portable open-air case is a great Mini-ITX option for water cooling.

It may seem strange to see a Mini-ITX open-air case take the runner up spot on this list, but the InWin D-Frame brings a simple approach to the table, in a fun way.

Thanks to its small size, this open-air case doesn't need some intricate water-cooled piping to make it look great. It is marketed as a portable case option and is ideal for gamers who go to events, with it even featuring a little handle.

If you can get over the large price for something so small, then this unique case has got some serious potential.

Mini-ITX Pick
Thermaltake Core P1

Thermaltake Core P1

Best Mini-ITX Open Air Case

The Thermaltake Core P1 is the little brother to the Core P5. This stylish "coffee table" is the perfect house for a small water-cooled system.

For a smaller water-cooled build, there aren't many open-air cases better suited than the Thermaltake Core P1. This flexible little PC case is the smaller version of the Core P5 and can be used in three different ways. You can stand this case vertically or lay it horizontally, but what is brilliant is the fact it is wall mountable.

Mid-tower Pick
Cougar Conquer

Cougar Conquer

Best Mid-Tower Open Air Case

The Cougar Conquer open-air case is one of the most eye-catching on this list and it's easy to see why. The angular cuts of metal, dual radiator support, and nicely shaped glass make this an interesting case, to say the least.

The design on the Cougar Conquer definitely has a love or hate factor about it. With its lavish sections of angular metal and interesting modular shape, this certainly gets your attention when you walk by it. But, is it practical? Well yes, the Cougar Conquer will sufficiently cool your components thanks to its open-air design, and there are plenty of spots to attach radiators.

It is rather expensive, as are most open-air style PC cases, so it will largely come down to personal preference on how you want your system to look.

Best Alternative
Thermaltake Core P90

Thermaltake Core P90

Best Unconventional Open Air Case

This alternative pick form Thermaltake gives builders an option to create some interesting angles with their system. This could be a great pick for anyone looking to create an interesting custom loop and it features two side glass panels.

The Thermaltake Core P90 isn't going to give you the ability to "run and gun" in CS:GO, but it will give you the ability to put together some very interesting looking builds.

The chassis is not for everyone, and that is hardly a surprise with its 90-degree angular design. This open-air PC case is best suited for a water-cooled setup and it is certainly for the more seasoned builders out there.

Things to Consider Before Buying An Open Air Case

When going for an open-air PC case instead of a standard case, there are a few things to consider first. These can be quite costly and are only really suited to enthusiasts looking to water cool. That being said, there are some standard considerations for all builders, let's take a look.

Motherboard Form Factor

atx mobo eatx

Motherboards vary in size with the most common form factors being ATX, Micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX, with ATX being the biggest of the three and Mini-ITX the smallest.

Obviously smaller motherboards have less room for your components, fewer features, and fewer headers for your fans. Small may be perfect for you, but this should be based on the components and the size of your case. If you are planning on a high-end PC build then in most cases, stick with an ATX motherboard.

It is not just motherboards that vary in size, of course, GPUs, PSUs, and coolers all vary from small to large sizes, so double-check.

Open-Air Case Form Factor

Computer Case Size Comparison

A computer case will often be labeled with its form factor to give you a quick indication of what motherboard compatibility it will support. If not, don't worry the specs of any product will outline exactly what can fit inside!

As you can see, this list of the best open-air cases varies in size quite drastically, with some being around the mid-tower size and others in the Mini-ITX department.

The three main PC case sizes (although there are more) are:

  • Full-tower PC cases are the largest cases and can work with E-ATX, ATX, Micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX. Their large size is more meant for extra components rather than exceptionally larger motherboards.
  • Mid-tower PC cases are the most popular and can also work with motherboards that are as large as ATX, with a few exceptions.
  • Mini-ITX PC cases sacrifice the larger ATX boards, but can still use Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX boards.

As a quick side note, beware of using small form factor motherboards with large form factor cases as sometimes the front panel cables can struggle to reach and leave your cable management looking terrible.

The Old PC Enemy, Dust

As you can imagine with an open-air case, you are getting less protection for your components. With a normal case, dust follows the flow of air and goes through your intake fan (unless you have large gaps in your case and negative pressure).

With open-air cases, there is no need for air intake as your components are all fairly chilled. While this is great news for your temps, it will require some extra care and attention on the dust front. Regular dusting of your open-air PC is a must, as it will simply be to easy for it to accumulate in this type of case.

Dust build-up is a killer for components but remember, if your case is open, there are several other threats to consider. Beware of pets going near an open-air system (for obvious reasons) and take extra care with liquids as there will be little to stop any spillages.

Cable Management Is A Must

Cable management is important with all PC builds but often swept aside. Cable management is usually great to reduce heat and dust build up in a system, but with an open-air case, it's a little different.

As everything is on show in an open-air case, it can be quite difficult to leave cables without them ruining the entire design of your system build. While there will be routing options on these cases we recommend, it is going to be much harder managing your cables when compared to your standard PC cases.

It is essential with an open-air PC case to plan your build out a little bit more than usual, as there will be many aesthetic challenges along the way.

Now, without any further ado, let's see what the best open-air cases have to offer.

Our 5 Best Open Air PC Cases

Product Details
Thermaltake Core P5

Thermaltake Core P5

  • type: ATX Open Frame
  • motherboard support: Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX
  • dimensions hxwxd: 569 x 241 x 507 mm
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InWin D-Frame

InWin D-Frame

  • type: Mini-ITX Open Frame
  • motherboard support: Mini-ITX
  • dimensions hxwxd: 508 x 317 x 571 mm
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Thermaltake Core P1

Thermaltake Core P1

  • type: Mini-ITX Open Frame
  • motherboard support: Mini-ITX
  • dimensions hxwxd: 422 x 333 x 381 mm
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Cougar Conquer

Cougar Conquer

  • type: Mid-tower Open Frame
  • motherboard support: Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX
  • dimensions hxwxd: 686 x 254 x 584 mm
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Thermaltake Core P90

Thermaltake Core P90

  • type: Mid-tower Open Frame
  • motherboard support: Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX
  • dimensions hxwxd: 615 x 216 x 216 mm
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The Best Open Air PC Case Breakdown


Thermaltake Core P5

Thermaltake's Core P5 is one of their ATX open-air PC cases, which can also be wall-mounted. The Core P5 is one of Thermaltake's most popular open-air case options, piping the expensive P7 to the post.

The Core P5 is sometimes referred to as the coffee table, with its huge tempered glass side panel being a great place for your beverage (don't try this at home!). This open-air case supports ATX motherboards and can easily house an impressive system, with plenty of water cooling room. The case is big enough to deal with the largest of GPU sizes and can fit a CPU cooler as tall as 7".

The P5 supports radiators up to 480mm and is awash with modular features perfect for a custom loop builder. The case comes with four tempered glass windows that can be removed and almost close the case off entirely!

The Thermaltake P5 is available in black and white options and features a riser cable for vertical GPU mounting. Overall, the Core P5  is one of the best open-air PC cases on the market, and if you can afford it, you are going to be making some seriously cool custom loops.


InWin D-Frame

The InWin D-Frame is the most unique looking Mini-ITX open-case to make it on the list, and that is largely down to its loud and highly portable design.

While being on the slightly expensive side, the D-Frame is a great smaller form factor case. This open-air PC case reminds us of a sand dune buggy, and the roll cage is an inspired design choice. This case from InWin can fit GPUs that are 13.4" or under and there is enough room for a 6.5" CPU cooler.

The D-Frame offers a colorful alternative to the wonderfully built Thermaltake Core P1 and is available in five different color options (mostly all as loud as the bright green we have here). This open-air case could be perfect for a LAN build, thanks to its small size and useful handle. Despite this case having a tempered glass window and a roll-cage, it only weighs 7.7 KG.

The big negative that comes with this case is the price tag. The InWin D-Frame is priced closer to the ATX cases on this list, which is a bit of a shame. Despite this price tag, if you can afford it, then you can potentially get some very creative builds going in this.


Thermaltake Core P1

The Thermaltake Core P1 is essentially a smaller P5. This Mini-ITX open-air case is Thermaltake's smallest offering in the category and is just as visually pleasing as its bigger siblings.

Despite its size, the Core P1 can fit a 15" long GPU and has the clearance for a CPU cooler as tall as 6.7". This clearance gives builders a bit of extra flexibility with the components they choose.

Unlike the others in the range, the P1 only features a single tempered glass panel and is technically more "open-air" than the others. The Thermaltake Core P1 can be wall-mounted, which could look particularly good with a case of this size. Despite its smaller form, the case weighs over 9KG without a system inside.

The Core P1 can support radiators as big as 240mm so you could fit in an AIO cooler if you preferred, but a case like this deserves to be water-cooled with a custom loop!

This case has a very nice looking design and gives builders a smaller alternative to the brilliant P5 case. There is plenty of clearance with this case to get a high-end build going, and with the modularity, there is plenty to perk an enthusiasts interests.


Cougar Conquer

As far as open-air PC cases go, the Cougar Conquer has a design you won't be forgetting. This mid-tower sized case is modular by design and features an interestingly shaped tempered glass side window. The design is far from minimalistic like the D-Frame and looks more like a transformer than a PC case.

At 13.9 KG the Cougar Conquer is one of the heavier cases on the list, which can be forgiven due to the fact it isn't as open-air as the others. Graphics cards as long as 13.8" will fit inside this case along with any CPU cooler that is under 7.5" tall. The motherboard can cater for any mobo size up to ATX meaning you have a lot of flexibility with the build you go for.

This case has two different radiator support options, 240mm room on the front and 360mm on the top. Along with the radiator options we see three LED fans pre-installed too for some stylish cooling.

This may seem like a hefty chunk of metal and glass but it's a great canvas to put some interesting custom loop designs together. If you can afford it and don't mind the lavish design, the Cougar Conquer is a great option.


Thermaltake Core P90

There are some seriously unique looking PC cases in the open-air category, and Thermaltake has a good one here. The Core P90, with its angular concept, brings a fun new way to build into the mix. Part of the "P" range from Thermaltake, this open-air case is unique in its own right, and despite its size, it can be wall-mounted too!

The Core P90 gets its name from the 90-degree angle the case's design sits at, and it is easily one of the heaviest cases on the list (17.2KG). With this type of case design, you can get some really interesting angled custom loops and make your build stand out.

The Core P90 can only accommodate for graphics cards as long as 12.6". However, vertical mounting is an option with this case, thanks to the included riser cable. CPU coolers as tall as 7" are good in this case also, with adequate amounts of clearance.

The Thermaltake P90 has radiator support for up to 480mm, and its modular design is finished off superbly with two 5mm thick glass panels.

If this case's unique design doesn't put you off, experienced systems builders can create something incredible with the P90 and its 90-degree angle.


Selecting the best open-air PC case for your needs is highly important. This case is going to house your expensive components and protect them (albeit not as much in this category).

#1 Best Open-Air Case

The standout winner of the best open-air PC case category was the Thermaltake Core P5. This is a great mid-tower and is one of the most aesthetically pleasing when built in.

#1 Best Mini-ITX Open-Air Case

Thermaltake's simple yet elegant solutions mean the best mini-ITX open-air case is another from the Core P series. The Thermaltake Core P1 is the mini version of our champion and can even be wall-mounted!

#1 Unique Looking Open-Air Case

The Cougar Conquer looks like nothing else and is the perfect open-air case to give you an impressively unique looking build.

#1 Mini-ITX Alternative 

The InWin D-Frame is one loveable chassis! This is the most portable open-air case on the list and even features a handle.

#1 Alternative Enuthusiast Open-Air Case

Thermaltake's Core P90 gets you building at angles and can house some very interesting water cooling solutions. This isn't for the faint-hearted but perfect for the creative builders out there.

The best open-air PC cases offer a unique level of design you just don't get from any other cases, and they are excellent for a custom-loop system. All of our recommendations will give you a seriously stylish build but make sure you have a little extra in the budget.

Have you recently purchased an open-air case? Let us know about your building experiences with one of these over at the WePC community.

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