Here we will cover mid-tower vs full tower differences for computer cases, as well as some information to make a better-informed decision about which one you may want. I myself have grappled with this decision over the years and can offer some insight for you.
The first major difference is the physical size.
Here is a comparison chart so you can see the differences in height:
|Ultra or Super Tower||Full Tower||Mid Tower (Tower)||Mini Tower||Small Form Factor|
|Physical Size||27 Inches (68 cm) or more||22 Inches (55 cm) or more||18 Inches (48 cm) or more||14 Inches (35 cm) or more||A few inches or less|
|Motherboard Sizes||All sizes||ATX or smaller||ATX or smaller||Micro ATX / Mini ITX or smaller||Nano or Pico ITX|
But it simply doesn’t end just with size. Let’s dive in a little deeper to uncover more of the differences. Knowing more about the differences can really help anyone who is on a path to choosing a computer case for themselves.
Mid-tower vs full tower: More differences
As we already mentioned, the case size is the major difference between them. So you would immediately think that it only means more parts that you can fit inside.
While that is true, a few more things come into play when deciding on the size you want. That’s where the rest of the article comes into play.
Let’s go through a few things to consider when looking into choosing the ideal size of your next build.
The amount of drive bays
The amount of drive bays is an important factor for anyone that wants a lot of drives in their computer. Increased amounts of storage is perfect for anyone wanting to make YouTube videos for their channel and keep hours of extra footage.
Of course, this is only one example. I personally keep a lot of films that I have ripped from Blu-Rays or DVDs. So having the extra storage space means that I can enjoy a locally stored collection of movies or TV shows.
I even add my music to it so I can stream any of the media I want to anywhere in my home.
However, it’s not just hard drive bays that can be useful. Some other types of peripherals can make use of drive bays. For example, audio equipment specifically designed for computer drive bays.
There are many accessories available for spare drive bays.
There are many reasons why you would need extra storage, so more drive bays could be mandatory.
Total fan count
We all need the internal temperature of our computer to remain cool. By being able to add more fans, you can drastically increase the amount of air that you can pass through your case.
More air flow means that you are able to reduce the internal temperature with greater ease so the rest of your components can do a much more effective job of maintaining their desired temperature.
Having more airflow through your case is the most powerful first step you can take in order to keep your PC cool.
Types of motherboards
Motherboards come in different sizes. Here is a basic table so you can see the differences between the various sized motherboards.
|WTX||14 × 16.75 inches (356 × 425 mm)|
|XL-ATX||13.6 × 10.4 inches (345 × 264 mm)|
|Extended ATX||12 × 13 inches (305 × 330 mm)|
|ATX||12 × 9.6 inches (305 × 244 mm)|
|Mini ATX||5.9 × 5.9 inches (284 × 208 mm)|
|Micro ATX||9.6 × 9.6 inches (244 × 244 mm)|
|Flex ATX||9 × 7.5 inches (229 × 191 mm)|
|Mini ITX||6.7 × 6.7 inches (170 × 170 mm)|
|Nano ITX||4.7 x 4.7 inches (120 x 120mm)|
|Pico ITX||3.9 x 2.8 inches (100 x 72mm)|
|Mobile ITX||2.9 x 1.7 inches (75 x 45mm)|
As you can see, certain sized motherboards can be installed into specific sized cases.
It is something to factor in if you want a larger motherboard with more features and capabilities, or perhaps a small motherboard with a limited amount of connectors and features.
How case size affects cooling
It is far easier to keep a larger sized case cool compared to a smaller one. Like we discussed more fans provide better airflow.
However, in addition to that, components spaced further apart are also easier to keep cooler.
This doesn’t only apply to drives, but a larger motherboard provides a greater distance between chipset heatsinks, CPU coolers, and graphics cards.
There is also the space between all the components and the inside of the case. A larger gap means more volume of air at any given moment.
This improves the situation for the cooling fans by allowing plenty of time for the air to be replaced before too much heat is built up between the parts.
There is also less chance that other case components or cabling can obstruct air flow inside the case.
How the size of your case could potentially affect noise
We know by now that a larger case means more fans. This is not only advantageous as to how much air you can move through the inside of the case, but how fast they need to spin most of the time.
If you have more fans, it means that you don’t need to spin them up as fast to move enough air through your system. A few fans spinning fairly slowly will move just as much air as one fan of the same specification running at a higher RPM.
So, slower-moving fans seem like a pretty effective way to reduce overall noise inside a computer. I’m sure you will agree as most noise is generated from cooling fans.
Choosing the right size for your specific needs
Let’s go over some significant factors of mid-tower vs full tower cases when thinking about the required size for your build.
How much space do you need to work inside your computer?
In all honesty, you don’t need much room if you are patient. But, frustration can mount over time. The more you have to change components or add something, it can start to get a little annoying.
But when it comes to a mid tower sized case, things aren’t all that bad. But when you own your first full tower case, it’s hard to look back.
Cable management becomes easier, changing drives and cards also become easier. There are many manufacturers doing a great job of making these tasks easier even with smaller cases.
That’s why I always say, if you are a tinkerer, try it out for yourself. If you find most tasks a bit challenging because of space restraints, it’s time to switch up to something larger.
Consider future upgrades
If you have bought a new motherboard and perhaps considering going with an SLI configuration, or adding some sophisticated cooling system, think hard about what a larger case can offer you.
While a mid tower case is a popular size for most gamers or enthusiasts, the extra space gives you more options.
Not only is adding more drives never an issue with a larger case but mounting extras for water cooling while keeping much-needed air cooling in place becomes more difficult with a medium or smaller sized case.
How much room do you have for your computer?
This is a very important question to ask when thinking about your next case size. If you are working in a small area with your computer and you just don’t have the extra room, forget about a larger case.
It will be so much of a pain that you will be living in regret most days of your life.
However, if space isn’t an issue, you have one more reason to continue thinking about something larger.
Do you need a new desk?
If your desk is on the verge of collapse, or you are seriously considering a new desk for your computer, think about the case size that it will need to support.
Having a large enough desk with plenty of space around it makes owning a computer more pleasant.
When needing to turn the case into position while you swap or add in a drive, having enough room to do so is a big blessing.
A large enough desk means that you have space for your monitor, no matter what the size or amount, but also better access to panels or the inside of your computer case.
Do you live in a hot climate?
This is a big one when it comes to case sizes. Since I moved to own larger cases, overheating has become a thing of the past.
Yes, I have plenty of experience choosing the right hardware and knowing how to set up cooling to get the most out of my hardware in any climate, but this has been a huge contributor.
As mentioned before, you can add more fans, and components are further apart. Just the combination of those two factors has made cooling easier on all computers I’ve built.
As long as you don’t have a lot of ‘dead air’ inside your case, cooling will be easier. Of course, cheap cases that aren’t designed well or that aren’t equipped with the proper cooling won’t help, no matter how large the case is.
A larger computer case is also great for water cooling. If you plan to add water cooling, especially an open loop system, consider a larger case to make your work a lot easier.
How much storage do you need?
If you don’t plan to use much storage on your computer at all, maybe a mid tower case would be sufficient for you.
Knowing that the only things you are going to store on your drive is a few games, some music, and photos, could be the deciding factor to stick to a normal sized case.
But bare in mind, mechanical drives added inside your computer with larger gaps between them, means that heat can be easier regulated and your drives will probably last longer.
Personally, this is an important factor. Things you store on a drive can be the most precious thing you own inside your computer. Hardware gets outdated, but you can never replace precious unique media like your wedding photos or other rare music or videos.
How often do you need to move your computer?
If you move your computer around quite often, forget about a large case. It becomes tiresome very quickly when having to lug a huge lump of metal around on a regular basis.
If you are in a situation like most where you only move it to upgrade parts or to give it its biannual cleanout, then owning a large case isn’t an issue in the slightest, if you have the room.
If you are still stuck deciding on the right case for your needs, consider leaning toward a larger case. Once you experience the overall benefits, you won’t look back.
However, if you need to move your computer often, it’s a no brainer. The extra weight and size of a larger case will make things less pleasant.