In a recent article, I covered the current market trends for Mid Tower Cases in 2018. Today, we’ll be covering a different, more interesting and unique product on the market: Open Frame cases. These cases are designed to help show off your hardware, rather than hide it inside of a dark, usually-cramped box. The advantages of these cases are often weighed down by the negatives, however. Things such as dust, hair and liquid spillage (if a beverage is nearby) are all major factors to consider. These things, if handled probably, should never be an issue though. Plus, the cases look awesome.
To help differentiate Open Frame cases from traditional cases, we’ll need to note a detail or two. Open Frame cases are often (but not always) vertical frames which utilize glass, acrylic or other, similar materials to display your hardware. The case is never fully enclosed, and often-times the hardware is entirely exposed to the elements, sans for a small pane on the side.
Below, you’ll find a list of my best picks for Open Frame cases in 2018.
Best Open-Frame Case 2018 – Overview
You can find our reviews just below the table
|Best Open-Frame Cases||Price (Amazon)||Motherboard Support||Max GPU Length||Max CPU Cooler Height||Front I/O||Expansion Slots||3.5" Mounts||2.5" Mounts|
|Thermaltake Core P3||Check Price||280mm / 450mm||180mm||Micro ATX / Mini-ITX / ATX||2 x USB 3.0 / 2 x USB 2.0 Audio in/out||8||4||5|
|COUGAR Conquer||Check Price||350mm||190mm||Micro ATX / Mini-ITX / ATX||2 x USB 3.0 / Audio in/out||7||3||4|
|Thermaltake Core P5 Tempered Glass||Check Price||280mm / 570mm||180mm||Micro ATX / Mini-ITX / ATX||2 x USB 3.0 / 2 x USB 2.0 Audio in/out||8||4||4|
|Thermaltake Core P1 Tempered Glass||Check Price||380mm||170mm||Mini-ITX||2 x USB 3.0 / Audio in/out||5||1||4|
|LIAN LI PC-T60B||Check Price||230mm||150mm||Micro ATX / ATX||None||8||3||2|
|Thermaltake Core P7 Tempered Glass||Check Price||280mm / 570mm||180mm||Micro ATX / ATX / Mini ITX / E-ATX||2 x USB 3.0 / 2 x USB 2.0 Audio in/out||8||5||7|
|LIAN LI PC-T70X||Check Price||Not Specified||Not Specified||Micro ATX / ATX / E-ATX||None||8||1||5|
Thermaltake Core P3
Pros: Clean, simple design and construction. Vertical mount for GPU display. Excellent custom water-cooling support.
Cons: GPU riser sold separately.
The Thermaltake Core series of Open Frame cases more or less dominate the market. They have several price points, several colors and a handful of customization and opens when it comes to things like chassis materials, window materials, overall construction and more. The P3 is an excellent starting point for those looking to get into the Open Frame game without breaking the bank. The vertical riser for the GPU is a nice addition too and will help to display your graphical horsepower in all its glory.
Pros: Professionally-machined. Excellent build quality. Sharp, premium design. Tempered glass window.
The Conquer by COUGAR is a mean, aggressive and sharp case. The corners are pronounced, the design is confrontational and the entire thing makes you want to stare. Heck, even the COUGAR badge on the front of the case is made to resemble Lamborghini, who is known for the same traits in their supercars. If you’re looking to make your build look like a supercar, you can’t go wrong with the Conquer. The machined panels, the automotive paint job, the GPU riser, the presentation… It’s all there, and it’s amazing. Be prepared to spend a pretty penny on it, however.
Thermaltake Core P5 Tempered Glass
Pros: Additional panels versus P3, tempered glass, cleaner interior wall, and design.
It wouldn’t be an Open Frame case list without multiple Thermaltake Core cases. That’s for a very good reason, too: they have Open Frame options at everywhere from $90 to $250. Stepping things up to the max, we have the Core P5 Tempered Glass edition. The mounting wall has been cleaned up and organized, there’s now tempered glass involved, and you’re getting a few more panels out of the box. Specifically, one for the front and one for the top. These panels should have alleviated much of your spillage and dust concerns, but of course, your mileage is going to vary widely. The case is excellently-crafted with an excellent design, sturdy feet, great glass and an overall great design not unlike the P3.
Thermaltake Core P1 Tempered Glass
Pros: Tempered Glass panel, Mini ITX form factor, affordable.
The P1 comes in our list as a unique product. Not only is It a niche Open Frame case, but it’s also Mini ITX, which is a form factor that you don’t really see much of. At least, not in regards to unique cases. There’s very little to be said here that hasn’t already been said about its bigger brothers. It’s an excellent frame, it’s got a great design, and this one especially comes in at a wonderful price when compared to other tempered glass Mini ITX cases. If you’re looking into the P3 or P5 but you feel you need a smaller footprint for your build, look no further!
LIAN LI PC-T60B
Pros: Completely open. Carrying handle.
Cons: Poor cable management. Poor assembly instructions.
Now, there’s no mistaking it: this is a test bench. This is a piece of hardware designed to allow for easy swapping of computer hardware. Whether you’re into benchmarking, you’re working in a shop and troubleshooting customer hardware, or perhaps you’re using it for your daily driver. It’s a test bench, and it’s a fine one at that. While the instructions are rather unclear on how to assemble this thing, and the cable management is nearly nonexistent, it’s still a great little thing. It supports but Micro ATX and ATX motherboards, has a carrying handle, leaves a very small footprint on your space, and it just looks so darn cool. It would be a great way to stand out at a LAN party. Just be sure not to drop any pizza on it.
Thermaltake Core P7 Tempered Glass
Pros: The holy grail for custom water-cooling.
Cons: Expensive. Massive.
Ah, the P7 from Thermaltake’s Core lineup. This thing… well, it hearkens back to times of gone when computers would consume entire floors of buildings. This thing is massive. Essentially, this is a Core P5 which is flanked on either side by two additional… walls, almost. These additional panels are to be used for mounting water-cooling hardware, like radiators, reservoirs, and pumps. The walls are filtered to allow airflow and roughly double tie overall width of the chassis. This seems like the perfect candidate to be mounted on the wall, but unfortunately, by doing so, you’d suffocate the additional panels for air if you mount anything onto them.
LIAN LI PC-T70X
Pros: Completely open. Improved basement compared to T60B.
Cons: No more carrying handle.
Like their previous offering, LIAN LI’s PC-T70X is an entirely-open chassis designed for troubleshooters, benchmarkers, or those with a unique taste. Specific to the T70X, we’re treated to an improved basement, some bottom air filtering, marginally-improved manual and more. It does have to be emphasized that while this case is unique in nature– much like the T60B–, its goal at the end of the day is to provide a modular, easy-to-work-with platform for those who frequently work with or swap hardware. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using it for your day-to-day build, but it’s a somewhat unconventional scenario to many.
To the keen eye, this list may have seemed to be more of a Thermaltake promotion piece. On the market for Open Frame cases, Thermaltake definitely occupies the space quite well, offering many cases at many price points. COUGAR has got their foot in the door with a fantastic offering, and LIAN LI’s lineup of test benches help introduce a little bit of variety into space. For such a niche type of case, it should come as no surprise that the companies dabbling in this space are few and far between. If market trends are anything to go off of, however, that is expected to change. Regardless, there is absolutely not a reason not to jump on any of our above listings if they catch your eye.