Whichever hardware manufacturer you prefer, it’s a fact that modern high-end builds run hot. A custom water loop is the most efficient and most eye-catching way of curbing your system’s thermals, and you don’t need an engineering degree to put one together anymore. You’ll need space and an accommodating enclosure for the best experience. Don’t neglect the best PC cases for water cooling while putting together your parts list.
Lian Li O11 Dynamic XL
Dimensions: 471 x 285 x 513mm | Supported motherboards: Mini-ITX – E-ATX | Included fans: None | Max CPU cooler height: 167mm | Max GPU length: 446mm | Internal bays: 4x 3.5"/2.5”, 6x 2.5"
- Has room for three 360mm rads
- Easily holds lots of storage and the largest components
- Good airflow and multiple access points for easier building
- Not cheap
Most gamers were already impressed with the original O11 Dynamic, but Lian Li went a step further for extreme enthusiasts. Many hail the XL version as the best water cooling case around despite its age. With good reason, since everything about it is engineered to accommodate a truly epic custom loop.
The O11 Dynamic’s often-copied look sports a two-part front and sides made from tempered glass & aluminum, respectively. The front is split between the two materials and houses an expansive I/O on its bottom and left. A light strip divides them, and an RGB controller lets you cycle through its effects without connecting anything to your motherboard.
The cavernous interior offers room not only for today’s chunky GPUs but also a whopping three 360mm radiators. The front one shares space with three SSD mounting trays, but you can easily reposition those. Not even the longest PSUs will cramp a bottom radiator’s style. Lian Li equipped both the bottom and ceiling with dust covers.
Building inside the XL is a pleasure. You can access it either from the top or the side. It supports everything from mATX to E-ATX, and there’s no cable clutter thanks to angled grommeted holes & disk trays that double as dividers. A large caddy in the back holds four HDDs and three SSDs, bringing the case’s storage potential to a hefty ten.
We’re struggling to find anything wrong with the XL. Cheaper cases exist, but few come close in terms of spaciousness and versatility.
Phanteks Enthoo Pro 2
Dimensions: 580 x 240 x 560mm | Supported motherboards: ITX – E-ATX | Included fans: N/A | Max CPU cooler height: 195mm | Max GPU length: 503mm | Internal bays: 4x 3.5”/2.5", 11x 2.5"
- Effortlessly holds two PCs
- Room for 15 disks and as many fans
- No clutter despite potentially holding double the components
- No included fans
Some of the best PC cases for water cooling are big enough to hold two systems! The Enthoo Pro 2 is our favorite since ditching the second system lets you install a ridiculous amount of cooling and storage hardware. It’s also among our more affordable picks.
A large, dense fabric covering the front is the first thing you’ll notice about this imposing case. A covered I/O sits above it, holding four USB-A and one USB-C connection. The right side is mildly tinted tempered glass, while vents on the left allow sideways fan placement and more airflow for the PSU.
The Enthoo Pro II doesn’t arrive with fans yet it offers room for many. You can place two radiators up to 480mm in front, one 360mm rad on the floor, and another above the motherboard tray. Needless to say, this case has the potential to be one of the coolest around.
A shroud covers the PSU, which you mount sideways to accommodate a second motherboard. Out of the box, you can also mount a mind-boggling fifteen storage drives throughout the interior, not counting any NVMe SSDs you might have.
Phanteks includes a riser cable for anyone who wants to show off their graphics card. While the case is wide enough even for the newest four-slot monstrosities, propping one up vertically means there won’t be room for a CPU air cooler. Since you’ll be building a custom loop, this becomes a non-issue.
Fractal Design Meshify 2
Dimensions: 474 x 240 x 542mm | Supported motherboards: Micro-ATX – E-ATX | Included fans: 2x 140mm front, 1x 140mm back | Max CPU cooler height: 185mm | Max GPU length: 491mm | Internal bays: 2x 3.5"/2.5”, 2x 2.5"
- Accommodates three large radiators
- Easy to build in and make the system tidy
- Versatile backside
- Costlier than the Lite version
Fractal makes so many Meshify models that it’s hard to keep up, and we already praised the Meshify 2’s lite version in our article on the best airflow enclosures. The original is among the best PC cases for water cooling if you don’t have space to accommodate a full tower but still want excellent thermals without feeling cramped.
This is another case with a noteworthy front, this time with an unmistakable fractal pattern. You’ll encounter it on the mesh as well as the top and bottom dust covers. The right panel is completely closed off, while you can get the left glass one in a range of tinted options.
You already get three 140mm fans with the case and can substitute the front ones for a 420mm radiator. A 360mm unit fits up top, while standard PSUs let you place another 280mm radiator on the bottom.
The Meshify 2 has a unique backplate that lets you mount several 3.5″ HDD cages or cooling components like reservoirs and pumps. As you’re likely going for the latter, you can mount several legacy drives inside the PSU shroud instead.
There’s no top left crossbar, so removing the side and top opens the case wide up for installation and tinkering. Add the extra-wide grommeted openings & tons of Velcro strips, and you’ve got a chassis that’s effortless to build in.
Unlike the Lite version, the original’s I/O comes with USB-C. That and extra rive mounting options are worth the minor price difference, especially if you need more space for games and projects.
Lian Li Lancool III
Dimensions: 526 x 238 x 523mm | Supported motherboards: Mini-ITX – E-ATX | Included fans: 3x 140mm front, 1x 140mm back | Max CPU cooler height: 185mm | Max GPU length: 420mm | Internal bays: 4x 3.5”/2.5", 8x 2.5"
- Runs cool and quiet
- Spring-loaded components & multiple panels make building easier and clean
- Good value for the money
- Tricky 3.5” HDD installation
The Lancool III is steadily climbing the ranks of our favorite cases overall. We already praised its superb airflow & spaciousness. However, its modular interior layout also easily qualifies the Lancool as one of the best PC cases for water cooling. It’s also our value pick since all the others are more expensive.
This is a large chassis that freely mixes metal, glass, and mesh elements. Its front panel has a solid chamfer, while the central mesh part lets the included fans suck air inside. Interestingly, you can rotate the front 180° if you want the I/O to go on the bottom and be more easily accessible for desk use.
Both sides are mostly glass, with mesh covering the bottom third. Removing the glass involves pressing a metal strip. This releases a spring-loaded mechanism, causing them to spread out suicide door style and adds aesthetic points since access is screw & toolless.
The interior holds more springs and innovations. Water cooling enthusiasts will be particularly impressed with the front. You’ll already find three 140mm spinners there, but you can rotate their assembly to gain extra room. Next to the fans is a (re)movable panel with reservoir and pump mounting points.
The shroud area hides three movable plates. You may use these as additional 2.5” SSD fastening points or remove them to seat a 360mm radiator. The top and front hold two 420mm rads more. Two grommeted holes almost span the Lancool’s height. They’re close to a set of long Velcro strips that ensure a clean look despite the transparent right side.
be quiet! Silent Base 802
Dimensions: 539 x 281 x 553mm | Supported motherboards: Micro-ATX – E-ATX | Included fans: 2x 140mm front, 1x 140mm back | Max CPU cooler height: 185mm | Max GPU length: 432mm | Internal bays: 3x 3.5"/2.5”, 3x 2.5"
- Excellent soundproofing
- Modular interior with easy access
- Comes with three retail-grade fans
- No space for radiators on the bottom
While the best cases for water cooling usually have glass side panels so you can show your labor of love off, a few take a different approach. The idea behind the Silent Base 802 is to create a quiet enclosure while your custom loop takes care of excessive heat. Alternatively, you can always spring for the glass panel version and sacrifice a few decibels.
The 802’s most insulated version is all steel and comes with a solid front. We’re also fans of the mesh variant that lets you marvel at the two retail-grade Silent Wings 2 fans behind a hex-patterned dust filter.
Adventurous builders will appreciate the 802’s modularity. You can flip the motherboard tray and backside over and create a left-side layout. Doing so doesn’t impact fan or radiator placement. The front and top can hold 420mm rads, while the included 140mm exhaust fan provides support.
Much of the interior is dedicated to storage, with five holes for 3.5″ bays close to the front fans. You only get one caddy if you don’s pay for extra, so this space is ideal for routing tubes or storing the reservoir. Two mounting areas below the motherboard cutout hold as many SSDs.
The 802 is spacious and engineered well. You only have to slide the PSU from the outside to set it up, and there’s lots of clearance towards the front for a graphics card. Despite the many interior cutouts, there are enough cable channels to build a tidy system.