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Best PC Case For Dusty Environments

By September 20, 2020No Comments

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Best PC Case For Dusty Environments

Best PC Case For Dusty Environments

If you are looking the best PC case for dusty environments, you’ve come to the right place. I get it. Dust is annoying to clean and it can affect thermal performance if it builds up too much.

This article will deliver a curated list of the best PC cases for dusty environments, and explain what should be considered when choosing a PC. So that you can find what best meets your needs.

Before we jump in, I wanted to let you know why I’m qualified to talk about PC cases. As a Graphic Designer and late-night gamer, I have worked and played with computers practically my whole life. Whether at work or in home spaces I have seen how PC cases, featuring different physical designs, filter types, fan configurations, and so on, perform in dusty conditions. In addition, I’ve done a ton of research on the latest PC cases and internal components.

If you are in a hurry, first I will list the best computer cases for dusty environments. If you want more information on what should be considered when choosing a PC case, use the table of contents to learn more.

Best PC Case For Dusty Environments

Lian Li O11 Dynamic ATX Full Tower PC Case

Great looking case with capable dust filters

PROS
  • Unique glass aesthetic side and front
  • Best case for showing off components
  • Three intake filters to keep dust out
  • Excellent build quality
  • Available in black, white and silver
  • Glass is easy to remove and place
  • Supports vertical GPU placement.
  • Comes with USB Type C port
CONS
  • Expensive
  • CPU air cooler compatibility only 155mm
  • No rear fan mount

The Lian Li O11 Dynamic is not only visually stunning, it works very well in dusty environments. This case features 4 magnetic dust filters. Two on the side. One up top and another on the bottom. 

In terms of looks, this case has a minimalist design with a premium feel due to its dual-chamber design with tempered glass on the side and front. In addition, the brushed aluminum right section adds a level of sophistication by breaking up the glass and painted steel. Adding to the premium and minimal look, Lian Li chose to not have any logos on the outside of the case. This shows just how confident they are in the design.

There’s a lot of attention to detail here to appreciate. For example, the glass panels are kept clean with no thumb screws visible due to a drop in design with inserts top and bottom. Also, the exterior edge plating feels smooth and refined. Panel gaps are consistent and tight. Overall, the build quality is top-notch, especially for the very competitive price point.

This case works well for water-cooled build. However, air-cooled is fine as well. You just need to buy several fans to ensure components are kept cool enough. Speaking of fans, let’s cover how many fans this case can support.

The bottom, side, and top of the case can fit three 120mm fans (9 total). The back cannot support a fan technically. Overall, for a case that has no front fans due to the glass front, it scores higher than expected in various thermal tests. The Lian Li O11 Dynamic definitely works well for air-cooled builds.

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NZXT H710i ATX Mid Tower PC Case

Modern minimal design with RGB lighting

PROS
  • Beautiful minimal design
  • Great build quality
  • Smart device for lighting & fan controls
  • Comes with 4 front fans and a wire front dust filter
  • Available in black, white, and red
  • Back panel eject button
  • USB Type C port
CONS
  • Hard to remove front panels for filter cleaning
  • Expensive

The NZXT H710i is a clean minimalist design case with excellent dust protection. It features removable filters in the front. The outer panels are solid, while there are circular perforation strips around the top and front sides.

The signature element is the iconic exterior colored cable management bar running vertically through the chassis. The tempered glass side panel is perfectly designed and engineered with no visible screws. This adds to the overall minimal design aesthetic. This glass panel slides down into place easily and secured by only one thumbscrew in the back. This one of the best tempered glass implementations I’ve seen. If you like a clean looking case with a solid front panel, the 710i should be top of your list. 

While the solid front panel looks modern and minimal, this design somewhat limits airflow. More on that below. Even though the solid panel isn’t the greatest recipe for airflow, it comes with four fans which makes up for it. In addition, there is significant perforation around the top and sides to improve air intake Overall, for most users the thermals are fine and you will never have a problem. It’s just for those who need high-level thermal performance, might want to look at some of the mesh cases we recommend.

Overall, this is an amazing minimalist design focused case with good dust protection and excellent build quality. It will perform fine for most users. Just know that the airflow and thermal performance is middle of the pack.

The NZXT H710i comes with a smart device that uses machine learning software to change fan speed and RGB lighting under load. If you are into RGB lighting, this is a good value proposition.

If you don’t want the smart lighting and fan controls, there is a non-smart device version that is cheaper: NZXT H710

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Fractal Design Define C Mid Tower Computer Case

Minimal design case with great dust protection

PROS
  • Easy to clean dust filters
  • Excellent build quality
  • Double velcro straps for cable management
  • Ease of installation features
  • Available in black and white
CONS
  • No USB type C port

The Fractal Design Define C is another great choice for dusty conditions. The solid front panel with side air intake strips allows enough air to enter the case, while there are filters behind it to keep out dust. In addition, there is a magnetic filter up top, and a wire filter on the bottom.

This case is on the smaller side in the mid-tower category. The case can hold a maximum of 7 fans. You can fit three 120mm fans in the front or two 140mm. For water cooling, you can fit a 280mm or 240mm radiator in the front. The top can fit a 280mm radiator.

Overall, the Define C is a quality case. In terms of thermal performance, this is a well-cooled case. Dust filters are easy to clean Bottom line, this case is a great value proposition as it’s currently priced.

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Fractal Design Meshify C Mid Tower Computer Case

Unique front panel design with great airflow and dust protection

PROS
  • Unique front mesh design
  • Easy to clean dust filters
  • Excellent build quality
  • Good airflow
  • Double velcro straps for cable management
  • Ease of installation features
  • Available in black and white
CONS
  • Expensive
  • No USB type C port

The Fractal Design Meshify C is a perfect case for dusty environments while not sacrificing airflow. The unique front mesh design keeps out large particles, while there is a secondary dust filter behind it. In addition, there is a magnetic dust filter up top, and a wire filter on the bottom.

The Meshify C follows the current case design trends (minimalist design with a glass side panel), but with a distinctive front panel. The unique front panel features a dimensional triangular mesh design that is functional for airflow. This makes thermal performance better than the nonmesh version. The edge to edge tinted tempered glass looks amazing. I personally love the tinted looking because you get reflections, while also seeing what’s inside in a much more subtle way.

This case is on the smaller side of the mid-tower category. The case can hold a maximum of 7 fans. You can fit three 120mm fans in the front or two 140mm. For water cooling, you can fit a 280mm or 240mm radiator in the front. The top can fit a 280mm radiator.

Overall, Meshify C is a quality case. It has a unique front panel that you are either going to love or hate. In terms of thermal performance, this is a well-cooled case. Dust filters are easy to clean Bottom line, this case is a great value proposition as it’s currently priced.

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Corsair Carbide 275R ATX Mid-Tower Case

Budget tempered glass case that is great for dust

PROS
  • Minimal design with curved front edges.
  • Plenty of air-flow and fan mounts
  • Tidy metal PSU cover
  • Bottom front ambient LED lighting.
  • Discrete IO cord routing up top
  • Available in black and white
CONS
  • Plastic clips for front panel seam weak
  • Allen screw mount glass side panel is annoying to install
  • No USB type C

The Corsair Carbide 275R is another minimalist designed case available in both black and white. The front panel has a subtle brushed finish, with bottom ambient lighting. Build quality is good with excellent color uniformity one the different material surfaces. This case is ideal if you are on a budget and want a clean look, solid front, with a tempered glass side panel.

For features, the 275R comes with two 120mm fans. If you want to add more, the case supports two 140mm or three 120mm fans upfront. Rear fits one 120mm fan. The top can fit one 140mm or three 120mm fans. If you prefer liquid cooling, the front supports radiators up to 280mm – 360mm. The top fits 240mm. And the rear 120mm.

Hardware placement and cord management are amazing in this case. The power supply shroud now fully covers the bottom, which is ideal if you want to clean build. However, full-length power supply shrouds can impact heat dissipation and airflow. In terms of CPU and GPU thermals, the 275R is average when compared to a wide variety of cases. 

My only gripe with this case is how the tempered glass side panel is mounted. It uses allen screws with rubber grommets, making it difficult to line up, sketchy, and time-consuming to remove. That said, you don’t take off the glass too many times in the life of your case. Overall, this is a good looking case with decent value for its price point.

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Corsair Carbide 400C Compact Mid-Tower Case

Minimalist PC case with acrylic glass with good dust protection

PROS
  • Durable steel exterior
  • Easy to clean dust filters
  • Plenty of air-flow and fan mounts
  • Good build quality
  • Removable PSU cover
  • Comes with magnetic dust filters top and front
  • Available in black and white
CONS
  • Only comes with two 120mm fans
  • Front panel clips seam a bit weak
  • No USB type C port

Continuing the minimalist design theme, the Corsair Carbide 400C is another solid option in the 80 – 100 dollar price point. With all IO ports located on the top, and no optical drive slots, this case is a minimalist’s dream! It features a clean steel front panel with air intake around the side edges. The side panel is acrylic glass, that is slightly tinted and resistant to scratches. Overall build quality is good for the mid-range price point.

In terms of features, the front can house up to three 120mm and two 140mm fans. The front can also fit a 360mm radiator. The top can fit two 120mm fans or two 140mm fans, or a 240mm radiator if you prefer liquid cooling. The 400C boasts 7 expansion slots for flexibility with Graphics Card configurations. The modular PSU shroud can be partially or fully removed giving you flexibility.

All things considered, the 400C balances or solid build quality and minimal design for the price. It also comes in a non-glass window version: Corsair Carbide Quiet 400Q

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How to choose a PC Case for dusty environments?

Quick Tips:

  • Figure out what size PC case, and parts you need.
  • Mid-tower size is the sweet spot for most.
  • Make sure there are enough intake fan slots 
  • Ensure filters still have adequate air-flow.
  • Don’t buy a cheap case with poor filtration and thermal management.
  • Choose what you think looks best, as looks are always subjective.

Size & Form Factor:

You might be wondering what size PC case will best suit your needs. First, it’s essential to understand that PC cases generally come in four sizes: small form factor, mini-tower, mid-tower, and full-tower. The size of the case will determine what size and type of hardware can fit.

Small form factor can only accommodate mini ITX motherboards. Mini-tower cases can fit a micro ITX motherboard. Mid-towers are made for ATX motherboards. You want to step up to a full-tower if you are looking to get an EATX motherboard. In some instances, you can fit larger motherboards, like an EATX in a mid-tower. Or go the opposite way, putting a smaller motherboard in a larger case. But if you are an inexperienced PC builder, I generally don’t recommend doing this.

Even though PC case to motherboard compatibility is straightforward, it is worth mentioning that the case size will not guarantee to fit other components like the Graphics Card and cooler. You need to make sure the case is big enough to fit these components. Graphics Cards length and heights need to be checked to make sure it has enough clearance to fit in the case. The CPU cooler needs to fit as well. If you are going with liquid cooling, you will have to make sure the case has proper radiator support.

I recommend looking up the case dimensions in the amazon product description. Then compare that to the graphics card and cooler dimensions.

Other components like SSDs, HDDs, and RAM usually small enough to be not affected by the size of the case. Yet smaller cases will likely fit fewer components.

Lastly, you might be asking yourself, what power supply will fit in my PC case? The majority of PC cases us the standard ATX power supply. Many small form factor cases only fit the SFX power supply.

I generally recommend a mid-tower case. It strikes a good balance of not being too big, while also fitting all you need for a high-performance PC. Mid-tower cases are also easier to clean and have good air-flow.

Filtration And Air-flow:

For dusty environments especially, you’re going to want effective air filters while still allowing for good air circulation. A good rule of thumb is to have more intake air, than exhaust. This creates positive pressure in the case. To achieve positive air pressure, you need to make sure the dust filters keep dust out while not suffocating the air intake.

All of the cases we recommend are great for keeping dust at a minimum. But depending on what parts you have, you might want to get extra fans, to ensure enough air is getting in to create positive air pressure.

Cooling:

When choosing the best looking PC case, perhaps the most crucial aspect that cannot be overlooked is cooling. I can appreciate the most minimal pc case designs. However, some of them don’t have good cooling. For this reason, all the cases I recommend have adequate to high-performance airflow and thermals, as seen in various testing that I have researched. That said, you need to make sure you have enough fans or radiators, and they are properly positioned based on your specific parts.

PC Case CPU Cooling

A case with optimal ventilation and adequate air-flow will run quieter and dissipate heat better. How much cooling you can configure will depend on the size of the case and the parts you have. You will need to make sure the sizes of the fans match the mount sizes in the case. Also that the fans are positioned correctly to blow air on the CPU and GPU. Typical mount sizes in mid-tower cases are 120mm and 240mm. The larger the case, the more and bigger the fan mounts you get.

Most cases come with 2 or 3 fans. If you want to play it safe and keep things cool, buying another fan or two is relatively in-expensive. You just need to make sure the fans fit your case mounts and that no other parts are in the way.

Aesthetics:

When choosing a PC for dusty environments, the looks won’t be your main concern. However, there are a lot of great looking cases that have excellent dust filtration. While looks can be subjective and you will likely know what one you like best, I will give you a quick overview of aesthetic features to look out for.

Clean PC Case With Glass Panel

The first thing to think about is whether you like to see the internals or not. If yes, a tempered glass or acrylic case will allow you to see the components. On the other hand, there are plenty of minimal or inconspicuous looking cases that have non-see-through panels. One functional benefit of a tempered glass case is you will see if dust is building up, and know when to clean it.

Build Quality & Price:

So what defines good build quality in a PC case? Good PC case build quality can be assessed from the following areas: materials used, infrastructure for cable management, rigidity in the chassis, effective air-flow design, and other features.

Generally speaking, the more expensive cases have better build quality and more features. But that’s not always true. With manufactures constantly coming out with new models, you can often find good quality cases on sale.

I’ve found that good quality cases are priced from $60 to $100 and above. Unless on-sale, you probably want to avoid cases under $40.

Can dust damage your computer?

Dust can damage your computer if the build-up is enough that it affects cooling. Generally speaking, mild or even moderate amounts of dust on compter parts will run without issue. On the other hand, blankets of dust on air intake areas and fans can affect cooling by not allowing heat to dissipate.

PC Dust Build Up

For these reasons, there are a couple of things you can do to make sure dust doesn’t affect cooling. The first is to ensure you have a PC case that has adequate dust filters, while still having enough airflow. Second, you should make sure you clean your case at least a couple of times per year.

Another instance where dust can damage your computer is when condensation occurs. Moisture inside the case mixing with dust can create a conductive sludge. This can happen when a dusty case is brought from a very cold environment to a warmer or humid space.

To avoid this, you can wrap your case, as airtight as possible, with plastic wrap before you bring it inside. Then keep it wrapped for a few hours to allow time to warm up. While this is a rare situation, the best way to keep your computer dust-free is to proactively clean your case and remove dust.

How much does dust affect computer performance?

Only extreme dust build-up can affect your computer’s performance. While dust does not affect electrical performance whatsoever, excessive dust can impede airflow through fans and heatsinks. This can reduce heat dissipation in the case as a whole, and on individual components.

When temperatures get too high, the CPU can throttle down to lower performance in order to avoid overheating. Overall, when people ask how much dest does it take to affect your computer’s performance, the answer is a very very large amount.

Do you need dust filters on exhaust fans?

Only extreme dust build-up can affect your computer’s performance. While dust does not affect electrical performance whatsoever, excessive dust can impede airflow through fans and heatsinks. This can reduce heat dissipation in the case as a whole, and on individual components.

When temperatures get too high, the CPU can throttle down to lower performance in order to avoid overheating. Overall, when people ask how much dest does it take to affect your computer’s performance, the answer is a very very large amount.

Final Thoughts

In summary, the key is that you need a pc case with the best dust filters, while still allowing for airflow. If the dust filters are missing, too much dust will build and reduce airflow. On the other hand, if the filters are too thick you will not have enough airflow. It’s a fine balance. All the other cases we recommend here find that balance and will work great in dusty environments. Not matter what case you choose, dust will always build upon filters and fans. It’s important to keep up with cleaning.

On the same topic of PC cases, some of the cases we featured here, are also mentioned in our other article: Best Looking PC Cases.

If you are building a PC for Graphic Design and you want some insights on parts, check out our article: Best Computer Configuration For Graphic Design

Camden Taylor

Author Camden Taylor

Camden is Arturth's founder. A Senior Graphic Designer from the Pacific Northwest, he has a passion for art, design, and bringing people together through the creative process.

More posts by Camden Taylor