If you are in the process of building a new PC, you may be wrestling with the thorny question of Mid Tower vs Full Tower. Choosing the right one can be tricky, because there are plenty of factors to weigh up before you make your choice. And you don’t want to make the wrong choice. That can lead to all sorts of problems further down the road.
Today, we’ll explain the main differences between the two types of towers, their respective pros and cons, and the factors you may wish to consider before making your choice. Here’s everything you need to know.
Mid Tower vs Full Tower: Main Differences
We’ll start with the obvious stuff: a mid tower is smaller than a full tower. It takes up less space, and they tend to be lighter and cheaper than a full tower.
But on the flip side, a full tower offers more space, meaning it can support a larger variety of motherboards, and house more expansion slots. Full towers also tend to have more options when it comes to cooling systems, should that be a concern.
Let’s put this into a table, to make it easier to visualise:
|Mid Tower||Full Tower|
|Height||Around 18 Inches||22-25 Inches|
|PCIe Expansion Slots||7-9||8-10|
|Fan Mounting Locations||6-9||10-15|
|Maximum Radiator Support||360 mm||480 mm|
There are some clear differences. But what does this mean in the real world?
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Mid Tower vs Full Tower Pros and Cons
We’ve covered the basics already. Now, let’s take a look at some of these key differences in more detail.
As we’ve already suggested, a mid tower will usually come in at around 18 inches tall. This is typically sufficient to fit what may be considered ‘typical’ components. These are what the majority of PC cases look like. You will be able to fit a high-end gaming rig in one, should you wish.
And as we mentioned earlier, because they are slightly smaller, they take up less space, and weigh a little less. They are slightly more fiddly to build in than a full tower, but not uncomfortably so.
In comparison, a full tower is larger, typically coming in between 22-25 inches. Which on paper may not seem like a lot, but can actually be as much as 30% larger. This is definitely a factor to bear in mind if space is likely to be an issue.
But that size does offer some benefits as well. Their larger shell means they can accommodate more components. This might mean larger, more powerful motherboards and graphics cards. They can also support much more complex cooling systems. And again, will be slightly easier to build in.
We mentioned that a full tower can support a larger motherboard. But what does this mean in practical terms? Very briefly, motherboards are available in ATX and EATX forms.
ATX is by far the most common size for a motherboard, measuring 12 inches x 9.6 inches. These will work with the vast majority of components, including for many gaming rigs.
EATX, though, is the Daddy of the motherboard world. These are much larger, typically 12 inches x 13 inches. These won’t fit a mid tower, but will fit a full tower. And in terms of their benefits, they are simply a bigger motherboard. This translates to more space for installing things like memory, more expansion ports for more GPUS, and potentially superior cooling performance.
This matters most when you are going to be really pushing your machine hard. If you’re a casual gamer, this might be overkill. But if you want the best possible performance, and don’t mind spending a lot, EATX can be a good option.
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PCIe Expansion and Drive Bays
A full tower has more room for drive bays and PCIe expansion slots. In simple terms, the more of these you have, the more upgrade options you have - such as adding more graphics cards, video capture cards, or adding new storage.
Of course, there is a question mark over how many of these things you are intending to add to your rig. But a full tower will offer more flexibility, if you are wanting to max out in every possible way. In most cases though, a mid tower will provide enough flexibility for users to build what they need.
As we said earlier, a full tower offers more cooling options than a mid tower can. Simply put, full towers have more space to fit large radiators. So there are more options when it comes to what kind of radiator, or how many, you install. And, with there being more space, the installation will be easier.
Having more radiators will be especially beneficial if you are running power-hungry components, or planning to overclock intensively.
But mid towers aren’t completely lacking when it comes to cooling. Many will comfortably house fans and smaller water cooling systems. For most people, these will be more than adequate. In many cases, a mid tower can actually be better when it comes to air cooling. Their smaller form factor makes it easier to push air through them, whereas a full tower can actually have hot spots that the air struggles to reach.
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Mid Tower vs Full Tower: Which One Should You Get?
Hopefully, this gives you an idea of the differences between mid towers and full towers. But if you’re still struggling to decide which one you should get, here are some of the key considerations you need to think about:
What will you be using your PC for? If it’s to be used as a standard work device, or for recreational gaming, then for the vast majority of people a mid tower will be more than sufficient. But if you are going to be really pushing your PC, for example, data mining, professional gaming, or other really intense tasks, then a full tower starts to become a more compelling option.
Following on from how you intend to use it, what will your cooling needs be? If you’re going to be gaming at 4K resolutions and overclocking your computer, you are going to need to cool it. A lot. So a full tower with enough space for a water-based cooling system may suit you better. And conversely, if you aren’t going to be doing that sort of thing, then a mid tower with standard air cooling may well be enough to keep your Pc running smoothly.
And thirdly, do you see yourself adding further components? If you plan to add additional graphics cards or SSDs, a full tower will give you greater flexibility to do this. But if you plan to stick with what you have once you finish your build, all those extra slots may well be redundant.
As a final consideration, how much space do you have? If you are working with limited room, a full tower is going to be more difficult to accommodate.
Ultimately, your decision will be entirely personal to you and your needs and wants. But arguably the best piece of advice is this: decide what you are going to be using your computer for. Work out what components you need, and then choose your case to best suit those components, rather than the other way around.