What Is a PC Chassis? A Basic Definition

Rosewill Nighthawk 117 EATX/XL-ATX Full Tower ChassisRosewill Nighthawk 117 EATX/XL-ATX Full Tower ChassisA chassis (pronounced CHasē) is another word for a computer case, aka tower. The chassis holds most of a PC’s components. This doesn’t include peripherals like the keyboard, mouse or monitor.

Chassis comes in different shapes and sizes. Some can even hold more than one motherboard. When shopping for a chassis, you’ll see chassis identified by one of the terms below. This refers to the type of motherboard these cases are designed to accommodate:

  • Mini-ITX
  • MicroATX
  • XL/EATX

You might also see chassis categorized by the following terms. There are no exact measurements for these case sizes:

  • Desktop - horizontal design, sometimes monitors sit on top of a desktop chassis 
  • SFF - small form factor, for accommodating mini-ATX or smaller motherboards
  • Mini-Tower
  • Mid-Tower
  • Full Tower - usually 18 inches tall or more

When buying a chassis, it’s important to note which parts you have or want in order to determine which size fits your needs. Note that PC building is more challenging when working with a Mini-ITX chassis and that you probably don’t need an XL/EATX chassis unless you’re building a workstation (or just like the look of a big tower).

This article is part of the Tom's Hardware Glossary.

Further reading: 

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