NZXT’s H2 mid-tower enclosure

Choosing the right computer case is often the hardest and most subjective part of any system build. An enclosure can speak volumes about the person pressing the keys and bossing around the electrons within. It can tell you whether the operator fancies themselves a gamer, whether they value form over function, or if they simply don’t care. Every now and then, a case comes along that seemingly plays all the right form-versus-function cards. Today, we’ll be looking at just such a creation. The NZXT H2 Classic Silent has been diligently whirring away under my desk for two weeks now, and it’s high time we broke it all down for you, to see what’s what.

If I’m being honest, my brain tends to associate NZXT with funky, plastic-y, teen-gamer boxes that aren’t really my style. Happily, NZXT has toned down raucous design cues with the H2 and created something that will draw more than a few comparisons to the Antec P180, which is more up my alley.

Frankly, I think it looks great.

The H2 is a steel mid-tower case that makes liberal use of plastic parts on the front and top sides. Measuring roughly 20.5″ x 8.5″ x 18.5″, it’s a bit smaller (albeit slightly wider) than the P180, but it’s in the same ballpark. The front door is made of plastic and swings open to reveal two 120-mm fan intakes and three 5.25″ drive bays. The door is permanently hinged on the left and unfortunately cannot be changed to open from the right. On the plus side, though, the door is securely held shut by a pair of strong magnets and is lined top-to-bottom with acoustic foam.

The front fans are particularly interesting, because they’re installed in hot-swappable caddies that can be removed and installed without the need to route wires. I’ve never seen this configuration outside of the server world before, but I must admit it works rather well here. You can remove and replace the fans for cleaning without having to power down the system or fish around inside the case. This mounting scheme serves a secondary purpose, allowing easy access to the hard-drive sleds that hang out directly behind the front fans.

Also on the enclosure’s front, NZXT has included a white hard-drive activity LED in the upper right-hand corner, plus a white, v-shaped power LED in the lower right. The angular cut-out at the bottom serves as an air inlet for the front and bottom fans—and it looks good, to boot. I really like the “P180 with an attitude” styling this case brings to the table.

Up top, you’ll find four USB ports. The blue one is of the USB 3.0 variety, but it can be used as a USB 2.0 port, too. Next to those are the headphone and microphone jacks, in addition to a three-speed, 30W fan controller switch. This controller can run connected fans at 100%, 70%, or 40% speeds depending on the setting. On either side of the ports are the power and reset buttons. Initially, I was worried about the buttons looking so similar—reset buttons I’ve encountered in the past tend to be much smaller and harder to press. However, the H2’s reset button does take significantly more pressure to activate than its counterpart, and I’ve yet to hit it accidentally.

One feature many users will ogle is the hot-swappable SATA dock built into the top of the H2. Removing a plastic cover will grant you access to the connector, which is recessed enough to accommodate both 2.5″ and 3.5″ drives. I think NZXT nailed the design of this feature. Most docks I’ve seen leave the hard drive hanging or partially exposed, whereas the H2 swallows up the entire drive, allowing you to hide it by replacing the dock cover.

Behind the SATA dock sits another plastic cover. Held in place by four magnets, it hides a ventilation grill capable of accepting an optional 140-mm fan. The cover is tasteful, but I found myself removing it and longing for an extra fan during actual use.

Around back, it’s pretty much business as usual. NZXT has outfitted the H2 with a single 120-mm exhaust fan and a pair of rubber-shrouded holes for the liquid-cooling crowd. Out of the box, you’ll find a blue USB 3.0 cable protruding from the top left corner. This cable is wired to the blue USB port on the top I/O panel. The cable can be hidden if desired, but you’ll need to plug into something for that blue front-panel USB port to work. This case also features a bottom-intake dust filter, accessible from the rear, which fits along the underside of the case and prevents dust from being sucked into your power supply—or into the main case compartment, if you install an optional 120-mm intake fan at the bottom.

Under the hood

Children, hide your eyes. It’s time to undress the H2. The first thing you’ll notice removing the side panels is the layer of acoustic foam that has been professionally applied to the inner face. The foam is not incredibly dense, but it is a nice-looking touch that does have a small positive effect on noise pollution.

One of the most common complaints I see these days is that cases manufacturers waste space on extraneous 5.25″ drive bays that could be put to better use housing additional hard drives. NZXT seems to have taken this complaint to heart, because the H2 includes only three external bays (all 5.25″) and eight tool-less internal 3.5″ bays. The drive sleds will accept 2.5″ devices like SSDs, but you’ll have to affix these using something called a “screwdriver”—yeah, I didn’t know what that was either. Despite the complete lack of external 3.5″ bays, there is unfortunately no adapter included to mount such drives in a free 5.25” slot.

The motherboard tray is riddled with holes intended to assist with cable management and heatsink installation. These holes work well for the most part, but the protective rubber grommets are so soft that they refuse to stay in place as you pass cables through them. This fact was a constant source of frustration during the build process, evoking some language I wouldn’t use within earshot of my mother.

The other side of the case leaves approximately an inch of clearance between the motherboard tray and the side panel to hide cables. Use of a modular power supply will make life much easier back here. In the box, two small baggies of zip ties are included to assist with cable management. The biggest issue with this cable crawl space is the old-school, sliding side panel. Since the inside face is covered in acoustic foam, the available empty space you have to work with when hiding cables is reduced. Replacing the panel without tearing the foam can be tricky if you have large bundles of cables tucked away.

Let’s build

For a case featuring innovative hot-swappable front intake fans, I was hoping for a little more attention to tool-less detail throughout the rest of the build process. 3.5″ hard drives and optical drives can be popped in without reaching for the toolbox, but situating and affixing everything else will require some elbow grease.

The 3.5″ sleds are a bit tricky and confusing at first. Merely slotting the hard drive into the pins of the caddy will result in a drive that does not fit back in the case. You must push these pins in with your fingers (or a screwdriver, in my case) until they are flush with the rest of the tray. Once the pins are properly in place, prying them out will require a screwdriver or lever of some sort. The pins have rubber shock mounts that sit between the caddy and the drive to help reduce noise and vibration, which is a nice touch. That said, a little extra engineering effort to make the pins easier to attach and remove would be a good starting point for future revisions of this case.

Installing the power supply is a cinch. It’s a not tool-less process, but the case provides the PSU a raised, rubberized platform that reduces vibration noise. A cable-management hole, conveniently located near the rear of the PSU, assists in concealing its ugly appendages.

NZXT touts the H2 as supporting E-ATX, ATX, microATX, and Mini-ITX motherboard form factors. While motherboards as wide as 12″ can be installed, doing so will involve sacrificing some cable management holes—and possibly hard-drive trays, depending on the board. For this build, we’ll be using a standard ATX motherboard.

This is the first case I’ve used with the now-ubiquitous heatsink mounting cut-out in the motherboard tray, and I can see why that feature has gotten so popular. Not having to remove every component just to install a new heatsink bracket saves an enormous amount of time and stress when dealing with behemoth aftermarket coolers.

To install an optical drive, simply remove the front bay cover and align the drive’s screw holes with the two pins of the tool-less latch. Push the pins into the holes, slide the locking switch over, and you’re in business. Optionally, screws can be added to eliminate any wiggle you may experience when pressing the eject button.

The component side of the enclosure felt quite spacious to work in despite the mid-tower form factor. Around the other side, however, things got very claustrophobic as I struggled to find crevices in which to cram the stupidly long and non-modular cables of a power supply designed for full-tower enclosures. Several rounds of rearranging were required so the side panel would slide back on. Regardless of what Sir Mix-a-lot might tell you, this was a classic case of too much junk in the trunk.

Our testing methods

You’ve seen enough of the components already to be clued in to the fact that I’m using slightly different parts than those found in Cyril’s case reviews. The table below spells out the specifics of the test bed being used.

Processor AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (140W)
Processor cooler Thermaltake Frio (single fan in a pull configuration)
Motherboard MSI 790FX-GD70
Chipset AMD 790FX
Memory size 4GB (4 DIMMs)
Memory type Corsair XMS3 at 1333MHz
Memory timings 9-9-9-24-2T
Audio Realtek ALC889

with default Windows drivers

Graphics XFX Radeon HD 6870 1GB GDDR5

with Catalyst 11.5 drivers

Hard drive Seagate NL35.2 500GB 7,200 RPM
Optical drive Asus DRW-1814
Power supply OCZ GameXStream 700W
OS Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

In an attempt to promote some consistency across reviews, the parts for this system were chosen because they use roughly the same amount of power as Cyril’s at full load. Using a Kill-a-watt P3 power meter, I measured the following peak power utilization numbers at the wall.

System idle 146W
CPU load only 302W
GPU load only 280W
CPU & GPU loads 394W

Due to the similar energy usage, you can compare these test results to Cyril’s with the requisite salt shaker in hand. To make things slightly scientific, however, I will be maintaining a separate data set going forward, representing only the cases I’ve tested using these parts in the same environmental conditions. The components used may not be the newest kids on the block, but they do have approximately the same power and thermal characteristics as today’s high-end hardware.

Most of the tests and methods employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have any questions about our methods, hit up our forums to talk with us about them. Below is a list of the relevant software pieces for testing.

The numbers

The following charts show temperatures and noise levels measured inside our fully built H2 system using only the stock cooling fans, with all factory covers and doors securely shut and in place. Ambient room temperature was measured at 22°C during testing. The tests were first run with the case fans at their slowest setting, and then a second test was run with the fans going at full tilt. The CPU fan was not regulated by the motherboard but spun at a constant speed of 2100 RPM for the duration of testing. This speed was settled upon after much trial and error, because it represented the best balance between cooling performance and noise characteristics.

Our first thermal test of the H2 involved booting up the machine and allowing it to sit idle until all temperatures had stabilized and CPU utilization remained at a consistent 0-1%. For all tests, AMD’s Cool-n-Quiet dynamic speed throttling technology was enabled. Temperature readings were taken using Speedfan and GPU-Z:

 

Next, we fired up the Unigine Heaven benchmark, letting it run continuously until temperatures plateaued. The benchmark was looped with stereoscopic 3D and tessellation disabled, “high” shaders, 16X anisotropic filtering, 4X anti-aliasing, in full-screen mode at 1920×1080. Frame rates from the HD 6870 were generally smooth, consistently over 30FPS with GPU-Z reporting constant usage of 98% or more during the stress test.

After giving the GPU a breather and allowing all system temps to return to nominal idle values, we fired up the Heaven benchmark and a Prime95 torture test simultaneously. We used the same Heaven settings stated above and ran four instances of Prime95 using the “in-place FFTs (Max heat/power consumption)” setting. With fire extinguisher in hand, we waited for the temperatures to peak before recording the following readings:

As you can see, fan speed settings have a noticeable impact on temperatures. Out of curiosity, I ran the load tests a second time with the fans on high, the front door open, and the top fan grill cover removed. This resulted in a drop of 5-6°C for load CPU temps. If you’re going to be overclocking or running a very power-hungry processor, I would strongly recommend leaving the fan cover off—or better yet, installing an optional 140-mm fan if you plan to run your system flat out.

If you’ll recall, NZXT boldly includes the modifier “Silent” in the case’s name. At this point, our mission shifted from jotting down temperatures to seeing if the H2 could live up to its name despite the rowdy internal components. Noise tests were conducted using an Extech 407727 Digital Sound Level Meter placed 6″ from the side, front, and top of the case. Ambient noise levels were below the 40dB threshold of the Extech meter.

With the system is sitting idle, we recorded a 2dB difference between the high and low fan settings. That tells us the case fans may not be the loudest components of the overall build. In this instance, I noticed quite a bit of noise emanating from the power supply’s fan.

Despite not being truly silent, the case performed admirably in this test. The included fans struck a great balance between airflow and noise levels, even on the highest setting.

Conclusions

The NZXT H2 has piqued the interest of many computer enthusiasts for its combination of clean looks, accommodating internals, and attention to noise levels. While the “Silent” part of its title might be something of a misnomer, the case does offer good value for money. At $99.99, I feel the asking price is spot-on for what you get in return: a quality case with decent cable management capabilities, plenty of drive bays, and some flourishes like rubber grommets and anti-vibration pads throughout.

Most of the criticisms I can offer are pretty minor. Things like powder-coated thumb screws that can’t be removed by hand are annoying, but not deal breakers. The front of the case has an interesting brushed/mirrored black finish, which looks great when clean but collects more fingerprints than the NYPD. Also, the rubber inserts for the cable management holes really need to be made of a sturdier material or mounted better.

If you’re looking to build a whisper-quiet PC that doesn’t break the bank, this case is an excellent starting point. This isn’t the most silent enclosure around, but provided you keep your CPU’s TDP under 95W, shop around for a graphics card with a muted cooler, and pay special attention to your choice of power supply, you should easily end up with a system only the strictest librarian would complain about.

To wrap things up, the NZXT H2 Classic Silent case can reasonably cope with the demands of high end parts, despite its desire for peace and quiet. Beyond that, it gives you ample opportunities to crank the cooling up to 11, with easily replaceable front fans, water-cooling readiness, and places for two additional air-movers. Easily accessibly dust filters and a sweet, built-in SATA hard drive dock round out the high points of this case, making it a solid value for your case-buying dollar.

Comments closed
    • d0g_p00p
    • 8 years ago

    T his is almost the perfect case for me except for the stupid door. I bet this case would have way better temps if there was no door had some type of grill or holes for the fans to push in more air. If they offer this model with out a door then this will be my next case. The wireless fans are awesome. More case companies need to copy this but for all fans attached to the case.

    • FuturePastNow
    • 8 years ago

    That’s a nice case. I’m not looking to replace mine currently, but this would top the list if I were.

    • BeowulfSchaeffer
    • 9 years ago

    I have yet to find a case worthy of replacing my LIAN LI Lancool PC-K7B

    [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811112154&cm_re=Lancool-_-11-112-154-_-Product[/url<]

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      Wow. Quite the positive egg feedback.

      • Airmantharp
      • 9 years ago

      Worthy for you, maybe; but that steel Lian Li case is extremely limited in cooling design with respect to GPU options while forcing the PSU to intake hotter air from within the case. Both the NZXT H2 and Fractal Design Define R3 it’s being most compared to in the comments are superior in the same price range, and include noise dampening assistance to boot.

        • BeowulfSchaeffer
        • 9 years ago

        Remember, I said “worthy of replacing”. If I was starting from scratch, both the cases you suggest would be in the running, but it would have to be really compelling for me to replace what I have. The money for a different case can go toward a new video card. 🙂

      • Arclight
      • 9 years ago

      Looks badly in terms of features by today’s standards….

      I’d suggest a CM 690 II Advanced for the same asking price of $ 89

      [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119216[/url<]

        • Airmantharp
        • 9 years ago

        **updated reply after Arclight’s reply to this message below**

        That case is closer, but has a few disadvantages, the chief being the lack of filtering and the full mesh front. I’ve found that the best cooling solution for my Fractal Design Define R3 is to put the largest fans I can on every mount as an intake, with only my H60 and two HD6950’s as exhausts. This mirrors Silverstone’s Fortress FT-02’s positive pressure concept; but it would fail in a case that has a large mesh surface.

        Further, while I see a second side panel fan mount, I don’t see any top fan mounts, and the front appears to support only one fan, which brings it down two fan positions from the Define R3.

        What I do like is the overall modern layout of the case with the SATA dock up top, and I’m intrigued by the under socket fan mount. I don’t know how much or when it helps, and I’m sure it requires a special thin fan, but it’s thoughtful.

        When I searched for a new case earlier this year I most certainly considered this case alongside the many others I looked closely at. I came to Fractal Design’s Define R3 from a recommendation on the forums, and while it isn’t perfect, it’s damn close. A closed airflow design that has four 140mm mounts and three 120mm mounts, excellent layout with a minimalist design that’s only as large as needed, insulating panels with modular blocks for unused fan mounts and LED-less included fans, it was very hard to pass up for $110!

          • Arclight
          • 9 years ago

          [quote<]Further, while I see a second side panel fan mount, I don't see any top fan mounts, and the front appears to support only one fan, which brings it down two fan positions from the Define R3.[/quote<] You have gravely missjudged the airflow of the CM 690 II, it actually has support for top mounted fans, check this out: - Front: 140 x 25 mm Blue LED fan x 1 / 1200 RPM / 19 dBA - Rear: 120 mm fan x 1 / 1200 RPM / 17 dBA - Top: 140 x 25 mm fan x 1 / 1200 RPM / 19 dBA (supports 120 / 140 mm fan x 2) - Bottom: 120 mm fan x 2 (optional) - Left side: 120 / 140 mm fan x 2 (optional) - Right side: 80 x 15 mm x 1 (optional) - HDD cage: 120 mm fan x 1 (optional) Other features: Oversized front and top mesh design for superb ventilation Accommodates 120 x 240 mm radiator inside the top or bottom Dust-control filters for all meshed areas Air cooling support for up to 10 fans (with support for up to 5 x 140mm fans) External SATA X-dock Front blue LED fan on/off switch Rear retaining holes for water cooling kit Includes 1.8" & 2.5" HDD and SSD adapter Cable managment and CPU retaining hole for easy maintainence Includes VGA card bracket (supports triple GPU card) Source: [url<]http://www.coolermaster.com/product.php?product_id=6638[/url<] As you can see it actually supports 2 x 140 mm fans on top....and up to 10 fans in total....

            • Airmantharp
            • 9 years ago

            You’re right! Newegg’s depiction of the case doesn’t show the top two fan mounts, and neither does Coolermaster’s own site. I did purposefully overlook Newegg’s description, because it didn’t mention the bottom fan mounts, and well, pictures or it didn’t happen :).

            After looking through the Coolermaster page you linked above, I can’t help but get excited about the possibilites of building in that case. Corsair just released information on their H100 dual-120mm IWC which would seem to work very well there, and the bottom looks like a great spot for a radiator cooling a pair of nicely overclocked GPUs :). Further, the eighth slot, also found on many Corsair cases, would allow for an SLi + PhysX setup for those inclined. Only thing I’d change would be to chunk that glowy fan up front, and put quieter fans on the sides. Fun, I think I like it!

            • Arclight
            • 9 years ago

            The 690 II Adavanced has also removable HDD rack but there is actually a kink. The HDD rack is divided into 2 parts and only the bottom part of the rack can be removed to allow the installation of a radiator on the bottom or to install the secound fan on the bottom. The upper part of the rack composed of 2 HDD bays is rivited i believe to the 5.25″ bays.

            The downside of this design is that ATI’s longest cards won’t fit (eg. HD 5970 or 6990). All cards smaller in length will fit (anything from HD 5870 down). So while it is a great case for modders and water cooling it won’t fit the highest end cards, unless you modd it and remove the upper HDD bays by cutting the rivets.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 9 years ago

    Looks interesting, I’m a full tower junky since I like over sized coolers etc. I also enjoy larger fans since they can run quiter. All considered this is a very appealing case, I wish it had more fans included at the price though.

      • Airmantharp
      • 9 years ago

      I’ll say that when it comes to cases, I’ll take as few fans included as possible.

      While fans cost more, the fans included with cases are usually of minimal quality at best; for example, every Antec case that includes a Tri-Cool fan. A notable exception would be Silverstone with their Raven and Fortress series.

      A happy medium like this case deploys I think is the inclusion of just enough fans to make dropping a stock CPU HSF and a single GPU with an exhausting cooler quiet at stock settings. Anything more and it’s on the builder, which is where I’d rather it be, because then I get to choose my own fans!

        • UltimateImperative
        • 9 years ago

        Currently, my “dream system” would probably be a Xigmatek Elysium[super<]*[/super<] with a top mounted PSU and an air cooler (since I already have a crazy Silver Arrow), with two self-contained water-cooled cards like the ones PNY is starting to sell, but with a 240 mm rad for each card, resting on the bottom of the case. [super<]*[/super<]: [url<]http://www.xigmatek.com/product.php?productid=122&type=specification[/url<]

    • jalex3
    • 9 years ago

    the top of this looks so cheap and nasty

      • Airmantharp
      • 9 years ago

      So do many cases. This one is also reasonably laid out and functional, and has a handsome front, which is much more likely to be seen.

        • Skrying
        • 9 years ago

        Handsome front? That chrome strip is far from handsome. It looks cheap. The Define R3 has a better looking top and front.

          • Airmantharp
          • 9 years ago

          I don’t think either of us has seen the H2 in person, but I don’t find it particularly garish- but with case aesthetics, to each his own for sure.

          I can say that I very much DO like my black Define R3’s solid front quite a lot.

          • jalex3
          • 9 years ago

          I do prefer its style also, its a better case in many ways.

    • mrhankey
    • 9 years ago

    To me it seems you all are being a little harsh in accusing NZXT copying designs of Antec, Fractal, and so on. Which of these companies didn’t get inspiration for their design from somewhere else? Next someone may say: this case is a rectangle, company X made the 1st rectangle case, and for that reason this case sucks. That isn’t to say they didn’t take liberties from other cases, but should they be faulted for adopting good design?

    I personally bought this case as soon as it came out, and that was after researching the both it and the Fractal cases everyone has so lovingly mentioned. The fractal case has a lot going on for it, but for me the cooling performance from what I’ve seen, when aggregated is about the same, and the the NZXT case is just better looking overall.

    Finally, like David mentioned, this case will be quiet dependent on the parts you buy. I can personally say that I used to have an Antec 900 and it was audible over very loud music, where as with this, the hum doesn’t bother me, it actually puts me to sleep.

      • flip-mode
      • 9 years ago

      In my opinion, it’s a shame when the act of adopting ideas that work well is looked down upon.

      Note to all PC makers: all of you go purchase a Mac Book Pro and get to business copying ideas. Especially that sweet, sweet touch pad. Love that touch pad.

    • stlbearboy
    • 9 years ago

    One of the changes Antec made was to place a grill along the sides of the front door to allow more air to the front intake fans. Does this case have that feature? If not where does the air for the front intake come from?

      • Airmantharp
      • 9 years ago

      It looks like there might be a trapezoidal cutout at the bottom of the door- but if that isn’t it, I don’t see it. Fractal Design’s Define R3 has the side grills too.

        • bluepiranha
        • 9 years ago

        Indeed, this was a point AnandTech raised on its own NZXT H2 review. The front cover seems to be stifling the top front intake fan’s ability to draw in air. They suggested that, in a future revision, perhaps NZXT could introduce some sort of perforation or cutout into the front door so the top front fan can do its job better.

        [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/4347/nzxt-h2-not-quite-quiet[/url<] So far that was the only review of the H2 I've seen that's been somewhat critical of its thermal performance. Copy of the Define R3 or P180 or otherwise, that doesn't discredit a good case for the money. I think NZXT did a solid job with the H2. I found myself liking it much more than I initially thought - in either color. Now if only it was available in my country... Maybe there's hope: the Phantom has been selling here for a while now.

    • holophrastic
    • 9 years ago

    Rectangle score: 90 — get it?

    Seriously, again, look, a rectangle.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    You know the “silent” enthusiasts have won when NZXT shuns their stupid case designs for something understated that can stay relatively quiet. And for $100 it’s a pretty decent deal, too.

    Nicely-written review that answered pretty much any question I’d come up with and I love the large number of pictures.

      • StuG
      • 9 years ago

      I consider this a good thing. 🙂 NZXT has been making plastic toys for far too long.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 9 years ago

        I agree. I wasn’t complaining at all.

    • Airmantharp
    • 9 years ago

    David, thank you for taking the time to review this case!

    We have definitely asked for more case reviews on TR, and you have proven that you can fit the bill.

    I do have one concern though, which applies to all case reviews: exactly how long of a video card can the case fit? You use an HD6870 as a reference, but the very common HD6950 is noticeably longer, and I’m not sure but the pictures if it will fit.

    Also, as I (and apparently several others) have mentioned below, this case is obviously not only NZXT’s take on Antec’s P180, but also Fractal Design’s popular Define R3. The H2 carries more modern features like the SATA dock and the USB3 run-around, but Fractal Design’s work should be mentioned here.

    Heck, if you disregard the need for the SATA dock and the USB3 run-around, the Define R3 really shines in comparison. In using the Define R3 myself, I picked up an ASRock Extreme board that came with a USB3 header and 3.5″ bay, which along with a 3.5″ to 5.25″ kit that the Define R3 shipped with, makes for a more elegant solution.

      • David_Morgan
      • 9 years ago

      The case will fit a video card approximately 12 inches long with the hard drive sleds in place, (if there is a drive installed in the sled, however you will limit yourself to about 10.5 inches of clearance depending on the SATA cable being used.

      If you remove a couple hard drive sleds however you can fit cards longer than 12 inches, though I don’t currently have a HD 6970/6990 handy to experiment with.

        • Airmantharp
        • 9 years ago

        Thanks! I did like that you showed a ruler comparing motherboard length, but I didn’t really see the point in that specification- one would have to be prepared to stick in some X58/X79 type overgrown board to really make use of such a specification. Graphics card length, however, is quite important and knowing that your case can fit the cards you intend to use can make or break a decision, as it did with me.

    • flip-mode
    • 9 years ago

    The aesthetics of this case are a huge step forward for NZXT, whose previous cases were conceivably designed by a Japanese adolescent with a desire to see the Transformers rendered in anime style.

    But the need for further aesthetic improvement remains, I think.

    Ideally, gizmodifying the top of the case should be avoided, IMO. If anything, I won’t take issue with a tastefully designed interface panel, which NZXT has arguably accomplished here, and I won’t take issue with tastefully designed carrying handles, which I think are still best exemplified – in terms of aesthetics – by Apple’s Mac Pro case. . . . Tops of cases should be considered perilous places for functionality because cases may often be stacked, placed under desks, or become temporary resting places for various foreign objects.

    More on the point of aesthetics, if you’re going to populate the top of the case with gadgetry, I have to take issue with the ugly cover plates that NZXT has used here.

    I’m not happy about the back-facing 3.5″ bays, nor do I like fans at the top of cases for reasons already mentioned.

    Curiously enough, I didn’t not spot any picture of the left side of the case. I was wondering if there was also a fan there, which would be unfortunate.

      • Airmantharp
      • 9 years ago

      This case is a copy of Fractal Design’s Define R3 (which I recently purchased), trading USB3 semi-support for cheaper build quality and silly design choices. Still, it’s handsome and versatile, and should support any decent build.

        • flip-mode
        • 9 years ago

        It might have copied one or two features, but it didn’t copy enough. The Define R3 has those sweet side facing drive bays, and it has almost perfect aesthetics. Unfortunately the R3 goes bonkers with top mounted fans. I am all in favor of excellent air flow, but I think excellent airflow can be fully accomplished with fans only at the front and back of the case. No side fans. No top fans. No bottom fans. And excellent cable management on the interior of the case is not just an aesthetic concern, but is also very beneficial to excellent air flow.

          • Airmantharp
          • 9 years ago

          Say that when you have a Crossfire or SLi setup, and you’ll quickly change your mind about those fans. Further, go look at Silverstone’s Fortress FT-02, and witness what real airflow can do for quiet multi-GPU computing!

          I used all of the fan mounts in my Define R3. The ones that are the least useful most definitely are the two top mounts, but I’ve decided to flip my H60 around to an exhaust and use those top mounts as intakes- I have NZXT 140mm fans there and Silverstone 140mm magnetic fan filters on top.

          But the bottom and side fans? Absolutely PRICELESS for my Crossfire setup. With the bottom fan installed, my lower HD6950 is 10c cooler than the top one! And yes, I’ve swapped the cards just to make sure.

          Remember that the Define R3 comes with insulating blocks installed in the two top and one side fan position(s) from the factory.

            • flip-mode
            • 9 years ago

            Point taken.

        • Airmantharp
        • 9 years ago

        I had wanted to say ‘bad’ copy, but I was trying to be nice!

      • David_Morgan
      • 9 years ago

      You’re right, I have neglected to take a photo of the left side, my apologies. The left side panel is exactly the same as the right, no fans, windows, or ventilation holes to be found, and acoustic foam on the inside wall.

        • flip-mode
        • 9 years ago

        Sweet, thanks!

    • internetsandman
    • 9 years ago

    After watching the comparison video on OC3D between this and Fractal’s Define R3, there’s no way I would consider the NZXT case for anything. It’s a cheap knockoff that manages to cost either the same or more depending on where you’re shopping, and apart from a couple touches like the hot swap drive bay and fans, doesn’t really make itself notably better in any respect than the Define R3

      • xbrit
      • 8 years ago

      However, in the real world: I read all of the user reviews of the R3 on Newegg. Over HALF of the people had received defective product. I have bought the NZXT based on that.

        • Airmantharp
        • 8 years ago

        I read those reviews on the R3, and bought it anyway, receiving a pristine product. I’m wondering what the other people did wrong, I can’t recommend this case enough

    • Arclight
    • 9 years ago

    My first impressions of the case before reading the article, just from the pictures:
    – the front looks like a copy of Factal Design with the swinging flat door, the 2 fans up front…
    – the top reminds me of CoolerMaster’s 690 II Advanced minus a 120 mm fan
    – the mobo tray reminds me of Corsair although this particular case lacks the refinement of the aforementioned
    – the bottom dust filter reminds me of the Silverstone FT02 which has a simillar dust filter but if i remember correctly on the Silverstone case the filter comes out on the side.

    Now i’m gonna read the article.

      • StuG
      • 9 years ago

      All of which should remind you of Antec’s cases. They’ve been doing a similar design for longer then the rest.

        • Arclight
        • 9 years ago

        Proof that i should know that or care…

          • flip-mode
          • 9 years ago

          The fact that you brought it up is proof that you care.

            • Arclight
            • 9 years ago

            Reverting back to my original post please do tell me which exact Antec models resemble the features i mentioned? Also a condition is that those particular models should have been launched before the models i mentioned. ….yeah exactly, hard to keep track….

            • StuG
            • 9 years ago

            If I am not mistaken, the Antec P180 has almost all those features and was out before those cases. Hmm…that wasn’t too hard.

            • Airmantharp
            • 9 years ago

            The front IS a copy of the Define R3- the H2 just has a third 5.25″ bay. The top looks like EVERY OTHER case in the world that has the 120mm fan in the back; maybe the P180 was the first (I own one, but cannot comment on the timeline). The SATA dock has been done by others, not a big deal, though nice if it works right. The mobo tray is standard design now. The bottom dust filter you see here and there- along with the fan mount, and the external intake for the PSU.

            There’s nothing new about this case; it’s just a compilation of design choices at a particular price point. It will be good for some, but there are better cases out there for many build scenarios.

            • Arclight
            • 9 years ago

            I disagree regarding the Antec P180 and here is why:

            – the front door is flat but unline Fractal Design’s case and the NZXT’s H2 it doesn’t have sound insulating foam on it, the 2 fans on front is the only thing on which i’ll agree, altough i’m skeptical that Antec was the first to do it.
            – on the top i only see a 120mm fan which was done by many others before, also i failed to notice the hot swapable dock for HDD like CM 690 II i mentioned
            – the mobo tray of the P180 resembles nothing from Corsair cases, there are no cutouts, not even for the CPU….lame
            – i also didn’t see a fan on the bottom with removable dust filter that covers both the PSU and the fan….

            In conclusion, Antec P180, didn’t bring any real innovation that could have been ported to the NZXT’s H2. As it stands today, imo, all Antec’s cases are overpriced and offer features which can be found on lower priced cases from other far more respectable brands.

            • Airmantharp
            • 9 years ago

            The P180 didn’t have insulating foam anywhere brotha, it has insulating laminated panels, of which the front door was one. Also note that the P180 has been superseded four times already; it’s most recent example is what you should be comparing the H2 to. The original P180 was a revolution in itself, five years ago; even Antec has worked to keep up with the times.

            • Arclight
            • 9 years ago

            I agree with you 100%, +1.

            • Dashak
            • 9 years ago

            I purchased an Antec P180B in August 2006. It had been out for about a year at that time.

            • pepys
            • 9 years ago

            A P180 here too. Its going on 4 yrs and quiet as a mouse.

    • UltimateImperative
    • 9 years ago

    Interesting & entertaining review, thanks! I don’t recall seeing David’s Morgan name on articles.. is he a new guy? (Or am I out of touch?) I like his writing.

      • David_Morgan
      • 9 years ago

      Thanks 🙂 You’re not out of touch at all, I’ve only recently started doing reviews and blog posts here at TR.

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