NZXT began life in 2004 and had a goal of producing a product line that was geared toward enthusiasts and gamers. From the beginning, they have shown a love for those who are looking to eke out that little bit of extra performance from there machine. Even in the beginning when they used pretty basic design builds for some of their initial products, these folks have always added something to the build to make it different from everybody else.Since those humble beginnings, NZXT has worked hard to enhance that enthusiast outlook and are now in the market of creating truly unique enclosures and have even added power supplies to the mix. All this brings us to today's piece, the NZXT Khaos. This enclosure features a full tower design that offers some innovations not found in your everyday case, which suits the company very well.So does the Khaos have what it takes to be a worthy contender for your upgrading dollars? Join us as we delve deeper into this beast and try to answer this very question.
The front of the Khaos tells us right up front that this is no ordinary enclosure. Instead of the plastic bezel that is becoming more common all the time, the front side of this box is all about metal. The entire build was made with sheet aluminum, but don't let that fool you. The aluminum used throughout this construction is 2mm - 3mm in thickness giving the Khaos a very solid base. On top of this, the joints in this enclosure are welded instead of riveted making it even sturdier.Also of note is that this thing is BIG! It measures in at roughly 225mm x 615mm x 600mm, which equates to 9" x 24" x 23.5". Compare this to what is commonplace and you will note a very large difference in overall size. This behemoth also weighs in at nearly 16Kg, which works out to roughly 35 pounds. Even with the aluminum construction, this thing is big and heavy... period.
The top portion of the front bezel is given over to optical drive bays. In the default configuration, the Khaos is designed to hold up to five optical drives with the top two having what is referred to as "Stealth Drive Covers". What this means is that a standard CD or DVD drive can be installed behind this "Stealth" cover and the hinged flap allows the drive tray to be ejected. I have found from experience that these covers are generally not very compatible with trays from units like the older TDK optical devices, which do not use an industry standard tray cover, but most drives will work with no issues.For those who just can't manage with ONLY 5 drive bays, you can start removing hard drive carriages (we'll cover those in more detail on the next page) for up to eleven 5.25" drive bays. This far exceeds the flexibility of most other enclosures on the market, even the full tower models.
Located on the top of the box you will find the main power button, reset button and the front I/O ports. The I/O ports lie hidden under a small latched cover plate, but include the ports we generally have come to expect and also includes a nice addition, an eSATA port. Those with a sharp eye will notice that there are also a pair of LED lights next to the power and reset buttons. These are the power and HDD activity lights, and while some may wonder about the positioning, it really shouldn't be too big a surprise. Given the very large size of the Khaos, it is unlikely that you will be setting this thing under your desk. More likely will be having it sitting next to your desk, making the top mounted lights easier to see.
From this angle you get to see the unique look of the Khaos. As the old TV shows advise, "Do not attempt to adjust your picture" (yes, I know that I am dating myself here). The photograph is not altered, the side panels are truly curved to give a unique exterior look. While the side panels are not windowed, there is a strip that runs across that has a mesh material instead of a solid facing, which allows lighting effects to be seen. You will not have to worry about airflow from here, however, since there is also a plastic covering that covers the entire mesh area. This gives you the look of an open side panel without having an adverse effect on your cooling plans.
The back of the enclosure has a pretty basic layout to accommodate industry standard components, but even here we see a little innovation at work. The first difference you may have already noted is the metal handle that hangs from the top of the box. As noted earlier, this monster is HEAVY
, so in order to allow you to move this hoss around without giving yourself a hernia, you can simply tilt the enclosure to the front and move it around. This is accomplished by means of a set of small wheels that are mounted under the front bezel area of the case.
The other main difference between this enclosure and the rest of the guys on the block is support for dual power supplies. A single standard PSU will fit easily in one of the slots provided and if you really need that extra kick, the panel covering the other port can be removed and a second power supply installed. The bottom panel under the PSU bay is also vented to allow for some airflow for the installed component(s).
Included with this product you also get an adapter just in case you decide you need two power supplies. This adapter allows for both 24-pin couplers to be attached to it, then it connects to your motherboard. This allows the two units to communicate enough where they can work in tandem and not have to be booted individually.
Our final stop on our tour of the exterior is the bottom. This is not generally an area that I tout too much, but I mentioned earlier that the entire unit can be tipped forward and moved around. The wheels you see above have a single axle and are set up to allow you to turn it to get it wherever it needs to go. Under the back edge are a pair of rubberized studs that will keep the case firmly in place when it isn't being moved... like the 50 pounds or so of this beast isn't going to be enough.
Once we get the side panel off we can see that the interior is identical in appearance to the exterior. This is a feature that we have been seeing a bit more of lately, and it is a welcome addition to be sure. When a manufacturer takes the time to paint the interior with as much care as the side that everyone is going to see, it shows a certain amount of attention to detail that is often lacking. The entire interior surface area is painted a flat black and the coating is everywhere. This helps set off the entire design and also makes your lighting more effective if you decide to make use of a color scheme. It is just a nice touch that I enjoy seeing in modern enclosures.Another nice feature is the use of twin compartments that keep heat-producing components slightly separated. This aids in cooling efforts in that you can have two completely individual cooling setups to keep everything running like it should. The lower compartment contains the power supply (or power supplies if you run two) and one of the hard drive bays. The upper compartment handles the remaining components. This dual setup allows you to keep cool air flowing over your hot components and help lower overall case temperatures.
As noted above, the upper compartment handles most of the components and is where you will be spending most of your time during the build. From this angle you can get a good look at the even paint scheme and understand how a lighting effect could look better than having some painted and some silver colored metal areas.Given the size of this case, there is plenty of room inside this compartment and you should have few problems with the installation, even if you have large hands like me. The mainboard tray is large enough to work easily on the system and is capable of handling motherboards up to the ATX size standard.
A new feature that NZXT has made use of is an internal mounting bracket that can house up to three 120mm fans. While this doesn't introduce cool external air from the outside, it does keep a massive amount of air flowing exactly where you want it to go; namely, over the graphics and processor subsystems and aimed toward the back of the enclosure where it can be properly exhausted from the box. For those who find this to be too cumbersome, you can easily remove the mounting bracket by getting rid of a couple of screws.Also of note is that these three fans are the only ones in the system that do not come with the default configuration of the enclosure. You will need to populate the mount with your own fans, but this shouldn't be too much an issue since it allows you to decide how much cooling potential (and noise) you want to add to the system.
In the standard setup, you get five optical drive bays. The top two bays feature a hinged "stealth" door that allows the CD carriage to slide out when the button is pushed. As long as you have a standard optical drive, you will be fine. A very few drive, such as the blue fronted TDK series of burners, will sometimes hang due to the larger than normal size of the carriage bezel, but these type drives are the exception and not the rule. A vast majority of the optical drives currently being sold will work flawlessly with this hinged door system.From this angle you can also see the 3.5" conversion tray. If you happen to need this feature, the tray can be used to suit your needs. If not, simply remove it and store it aside to give yourself another usable optical drive bay. This much room will allow you to easily have 2-3 drives plus have a pair of bays reserved for an internal reservoir for those making use of water cooling. You really get a lot of flexibility with this design.
Moving down the drive tower brings us to a pair of removable hard drive cages. Each of these aluminum boxes can be removed from the enclosure by simply removing a couple of screws and pushing the entire box out the front bezel. The cage itself will hold up to four hard drives and each bay has a rubberized strip to handle any vibrations made by the drive when it spins up. Let's take a little closer look.
From this angle you can also see that the drive bays are actively cooled. They are also properly filtered so you can keep your system as dust free as possible. The fan used is a 120mm model that also includes a blue LED lighting effect. Both fans have this lighting in place, so you will be getting color coming from the front of the box when you turn it on.The way that the two bays are positioned also helps in the overall cooling plan. One of the drive bays is set up in the top compartment and the other is located in the lower one. This gives ample airflow coming into the enclosure that effectively produces cool air into both of the primary areas of the box. The bottom section will exhaust out with your power supply and the upper will exhaust out of the two included fans, one on the back panel and the other at the back portion of the enclosure top. While some may wonder about the twin exhaust fans within the top compartment, rest assured that this will work well under normal circumstances but will become vital if you decide to make use of that central fan tower and fit it with three fans.
Most of our readers who keep up with our enclosure reviews may be wondering why I have not been harping on the concept of a removable motherboard tray. Even in larger cases, the ability to get into the middle of the build is always a nice feature but many manufacturers omit it due to design, cost, or just lack of good planning. While this model does not have a removable tray per se, it does take on a new concept with regards to an easier installation. When you remove the opposite side panel you have access to a couple of screws that secure the motherboard tray in its normal position. When you remove those screws, you can shift the tray forward a bit then flip it downward. It was a bit awkward at first, but once I got accustomed to the angle it was very easy to get at every area of the motherboard. Just my opinion, but I think this is going to be one of those things that you either like or you don't. Regardless, it is effective and makes getting those components in their proper place a breeze.
To round out our tour of the interior, we will take a little closer look at the power supply bay. As noted earlier, you can install two standard power supplies and use the included adapter cable so they can be used together without the need of coming up with some means of powering them up together. You will also note that there is a vented area on the bottom panel to allow for those power supplies with fans built into the bottom.
Final ThoughtsFinal Thoughts
When the folks at NZXT decided to put their many talents into play and design an enclosure aimed specifically at a small market segment, they went all out. Whether you are looking for excellent cooling, plenty of space, easy access during the installation of the system, the ability to easily incorporate water cooling, or a mixture of all of this, the Khaos simply delivers. It is a well thought out design that allows for even the largest of systems. Installation is a simple matter and there are even a set of wheels on the bottom to let you move this monster around with ease.It does, however, have a very large footprint, so those with limited space will want to plan accordingly. Most computer desks will not have enough room for this thing to fit under, and even those that do may be too short to allow for proper exhausting out of the top fan. Your best course of action will be having this monster either sitting beside your desk area or sitting on top of a table.Innovations are plentiful as well. The dual zone compartments, the ability to utilize two power supplies, the addition of a three-fan cooling tower inside the box, all of these make for some excellent features that are hard to find in other enclosures. This is only a partial list of the goodies, but you get the gist.Aesthetically, the Khaos is just different. The curved edges of the side panels makes you think that something is off, but this just gets folks looking at your system. To say that it will stand out in the crowd is an understatement. While it caught me off guard at first, I liked the overall appearance.While everything so far looks great, there is one rather heavy drawback to this behemoth; price. To buy the NZXT Khaos, you can expect to shell out $400US or more. While I generally do not make an issue with regard to price, I have a bit of a hard time justifying $400 for the case unless it already comes equipped with water cooling or some alternative power system already in place. Yes, the features and build are exceptional, one of the best I have seen to date, but $400 is just too steep a price for just the box.
Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:27 pm CDT