With my time scouring forums, it never fails that there are guys on a super limited budget that need to put together a solid gaming PC. After all the best "bang for the buck" components are chosen, there may not be a whole lot of funds to dedicate to a chassis to house the investment. Most of the choices in the sub $100 range are either poorly designed or, sorry to say it, ugly to look at. Never fear, NZXT has priced a mid tower chassis where there really can't be any complaints.
My last experience with NZXT was when I reviewed the Panzerbox, which was a nice change to the normal chassis with a unique layout and good airflow. Previous to that I looked at one of their more basic tower chassis designs and was surprised to see that I could in fact install my GTX 280 in the Zero2. With all this in mind, I am eager to see what they have sent to our labs this time.
Today, NZXT has sent us the Beta mid tower chassis from their classic series for review. This is an all steel chassis with a plastic front. The chassis is a basic concept and offers not only a good candidate for a new bang for the buck chassis, but seems to have the modding community in mind already. NZXT ships the Beta with an interior of black to match the exterior as well as accommodating for wire management. Talk is cheap! Let's get through the specifications and then to some images, shall we?
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
As I mentioned, this is an all-steel chassis that has been painted inside and out with a matte black finish. The front panel and the drive mounting hardware are mostly plastic, though. The cooling offered in the Beta is capable of housing up to four 120mm fans; only the intake 120mm blue LED fan is included with the purchase. The Beta can house up to four 5.25" drives and has room for up to five hard drives. The rear can house seven expansion cards.
The NZXT Beta chassis is on shelves pretty much everywhere. I can't really see any issues of trying to acquire this chassis. Doing a bit of Google shopping leads me to see that there are 38 e-tailers at this point stocking the Beta chassis and all are currently in stock. Again, if this ends up being a choice to house your rig, there isn't any reason why you shouldn't have one.
The pricing of the NZXT Beta is what really surprises me this time above all else. NZXT is offering a chassis with quite a few options for the measly asking price of $49.99 USD at Newegg with free shipping. Looking currently, there is even a $10 mail-in rebate option which brings the Beta to a $40 shipped price tag. Umm, WOW! I'm really thinking at this point, I need to get the Beta open and get my hands inside it to see what NZXT offers for such a small hit in the wallet.
I will have to say that NZXT saved a bit of money on the packaging, but what would you expect? Even though it is a simple all black layout over plain brown cardboard, NZXT still offers quite a bit of information about the products features to aid in you purchasing choice. The rear of this package is a mirror image of this side.
Again, as with the front and rear panels, both sides are identical as well. On the sides NZXT offers a short list of the specifications of the Beta in four different languages.
Cutting the tape at the bottom of the outer packaging so I can easily slide the box off reveals this. The NZXT Beta is securely packaged inside foam ends and of course a protective bag surrounding the actual chassis. Nothing out of the ordinary, but it did allow a flawless trip to my house.
The NZXT Beta Mid Tower Case
First impressions of the NZXT Beta are this. First, while being a more plain mid tower, there are options for increased airflow and it is a sleek looking chassis to boot. The four external drive bay covers are covered in mesh to allow air to pass through when the slot is not in use and below those is the intake slots for the 120mm, blue LED fan.
From the front you can get a better look at the mesh that is in the covers. The same mesh is used to back the slotted designed intake at the bottom. I do like the simple NZXT in white at the top as the only notification to its heritage.
The left side panel of the Beta is vented as it comes from the factory, but also has mounting holes for the placement of two optional 120mm fans to be placed. Even in a mid tower, this little idea can really offer your GPUs some much needed cooler air.
The rear of the Beta offers the same layout as most of its competition. There's a top mounted PSU with a 120mm fan mounted next to the rear I/O area. Also seen are seven expansion slots flanked by two water cooling tube holes and a bit of extra venting at the rear to sum it all up.
The right side panel of the Beta is a bit plainer. The only real distinguishing feature to discuss is the indent pressed at the rear to allow for a better grab on the panel when opening the chassis.
Laying the case on its back to get a better view of the top shows where NZXT has placed the front I/O panel.
I realize this is upside down, but I couldn't seem to hold my camera straight in that position, though I think you can get the idea of the situation. NZXT has equipped the front I/O with an eSATA and two USB 2.0 ports as well as having front audio and microphone 3.5mm jacks.
The bottom of the Beta chassis has round rubber pads stuck to the bottom for feet and the steel is formed for structural support.
Inside The NZXT Beta Mid Tower Case
I have to remove the left panel to get images of the interior, so let's discuss it now. NZXT used two plastic ended thumb screws to keep the door on place. The door itself has folded over edges for support of the panel and then of course there's an inside look at the mesh grills that can accommodate the two, not included, 120mm fans of your choice.
With the left panel off there is a great view of the all black interior and its layout.
This is how the Beta ships; notice no rear exhaust fan is included, but the rear of the chassis is well ventilated, even down to the expansion slot covers. Keep this in mind when purchasing, that you may need to look into a couple fans as well.
The motherboard tray is not removable, but is pre-cut with wire management holes. These holes may not all work for a full ATX install. This is because NZXT has thought to place a couple closer for mini and micro ATX boards as well.
Moving to the top of the front of the Beta chassis, there are the four 5.25" optical bay drives. They are slotted in the sides to allow for the tool-less clips, as well as drilled to allow for screw mounting of the drives.
The bottom half of the drive rack consist of a floppy drive bay and has room to house up to five hard drives. I don't quite get the floppy drive bay, as there is no place for it to pass through the front panel, so you would have to install it backwards and install the discs from inside the case.
Inside The NZXT Beta Mid Tower Case - Continued
Looking in from the rear of the Beta, you get another look at the optical drive bays. The covers have a little clip on both ends that need to be released by pressing from the inside. Then you just slide a drive in and install the clips which I will show in a bit.
NZXT uses a good amount of wire to include in the Beta Chassis. Both from the I/O wiring and the included 3-pin or 4-pin Molex powered fan plug, there is plenty of length to get the job done.
Getting a bit closer, you can see all the usual suspects are in line here as well. Both of the AC' 97 and HD audio and eSATA connections are present, followed by the power, hard drive LED, LED power and reset connections to go to the motherboard.
I removed the front panel, as it is only held in with six pressure clips. This not only gives you a good idea of how it's made, but you can also see how the bay covers are tabbed at the ends.
With the front panel out of the way I can show you a couple of things. You can see the floppy drive bay, but if you compare to the previous image there is no hole for the disc to pass through. The second thing that I want to showcase is the only fan included in the Beta. This is a seven bladed, blue LED, 120mm fan that is mounted to the outside of the front and is the only source of airflow to the chassis as it is shipped from NZXT.
Removing the right panel allows for a good view of the wire management side of the Beta chassis. There is a bit of a set back to the bay drives which will allow for a bit of wiring, as well as the motherboard tray being set back to allow some thinner wires to not affect the closure of the panel.
Accessories and Documentation
NZXT packed a hardware box full of goodies which you are about to see, but I haven't seen this little trick for securing it up till now. NZXT set drive rails into the box and slid it into the bays to keep the hardware locked into place for shipping. They have also included a thank you note for purchasing the chassis. With this sample there were no included instructions.
NZXT sends a ton of tool-less hardware for the Beta mid tower. They include five rails for either side of the hard drives that are labeled left and right. They also ship a set of eight optical drive clips and a smaller set for locking the floppy drive into place. At the top left is a bag with all the motherboard and PSU mounting hardware and at the right is an included motherboard speaker.
I figured this would be an important feature of the Beta to show. I had to flip the case around to get a good image, but as you can see the Beta will allow for most of the biggest GPU's on the market.
Using a full ATX Foxconn X38A, you can see there is plenty of room to get your components installed, and still the Beta has a bit of room to work.
Moving forward a bit, I have the front I/O and fan power wires pretty much hidden and I have my drives in place as well. I looked to reverse the hard drives while I was installing and it seems this is the only position they will install in.
I went ahead and locked the entire lot of extra tool-less clips into place. They simply line up with the keyway and you twist the handle to the locked position, then you are done. To unlock, just follow the arrows and pull the clip out, the drive will slide right out.
Even when you are running some older hardware, the Beta leaves it with a clean look and easy access to the components. If you were to have a drive failure, it is much easier to replace in this position.
Moving forward once again, this is with the PSU in place, wired up and ready to start up. I found it was much easier to get most of the wires to lay above the optical drive than to bury them all behind the tray. Even with all the motherboard tray wiring holes, it seems NZXT has left out the one to get the wires behind the tray in the first place. Still, I found it very easy to wire and keep them out of the flow of the little bit of air this case offers.
This image shows what I mean. There is a bunch of room to be utilized to hide the wires, but there is no easy way to get them there. If I was planning to use this chassis full time, I would have gotten out my Dremel tool and made a hole in front of the PSU to allow the passage of the wires to the rear.
Fit and Finish
Back to the front of the Beta with everything closed up and ready for power, this again shows that even for a low dollar case it is sleek in appearance.
From the left, with everything installed, you can see that this side venting allows for air to be passed over the most critical components. Adding two 120mm fans in this panel would increase the flow to the processor, the northbridge and the GPU's.
The rear of the chassis looks clean in all black with a black PSU installed. Everything lines up well during installation and there were no issues to be found here.
Adding some power and pushing the power button lights up the front of the NZXT Beta with an all blue theme.
Looking a bit closer at the top half of the front panel, you can see both the power and reset buttons are backlit in blue LED's. What I didn't find was the HDD activity light.
The lower half shows the LED's from the front intake 120mm fan peeking through the mesh.
Well now, let's list it all out and see where we end up. NZXT ships a solid chassis that offers a tool-less install, has an already black interior, can fit the largest GPU's and even has openings for water cooling. All of this can come to your door for as low as $40 after a mail-in rebate. I can't really see where NZXT went wrong on this chassis. The Beta offers a ton of bang for your buck.
Since I only used this chassis short term, I don't have any knowledge on how fast the smaller mesh of the front will clog with dust, or how well it stands up after you start cutting holes in it to fit your needs. I do however know that during the build and setup, even all the way through to the eventual tear down, I could only find one issue with the Beta they had sent to me. I did find on the rear of the chassis, near the expansion slots, that there is a slight bit of "rust pop". The image below will show what I mean.
I found the Beta chassis from NZXT to be a great start to any rig. With a bit of thought and a few tools this budget priced mid tower can be had by anyone. As I mentioned, with a listing price of $49.99 with mail in rebate at Newegg, this brings the Beta to a sub $40 price tag shipped to your door. What more could you ask for in such a price conscious chassis? A couple more fans would be nice, even a hole to allow the wires to disappear, but for $40 worth of case I think I'm asking a bit much. Just remember when building your next rig inside the Beta mid tower chassis, look at investing a few more dollars in fans to complete the package.
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