NZXT has offered me a look at quite a few of their chassis' in my time here at TweakTown. I have seen small form factor cases like the Vulcan and the Panzerbox, and most of the mid tower lineup to this point. Some of these chassis' are simple and clean, while others were designed thinking outside the box and offering features you just didn't expect in that chassis. Out of all the cases I have seen from NZXT, I have to say the Zero 2 was my favorite combination of room, sleek looks and a bit of flash just to make it all better.
I really love my position here more as time goes by, because I get to see companies evolve and get better and better with age like a fine barrel of sprits, and others, well, some of them dropped off the face of the earth. Even with the tough time we may or may not have gotten behind us, most of the manufacturers made it through so far. Usually I see in the case market that things may not be up to snuff with some of the latest releases or that the manufacturer cuts things like fans, LED's, or tool-less options to save both you and them some of that hard earned money.
In this instance I believe the NZXT is taking a super long step in the opposite direction than that trend. Looking at the box and going over the features and specifications of the latest submission, has my head spinning with what is all packaged into this mid tower. NZXT's latest submission is the Hades of their Crafted Series. The Hades is a wallet friendly entry as well, and as you will soon see, for what is all included in the Hades, the pricing does nothing but prove this point. Enough with this excited typing; let me get the general information out of the way and you can have a look for yourself.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
NZXT sends the Hades, an all steel mid tower chassis, with a plastic front bezel and door. Both the interior and exterior are painted in all black, matching the plastic front and mesh that is found around the Hades. Under the shell you will find nine total, 5.25" drive bays, four of which are exposed. To install 3.5 or 2.5" devices, you need to use the included adapters. This mid tower can use m-ATX, ATX, and Baby AT motherboards, and the rear provides seven ventilated expansion slots to add the cards of your choice. Around the chassis you will find four fans that take care of the air flow. Two 200mm fans, capable of 150 CFM are included as well as a 120mm and 140mm as the exhaust.
Even being a mid tower, NZXT tries to pack it full of features. Room for graphics cards up to 300mm is a huge plus, as that means even the HD5970 has room to find a home here. All four of the mentioned fans are able to run off of the included fan controllers, although out of the box, only two are pre-wired to said controllers. As long as you don't surpass the 8W limit of each controller you will be able to have zone control of the fans. If fan control isn't enough, the Hades also offers a three sensor, temperature display on the door of the case to easily monitor what's going on inside at all times.
The Hades is pretty easy to find at most of the major outlets, but it is still fresh to the market. Using the trusty Google search, there was only two pages of hits at this time, where usually I find eight to ten pages on most cases to hit my desk. Don't you worry; even with limited outlets to find the Hades, getting one shouldn't be that big of an issue. Looking around, I think I found an amazing deal. The Hades is listing currently at Newegg for $79.99. Ok fair enough, a mid tower for $80, not too shabby, but add on top of that free shipping and a mail in rebate of another $20 saved and the Hades can be had to your door for less than $60. From what I see for sub $75 at Newegg, there aren't many great choices, and to get one filled up like this is, for that price is almost, well, insanely cheap.
The Hades ships in a black box highlighted with shades of purple distinguishing the skyline in the background. A nice view of the Hades can be seen as well, with five key features listed at the bottom.
Twisting the box to the right, you run into a full list of specifications for this Crated Series Mid Tower.
On the back you not only get two really good views of the Hades chassis, but there is quite the list of features both inside and out.
This panel mimics the opposing panel. I guess they ran out of things to highlight.
Opening the box, you will find the Hades chassis supported with Styrofoam end caps and NZXT also uses and inner liner and a bit of static cling plastic to keep parts from getting abraded during transit.
The NZXT Hades Crafted Series Mid Tower Case
Out of the box the Hades leads with its nose. The front bezel has an angled door covering the drive bays that protrudes in the center and slopes back to the sides of the chassis. This door is well ventilated and offers triple temperature readout in the middle. Under the door, where the points widen out to the bottom is a stretched honeycomb grill with a mesh backing hiding the massive 200mm intake fan with red LED's.
The door swings open to the right, and I must say, in the correct direction this time. Behind the door you will find four ventilated covers for the drive bays, two fan speed dials, and a power button.
The top has options for cooling in the rear section with holes drilled for both 140mm and 120mm fans. In the Hades NZXT includes one 140mm fan to evacuate heat through the top.
Near the front, on top of the Hades is where the front I/O is located. Here you will find two, 3.5mm audio and MIC jacks, two USB 2.0 ports, and an e-SATA connection.
The left side panel has a large bump out in it, slightly resembling a Cowl Induction hood. Near the front there is a small ventilated area to allow a draw of air into the main chassis, just behind the drive bays. The octagonal shaped area is backed by another 200mm fan to add direct flow to the motherboard and components.
The rear of the chassis is well ventilated. The fan, the area next to the expansion slots with the water cooling holes, and the expansion slots all allow for air to almost travel through the Hades with little effort. That leave the two large holes, the rear I/O area at the top, and the bottom mounted PSU area to cover this side.
The right side matches the left. The only major difference is the lack of the 200mm fan on this side for obvious reasons.
Inside the NZXT Hades Crafted Series Mid Tower Case
Inside the left side panel you will find this eleven blade, 200mm fan that pushes air mostly at the GPU's but will also offer air to the CPU and power management area. This fan comes with a 3-pin header from NZXT. They do however offer a 3-pin to 4-pin Molex adapter in the hardware.
During shipping the wiring and hardware is secured. The wiring it not only tied together, but looped through the wire management holes to keep the wires still. The hardware was supposed to be tied up with the white wire tie, but had broken lose during transit and was sitting free in the bottom of the bays.
All of the drive bays in the Hades are initially 5.25" bays. The top four are exposed and will allow for 5.25" devices, and they offer tool-less clips on both sides of the cage for securing. At the very bottom there is a tray that will allow for a 2.5" drive to be installed, while the 3.5" drives will need to use adapters included in the hardware.
The motherboard tray is very well labeled as to where what risers go where, depending on the type of board. There are three longer wire management holes, two up the side and one near where the power supply will be. This tray also offers a good sized opening to gain access to CPU cooler back plates. The top and rear of the case use nine blade fans, a 120mm in the back, and a 140mm up top, and both are pre wired as you will soon see.
Under the chassis you will find four rubber feet for support and a removable fan filter to keep dust and dirt out of your power supply. I mentioned only one fan was included in the top. Depending on the motherboard and cooler combination, this fan may need moved for clearance.
The wiring tied up in the middle is already pre-wired to the fan controllers on the front and has the two fans I just mention already connected. There are connections to add two additional fans to the controllers, one each. With the bump out in the door panel, you should be able to hide quite a bit back here.
There is quite a bit to cover in the chassis' front I/O wiring. Against the case rail are two 4-pin Molex connectors to power both the fan controllers and the temperature LCD display on the door. With the temp display, they need wires and sensors to get a reading. You will find three such leads here. That just leaves the more typical, USB 2.0, audio, e-SATA, and the Power, HDD LED, Reset, and Power LED connections for the motherboard.
The front bezel pulls off with a gentle tug at the bottom and exposes the 200mm fan attached. The chassis behind is open and will allow for easy installation of drives and offer an unrestricted path for the air flow. All of the I/O wiring is attached to the back of the bezel, so make sure the wires are free before you pull off the front.
Accessories and Documentation
Inside the box that was strapped inside the drive bays this is what you will find. Ten zip-ties, six total 3.5" to 5.25" adapters, enough for three drives, and that 3-pin to 4-pin Molex adapter I mentioned. The bag on the left contains the motherboard screws, washer, and risers, black screws to mount the board, and silver screws for securing drives if the chips don't work for you. A sheet of yellow stickers, a security loop, and speaker center this group. To the right is a bag of thumb screws, again to replace too-less clips or mounting the hard drive adapters.
This is the plastic tray that was in the bottom of the drives. Simply mount in a 2.5" drive through the holes in the bottom and pick a slot. Mounting can be done with thumb screws or the clips.
Installing the adapters is simple. There is a large hole on the outside for a screw driver to pass easily. Screws for mounting will be found in the bag with all the thumb screws. There are rubber grommets that absorb any vibration to keep the chassis silent during operation.
There is a well laid out step by step instruction sheet. There is a lot of multi-lingual text to cover, and the descriptions are short, but good images make up for the lack of great instruction. To be honest, the case was too intuitive to need these anyways.
The Build and Finished Product
The cover for the optical drive simply removes with tabs on the inside, and front bezel on or off, the 5.25" devices slide in with ease. Just line it up with the face of the bezel and lock it in place with the tool-less clips. If you look carefully inside of the door, you can see an upside down "U". This is a switch to change the front LCD readout from Fahrenheit to Celsius.
Inside felt roomy for a mid tower with a full ATX motherboard and full sized graphics card. Wire management is simple with the included holes and leave for a tidy, air flow friendly interior. Just for testing, I taped the sensors to the Northbridge heatsink, the back of the core on the GPU, and the third got taped to the top of the HDD. Where they go and what they measure is up to you, even though the leads are labeled to go to specific places.
All filled up and just about ready for a power cable, the rear is clean as you would expect to see before your spaghetti of wires gets attached.
It wasn't hard at all to route the wires and keep them tidy, and with that bump in the door, I didn't need to get it even this nice, the door went right over all of this. I would have loved for a little hole to be at the top, I found no real way to tuck the 8-pin CPU power line behind the tray.
Powered up, and left to its own devices, I returned in a few minutes to see this at the front of the Hades. I will tell you that this display isn't all that bright, and does require one to be at the right angle to see it. As you can see, my hard drive, Northbridge, and the back of the graphics card are all at reasonable temperatures. These were with the fans dials maxed out on the front.
While running, you will see a glow of red coming out of the bottom. The lighting was dimmed for this image and you can tell the lighting is more subdued. In the middle you will find a green LED to indicate power, and another to indicate HDD activity, but for the life of me I couldn't get the timing down to get both on at once.
NZXT seems to be just a slight edge above the rest in what is offered in economical entry to mid towers. The Hades, while using an unusual front bezel and door combination, offers quite the complete package. Direct competition for this chassis would be cases such as the Cooler Master HAF 922 and CM 690 II, as well as Lian Li and Lancool offerings. I have seen examples of all of them personally over the years, and I have to say NZXT has brought themselves into this already established competition of the others. NZXT sneaks the Hades in a bit later than the others, but in my opinion can offer you the same as some of the others, and in some features, even more than the rest.
From beginning to end there were no issues, cuts or bruises that came along with working inside the Hades. The chassis interior is well laid out and allows for a very "open feel" even when it is full of your components. The open design has another reason over aesthetics, and that is to allow for the best air flow possible inside this mid tower. Two 200mm fans blasting air in, and even at full speed offer little more than a hum. To remove the air, there is a combination of a 120mm on the back and the 140mm installed in the top. All of these combined offered superior flow to any of the chassis' listed above. Aside from the "make it or break it", for some buyers, front door, this chassis offers everything the others do, and all at the same price.
So if you could buy a chassis that is easier to work in than the HAF 922, offers better air flow than most of the cases in the price range, and is well thought out for cable management and attractive to look at, why wouldn't you? - I have seen the progression of quite a few of NZXT offerings and I have to say they hit the nail on the head with the Hades. Priced right in my opinion, you can find the Hades at Newegg for $79.99, with free shipping currently. All I can say to that is wow! This is one serious contender which falls below the price of most of the Hades main competitors.
Don't let the following score fool you into thinking anything derogatory; the only reason for the lower score is due to its limited current availability.