NZXT has kept me very busy recently with their submissions and I thank them for keeping me busy. So far we've looked at the NZXT Mesh 30W fan controller and the incredible looking, and performing, HAVIK 140 CPU cooler. On top of those products, they also delivered a new chassis to our labs for testing. The Classis Series of cases already has some big players. There is the Alpha, Beta EVO, Lexa Blackline and M59 just to name a few, so this chassis is going to need something to set itself apart from the other nine cases already in this series.
This time around, silence and simplistic style is the name of the game. Think about the NZXT Alpha case exterior with minor changes that set this new design apart. Add some sound dampening material, solid steel doors and a swing open door to cover the front of the chassis, and you have blocked out most of the ambient noise that affects most cases with good ventilation that is left out in the open, or gets rid of the rattles associated with windowed cases. On top of that, there are a few really cool hidden features also packed into this mid tower submission.
The chassis in question is the H2 from NZXT. This sleek looking chassis offers things like removable panels and fans that don't require disassembly of the chassis, dust filters throughout, and leaving the environment enjoyable with the lack of noise. NZXT also sneaks in a few more hidden bonuses like USB 3.0 and a built in hard drive dock. With more to cover than what I can address in just the introduction, I say we get down to it and see what's included and how much the Classic Series NZXT H2 mid tower chassis is going to set you back in the pursuit of silent excellence.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The exterior of this all steel mid tower chassis is a cross between the design of the Alpha front bezel while still offering a unique look all its own. The front bezel includes a door covered in a brushed metal panel with chrome trim around the outside. The rest of the plastic bezel is flat black, and as shipped, the door on the front opens to the left. Behind the door you will gain access to three, removable from the outside, optical drive bay covers. Below these there is a pair of 120mm fans that also remove from the outside and are wirelessly attached with contact pads that allow for super simple removal and maintenance. Both of the side panels are plain black and solid; no windows or vents to be found. The top of the chassis not only holds the front I/O panel, but offers a hidden SATA HDD dock and a special fan grill cover to deaden the noise levels if you add a fan to that position. Also included in the top of the chassis is a three position fan controller that can cover 30 Watts worth of fans over four connections, and this chassis offers USB 3.0 too.
On the inside you will find the chassis is completely black, and once you remove a side panel you will notice the layer of sound deadening foam that is applied to the inside of each panel. With those out of the way you get access to the interior. There you will find three 5.25" bays with tool-free mechanisms for a quick fit and lock of position. The Hard drive bays total eight in this chassis, and with the use of the included slide in trays, you can use the pins to mount a 3.5" drive, or with screws, mount a 2.5" drive to the bottom of the same trays. To the left of the bays you find a motherboard tray with plenty of wire management options, a CPU cooler access hole, varied motherboard compatibility and 25mm to the back door to hide the thickest wires. The rear of the chassis holds the last included 120mm fan of the three above the seven expansion slots that are above the bottom mounted power supply mounting area. The floor of the chassis will allow for an optional 120mm fan to be installed and both the PSU and this fan are covered under the case with a removable dust filter.
That was a lot to cover and I still feel like I am leaving something out. Either way, even if I did miss anything, I'm sure I will get it covered as we take a closer look at the chassis and its features. With all of these features, options, sleek styling and a subtle and almost undetectable LED lighting scheme, what is the H2 going to set you back? Well, surprisingly enough, not all that much! While I did see one or two places just a shade cheaper, I found the $99.99 price tag at Newegg.com that makes this chassis a very attractive prospect for those who prefer a silent work environment. Once shipping gets added, it brings the chassis to just less than $120 US dollars. While that is a great price to offer a mid tower, I must continue with the article and see if there is anything I can really pick this chassis apart for. As it looks at first glance, I am seeing very little to complain about. Let's see if I still have this same feeling when we get through with the build and testing.
Since the H2 comes in two color options, NZXT did as good as black printing on brown cardboard can show of both chassis designs on the front of the packaging.
Under the Fed Ex label you would see a list of specifications for both versions of the chassis. At the bottom there is a sticker applied in the check box denoting which chassis is inside the box.
At the top a definition of noise and NZXT's take on how to deal with it. The features listed show both the ways they address the noise, but the ease of how things work, and the hidden and obvious appointments found around the H2 chassis.
As what I typically see with the plain brown boxes the panels tend to repeat information. Here we get another specifications list, and this time it isn't blocked with a shipping label.
Inside the box, the H2 gets surrounded with a plastic liner, and that is on top of the plastic cover that is protecting the finish of the front panel. To keep the chassis in the middle of the box and away from the pokes and dents that happen in transit, Styrofoam supports are added to the top and bottom of the chassis. The packaging was a success; I received an A1 condition case.
The NZXT H2 Mid Tower Case
From the front you can see the resemblance to the Alpha chassis, but the edges are more squared here and it offers a refined finish with chrome trim to make an attractive addition to any room.
The bezel is quite thick. On the left side we can see the hinges, and if you look a bit further back you will see nothing but black painted steel on the door panels.
That means the door opens from the left to expose the sound deadening material backing the door panel as well as giving you access to the three bay covers and the pair of 120mm intake fans. Matching the other side, there is just a flat steel panel on the right.
The top of the chassis has the front I/O with USB 3.0 connectivity and a three position fan controller included. Moving up in this image, there is a cover for the SATA connected hard drive dock, and a sound deadening magnetic fan cover over the 140mm exhaust hole.
Removing both of the covers, you can see that there is also mesh in the top of the chassis blocking some of the optional fans noise, and is how you access the holes to mount a fan. The cover is also removed from the dock, but I have a closer picture for you on that matter.
This bay is not made to be "hot swappable" and the sticker advises you to set AHCI in the bios to allow for such an option if desired. This bay will accept both 2.5" drives as well as 3.5" drives, and again gets connected to the motherboard via an SATA cable and powered via a 4-pin Molex connection.
The front I/O uses rubber coated buttons for the power, reset, and fan controller that matches the fan, hard drive dock lid, and bay cover latches. Connectivity has front panel audio jacks, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, and the three position fan speed switch.
The rear of the chassis offers a hole specifically for the USB 3.0 cable on top of the rear I/O hole and 120mm exhaust fan. Below those you will find seven mesh covered slots, and a bottom mounted power supply hole with the edge of the removable dust filter showing at the very bottom.
Under the chassis it gets supported by the plastic rail that goes under the steel chassis. There are rubber strips to keep the chassis in place, and this plastic trim piece incorporates grooves to allow the large dust filter to slide in and out through the rear of the chassis.
Inside the NZXT H2 Mid Tower Case
Starting with the front of the chassis, I removed the front bezel and spun it around to see what all is going on. When I did, the pair of 120mm intake fans comes right out with no wiring involved. The wiring stays connected to the middle of the bezel and with use of contact points the fans get powered up.
The wiring is tied together from the front and the rear. The USB 3.0 cable acts as a tie point for the loose ends from the front I/O. the hardware and instructions can be found in the thin white box sitting on the outside of the hard drive rack.
While the top three, 5.25" bays have tool-free latches, and the eight hard drive bays have slide in trays, the entire left side of the bays are covered in thumb screws. If you want to lock the optical drives or the hard drive trays in place you use these thumb screws to do so.
Around the outside of the motherboard tray there are seven holes for wire management, three of which have rubber inserts to make things look better. With compatibility for baby-AT, m-ATX, and ATX motherboards, and up to twenty places to tie wiring to, you should be left with a very clean build.
At the back you can see the outside rail is cut away to allow access to the seven expansion slots and the thumb screws. The third fan included in the chassis is this 120mm exhaust fan, and NZXT offers holes for routing water cooling tubes through the back as well.
Behind the tray you will find up to 25mm of clearance to route your cabling in. The USB 3.0 cable and front I/O wiring comes pre-grouped, routed and attached to the chassis out of the box. For each build it may require you to remove these wires to make it easier to route them to your components.
The wiring is all black aside from the tell tale blue USB 3.0 cable at the top. You will find four fan, 3-pin power connections and a Molex power adapter that hang higher on the back of the chassis. Shown is the SATA cable from the HDD dock, Audio, USB 2.0, and motherboard power and LED connections.
Accessories and Documentation
In that thin white box packed next to the hard drive bays you find quite the assortment of hardware. Part of that is the set of wire ties, the motherboard speaker and a set of foam washers for, I would guess isolating anything you may see the need for, since it isn't addressed in the instruction sheet.
The screws and risers are comprised of the set of four screws at the top left for the power supply, the risers with Phillip's head socket and eight fan screws. The bottom two sets are the left set of 6-32 screws for the motherboard and 3.5" drives. The screws on the right are M5 screws for 2.5" hard drives.
The instructions are multi-lingual and offer really good images and text to describe almost all of the parts and a full build. If you have any questions aside from where to place the four washers, this manual has you covered. In the bottom right corner of the manual is a product inset that shows off all of the other products NZXT offers to complete your build.
The Build and Finished Product
Since the H2 comes with a full cover door that blocks the view to the devices used in the 5.25" bay, there is no way to detract from the sleek and elegant look of the smooth flat black finish with chrome trimming.
There is more than enough room to house my build. With up to 310mm of room if you remove a couple of hard drive trays, there is even room for the larger cards out there. I had absolutely no issues with the cooler or any of the drives placements, and when it was all said and done, it is a clean looking build.
The rear of the chassis is all filled in and just about ready for powering up and testing. One thing I will address here has to do with the expansion slots. When I tried to install my card, I had to really press on the back of the chassis to make the holes for the thumb screws line up. While I was able to eventually make it work, it was some hassle to get it done.
The 25mm of room here is greatly appreciated. I was able to route each group of wires as I attached them and tie them down in a layered layout. Even with the front I/O wires running under the 24-pin wire and the SATA cables just strapped to other power leads, I had no issue sliding the panel over this wiring.
I installed a 2.5" drive into the hard drive dock just for show. You can see a little better once I have the drive in that the padded rails are set up more for 3.5" drives, but the 2.5" drive, once clipped into the power and SATA receiver, make for a pretty solid fit.
I will show you the case powered up from a better angle, but the lighting found on the front doesn't show up so well unless you are looking in a direct line with the bottom right corner of the front door. There is a HDD activity light at the top and neither really abuse the eyes or flood the room with bright light.
Taking one last look at the H2 chassis as it sits here silently running, awaiting my testing and making sure everything is functional.
So let's recap a bit here. The H2 in the Classic Series from NZXT offers quite the kit. You get black on black coloring with just a touch of chrome classiness. On the top you get a 30 Watt fan controller, USB 3.0 connectivity, a HDD dock and a noise reducing, magnetic fan cover to keep any optional fans installed as quiet as possible. If the fan isn't all that quiet that you chose to add, there is the option to attach it to the fan controller and reduce the fan speeds from 100% at position III to 70% at position II, and even further to 40% in position I. With a full solid exterior and the use of sound deadening foam behind the door panels under the magnetic fan cover and inside the front door, the H2 is impressively quiet, and I haven't even covered anything on the inside yet.
Inside you are given a very functional and easy to use drive system. The 5.25" bays use clips on the left and with the thumbscrews screwed into the rail, you can remove them and use them on the right side to securely mount the drives. For the 3.5" bays, each of the trays will accommodate both 3.5" drives and 2.5" drives, but once slid in place, they can be secured with thumb screws to make sure the tray doesn't accidentally slide out of place. I found the amount of screws screwed in the edge of the drive bays plentiful and super handy to store and pull these screws from. The motherboard tray offers multiple motherboard types, plenty of wiring holes and even more places to tie wires to. Aside from the slight struggle with my expansion slots, I found no real issues in cable length, connectivity, or the finished results I was able to achieve in a relatively short time.
On top of the full appointed chassis design, you don't have to deal with an exterior that resembles the last incarnation of Optimus Prime, or anything outrageous. What you do get is a unique, sleek and sexy chassis outside that incorporates anything you are going to want in a mid tower chassis, especially at this price range. The fact that I am able to load up Google's page and shop just about anywhere and get this chassis at a really great price just sweetens the deal. The $99.99 Price at Newegg.com is right on the average pricing and everyone is asking for shipping as I look, so no special deals at this time. Even so, NZXT delivers yet another product this month that leaves me with a cheesy grin on my face as I type it out and show you what it has to set its own level of success in silence, performance and optional equipment at a terrific price.