Digging into my NZXT file to grab the template I write with for NZXT, I realized it has been almost four months since I wrote anything for NZXT as far as cases go. This might explain the sudden explosion of submission to me for testing as of late. This review will be the first of four coming up from NZXT in the next month or so, as they go live on TweakTown. I figured I would go about this quartet of cases with a diplomatic approach and since all of these new releases are based off of a number system in their names, I figured I would start with the smallest and work my way up the chain. I figure this is not only fair, but will give me a really good opportunity to see what each case has to offer as the series progresses and I assume pricing increases.
The chassis we are looking at today comes from the Crafted Series of cases which is already known for its Phantom, Hades, Guardian, and now numerous Tempest variations. To take you back a bit on NZXT case tech, NZXT had an attractive looking original concept of the outside with its protruding lines on the bezel, a large window on the side panel and a flood of blue LED lighting once the chassis was powered. The interior, though, was a simple case design with one long rail for all the drive bays and a SECC finish on the inside (primed steel finish). In other words, the interior really needs some help by today's standards. Next came the Tempest EVO, which kept a similar style outside, but the inside got a paint job and some hard drive cages while keeping the large window on the side.
What you are going to find out soon enough, is that the Tempest line has gotten a new look on the outside as the most obvious thing to note. This is actually more of a Source 210 Elite with a new look! In the instance of the Tempest 210 from NZXT that we are about to get up close and personal with, it not only gets a much less aggressive aesthetic look, the interior gets a new look as well. Bringing things up to date like offering USB 2.0 along side of USB 3.0, tool-less features on all the drive bays and much more attention to wire management, the Crafted Series Tempest 210 seems to have plenty to offer; but let's get into the specifics and pricing before we pass an early judgement.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
Cutting through the first six lines of the chart, I will say that the NZXT Crafted Series Tempest 210 is an all steel mid tower chassis that is painted black both inside and out. The front is made of mostly plastic offering three external drive bay covers under the front I/O that can be removed from the outside. The lower half of the bezel is covered in a steel mesh backed with a dust filter. The drive bay covers share the same mesh to give a clean overall look to the chassis. The left side of the chassis has a rectangular shaped venting cut into the panel, while the right side panel is flat and boring. In the back you will find thumbscrews to remove the panels, a bottom mounted PSU, a pair of water cooling holes and seven expansion slots. There is quite a bit more going on around the outside, but I will cover that after we check out the packaging for the Tempest 210.
Inside, out of the six possible locations for 120mm fans, only two are filled with a fan. In the rear of the chassis you get a 120mm fan acting as an exhaust, the other is a 140mm mounted to the top of the chassis also acting as an exhaust. Only the top pair of fan holes are accepting of 120 or 140mm fans; all the others are 120mm only. The drive bays get a similar treatment as the Source 210 did with large tool-less clips for the three optical drives and insert and twist to lock tool-less clips for the eight hard drive bays. NZXT has supplied some limitations on the chassis for certain lengths and heights. They are one of the first I have seen to declare a measurement behind the motherboard for wiring, and with the Tempest 210 it is 20mm deep. Other recommendations are the use of CPU coolers less than or equal to 160mm tall, and the last one is that with a hard drive at the end of a card, you will have 230mm of room. If the hard drive is moved, you have 330, until you have issues with the cage for the drives.
Going through the normal routine of Google shopping, I was unable to locate the Tempest 210 for sale yet. Digging a little deeper, I actually searched the chassis at many e-tailers and still came up empty handed. Even though I was unable to actually locate this chassis anywhere, there is a major benefit to waiting this chassis delivery to your favorite retailer. That is the fact that NZXT has put a very budget friendly MSRP on the Tempest 210 of $55. With that in mind, I don't expect a whole lot in this chassis. I mean to say that sub-$100 cases usually end up lacking something. This case is going to be offered for sub-$60 pricing, so I am a bit leery, but I will hold my thoughts until we finish. I have been surprised by many cases in the past, so let's get the packaging out of the way so we can see just what this $55 Tempest 210 has to offer.
As we have seen from many manufacturers, going with the plain brown box with a black ink overlay is the cheapest way to go in packaging, allowing NZXT to put more money into the Tempest 210 inside this packaging.
To the right, the next panel covers the specification of the Tempest 210 and also states this chassis comes with a two year warranty.
On the back there is a full display of the predominant case features. This side covers the mesh that allows for better airflow, the included fans, the tool-less features, the front I/O, and the cable management.
As with many others we have seen, the opposing side panels share the same information. Fed Ex did do a great job with the sticker placement, but the box arrived in pretty rough shape, so I hope everything inside is fine.
Along with the Styrofoam end caps and plastic liner you see here, there were additional pieces of foam stacked along the side panel and across the front of the case to add a bit more protection than usually supplied. So far it seems to have done the job it's intended to.
The NZXT Crafted Series Tempest 210 Mid Tower Case
As you can see, the front of the Tempest 210 is mostly comprised of the steel mesh running from the front I/O all the way down to the bottom of the chassis. From this angle there are only the stepped sides of the plastic frame and slim cross bars that aren't mesh, but all in all it makes for an attractive look that offers plenty of ventilation.
The front I/O houses one USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0 port, the pair of 3.5mm jacks and the power and tiny reset buttons. On a side note, just below this you can see the clip on the bay cover below it. Just slide this clip to the left and the cover comes right off without having to remove the bezel to insert the device.
The top of the Tempest 210 starts with a tray at the bottom which is the front of the case. This tray can hole anything you want, USB drives, keys, or whatever fits. Behind it is a pair of fan holes that will allow either 120mm fans or 140mm fans. NZXT ships one 140mm fan in this location.
The left side panel offers a good bit of ventilation surrounded by some odd oblong holes above and below it. While NZXT doesn't say this is for additional fans, that doesn't mean you can't get a bit creative with mounting and add them inside here.
The rear of the chassis offers a 120mm exhaust fan next to the rear I/O opening. Below the fan you see a pair of pop out bits to allow for water cooling next to the seven ventilates expansion slot covers. Of course that leaves the large hole at the bottom for the PSU.
I guess my delivery guys really don't like me; this is the second case in a row that has taken an odd hit in transit exactly where the case is at its weakest in the packaging. It's a pretty small impact, and I think I can correct the issue and continue with the review.
The last side of the case is pretty plain and really only offers a finger hold to remove the panel once the thumbscrews are removed.
Under the Tempest, it gains support on any surface with its large round rubber feet. In between the rear pair of feet is where the power supply can draw air from if you install it fan down. To the right is room for an optional 120mm fan if your PSU isn't too long to block off part of the hole. Notice, there are no dust covers here, only the tabs that should hold them.
Inside the NZXT Crafted Series Tempest 210 Mid Tower Case
Removing the bezel is easy, just a light tug releases the ten clips from the steel chassis. The front I/O is wireless, which I really like with a case. There are no fans installed in the front of the chassis, but it does accept a pair of 120mm fans. The inside of the bezel does include a dust filter for these fans that aren't installed though - strange!
Removing the panels, we can see two things. More importantly is that the wiring is tied nicely for transit, the hardware is tied to the hard drive rack and the instructions are floating around and ended up in the optical bays. The less important thing is that is obvious that left side needs re-bent.
The three 5.25" drive bays are tool-less on this side with the use of these large clips. Under the clip is a pair of pins that lock into the right side of the drive. To release them, you push under the clip where the arrow icons are.
The eight bays of the 3.5" rack have twist and lock tool-less clips to secure the hard drives. Looking around as much as I could, even trying some things, I am afraid there are no realistic mounts for a 2.5" drive.
The motherboard tray gets completely reworked from the Source model. This time there is much more attention given to wire management and the multitude of places to tie wires in front of or behind the motherboard tray.
The rear of the chassis has the 120mm fan installed above the eight vented expansion slots. Each slot uses a small but effective screw. While being hard to work with, when they are in and tightened they are very secure.
You can see the top offers two positions for fans. NZXT has supplied one 140mm fan here pushing air out of the chassis. You can add another 140mm here or replace this one and add another 120mm fan.
Behind the motherboard you get 20mm of space as the minimum. This means that some areas will allow for thicker cables that say the bumps behind the PSU or around the motherboard. Next to the hard drive rack there is plenty of room to tie up wires and hide them there.
Speaking of the wiring, near the top you can see the fan leads. These have an optional power setup of either a 3-pin or you can daisy chain the Molex connections to the PSU. At the bottom is the ribbon of black wires for the power, reset and such. Along with those you get a native USB 3.0 connection, a single USB 2.0 connection, and the HD Audio cable, all in black!
Accessories and Documentation
The hardware that was in the bag tied to the hard drives is on display. There is a pair of wire tie straps and a pair of grommets for those pop out holes in the rear of the Tempest 210. The bag on the left is full of screws for both the motherboard as well as hard drives. The bag on the right contains nine risers. The assorted bit at the bottom is the "driver" for the risers (it can be used like a thumbscrew to drive in the risers or has a Phillip's head on top), four PSU screws, four extra fan screws and some fine threaded screws for optical drives.
This is how the "driver" works. Find a hole and insert the riser. When you think it is tight with your fingers you can use this to be sure they are mounted completely.
With the riser started in the hole you just set the socket on top, and here you can use finger grip with the grooves on the outside or grab a screwdriver and use that to get them bottomed out in the motherboard tray.
The manual is really pretty simple, but then so was my disassembly of the Tempest 210. There is the exploded view of the chassis on the front, followed by a parts list, some of the finer detail to installing drives, how to use the tool-less features in the chassis, and a wiring diagram in case there is confusion when connecting any of it to your motherboard.
The Build and Finished Product
Adding a drive to the front does take from the looks we started with. Making sure not to break it up like I did in the last review, I was sure to add it to the top to try to make it look as good as possible.
On the inside there is plenty of room to get everything you need for a basic setup in here. While more hard drives could cause issues with the expansion cards, I found there is plenty of room to move things around a bit in the front to allow for most installations of even three to four hard drives and still leave room for longer cards.
In the back the I/O plate was a bit tough to install, but I managed to get it all the way in. I think the hole is a little shorter, top to bottom, than usual, but not a huge deal. The cards went in nicely, but I would have appreciated some larger screws for mounting. I have fat fingers and those tiny screws got dropped a few times before they went in.
Behind the motherboard tray they do say that there is only 20mm of clearance, but as you can see that is a tight measurement. I was able to run everything I wanted back here including the 24-pin cable. With the various tie points and large management holes, it was easy just to get this.
With shop closed up and ready for power and a bit of testing, I thought I should get another look before we light this candle!
With the Tempest 210 under full power, I was sort of surprised with the subdued and limited lighting. Even up close, the blue/white light coming from both the power LED and the occasional flash of the HDD activity light, as shipped that's all the light you see!
I always see complaints on forums that case lighting keeps a lot of users awake. Let me just say this then. For those who prefer a nice looking case with minimal lighting, the Tempest 210 ships as exactly that. With the ability to add your own fans all over the 210, you can make it as subdued or as boldly lit as you choose.
Going head to head against the 400R we just took a look at, the Tempest 210 has a few plusses and a few minuses. The plusses of the Tempest 210 are the pricing, USB 3.0, plenty of room for RAID and a multi-card system on a full ATX motherboard, and still offers more than enough wire management options to utilize that 20mm of room back there. On the minus side, out of the six possible positions, only two fans come with the chassis, but to some this may be a plus as you can customize it to fit your specific needs. It has a dust filter for the front where there are no fans, but doesn't offer one for the PSU. And lastly, on the whole of all cases, without the excellent wire management, the drive assembly is still pretty basic even if it does add tool-less clips that work perfectly for these.
I really thought the airflow inside the case (and excuse my pun here) was going to suck! With no fan to push air in, I was thinking there would be pretty limited flow inside the chassis. I held a lit lighter in front of the chassis and got absolutely no waver in the flame at all. I had felt above the case and behind it to gauge the fans flow and felt quite a bit of air coming out. So where is it coming from? I found that with holding the lighter next to the left panel venting, it flowed so much as to extinguish the flame! With fairly little noise coming from the chassis with 12V applied to both of the chassis fans, I am pleased to say the positioning they chose for the fans has merit and does provide ample air inside of the case for those not looking to push their hardware too much. For those who want a budget case to push you hardware in, this can be it, just be sure to add more fans.
Even with the slight damage, I was able to get that sorted out and have a pretty flawless build in the Tempest 210. The tool-less locks work great and offer very secure mounting without the need of additional screws. Even with the back of the case "tweaked", the cards went in fine and aligned with the screw holes as you would want. I will suggest a magnetic screwdriver for this, though, as the screws are small. The panels slide on and off with no issues even with all the wiring I stuffed behind the motherboard; the Tempest 210 took it all in stride and was a pleasure to work with.
It's a shame that I can't directly link you to a sale of this chassis, at least not just yet. This chassis is new to the Crafted Series lineup and should be popping up in your Google searches any time now. With a MSRP of $55, the Tempest does offer quite a bit for its segment. Most cases near $50 have no fans, little as far as tool-less features and mainly only the top ten or so manufacturers will even offer USB 3.0 at this price. Either way you look at it, with an initial investment of less than sixty US dollars, it leaves plenty of room in the budget for extra fans and the ability to make your own lighting choices. I was able to put in a pretty powerful system and was pleased with my results; there is no reason you shouldn't be pleased with this very economically friendly chassis from NZXT!
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