Welcome to number three of the quartet of NZXT cases to grace us over the past couple weeks. With the diplomatic choice to look at them by ascending call numbers, we have now passed the 210's. With that pair of cases, the Tempest 210 and Source 210 Elite, they both shared the same frame, functionality and basic ideas. Where the cases differ is in the left side panel and the design and aesthetics of the front bezels.
To make it very simple, the Tempest 210 has a utility tray at the top, the largest side panel vent so far and the majority of the bezel is mesh to allow for much better airflow. The Source 210 Elite comes in white or black, has odd angles applied to the front bezel which is a flat plastic covering the front with slits in the sides to allow for airflow. Pretty much everything else about the cases is exactly the same up to this point.
Here is where the new arrival steps in. Moving up the numbers, we have now arrived in the 220's and this chassis stems from the Classis Series and is billed as a Source case. At first glance I can see that again the majority of the chassis design is again the same, but there is a combination of things going on in the front bezel. NZXT has taken the Source 210 Elite bezel and added a full covering of mesh instead of blocking air with the plastic as the Elite did. So basically, if you liked the Source 210 Elite, but want a mesh front to allow your best chances of keeping the interior as cool as possible, this very well may be the solution for you.
Doing three reviews of what is sinking in to be a bunch of rinse and repeat specifications and interesting things to point out, I did at least try to change things up during the process to try and show off things like what an m-ATX system looks like versus a full tower system with these cases. Since the guts are all the same, it gives me the opportunity to give wire management yet another go around in these cases and actually has given me a good look at the amount of quality control that NZXT cases are getting. On that note, I have to say, these three cases have been identical in parts, shape, structure; everything has been on point with all of these economically friendly solutions. Keeping the QC on point for the third time, I now bring you the Classic Series Source 220 from NZXT!
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The Classic Series Source 220 is an all steel construction, this time painted black throughout. Externally you will find that there is a black plastic bezel on the front that is the same as the one on the Source 210, but the center has been cut out to allow for steel mesh inserts. The left side offers the mounting position for up to a 120mm fan and this panel is the same one found on the Source 210. The back offers a bottom mounted PSU and seven expansion slots with vented covers. The other side panel is flat and offers only the same black textured finish that all of the steel components are painted with.
Internally there is quite a bit going on. There are seven places for fans in this chassis, two of which can be 140mm while the rest are 120mm. there are two in the top, two in the front, one in the back, one in the door and one in the floor. Between all these fans you will find a rack that holds three 5.25" devices exposed through the bezel with eight spots for 3.5" drives below, both of which offer tool-free clips for these. The motherboard tray has a large access hole and is engraved with a number and letter system to aid the installation of risers for m-ATX and ATX motherboards. As you look around the tray, you will see there are plenty of options for wire management in the way of passage holes and wire tie points.
So what have I missed? Well, the Source 220 offers 20mm of room behind the tray for wiring; it does say coolers larger than 160mm tall won't fit and you may have issues with longer cards hitting the ends of the hard drives. Oh, the front I/O. Just like the others, the 220 offers USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 along with a pair of 3.5mm audio jacks. I guess that's about it really and I think we should move right into pricing and see where this rendition falls in the lineup of cases we have seen thus far.
Looking around, you won't find much information aside from a press release, news blast, or another review currently for the Source 220. That being said, as far as the shopping goes, Google came up empty. I just got these cases a couple weeks ago, so I know it is going to take some time for stock to arrive and make the listings at our favorite e-tailers. The MSRP of the Source 220 has been set at $54.99, and that is in US dollars. Considering the other offerings all built on this frame are all right in this ballpark, this is a good price point for what is offered in these cases.
Keeping costs down, again we see that the Source 220 follows the leader and shares the black on brown styling like the others had. The only difference between the Source 220 and the Source 210 Elite is the mesh seen in the drawing of the chassis that takes up this panel.
I'm pretty sure this is the same specifications list used on the others. I didn't even look on the first chassis, but I noticed at the bottom here, there is a White option, but the site makes no such mention of that option.
The rear of the box houses information on five things that they deemed noteworthy. They start off with the mesh panel on the front, move on to the tool-free bays, cover the front I/O panel, discuss the cable management and finish with the included cooling in the Source 220.
Just like with the other two submissions, the specifications chart and color are displayed on this side as well.
Styrofoam end caps and a plastic liner were enough to get the Source 220 to my door in perfect condition. I guess Fed Ex was tired of that pickup game of foot ball they ran on my NZXT cases the week before.
The NZXT Source 220 Mid Tower Case
NZXT makes mention of this aluminum-like finish applied to something here, but maybe they mean the paint on the steel mesh - I'm not really sure. Surrounding the three bay covers and large mesh panel is a textured black plastic that is cut top and bottom on odd angles. Surrounding this is a shiny finished ring of black plastic that houses the front I/O panel up top and is surrounded again with a textured outer ring that finishes off the front bezel.
Speaking of the front I/O panel, this chassis offers 3.5mm jacks for headphones and a microphone with a USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 port on the right. Sorry I forgot to get this image in the beginning, but I did remember after the build, that is why the DVD drive is in so early in the review.
This is where the size options come into play with the fans. NZXT ships one 140mm fan installed to blow out of the chassis through the top. You can either add another 140mm fan, or remove this one and use a pair of 120mm fans if you choose to.
I think I got the left side panel concept now. This is the Source panel, as was seen on the Source 210 Elite. While not as large as the Tempest 210 side panel, this mesh allows for a fan to be installed where the Tempest does not.
In the back you get the rear I/O panel next to the 120mm exhaust fan with seven vented expansion slots with water cooling holes and mesh next to it. This leaves the obvious hole for the PSU at the bottom.
No bumps, no venting, just a flat panel painted in a textured black finish as the rest of the case received.
Under the Source 220 we are back to black rubber feet for the black cases. The area under the PSU at the left and the 120mm fan hole in the middle offer a honeycomb mesh to allow for all the air possible. I just wish there were filters here, but they do have the supports for you to devise your own.
Inside the NZXT Source 210 Elite Mid Tower Case
Another thing I noticed by series is that it seems the Source cases are wired to the bezel. I really like the Tempest 210 for its wire free design. One thing I need to cover here is that to remove this I had to also remove two wire ties first behind the motherboard tray to allow enough wire to even get the bezel to release.
The Source 220 with her panels off shows that I am now two for three in getting instructions, and that familiar bag of hardware is tied to the hard drive racks right where it should be. To keep the wiring in place, they are run through the holes in the tray and also get tied in a bundle at the end with a wire tie.
The three 5.25" bays at the top receive these plastic clips that I can tell have a brushed appearance on them. On this side you use these clips of course, but if you want to lock the other side you must use screws provided for you.
The eight 3.5" bays also get the brushed treatment and offer many places to either stack a ton of drives in here, or get the one or two you have out of the way of longer graphics cards. Simply with a twist these clips can be removed and lock your drive in place.
With five holes to manage wires and twenty-one places to attach them to the motherboard tray, wiring has been a non-issue through three cases now. Under the access hole for CPU cooler back plates you can see there is an engraved chart showing locations to install the risers for the various form factors.
In the back we again have those small Phillip's head screws that no matter how hard I have tried, I even dropped them using them in this, my third attempt at using this arrangement.
There aren't any rubber pads in these cases to isolate PSU vibrations. You are given four metal round raised bumps to set the PSU on. The same idea is used for the fan mounting holes just in front of it.
Looking in from the back of the motherboard tray, you can see there is every opportunity to have a cleanly wired build. As long as you have some time and some extra wire ties, there is no reason you should have issues fitting what you need behind the tray with its 20mm of room, or stashing bulk wires off next to the hard drive rack where it is much deeper.
The wiring for the chassis is long and will go anywhere you need it to. All the cables are black as well. There is a pair of fan leads from the 120mm and 140mm fans equipped inside and the USB 3.0, USB 2.0, HD Audio and motherboard pin connections.
Accessories and Documentation
The Source 220 manual is essentially a large piece of paper folded up. It is printed on both sides and offers a parts list and a full walkthrough of disassembly and installation processes. To guide you through there are really good images with highlighted coloring to help show exactly what they are explaining. The test is multi-lingual and brief, but the images alone will guide you through. The text is more aimed for those with absolutely no idea what is in the images to begin with.
Imagine that, the same exact contents in the hardware kit. Included are the motherboard screws that double as drive screws on the left. Just left of center is the pair of grommets for the punch-outs in the case for tubing, with a pair of zip-strips in between them. There are the risers, the socket, PSU screws, ODD screws and a set of four fan screws to get everything installed and cover a few options along the way.
The Build and Finished Product
With everything installed in what seemed like record time, although after three tries at it I should be able to do this in my sleep by now. With the DVD drive in place the texture of the bezel mates the drive well and doesn't look out of place. I also like that I can see wiring and the rear fan through the bezel. If I can see it, air can definitely get in there!
Changing things up, I threw in the blue GIGABYTE just to make something stand out, and so you have an idea of what a m-ATX system would fit like. With plenty of room for the ATX system in the previous submissions, the m-ATX system has plenty of room to work when it's finished.
Nothing exciting going on in the back, just that now all of the holes are filled and there is a quartet of DVI connectors staring back at you. I did go ahead and remove the tube covers and install the grommets to see how they fit, and they were very easy to install.
Every time I get behind this tray my mind just spins with all the ways I can route things. So far this is my third go at it, and not one of them looks the same. Not only can I route things anywhere I want really, there are plenty of points to secure the wiring and keep it out of the way.
Before we add the cord and power it up, I figured we could get one last spin around the chassis with the panels back on the Source 220.
Changing the angle 180 degrees, there are no issues to bring up. Both panels fit smoothly and align well with the body of the case. Don't forget about that model and serial number sticker near the rear I/O, as you may need to retrieve this information for RMA purposes.
Just in case you miss it in the next shot, once powered up, the Source 220 only produces this for lighting. The larger power button is surrounded with a light that denotes PC power. The reset button, the smaller one below, is not only surrounded, but also centered with LED backlighting denoting the HDD activity.
Powered up, there is a mellow hum emanating from the fans on the Source 220, but once the GPU fans are spooled up, I can definitely hear them over the case. As far as lighting goes, when the system is powered the ring around the power button is lit. The reset button has a light in the middle that will flicker for HDD activity.
After five restarts I was still not quick enough to get the flicker on the reset button, but since I hadn't really covered those, I figured I would get you a close-up of the lighting and the large power button with the reset button under it.
I hope now you see why I called the Source 220 the middle man of these cases. The reality is this is a Source 210 Elite in every way, shape and form, except one. As the Tempest 210 offered a full mesh front panel, which I prefer, the Source 220 gives you the change that to me is going to make the most difference in the amount of air flow through the front of these chassis designs. Since the center of the panel is no longer just plastic, it allowed me to appreciate the odd angles and shapes going on around the mesh center. While I was a huge fan of the white version, basically because it was white, I like what this case offers a bit more, regardless of the color painted on the chassis.
These cases are designed for the beginner or those looking for a case on the cheap that offers up all the basics. That in mind, it explains why we only get two fans installed of the possible seven, but that leaves plenty of options to add LED fans or whatever you see fit. With most cases in this range, you are lucky to get much attention to things like USB 3.0 or wire management, and with NZXT they wanted to be sure to offer you a case you can learn to grow in. Even if you don't have the capabilities to use them now, with time you may want to hide the wires better, add fans, or even get a board with a native USB 3.0 connector - the Source 220 offers exactly what NZXT sold it as capable of providing its buyers.
Speaking of buying one, well, for that you must wait a little while longer, as the Source 220 has yet to make it to store shelves as I write this up. Since it is a cross between the Tempest with its mesh bezel offerings and uses the shapes and angles of the Source 210 bezel to surround it, it is priced right along with those two chassis'. NZXT has set the MSRP at $54.99. If I remember correctly that is the pricing of the Tempest 210 and the Source 210 Elite is $5 more. Really, at this point of the quartet of reviews, the choice comes down to three things. Do you need the Tray on the Tempest 210? Does your case have to be white? Do you prefer a mesh front? For me personally, I ended up liking this one the best of the three we have seen. It offers a unique shaped and aligned bezel design and still provides the full mesh front to maximize the air flow.