Where the pair of predecessors to this series, the Source 210 and 220, were very small, compact cases, they had some old school flare to the interior layouts with a good mix of modern features, but what made these two cases such a huge hit was down to two things. Price was likely the main motivator for most users with a $49 price point, but the secondly the chassis was simple, easy to use, and not something that would stick out like a sore thumb. If anything, the more mundane aesthetics made for a design that would fit anywhere without too much notice.
What we learned about the NZXT Source series has been turned on its ear a bit with this latest chassis release. This time around, there is of course styling that fits the Source series and its heritage is plainly obvious. There are some other minimal changes to the exterior, which sets this new design apart, along with a handy feature from the much more expensive NZXT cases.
The inside is where things have definitely taken a turn for the better. Now there is plenty of room, convertible hard drive racks, room for water cooling - the list really goes on and on. The best thing to happen to the Source series is that this time they have went to a full-tower design.
While the price for this new Source 530 from NZXT that we are looking at today is a bit more expensive than the previous offerings, we will break it all down and show where the price increase comes from. It is rare that you see a chassis and its offerings scale so well within the same series of cases, but NZXT took a huge step and is now offering less of a "builder's special" case that is cheaper and readily available, to the lines of offering users a sleek yet simple design that offers just about everything needed to expand as you go, and take a while to run out of room if planned correctly.
The new Source 530 is not only a step up for potential source buyer's, but it is also a step in the direction of NZXT offering one of the better bang-for-the-buck solutions now offered.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The Source 530 full-tower chassis that we received comes in black, with a mix of vast steel panels, polished ABS plastic, and an almost full expanse of very tight mesh running down the front. There is a large window in the left side of the chassis, but the right side of the 530 is flat as can be. Moving to the inside, NZXT provides three 5.25" bays, six trays for 3.5" and 2.5" drives, as well as one other hidden 2.5" bay. The motherboard tray can house anything from Mini-ITX through EATX, offers wire management without grommets, an average sized CPU cooler access hole, and has plenty of tie points. In the back of the chassis, there are eight expansion slots offered in this design, and the PSU is mounted at the bottom.
The cooling setup is likely one of the better features found in the Source 530. While only two 120mm fans are provided, there are plenty of cooling options left. The front of the chassis will allow for two 120mm fans, or two 140mm fans, or even one 200mm fan and also room for a 240mm or 280mm radiator. Out of the box there is nothing currently in this location. The bottom of the chassis will allow for 120mm fans, two in total, and you could also place a radiator here, but not while there is one in the front. The roof of the chassis has holes for two 140mm fans, but if using 120mm fans, there is room for three.
Water cooling is also possible here, but we suggest only thin radiators in this location. They don't make any mention of the 120mm fan mount that is attached to the hard drive bays either, but assuredly, it's in there. The last bit of the puzzle is the rear of the chassis that houses a 120mm fan like the one in the roof of the chassis provided by NZXT, and you also have the option to place a 140mm fan here. That is a total of nine 120mm fans.
As we alluded to earlier, the pricing has gone up. Considering the base price of the previous mid-towers, add in a cool side window, increasing the overall size to a full-tower, removable bays, angled fan mounts, a GRID fan power hub, rear I/O LEDs, you can see why the price has to be increased with all these new add-ons. Considering the originals were near $50 and widely accepted, it may surprise you a bit to find out that with the new, larger, Source 530 that packs all these nice things into it this time around, will only set you back the asking price of $89.99.
What even makes things better for all the potential buyers that will rush to grab this new design, if you go to Newegg, they are selling this chassis with free shipping too. From what we have already gathered, by the time you are done with this review, I think you will agree that you get a ton of case for the investment with this new NZXT Source 530 full-tower chassis.
Helping to keep the cost down, NZXT uses plain cardboard and screen printing on the outside packaging. There is a large rendering of the chassis, along with the naming with three words listed - Simple, Affordable and Capable.
On this side of the packaging you are offered the company name as well as the chassis name, but the bulk of this panel is given to place the rendering of the front of the chassis here.
The back side of the packaging offers six drawings of features NZXT wanted to cover. These are the water cooling potential, cable management, window, modular drive rack, dust filters and tool-free latches. At the bottom, in various languages, is a brief description of what NZXT feels the Source series is all about.
If FedEx hadn't plastered their stickers all over this side of the packaging, there would be a specifications chart plainly visible. Since we just covered this, it is not so detrimental, but at least we can also see that there is a color indicator, in which ours shows this is black.
Inside of the cardboard, the Source 530 receives cling plastic on both sides of the window and is also found on the polished parts of the bezel. Then a plastic liner is placed over the entire chassis, and very thick Styrofoam caps are used to deliver this chassis anywhere in the world. Our sample arrived in excellent condition, and is a testament to the ability of this simple yet effective system of packaging.
NZXT Source 530 Full-Tower Chassis
The front of the chassis starts with bits of the front I/O above the trio of 5.25" bay covers that are easily released from outside of the chassis. Inside of the protruding, polished plastic frame, the rest of the panel is made of steel mesh.
This half of the front I/O panel offers an NZXT logo that illuminates to denote chassis power. Just to the right are a pair of 3.5mm audio jacks and those are followed by a pair of USB 3.0 ports. As the steel mesh bends a bit into the frame, just above is another LED strip that will flash when the storage device is active.
The top of the Source 530 is all steel, and offers a large mesh area with slots cut to allow fans or radiators to be mounted here, and with slotted holes, screw hole offsets are much less of a problem.
The left side of the chassis is flat, with no bumps, protrusions, or venting offered. Instead, there is this large window offered to view the components inside of the build.
At the back, there is room to adjust the exhaust fan, and room to swap out to a 140mm fan. There are eight ventilated expansion slot covers with ventilation and holes with grommets for water cooling next to them. There are also LEDs at the top of the rear I/O and just above the slots to work in the dark.
The right side of the chassis is a large expanse of flat steel that receives the same textured paint treatment as everything else in the chassis other than the plastic parts and the hardware.
As the bezel meets the right side of the chassis there are three buttons midway up the side. There are the power button at the top, the rear I/O LED on/off switch, and the reset button at the bottom.
Under the chassis, there are four, round, plastic, feet that have rubber pads applied to assure good footing on many surfaces. The bulk of the bottom is taken up by the pair of dust filters. The smaller one at the left for the PSU, and the long one is under the optional fan holes once you remove the drive bays.
Inside the Source 530
The first glance inside of the Source 530 is reminiscent of a Phantom, or even on the verge of a smaller Switch layout. The wiring is tied up once the ends were bagged, and as for the hardware, it is in the box in the bottom drive tray.
There is a bit of room at the top for fans and wiring before the three 5.25" bays actually start, and on this side of those bays there are heavy too-free latches to secure devices here. These clips are more than secure, but there is also the option to back them up with screws on the other side.
The six storage trays are split into three modular cages. The top section holds three drives and has the optional angle-able fan bracket on the left of it. Then there is a dual bay and a single bay cage. Not only can these be swapped around or removed, even the base is removable to make way to install fans.
The top of the chassis ships with a single 120mm fan with a black frame and white blades. There is easily room for more fans, and with the drop of the motherboard in this design, thin radiators with fans will also fit here easily.
The motherboard tray has a CPU cooler access hole that matches the window and should give great access. There are seven management holes, none have grommets, but there are also twenty visible tie points to keep things neat and tidy.
The floor of the chassis offers six feet for short and long PSUs with a large hole in the try by it to get the wires behind the tray. Toward the front of the chassis there is one of the two fan spots on the floor. Of course the PSU needs to play nice, and the lower section and base of the hard drive rack need to be out to do this.
A matching 120mm fan to that in the top is what is found exhausting again, this time through the back of the chassis offering negative pressure inside of this chassis. As for the eight expansion slots, thumbscrews are used to secure them and add-on cards.
Behind the motherboard tray, there is a minimum of 34mm of space offered. NZXT does some lighthearted wire management, but nothing up to our standards, as we will be readdressing that.
Almost dead center of the chassis on the back of the tray there is a GRID fan power hub without the cover and LEDs. To the right of it is the optional 2.5" drive tray, so an SSD can run the system and the bays can be completely removed.
Accessories and Documentation
The hardware box is pretty full of goodies, and here is part of what we found. There is a standoff socket and two extra standoffs in the bags at the left. Long fan screws and the PSU screws are in the middle. This leaves the wire ties and four 9mm screws.
In this assortment, you have the ODD screws, the 2.5" drive screws, the motherboard screws, and 3.5" drive screws going clockwise from top left.
In a separate bag found on top of the chassis, there is the manual, along with a black insert that shows off all the products NZXT currently offers, and offers an opportunity for them to sell you something you may have missed.
As the manual is opened, the front page folds out to expose this exploded diagram. It is marked with red number indicators, where on the right they are described in eight various languages.
As for the rest of the manual, there is a parts list, wiring diagram, and specifications all offered before we reached these instructions. There are indicative of what is found throughout the manual and they offer very simple to follow illustrations with very little text to help the explanation of each step.
The Build and Finished Product
The front bezel comes off by pulling at the bottom of it. Once off, you can rinse the bezel since the wiring stays attached to the chassis. There is also room for fans at the bottom, but they mount on the other side and the drive cages being removed for access is recommended.
Once the build was finished and the bezel is back on the chassis, the addition of the DVD drive fits right into the design. From the view through the mesh being so good to the components inside, the air flow through this mesh should be good as well.
Removing most of the drive cages does afford much more room inside of the chassis. Again, the bottom section can be removed, and all said, as long as the triple cage is still installed, this chassis will hold up to nine 120mm fans. There was nothing out of the ordinary where the build is concerned; everything fits with very little effort.
The PSU slides in and screws in easily enough, and the support legs do a fine job of isolating the PSU from the chassis. The video card did require a bit of flex to align the case and the card, but the I/O dust cover snapped right in easily.
Readdressing the wiring was a must, and to be honest, everything was set right out for us to just simply wire as we went. Keeping the fan, front I/O and PSU wiring all separated and cleanly tied up was almost too easy with the way this tray is laid out with options.
All packaged back up as we get ready to test the Source 530, we are left with the same sleek, simple, yet aesthetically pleasing looks we started off with. The only thing left to do is add some power and see what we have then.
Once the Source 530 and the system inside are powered up, there is the option to turn on the I/O LED lights. There are two, one at the top of the rear I/O and the second over the expansion slots, designed to make fumbling in the dark a thing of the past.
As we have power now, the NZXT at the top right corner of the bezel is now glowing white. The bar that comes from the steel, across the plastic, and to the front of the bezel at the right is also illuminated as the boot process is accessing the spinner inside. With just two fans running in the chassis, we registered a reading of 34dB with the pair of fans spinning at full power.
NZXT was not joking in the slightest when they added those three words to the front of the packaging. First of those words is "Simple". Here is where the external aesthetics and design come into play, as well as how well the internal design allows for a fast and easy build process. The outside of the case is simple with straight edges, and only a slightly irregular window shape to add some style, as for the face, the polished plastic is a nice touch, but with a full expanse of mesh on the front, it keeps the styling much less aggressive. Inside, the tool-less features, modular hard drive bays, top tier wire management even if there are no grommets, and it offers plenty of spaces needed to work, making a build in this chassis feel much simpler than it actually is.
The second word I want to look at is "Capable", and the Source 530 is that. While fans are limited to only two out of the box, the sheer amount of options is impressive. There is room for the option of four radiator locations and multiple fan sizes as well. The top of the chassis will hold a 360 or 280mm radiator, as long as it is slim, and the spacing to the motherboard is sufficient not to cause conflict. The front of the chassis can hold a dual radiator, 120mm or 140mm, and the floor will also allow for a 240mm radiator.
That leaves us with the back of the 530 where a single 120 or 140mm radiator will easily fit. They even offer a bay drive mounted fan so that air can be sent directly to the CPU or the video card fan to provide better temperatures to a specific area. There are LEDs on the back that are a take from much more expensive cases that NZXT offers, more than sufficient room behind the motherboard tray, black cabling - I mean, NZXT covers this design from all angles to really offer a chassis that will allow for builds to grow as affordability and time allow upgrades.
The last of those three words was "Affordable", and once again, there is no way to deny that NZXT has delivered on every one of these sentiments about the Source 530. Considering the cost of the Source mid-towers, and the average cost of a good priced full-tower, the Source 530 proves its worth. Economical full-towers usually run in the $100 range, and do offer average feature sets, and even here NZXT was able to go a step further. Pricing this chassis at $89.99 and from everything we have just seen, there is no reason to pass this chassis by when looking for a home for a new system.
Considering all that can be done with this chassis, the understated looks externally, and at this price, the Source 530 definitely is in my top five "bang-for-the-buck" cases that I have ever tested.
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