It seems that after seeing the Ronin, and now the newest chassis from NZXT, where it used to take a guy who bought a generic chassis weeks if not months to change things. Removing bits, and adding covers over things we don't want to see anyways, it used to be a huge ordeal to get a custom chassis. As of late, it seems that trend may be soon to be over. Companies are now making moves that take something from the basic line, and totally rewording it. Some changes are plainly obvious, while others need deeper investigation to gain appreciation for these benefits. Either way, I hope this is just the beginning of a new trend in chassis design. It may in fact be a design that sets the bar so high that others are left to scramble about as they try their own hand at similar ideas.
So, what does a design like this bring forward that others have not been able to do? Keep in mind that this is merely a mid-tower chassis. After around a year of planning, designing, and working out the final concept of the chassis, NZXT and one specific designer have come up with their own version of what the best all-around chassis should be. Major changes are made in this design where not only have they entirely removed the optical drive bays, but in doing so, they have allowed for two other things.
One of them was the layout for a whole new storage drive system, and if that wasn't enough, they also made this chassis so that it can house a 360mm or a 280mm radiator, instead of these storage trays. Another huge addition is a metal PSU and wiring cover that is part of the chassis and not removable, but even here, things like the PSU installation and the PSU wiring have all been thought out and worked out to the finest detail.
If we don't have your attention at this point, you either have no interest in buying a new chassis, or you better check for a pulse. NZXT has brought their A-game this time, and considering how well we have liked some of their previous designs and new layouts, what you are about to see in the new H440 from NZXT may just blow your mind.
Until now, we had not thought it possible to do what NZXT has done with such craftsmanship and style; they deliver a very unique chassis that we all know will be cloned in some fashion very soon by all those sleepy manufacturers that are being blindsided with this mid-tower chassis.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
There are two versions of this mid-tower available to buy, one is a matte black and gloss red version, and the other is the gloss white with black trim, which we received. The front of the chassis consists of a plastic trim and frame that holds a steel panel with rounded sides, which has only the NZXT name pressed into the steel at the very bottom. The left side then offers a full cover steel panel, again in gloss white, but on this side we are given a full top to bottom window that is also shifted left as to give no view of the bays.
The top of the chassis is much like the front, where side venting is used in the plastic frame, and a steel panel with rounded sides runs the entire length. As for the right panel, you do see the venting at the top in black, but most of the view is of a flat, gloss white steel panel. The back of the chassis offers room for the power supply at the bottom, and then offers seven expansion slots above it. The bottom of the chassis offers chunky feet that allow this chassis to stay in one place, and with these in combination with the 9.75 kg of weight, it isn't sliding anywhere easily.
If the sleek and simplistic exterior hasn't sold you on the design, the inside surely will. The front of the chassis has no 5.25" bays in any way; instead, it offers widely spaced trays for a stack of six 2.5" or 3.5" drives from top to bottom. There is also a pair of trays on the PSU cover that blocks the view of the PSU and wiring. It also has the NZXT name waiting to be backlit by white LEDs, but they are for 2.5" drives exclusively. The motherboard tray will work for ITX motherboards, ATX, and Micro-ATX boards as well. It offers plenty of wire management to the tray design, and has a large access hole cut at the top. There are also many holes along the top of the tray as well as in the PSU cover, to allow wiring to run as naturally as possible, while delivering a look that most will assume you paid big money to have.
Cooling is a whole other ball game when it comes to mid-tower designs that I have seen. The front will allow for a pair of 140mm fans, but it comes shipped with three FN V2 120mm fans already installed there. If you were to remove the trays all together, this will then allow for radiators to go along with both fan configurations, which would also be installed in the front of the chassis. The top of the chassis offers the same exact setup for fans and radiators as the front offers, but they are all empty when the chassis arrives; these are optional locations. The rear of the chassis will hold either a 120mm or 140mm radiator, and of course, a single radiator can also go there. Also, with great water cooling efficiency, it usually brings with it quite a bit of fan noise. However, in the H440, we have a thick rubberized material applied to the front, top, full right panel, and next to the bays on the left panel to help eliminate noises. Combined with the side venting, these should both really help keep things tolerable in any situation.
This chassis is brand new to the market, so much so that we did not even get a sample with retail packaging, or a manual included. However, when this chassis does become more readily available, other than directly from NZXT for the MSRP of $119.99 U.S. dollars, we are sure to see the value in this design. I know we are glossing over the obvious fact that there are no 5.25" bays, but with Steam, Uplay, and various other sources of digital media, I personally haven't used one in years, and as such, this is a great feature in my mind. It does require a bit more than what we see a lot of other mid-towers release for, but once you see things for yourself, you will be off soon after to get one of your very own.
Packaging and the NZXT H440
What you see here was also shipped inside of another plain brown box. At this point, even the inner packaging was plain brown cardboard, with only the sticker on the side showing the CA-H440W-W1 and the word "white" under it, which are obviously telling us what version is in the box.
Plastic clings to both sides of the large window for added protection before the entire chassis is wrapped in a clear plastic bag to minimize any tiny scratches. Protecting the chassis, and taking on most of the load, are the Styrofoam end caps that delivered the H440 in great condition.
The front of the chassis isn't exactly plain as there is the black thin line around the right. There is black styling added to the top, and the letters "NZXT" are barely visible at the bottom edge of the gloss white steel panel.
Moving up to where the top panel starts, we find the front I/O panel of the H440. At the left is a large power button with two LEDs to show power and activity, with a tiny reset button above them. To the right are the audio jacks, and both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports.
The rest of the top is a gloss white steel panel that has been inserted into the plastic frame. This frame has sound deadening material applied to it, as did the bezel, but notice the side venting; that is how both the front of the chassis and the top allow the air flow in or out.
The left side of the chassis continues with the gloss white pain on steel, but here there has been a tall window installed. This affords a complete view from top to bottom, but it is only as wide as the motherboard area.
At the back, we see more venting at the top, and off to the left, just below it, there is a tiny button for illuminating the logo inside and the rear I/O LEDs. Then we have the rear I/O, and an exhaust fan above the seven expansion slots and water cooling grommets, with the PSU getting a mounting plate.
The right side of the chassis offers a glossy white side panel that just has the thin black trim along the top. Unlike the other side, near the front, there is venting that matches what we saw on the top panel, which allows the front bezel to intake air.
Under the chassis are chunky plastic feet with soft rubber pads applied to them to make sure the H440 wont slide around. In the middle, we see the PSU dust filter to the left, wire management tie points, and holes for either a 2.5" or 3/5" drive to mount to the floor.
Inside the H440
Removing the side panels is the first time we get to see the foam-like, rubberized material used for sound proofing. Not only does this make the panels more rigid and noise resistant, but it also adds a fair bit of weight to the chassis as well.
With the panel off, we can see a fair bit more of how this chassis is designed. The side of the bays have been simplified to fit the new drive concept, and aside from the motherboard area, there isn't much to see other than the PSU cover with the black side panel, and the NZXT name waiting to be turned on.
Where we typically show you the optical drive bays, since we don't have them, we opted to show the front of the chassis now that the sound proofed panel and magnetic dust filter have been removed to show the trio of pre-installed fans.
We had to spin the case to show the trays used in the front. Each tray is spaced far enough apart not to completely screw up the intake. Each will house either a 3.5" drive or a 2.5" drive, and they are simply locked in with thumbscrews.
Removing the top panel will give you the access needed to add fans or a radiator to the top of the chassis, and even though it comes without fans, there are plenty of options to play with here. Also, we noticed that the wiring stays on the chassis, and not with the panel.
The motherboard tray offers room for ATX motherboards, along with some smaller ones. It offers eight management holes, and plenty of tie points to keep all the wiring clean. There are grommets, and with a white case that is much appreciated, and though it is an awkward shape, the access hole is very large.
The PSU cover does a little more than just cover the PSU and wiring. It also has management holes next to the board for the front panel wiring, and another for PCI-E leads at the right. There are also two trays for 2.5" drives that slide out and lock in with a thumbscrew.
The back of the chassis comes with a 140mm fan installed, and carries through with the black trim and white components that this chassis features. Below that, there are seven slot covers that are vented and have thumbscrews for securing the cards.
Behind the motherboard tray, there is some wire management done for you at the factory, which is a plus. Our OCD ways won't allow that though, so we will be addressing that anyway. There is 20mm of room, and that allows for the Grid fan hub, and the PCB at the top for the chassis lighting.
If you missed it in the last image, the hardware was in the bottom bay, and the wiring was tied into a bag and placed close to the hardware. After untying it, we find that there is still plenty of the black cabling to get the USB 3.0, USB 2.0, HD Audio, and the panel wiring connected with ease.
Accessories and Documentation
The first part of the hardware kit is what we see here. There are nineteen zip ties, and you will need them all. There are also the PSU screws, extra standoffs and the socket to drive them, and an NZXT logo that you can place anywhere you choose to.
We were also given what we see here, and the naming on every bag will help new builders through tougher spots. The bag of 6-32 screws is for the motherboard and 3.5" HDDs. The M3 screws are for SSDs, and we also get a set of four fan screws to complete the kit.
The literature we did find in the box is the product catalog. In here, you will find various cases, power supplies, and many other coolers and case accessories that you may want to grab to go along with this chassis.
While our chassis did not come with the manual, I have seen the PDF form of it, and I will say that even here no detail is left unchecked. There is a full parts list with descriptions of what is used and where. As you continue through the manual, they show how to remove the panels, how to get the components installed, and all the cooling options that this chassis offers. While the images used are fairly straight forward and easy enough to follow, there are also good descriptions of the actions needed to perform what is being illustrated in the images.
The Build and Finished Product
First we went to the PSU area and removed the plate. Once we mounted it to the PSU, we slid them both into the chassis without a snag. The cover does block most access to the wiring, so if using a modular PSU, it is easier to plug them in first, but there is still room to access the front of the PSU around back.
We also stuck a thicker dual 120mm AIO into the top of the chassis. We didn't want to mess with all that air flow through the front, so we went to the top, and with all the options available, you can get much more serious with water cooling than this.
The front of the chassis looks exactly as it did when it arrived. Of course, we have no ODD bays, so there is no way for that to distract from the clean lines and glossy panels the H440 offers.
Everything inside fit like a glove. The offset of the top allows for both the fans and the thick radiator, with no conflict to the motherboard or the memory. All visible wiring is kept to a minimum, and we even mocked up a 2.5" drive in one of the trays at the bottom.
Out back, there is little to discuss as well since the PSU, video card, and the dust shield all go right into place without much force. Keep in mind that with the option of two radiators on the inside, the fact we have grommets here allows you to add more outside as well if you really need it.
After quite a bit of time, we took what used to be just a mess of wiring running down the left and tidied things up a fair bit. We were able to take all of the wiring behind the motherboard tray except for the PCI-E connections, since there is a handy hole provided for them.
We now have the H440 sitting ready, waiting to be powered up and tested. While it was a little abstract in the beginning, once the build is completed, you really have a sexy showpiece that could go just about anywhere, whether in the office or at a LAN.
Without the AIO we chose to install, we found that the chassis is hardly audible when it is running. The only thing to definitely show us that it was running was the ring around the power button that is now lit by a LED at either side, since the HDD was active and the H440 is powered.
Remember that button at the top of the back of the chassis? Well when it is pressed, it offers you two LEDs for both the rear I/O area, as well as the expansion slot area, to allow connections to be made where light may not be so easy to find. This has been, and still is, a very handy feature from NZXT.
The other thing that happens when that button is pressed is that the NZXT logo at the bottom of the chassis also comes to life. So, even in a pitch black room, not only can you swap a mouse or change a video card connection, but you also have the NZXT name glowing out the bottom of the window in white LEDS.
The main thing I love about this chassis is that is does take the hassle of modding a chassis yourself, or even paying someone else to do it; if you are like me, you have limited time and even more limited materials handy to try out. Then there is the obvious fact that we are looking at a chassis that offers air cooling and water cooling options typically only found in full-tower cases (and with a much higher premium along with its increased size), but NZXT was able to do it in a mid-tower design.
It is a ballsy move to eliminate the optical bays completely, but for the market that this chassis is intended to, we would need to get the Dremmel out, put some safety glasses on, and spend many hours in our basement or shop to even get a single 360mm radiator into a mid-tower chassis; considering there is room for two by simply removing the 3.5" drive bays, and opting to use SSDs and smaller spinners. The build we put together, while quite nice, didn't even begin to test the full limitations or possibilities of what the H440 offers.
The provided cooling does very well by itself considering the thin strips used for the venting systems, and at a foot away from the chassis without the AIO running we saw a reading of 29 dB. Considering most of the noise was coming from the back of the chassis, and with the intake being drawn from the opposite side as the window, that source will likely be deadened as it faces the wall. When we plugged in the Tundra cooler, we were shocked to see the meter drop from what we found when we tested it to be 58 dB. With the side venting cancelling sound, the materials absorbing it, and the top being as thick as it is, we saw readings of 43 dB from our test system. This is huge. We took one of the loudest AIOs on the market, installed it into the H440, and with similar performance benefits as there are in our open air testing environment, The H440 takes that noise and makes it so much more pleasurable to deal with when it sits close to you.
At this point, after all the glowing things to discuss about the H440, there was not one misstep that I could find in this design. Haters are still going to come out and complain, but the reality of digital media is that optical drives are sort of going extinct in gaming systems. Even for backups, you can just get an external drive; problem solved. NZXT shows that not only can they turn heads with cases like the Switch, Phantom, and many other designs that have shown they are a trend setter with, but they are continuing to think outside of the box when it comes to delivering what gamers and enthusiasts really want in a chassis.
Things like the PSU cover, the LED system, the new bay configuration and drive trays, the ease of using thumbscrews for most removable bits, the fact that the thumbscrews in the doors and the HDD bays all stay in the component so they don't get lost, adding the Grid fan hub; I mean the list goes on and on. As hard as we try, there is just nothing to degrade NZXT for, or harass them about how I would have done things differently. They just hit this nail so square on the head, and with such style and adaptability, that there is no way that most of our readers aren't already in another tab looking to get this chassis (or possibly the red on black version) to build your system in.
All things considered, NZXT has won us over, and if we had some spare time to swap out the systems, this chassis would likely be already sitting in my office going to work as this is being typed up. The fact of the matter is that this is the next evolution in what a gaming chassis should be, and from now on it has raised the bar to a whole other plateau that many other companies will find it tough to compete with.
NZXT has a real winner on their hands with the H440 mid-tower chassis. It is the case every new buyer wants, and it is the perfect solution for the enthusiast who just doesn't have the time to perform the mods, but has plenty of gear to pack into a sleek and simplistic design that will make anyone who sees it jealous of their setup. As the award below shows, the next move is on everyone else, as NZXT moves up a huge step and everyone else in the industry wonders what just hit them.
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