The Bottom Line
Introduction, Specifications and Pricing
There are many companies out there trying to innovate when it comes to case designs, but at the same time, it is few and far between that we get something that doesn't resemble the usual "box" when it is finished. In the past few years, things have really stepped up in the interior game, and things like ODD bay removal, water cooling readiness, wire management already being done, the list really goes on and on here, but it seems that only a select few companies aren't afraid to tinker around with the exterior layout, but yet some are, and one of those happens to be NZXT.
While some may argue that plastic components on a steel square chassis may be the same thing, the Phantom series of cases proved one thing: many users really like the idea of curves and body lines when it comes to chassis design. Not to say that others are not doing things similarly to this, but there is no denying that the Phantom was the first to take the market by storm and sell really well. Keeping in a similar trend, but this time going into the Concepts series rather than the Phantom series, NZXT has put a new spin on what chassis exteriors should look like.
Now don't get your heart set on looking at a new mid-tower Phantom, as it only takes some of the design aspects on the exterior, yet is able to still be a product that will stand on its own and be easily recognized as a one off, not part of another group. However, when it comes to the interior, we find things inside that are part of other designs we have seen in the past, and at the same time meeting, if not exceeding, all of the trendy modifications users want. If you are into unique looks, and have no room for compromises with no room or need for a full-tower chassis, read on.
The Noctis 450 is available in a matte black finish as well as a glossy white option, and both variations sport zero 5.25" bays as not to detract from the exterior design, but still offer room for six 3.5" or 2.5" drives, and additional pair of brackets specific to 2.5" drives only. Cooling this chassis we are given a trio of 120mm FN V2 fans that are preinstalled, but there is also room for a pair of 140mm fans as an optional cooling solution. The top of this design will allow for the same layout with the same 120mm and 140mm fan placements the front offers. Then the rear of the chassis offers the last option for cooling with a 140mm fan pre-installed from the factory, and if you jump further down the chart, you will find the specifications for each fan.
To help to keep the interior of the chassis clean, there is a magnetic dust filter behind the bezel, and to keep the PSU interior and fan clean, there is also a filter under the chassis. Next, we see the clearances on the Noctis, and we see that the GPUs are listed first. There is 294mm of room with the HDD trays in the chassis and will fit most cards on the market. However, if you remove the HDD trays, the room vastly increases to 406.2mm at that point. There is also room for 185mm of CPU cooler height on top of the motherboard, and we are even shown that the minimum spacing for wiring is 17.7mm in some areas, while there is up to 32.5mm in others. Although, since this design offers a PSU cover at the bottom, it offers a huge cavity to bundle any excess wiring, and leaves unlimited room for long power supplies.
About midway on the chart we see that this chassis is 544mm in depth, it stands 567mm in height, and is 220mm in width while weighing in at 9.5kg. The frame and the side panels of the chassis are made of steel, but the use of ABS plastic on the top and front of this chassis is what gives it all of the design flair we think you will appreciate. Inside of the chassis, you can fit a Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, or ATX motherboard, and at the back there are seven expansion slots to fill with needed GPUs and so on. We see they mentioned external electronic which of course covers the pair of 3.5mm jack in the front I/O panel. We also see though, with this design, at the rear of the chassis is a button for the lighting system that comes in this design. That's right, built-in LED lighting. That leaves us with just the three rows at the bottom of the chart where we find out the front I/O also offers a pair of USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, and that the Noctis 450 comes with a two-year warranty.
Looking around for pricing and availability, the big name e-tailers have listings, so obtaining one should be pretty easy at this point. We cross checked pricing as well to see if the black on black version runs the same as the white on black version of the Noctis 450, and whichever you like more will cost you the exact same. Now, you can go directly to the NZXT store and buy this chassis for the MSRP of $139.99, and you can locate it at Newegg for the same price, but shipping listed there is another $13.99. At this time it is then our advice to opt for the third choice. Venture over to Amazon.com where the chassis is sold with NZXT listed as the seller, but the chassis can be had there for $134.99 and comes with free shipping.
While we do still think that $99 is the sweet spot for a fully loaded mid-tower chassis, we also appreciate that new case designs take new tooling, not to mention the design phase with engineering time and model making. So while the price may off put some, we can see why there is an increase in cost, and we feel that NZXT stopped at nothing to pack the most bang for the buck in this design as they could.
Packaging & the NZXT Noctis 450 Mid-tower Chassis
The chassis we were sent came double boxed, but was also sent before this chassis was released, and explains why we see it shipped in the plain brown cardboard box. Versions now will be shipped in a shiny black box with all of the specifications and feature images we would expect.
Inside of the box we find that we have the flat black version of the Noctis 450. The window on the side has plastic on the inside as well as the outside, the entire chassis is wrapped in plastic, and dense foam is used above and below the chassis; all of which is done to keep scratches and major damage from occurring, and left us our sample in perfect condition.
The flat black plastic plays well against the shinier steel mesh inserted mid left and bottom right, but there is no denying its resemblance to the Phantom series. This solution in our opinion is a bit more elegant with no need for a swing open door, or anything to break up this sleek looking design.
Just behind the bezel at the top of the cassis, set on the right side of the case, we find the front I/O panel. There is a large backlit power button and no reset button, but there are a pair each of the 3.5mm jacks for audio, USB 3.0 ports, and USB 2.0 ports for quick connectivity of your portable devices.
Backing away to take in the entire top panel, we find it mimics the front bezel to a large degree. The main thing that changes is that the vented inserts have been switched as to which side the middle and back vents have been placed on.
As we make our way around to the left side of the chassis, we find a lot going on. Of course, there is the large angular window showing the PSU cover and the NZXT naming inside. Looking past that though, we find that the front of the chassis leans inward towards the top of the chassis, and as it meets the top, the angle increased towards the rear of the case to get away from that boxy look.
Around back we see at the top, that the left side is much higher than the right. As we move down the chassis, we see the rear I/O area, a switch just above it, and the exhaust fan location next to it. We then find seven expansion slots next to a ventilated panel with water cooling grommets installed. Since it has the PSU cover inside, we find that the PSU area offers a removable mounting plate to simplify the installation.
On the right side of the chassis there is very little going on. Here we see that the panel aligns well as it does on the left side, but we also see a whole lot of that matter finish on both the plastic and steel door panel, and the surface treatments match identically.
Under the Noctis 450, we find chunky plastic feet pushed all the way to the corners, with rubber pads on the bottom of each. Between the feet to either side of the case is a strip that is LED backlit, and we can also see the large dust filter placed under the PSU that is easily removed out the back of the case.
Inside the Noctis 450
Taking the door panel out of the way, we can appreciate a full view of the interior of this chassis. The front is nearly completely enclosed, but has tabs in it to help hold the drive trays in place. What also sticks right out is the PSU cover with the red NZXT name done in plastic. Oh, and this lights up as well.
Rather than looking from the inside, we removed the clipped in top of the chassis to expose the cooling options. We see the chassis is ready for three 120mm fans, or a pair of 140mm fans, but we can also see the top is raised a bit to help to fit AIOs or custom water cooling options above the motherboard.
The motherboard tray has a large access hole, eight wire management holes and only three of them with grommets, plus 18 wire tie points. NZXT also pre-installs all of the standoffs for ATX motherboards, and uses a helper style standoff in the middle to help hold the motherboard in place while putting screws in the other standoffs.
We have mentioned the PSU cover three times now, so we think you have the idea of what this is. What we haven't mentioned yet is that on the top of it there are a pair of trays for 2.5" drives, with two holes behind them to pass wiring through, and also a hole to the right for GPU power wires.
In the back hangs a black on black 140mm fan to exhaust the chassis. We can also see that the seven expansion slots are held in with thumbscrews, but if you look way up to the top, you can also see the back of the LED power switch.
As we get our first look behind the motherboard tray, it is now that we find the hardware in the drive trays, and that the wiring has been bundled and bagged at the bottom. We also see that the entire wiring layout has been tied down and routed already.
The drive trays are all held into place with a pair of thumbscrews to lock them in place. They are supported on the other end by the tabs we saw push in from the bay cover that ran the height of the case.
Screwed onto the motherboard tray, we find a naked version of the Grid fan hub. It is pre-wired to the included fans in the chassis and leaves room for three more to be attached. This also uses a PWM wire to run to the motherboard to control all of the fans, and to power this device, there is a Molex adapter.
The wiring for the chassis is routed to the bottom of the chassis and for ATX motherboards there is plenty of length as-is. At the top we see the Grid power, extra fan, and PWM connections. At the bottom, we find the power switch and power LED wires, a native USB 3.0 connection, and near the middle are the HD Audio and USB 2.0 connections.
We also peeled the front bezel off the chassis to see what was going on there. Since the front of the bezel is extended outward, it allows air to flow inside across the entire mesh insert. That insert is backed with a magnetic dust filter that sits in a groove at the bottom and magnets hold the top in place to cover the three fans found in the Noctis delivering air into the chassis.
Accessories and Documentation
The box we found in the HDD trays has five bags clearly marked with all of the screws and chassis hardware. There is a standoff and socket, a handful of M3 and 6-32 screws, while the bottom offers the PSU screws and a set of extra fan mounting screws.
That same box also contains a small booklet that shows off many of the NZXT product available today as well as the bundle of near twenty zip ties for wire management. Since the exterior of the chassis bore no naming outside of the red NZXT in the window, they provide you with a metal case badge to put their name anywhere you see fit.
Since the view of the drive trays wasn't in the best light, we removed one to show off what it offers. The trays are rigid and offer rubber grommets for the 3.5" drive mounting holes to reduce vibrations. When it comes to the inner holes for 2.5" drives, they assume you will use and SSD, as there is no provision for mechanical drive vibrations here.
The manual is very well written. It shows how to get all of the components apart, walks you through the installation of all of the components, and even goes on to offer images of just what sort of cooling options you have inside this mid-tower chassis. It ensures even the most novice builder will get through the build process.
In case you still had any questions about what sort of cooling options are available, these two pages answer all of that for you. While it does show fan and radiator configurations, also note that all of the radiators shown are thin, with no side notes to allowing for thicker radiator options.
Case Build and Finished Product
With the Noctis 450 full of goodies, we love that the front of the chassis remains unchanged. Of course, if you wanted a bay reservoir or wanted to use an external fan controller, this isn't the best solution for you. With the interior laid out as it is though, there is plenty of room for a cylinder reservoir, and adding the Grid takes care of most fan control issues.
With our test system installed, we ran into not one issue in the process of getting it there. We can see that there is a significant amount of room at the top, and thicker radiators will fit there, but you may need to opt for a smaller rear exhaust fan and be sure it is mounted all the way down in the grooves to accommodate them. Also for the front, you are unlimited with space there too, unless you have a very long video card that would cause an issue.
The dust shield popped right into place, but when it came to mounting the video card, we did have to flex the back of the chassis inward just a bit to accomplish that. As for the PSU, we slid it into the chassis, remounted the plate to the case, and the screw holes all lined right up to mount the PSU to the plate.
Our wiring is very simple, but even so we found plenty of room to run the PSU leads without interference from the routed chassis wiring. There are ample tie points to contain anything you will run here and adequate room where it needs to be so that the door panel is easily replaced without touching any of this.
With the chassis all back together, we do like what we have here. We get to keep all of the sleekness that NZXT intended on the outside as well as taking advantage of the great view offered through the window.
After plugging in the power cord, we went ahead and powered the Noctis 450 and found that the power button glows red to match the NZXT logo on the PSU cover. All of the angles and ways of removing most of the noise does work well, but as shipped we noticed the fans were audible at 35dB from the front, top, and rear of the chassis.
Reaching around the back of the chassis to turn on the LED light switch, we see that the red NZXT logo in the PSU cover is backlit and glows quite bright. If you are trying to sleep, press the switch again and this will turn off and not bother you a bit.
Along with the power switch and the NZXT logo, don't forget about the LED strips under the chassis. Now, since we have backed away from the chassis, it is easy to see the under glow effect that they offer. Of course this means you will want red interior bits too, or you may need to do some modifications if you wish for a different LED color at this time.
With the NZXT Noctis 450, there is no denying that we appreciate the exterior design; all of the angles, raised panels, curves and body lines really do this chassis a ton of justice and moves well away from the boxy cases offered. We also appreciated the matte finish applied to all of the exterior components, both that the plastic and metal bits match identically, and that cleaning anything is as simple as wiping it with a dry lint free towel and it is gone. While the chassis is not exactly silent, noise levels are well within the acceptable range that most users would be happy with. On top of that, the LED lighting system makes the Noctis 450 go from very nice looking to near amazing. There isn't one thing we would change, nor anything to complain about.
Inside, things may appear cramped, but that is largely to do with the PSU cover as it makes thing appear tighter inside than they actually are. We like the omission of optical drive bays as we personally have no use for them, and with removable HDD bays, the room offered inside can be enormous for a mid-tower chassis. Of course, this allows for longer video cards, water cooling opportunities, and plenty of room for extra wiring below and behind the motherboard tray.
The only thing we would want that this interior does not have would be a pump mounting location or a way to hang a reservoir by default, maybe even adapters of some sort. Even so, we had no issues completing our build, and even if you were to go with a pair of triple radiators and all that comes with that, we feel that with a bit of ingenuity on the customers part, it can be done and still look clean when completed with most if not all of it hidden from view.
Pricing is on point for what you receive with the NZXT Noctis 450, and even though you can find mid-tower offerings cheaper, you will not find one that looks like this. Usually we tend not to use cases such as this in our office, but this is a chassis that inspires us to do a crazy build inside of it just to see how it all turns out in the end. It is well ventilated leaving our components cooler than in many other mid-tower designs, it offers plenty of options to keep novice and enthusiast builders happy, and at $134.99 currently, we feel that many will flock to this chassis to have it sitting on their desks soon enough.
Keeping in mind that exclusivity comes at a cost, as well as new tooling to create such a chassis does, we still feel that even past the sweet spot of pricing, you do really get your money's worth in this design.
|Quality including Design and Build||91%|
|Bundle and Packaging||98%|
|Value for Money||90%|
The Bottom Line: Status quo is not good enough for NZXT! The Noctis 450 may cost more upfront, but it is packed with features and options, and offers an out of the box sleekness and unique looking design.
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