NZXT H2 Classic Silent Midtower Chassis

Cases|Damping
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AUDIO RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

Each recording starts with ambient noise, then 10 second segments of product at various states. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.

  • NZXT H2 - Radeon HD 4870 test system at 1m
    — idle, CPU fan @12V, system fans on low (19 dBA@1m)
    — load, CPU fan @12V, system fans on medium (28 dBA@1m)
    — load, CPU fan @12V, system fans on medium, door open (28 dBA@1m)

FINAL THOUGHTS

The NZXT H2 is one of the better cases we've encountered recently. It has a couple of issues, but overall the good far outweighs the bad. The front fan mounting system is absolutely genius, making fan removal so easy and tidy that we spent far too much time popping them in and out while the system was running, watching with glee as the fans started themselves magically without having to plug in any cables. The 3-speed fan controller lets you manage the speeds of up to four fans with ease, and the fans themselves have good acoustic quality. And to make things that much quieter, noise absorbent foam is applied liberally to both the side panels and front door.

The door is well-constructed and has a great solid feel to it thanks to its aluminum construction and large magnets. It doesn't open as far as we'd like, but that's a minor nitpick. The overall build quality of the entire case is fairly good. Assembly is a breeze as drives mount with little effort, and if you need to plug in a SATA hard drive temporarily, you can just use the dock sitting on the top of the case. Cable management in the H2 is a dream as there is ample room behind the motherboard tray and there are many holes and holds for tying down cables. Closing the right side panel with a mess of wires tucked behind the tray can be a chore with most cases, but not so with the H2.

The only serious problem with the H2 is the lack of airflow. A case built for silence usually don't outcool gamer cases with huge side fans, etc, when a high power video card requires cooling, but better ventilation would certainly help bridge the gap. The front fans struggle to pull air from the small slits around the door, resulting in higher internal temperatures and requiring higher fan speeds to compensate. Opening the door helps considerably, but it doesn't look very attractive and can make the system louder depending on where the door is oriented in relation to the user. It would probably help if the gaps around the base of the case were larger and more numerous as well. We aren't crazy about the hard drive cage, as it doesn't quite secure the drives as tightly as we'd like, but that can be said of many cases on the market. NZXT was too ambitious trying to jam in eight drive caddies; they are packed too densely.

The NZXT should arrive on the market sometime in April 2011 with a street price of about ~US$100. It's a pretty good value given its unique array of features. For housing a modest, quiet system, the H2 is one of the better choices on the market as it has quiet fans, fan control, and noise dampening foam. If you're looking for a chassis for a more high performance PC, it has enough clearance for both tall CPU heatsinks and long graphics cards, but just note that you will need better than average cooling to make up for the lack of airflow. For these types of systems, the Fractal Design Define R2/R3 is a better choice, though it lacks many of little niceties offered by the H2.

NZXT H2
PROS

* Brilliant front fan mounts
* Fan control for up to four fans
* Stock fans have good acoustics
* Solid build quality
* External SATA dock
* Excellent cable management
* Good clearance: 17 cm for CPU heatsink, 31 cm for graphics card
CONS

* Restricted front intakes results in lmited thermal performance
* Hard drive trays mounts too loose and spaced too tightly

Our thanks to NZXT for the H2 case sample.


The NZXT H2 is Recommended by SPCR.

POSTSCRIPT: Modifying the door for better airflow?

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Articles of Related Interest
Antec ISK 100 Mini-ITX Case
Zalman Z9 Plus ATX Tower Case
HDPLEX H10.ODD Fanless microATX Case
Lian Li PC-V354 MicroATX Mini Tower Case
Lian Li PC-B25S Mid-tower Aluminum Case
Fractal Design Define R2 ATX Tower Case

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