Hey another case review, lots of fun to be had seeing how your components look in another enclosure along with checking out various special capabilities.
This time it’s our old friend NZXT, I have used their cases since the early 2000’s back when they had names like Nemesis and came with a big piece of rather heavy armour plating on the front door. Back then we were sort of just emerging from the doldrums of beige boxes, and NZXT supplied cases and parts which looked good and weren’t ridiculously priced.
Today I have the NZXT H500i in White which follows a very popular design, what can they add to make this case stand out?
|Dimensions||W: 210mm H: 435mm D: 428mm (without feet)
W: 210mm H: 460mm D: 428mm (with feet)
|Material(s)||SECC Steel and Tempered Glass|
|Motherboard Support||Mini-ITX, MicroATX, and ATX|
|I/O Ports||2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1
1 x Audio/Mic
|Filters||Front right side panel, bottom front and PSU intake|
|Smart Device||3 x Fan channels with Max 10W per channel output*
1 x RGB LED port support up to 4 x HUE+ LED strips or 5 x Aer RGB fans
Built-in noise detection module
*Note: If a splitter is used, fan control is regulated depending on the fan connected to the 4-pin port. Do not use low-noise adapters.
|System Requirements||PC with open internal USB 2.0 port and Windows® 10 operating system recommended.
Internet connection is needed to download CAM.Some CAM features require Internet access, a valid email address and acceptance of our current Terms of Service.
|Vertical GPU Mount||Support 2 slot GPUs
Riser card with 30cm length recommended. Riser card not included.
|Drive Bays||2.5”: 2+1
|Radiator Support||Front: Up to 280mm
|Fan Support||Front: 2 x 120/2 x 140mm
Top: 1 x 120mm (1 Aer F120 Case Version included) / 1 x 140mm
Rear: 1 x 120mm (1 Aer F120 Case Version included)
|Fan Specs||Aer F120 (Case Version)
Speed: 1200 + 200 RPM
CFM Noise: 28 dBA
Bearing: Rifle Bearing
|Clearance||Cable Management: 19-23mm
GPU Clearance: Up to 381mm
CPU Cooler: Up to 165mm
Front Radiator: 60mm
Rear Radiator: 60mm
Reservoir & Pump: Up to 180mm (Along cable bar), Up to 86mm (Along bottom panel)
Good looking specs there as well as some good radiator clearance and a nice big 2-year warranty on a case with a CAM enabled Smart Device.
Well, this box appears to have seen some action, here’s hoping the packaging is enough to protect the precious inside.
The crease on the inner box is much less scary. Here we have the NZXT H500i White packaging, nice thick cardboard adorned with product pictures, features and specifications in various languages.
That is a very pretty case indeed, the window frames the insides nicely while the PSU area is blocked off, I do like this as it can make for some very tidy builds. The NZXT logo on the front is painted on in a different white, it is very understated which is pleasing. From this angle, you can also see the included vertical mounting backplane for showing off your GPU.
Taking a shot at the front you can see the nice understated NZXT logo more clearly, again it gives the case a classy look. A single folded piece of steel has been very neatly machined to form the non-removable front panel and top panel.
The top of the case is quite a familiar design, there are quite a few manufacturers using this layout, it is however functional and accessible for multiple case positions. From left to right we have an HDD LED, Audio Jacks, Two front panel USB ports and a ring illuminated power switch. Towards the back of the top, you can see the top chimney vent for extra exhaust or intake depending on how you manage your airflow.
The rear of the case has the standard exhaust area and 7 expansion slots, plus two vertical slots. Side panel and window thumb screws are visible here the front window only has a top screw holding it in place at the back. PSU is of course at the bottom.
The offside or cable side of this case has a plain white panel except for the vented area at the front, with the single folded piece design for the front with a solid design venting is done a little differently.
Removing the panel shows that it has a handily removable filter to stop dust from collecting, this is an important addition to many cases and should help greatly with keeping fans and radiators clean.
The bottom of the case features four sturdy feet raising the case up for airflow. There is a filter for the PSU vent to help with dust, notice that the front air intake area is unfiltered at the bottom, this could be a bit of a dust magnet. Yes, that is the HD-Audio block peeking out of the back, for my sanity and after several attempts to renegotiate it’s positioning I left it there.
Unscrewing the top thumbscrew and easing out the window pulls away two lugs that hold it in position at the top of the case, this can feel like you’re pulling the window at an angle, but it comes away fine with a little coaxing. That reveals the main build chamber in the case. The front radiator mounting area to the right has space both sides of the bracket, this can allow you to put up to a 45mm radiator in the very front, however airflow through the radiator would not be great, fans however would be fine in that area and you can fit up to a 60mm thick radiator on the inner side, however it would be very tight with the white bracket running through the case. Snazzy 2.5″ mounting brackets at the bottom and a good working area. The vertical white bracket not only hides cables coming in where there would normally be rubber grommets but it also carries one of the built-in LED strips. Two fans are supplied with this case both set to exhaust out the back and up the top. Should you have the room around your motherboard, you can also install radiators in these areas for more complex water cooling builds.
Inside the case, we find a box with screws and cable ties etc and a manual covering the H500i and the H500.
Back inside the case again and here we see why the HDD mounts are so snazzy, you can move them around on that grid of holes to suit cable management and other clearance requirements. This is a great idea and is one feature that sets this case apart from others that are very similarly designed. Notice the large holes towards the board side to allow not just lots of cables but hands to get through to manage the parts.
The HDD caddies have two sets of mounting holes so you can push the connectors out a bit if you have angled cables, however, this would mean you need to keep the mounted at the board side edge in the case, flat connectors recommended. You can also see the 6 lungs and the push bar used for mounting and releasing the caddy.
This struck me as quite odd, yet generally convenient. Some of you may be familiar with front panel blocks supplied with motherboards to make it easier to sort those pesky front panel wires. The H500i however has a pre-wired block, normally I wouldn’t mind but I am not sure every board follows the same pinouts even today, so this could be an issue if your board has non-standard pins. Its hard to feel bad about this because every board I currently have uses this pinout order.
After getting the board positioned and some cables connected I thought it would be nice to test the differences between standard and vertical card mounting. Here we have the card mounted horizontally and everything looks neat and tidy. You do have to remove the vertical mounting back plates to put cards in the normal slots.
Mounting the GPU vertically is very easy, however, you will need to provide your own PCI-E extension cable, do be careful to choose one that comes from a reputable supplier there are some cheap ones that don’t do too well at the connector solder joints. Mine is from the Cooler Master vertical mounting kit, which provides a solid connector for the card.
Another reason to applaud the HDD caddy mounting mechanism is how to deal with that tiny bit of clearance when a vertical GPU mount is used.
An excellent unobstructed area to mount the PSU is provided, this really does tick my boxes for making a build easy to do, no messing around trying to route wires in and out behind bars and mounted components and you can easily fit a long high wattage PSU should you desire. You can also see the front HDD cage which can also be moved around along the slots in the bottom of the case to reposition it as per requirements or even remove it completely for more room.
It seems almost remiss of me to have not already shown the inside of the other side of the case, however showing cable management during the build is helpful. Here you can see there are many routes for cables including some quite sturdy curved areas to neatly bunch cables together. These do work best with individually braided cables but are not on show once the panel is back on anyway. So going over some important parts here you can see the front radiator mounting area for dual fan radiators, accessing the radiator mounting plate is very easy with two thumb screws from the window side and then tilting it out to allow out of case radiator mounting. At the top we can see the CAM enabled smart device which is both an LED controller and a Fan controller, this connects to your power supply via a single SATA power connector so can be included on the cable with your HDD’s no horrible old fashioned Molex to deal with.
A quick shot of the radiator mounting bracket removed shows just how easy it is to fit radiators and fans to this case, water cooling would be a breeze.
So here we have the build up and running. Downloading and installing the CAM software allows excellent RGB control of the two included LED strips, while not addressable still have many lighting options with customisation available. The CAM software also manages fan speeds based on temperature reporting which both included case fans respond to. Building into this case was very easy, machining and milling of case components are very accurate no need to use any force to fit parts or get screws in. The case oozes quality which does help it stand out in the crowd it sits in at this price point.
The NZXT H500i Case Review: The Verdict
- Elegant design, your choice of understating or overstating the build.
- Clever elements to make building an easier pleasurable experience such as the HDD mounting grid, the easy radiator mount and even the vertical GPU bracket at the rear.
- Materials and paint quality. The steel used is high quality and the paint coating is very well done and should resist some scratching. The machining and milling are highly accurate allowing for the case parts to be removed and installed without much effort.
- An excellent included controller for the built-in LED’s and Fans all run from one standard piece of software (CAM) for the whole NZXT case and peripheral range.
- Well priced for a case with an included RGB/Fan controller.
- The air intake at the bottom front of the case has no filter.
- There is no included PCI-E extension cable for vertical GPU mounting.
- A possible problem exists with non-standard front panel pinouts on motherboards.
NZXT has done a cracking job with the H500i, this sub £100 case has many excellent features and is built very well indeed. So easy to build into and work on for maintenance and upgrades I found the case a pleasure to use. Aesthetics are kept minimalistic and classy with no garish case components, leaving the level of spicing up the build to the included illumination and your choice of lighting theme. The single piece of folded steel design provides elegance further enhanced by clever features such as the hard disk mounting grid and the easily removable radiator bracket.
This case is of such high quality and so well designed I am going to give it our Platinum award along with a Design award, it is very hard to beat this case in terms of ease of use and quality of materials. The price is very good for a case with an included controller and RGB LED strips. Congratulations NZXT, I am very very impressed.