Patrick Lathan

Patrick Lathan

The H200i is the smallest of NZXT’s New H-Series, including the H400i, H700i, and different-but-technically-still-included H500. They’ve been out a while now (with the exception of the H500i), but the cheaper non-i versions are what’s actually new -- the “i” suffix, of course, denotes that it includes an NZXT Smart Device. We were sent an H200i and not an H200, but we won’t be covering the device in this review for a few reasons: we already made our initial feelings about it clear, and a version of the case is sold without the device (so it’s optional, which is what we wanted). Finally, we’ve been told that the device has been improved and plan to revisit it in a separate piece. For now, value remains higher with the barebones cases, which are functionally the same in build and fan/airflow arrangement.

This review of the NZXT H200 (and subsequently, the H200i) looks at value proposition of the mini-ITX mini-tower. The H200 isn’t a truly small form factor (SFF) HTPC case, like the SilverStone Raven RVZ03 might be, but it does fill a market for mini-ITX users who want more cooling or cabling room to work with. Corsair recently tried to address a similar market with its 280X micro-ATX case, which we primarily remarked as having good quality, if odd positioning for its size. The H200 likely falls into the same territory for most.

SilverStone’s RVZ03 isn’t new, but after years of ATX case reviews we have quite a backlog of promising small form factor cases. The RVZ03 is part of the Raven line, a loosely related group of “extreme enthusiasts chassis” that could also be called “the ones that have a V-shape on them.” We recently revisited the RV02, one of the best-performing full size cases we’ve reviewed.

It’s a thin, console-like enclosure, typically shown standing vertically, but also capable of being laid on its side Taku-style. The ubiquitous Vs on the front are clear plastic backlit with RGB LEDs hooked up to a controller; the controller can accept input from a standard 4-pin RGB header and includes adapters to control normal LED strips as well.

The review embargo on Corsair’s new Crystal 280X micro-ATX case lifted during Computex, possibly the busiest week of the year--but since we’ve just started testing small form factor cases, we chose to push back the review another week or two.

The 280X is fairly large to call itself small form factor, and that can be an unfair advantage when comparing performance against truly small mini-ITX cases like the SG13. One justification is that (unlike the Cryorig Taku), the 280X uses its extra room to supports full-size components except for the motherboard, which must be either micro ATX or mini ITX.

NZXT opened their revamped H series of cases a few months ago with the H200i, H400i, and H700i, which are all mostly differently sized versions of the same case. The H500/H500i is a brand new addition--no, not that H500--and NZXT has made some tweaks since the first batch. The NZXT H500 is an S340 replacement, priced at $70 MSRP for the H500 and $100 for the H500i (which includes a “smart” device and RGB LED strips).

We liked the H700i overall, but we had some criticisms, mostly about the “i” representing the included smart device. NZXT told us they listened, so let’s start by checking off those earlier complaints.

It’s been a long time since we’ve reviewed any mini-ITX cases. The standard system that we use for testing ATX cases includes a full-sized GPU, PSU, and CPU cooler, which may or may not fit in small form factor cases, as well as an ATX motherboard that definitely won’t. Even if our components were small enough to fit, ATX and mini-ITX enclosures are like apples and oranges--SFF cases often have specific uses and different priorities than standard mid-towers.

Enough time has passed that it’s worth it to put together a separate ITX benchmarking system with a separate table of results to compare. To start off our database, we’re doing a roundup of three not-so-new cases from our backlog: the Thermaltake V1, Silverstone SG13, and the Cryorig Taku. This will start our charts, and we intend to work toward expanding those charts with the full suite of cases, as usual, including several upcoming products at Computex.

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