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.
We covered Lian Li’s O11 Dynamic at CES earlier this year. It’s related to the older PC-O11 model, but this new version was designed in collaboration with professional overclocker Der8auer, whom we’ve interviewed several times. It’s obvious that he knows how important good cooling is, and his delidding tools make it clear that he wouldn’t carelessly put his name on a low quality product, so we were very interested in getting our hands on one of these cases for review.
Lian Li also has a reputation, and it doesn’t involve making enclosures that are normal looking or affordable by mortals. They took a step away from that reputation with the Alpha 550X and 330, cases that at least approach a competitive price. The O11 Dynamic goes a step further, with the Newegg pre-order price set at an affordable $100, or $130 by the time this is published.
Our Lian Li O11 Dynamic review precedes the inevitable O11 Air review, which is due for a release date in May or June. The O11 Dynamic will begin shipping immediately, and is targeted more for liquid cooling enthusiasts than air-cooled builds -- but you could still buy fans, obviously, and air cool the O11 Dynamic.
The Thermaltake View 37 is the latest addition to Thermaltake’s big-transparent-window-themed View series. It’s similar in appearance to the older View 27, but with a much larger acrylic window and less internal shrouding.
The acrylic window is impressive, and it’s about the best it can be without using tempered glass. Manufacturing curved glass panels is difficult and expensive, and using glass would probably bring the price closer to $200 (or above, for the RGB version). As it is, the acrylic is thick and well-tooled so it’s basically indistinguishable from glass, other than a tendency to collect dust and small scratches. Acrylic was the right choice to ship with this case, but if Thermaltake sticks to past patterns they may offer a separate glass panel in the future.
If you went through our original H500P review and addressed each complaint one by one, the result would be the H500P Mesh, Cooler Master’s new mesh-fronted variant of the (formerly) underwhelming HAF successor. We previously built our own Cooler Master mesh mod, and the performance results there nearly linearly mirror what we found in Cooler Master’s actual H500P Mesh case.
In our Cooler Master H500P Mesh review, we’ll run through temperature testing (thermals), airflow testing with an anemometer, and noise testing. Additional quality analysis will be done to gauge whether the substantial issues with the original H500P front and top panels have been resolved.
As this case is the same barebones chassis as the original H500P, we encourage you to read that review for more detailed notes on the build process. The focus here is on airflow, thermals, noise, and external build quality or other resolutions. As a reminder, the original marketing advertised “guaranteed high-volume airflow,” and suggested to reviewers that the case was a high-airflow enclosure with performance-oriented qualities. That, clearly, was not true, and was what resulted in the lashing the H500P received. Honest marketing matters.
We recently revisited the “King of Case Airflow”, the SilverStone Raven 02, which we originally reviewed back in 2013. It’s certainly the king compared to anything we’ve tested recently, but competition for the crown was a lot stronger back when the case was released, and the ultimate example of high airflow early 2010’s cases is the Cooler Master HAF X (still available, by the way). 2010 seems like ancient history, back when certain people were working for Newegg TV and others for NCIX, but the HAF series remains so respected that Cooler Master leveraged the name to promote the H500P last year; the HAF X specifically was so popular that brand new ones are available for purchase on Newegg right now, nearly eight years after its release.
GamersNexus did exist when the HAF X launched, but we never officially reviewed it. Steve bought the case featured in this revisit for his own system years ago, and we ran a contest for a HAF X shirt in 2012. It seems like everyone had a high opinion of it, including us, which made the H500P a big letdown. This revisit aims to find out whether the HAF X was really worthy of all that hype.
The Corsair 270R won our Editor’s Choice award when we reviewed it back in 2016. The 570X was the main event in that article, but we also praised the 270R as a decent case with a launch price in the $60-$70 range--and we’ve continued to mention it favorably, since it’s gone on sale for as low as $50. Now the 275R is here, Corsair’s new and slightly fancier version with the option of a tempered glass side panel.
The Corsair 275R case ships in two varieties: $80 with tempered glass or $70 for acrylic -- at which point the latter is essentially a 270R. The 275R is a refresh, then, and prioritizes tempered glass, a longer PSU shroud that doesn’t abruptly terminate, and rubber grommets. As it differs from the 270R, that would more or less recap the 275R. As its name openly indicates, this is a half-step to something new.
The Obsidian Series 500D is a new glass and aluminum enclosure from Corsair that we showed at CES, noting primarily that it took no risks, but was OK overall. The case takes a lot of known-good concepts and merges them in a single enclosure. It’s a safe play -- but safe plays are sometimes the best ones.
The chassis of the 500D is only slightly modified from the 570X, a case that we reviewed highly and gave a Quality Build award back in 2016. That doesn’t give it a free pass--the exterior panels are often what make or break the performance of a case, as we’ll discuss further in the thermal section. As for looks, though, Corsair has successfully adapted old tooling to a new model without obvious compromises, other than some cutouts around the edges that were clearly intended for steel side panels--but those aren’t visible with the case closed.
Singularity Computers, best known for their exorbitant, high-end custom PC builds, have steadily been expanding their brand into the landscape of PC hardware, with their latest foray being cases. Under a new subsidiary, Singularity Cases, Singularity is set to release their inaugural case: Spectre.
The PM02 is the successor to Silverstone’s Primera 01, a case we’ve often referenced but have never fully reviewed. As Silverstone points out on their site, Primera is Spanish for “first,” so please take a quiet moment to appreciate the name “Primera 02.” This (still) isn’t a review of the PM01, but since it will continue to be sold alongside the PM02 (~$140), we took this opportunity to do some testing and make a close comparison. The original Primera should be a familiar sight to anyone that’s seen our render rig or the community-funded gift PC from a few months ago. Because the two cases seen in those videos are being used, we acquired yet another for this article--we like the 01 a lot.
This review will benchmark the SilverStone PM01 vs. the PM02 and RL06 airflow PCs, with additional testing conducted across other popular on-market cases, including the H500P.
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