Deriving a computer case from a Ferrari 458 seems like a bit of a stretch – but everyone's got to have an origin story, and that's where NZXT started with its Manta case. A previous tour of NZXT's offices showed us that case designers do, in fact, plaster photos of cars upon the office walls and leverage the visual prompts in concepting phases. The Manta makes its statement with curved, stamped paneling made of all steel, creating somewhat of a 'bubbled' look to the enclosure.
The mini-ITX case is NZXT's first venture into sub-ATX form factors since the Vulcan, but keeps to a familiar “tower” form factor that we're calling “Full-Size ITX.” It's not the shoebox form factor that ITX system builders may be used to and feels like a slightly distant cousin to the S340 ($70). In this NZXT Manta ($140) review, we run in-depth cooling benchmarks for a gaming system, analyze build quality, and determine overall value vs. other market contenders.
CES serves as a means to introduce some of the year's biggest product announcements. At last week's show, we saw new GPU architectures, virtual reality 'jetpacks,' Star Wars Destroyer case mods, and a dozen or more cases. Although by no means a definitive listing of all the year's cases, CES 2016 offers a look at what to expect for the annual computer hardware and technology trends and announcements. In the world of cases, it seems that's the trend of power supply shrouds.
This round-up lists the best gaming cases of 2016, including products from NZXT, Corsair, In-Win, Thermaltake, Phanteks, EVGA, and SilverStone. We look at the top PC cases from $50 to $400+, all shown at CES 2016, to best span all major budget ranges for PC builds.
NZXT's latest case has unique side panels that are convexly curved and stamped from steel, a tooling process we discussed with Corsair earlier in the CES 2016 show. At NZXT's case unveil, we got a hands-on look at the case's exterior and a gathered some sorely limited information about the interior, but some of the most pertinent questions still remain unanswered.
It won't be until January 26, 2015 that we're able to release the name and price of the new mini-ITX mini-tower. We were also asked to wait for information about the interior of the case, to the point that NZXT didn't even remove the side panel (which had a blacked-out window) at its CES demonstration. At this point, we can only speculate as to what it looks like inside and how well it will perform in thermal testing.
A lot happens in a few days, especially when it's nearing the holiday season. In the past week, HDD juggernaut Western Digital acquired SanDisk for $19 billion, Razer's OSVR solution was announced available for $300, NZXT's HUE+ got its first review, and asymmetrical GPU solutions underwent testing. On the more “industry” side of news, Logitech also posted its best retail sales growth since 2010, with substantial gains in NA, EMEA, and Asia-pacific markets.
We've recapped the news of the week below in video form, but a transcript of the video can be found further down. If there's news you think is worth telling others about, feel free to drop a comment below with info!
The company that generated industry-wide attention for its H440 case, launched in 1Q14, has returned from relative product-silence with its HUE+ LED controller. The HUE+ is outfitted with a number of substantial improvements over its championed HUE analog controller.
NZXT's HUE+ is a dual-channel RGB LED controller, complete with four high-density, fully addressable LED strips and an SSD form factor hub. It's possible to expand to eight total LED strips (four per channel) for 80 LEDs, each addressable through NZXT's existing CAM software. CAM, already established for Kraken CLC control and live FPS monitoring, makes available eight preset display modes, a pair of custom display modes, four lighting modes, and allows for fully-digital control over the LEDs.
We built a system using the NZXT HUE+ RGB LED controller and spent some time with CAM. This review looks at the new NZXT HUE+ RGB LED system, its build quality, brightness, LED bleed, and overall value. You can find a video review below, worth watching if only for a more visual representation of the LED functionality.
The recent banishment from US markets of Cooler Master's closed-loop liquid coolers has inspired us to research and document major CLC suppliers. In most industries – automotive, technology & computing, bike components – suppliers build a base product, receive input from a manufacturer, and then produce a slightly modified version of their core offering. Liquid coolers are the easiest example and the one about which we are talking today. This topic came about following some readers stating that they'd never seen an “Asetek” or “CoolIT” cooler on sale before.
Corsair, NZXT, SilverStone, Enermax, Fractal, and others sell liquid cooling products. These companies buy the pump, radiator, tubing, and liquid in an AIO (all-in-one) package from suppliers who specialize in the making of such items; the brands we know then provide varying degrees of product input to differentiate amongst themselves. NZXT, for instance, sells the NZXT X41 liquid cooler, a product sourced from Asetek but customized by NZXT. In this case, that customization includes software integration and variable pump speed control, alongside an RGB LED in the pump's faceplate. Even the CLC OEMs will source some of their components from the outside, like radiators.
First, a simple table to reveal suppliers of known liquid coolers in the industry, then we'll talk about how companies differentiate themselves. At the surface, all of this can look like a “sticker operation,” by which I mean it may look as if manufacturers put their “sticker” (logo) on a cooler and then sell it – but most folks do more than that when designing their variant of a product.
With the popular release of the NZXT H440, Razer and NZXT previously teamed-up to ship an H440 case with Razer’s color, style, and logo. This was a bit of surprise as Razer really hadn’t had designs partners like this before. As of yesterday, it appears that NZXT and Razer will continue to release NZXT cases with slightly altered designs and styles.
The latest case that Razer and NZXT collaborated on is the “S340 - Designed by Razer.” Yes, that is its name; not exactly very catchy, if you ask me, but no one did. Regardless of name, the new S340 (which we will call the Razer S340) is the same as the NZXT S340, but with some color and logo tweaks. The design is almost exactly the same – it is a good design after all – so our review of the NZXT S340 is perfectly relevant for the Razer S340. To recap that review, the NZXT S340 is a minimalist, (almost) entirely metal ATX case, without any front 5.25” bays. It includes a PSU shroud and cable management bar that allow for cable management without the use of grommets. The S340 has good watercooling support, with a 280mm radiator being mountable in the front. It also includes dust filters for the fan intakes.
At the beginning of working on this case round-up, these three selections – the NZXT S340, Antec P70, and Zalman R1 – were all about $60 to $70 max. The price range was perfect, and the cases made for currently-marketed solutions that users may encounter. Over the week that we've worked on the round-up, things have changed a bit: Zalman's R1 and Antec's P70 now sit at $40 after a $20 rebates, shifting the price range to be unintentionally wider. The base price is still $60 for both cases.
These are the three cases we're looking at today:
- NZXT S340 Mid-Tower ($70, after MIR $60)
- Antec P70 Mid-Tower ($60, after MIR $40)
- Zalman R1 Mid-Tower ($60, after MIR $40)
In this gaming case round-up, we review the performance and build quality of NZXT's S340, Zalman's R1, and Antec's P70, hoping to narrow the selection of budget gaming cases. There are dozens of similarly-priced chassis out there and this is far from a comprehensive list, but it's our start on producing regular component round-ups as a means to more easily compare products for our readers. We'll work on more comparisons shortly following.
NZXT has come a long way. For a company that at one time made some of the most... “interesting” cases on the market, we've transitioned from cautioned observance to ranking recent enclosures among the likes of Corsair. The launch of the H440 ($120) proved that NZXT can design something discreet and functional without venturing into the “gamer” aesthetic that they've historically occupied. Alongside the H440, NZXT's S340 – a case I actually like better, although it's cheaper – and Phantom 530 have fronted a redoubled effort to capitalize on the market's demands for stout, robust build quality.
The Noctis 450 ($140) combines properties of the Phantom- and H-series lineups, something we recently discussed with former NZXT case designer Chung Tai. Today, we're reviewing the build quality, installation, cable management, and airflow of the NZXT Noctis 450 (N450) case.
We moderate comments on a ~24~48 hour cycle. There will be some delay after submitting a comment.