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.
Case & cooler manufacturer NZXT just announced its new Noctis 450 ($140) mid-tower enclosure, an amalgamation of aggressive, quality-driven design and the trusted H440 chassis. NZXT's product page went live earlier tonight, finally unveiling its new design approach to the public. The case makes use of NZXT's H440 interior, but applies a new outward-facing aesthetic that aims to bring high build quality to the “gamer” appearance.
NZXT's CAM desktop monitoring software today received its 2.0 update, introducing an FPS overlay, integrated SMART detection, and CPU / GPU read-outs. The utility's expansion markets it as an attempt to build an all-in-one monitoring tool, merging limited and basic aspects of other popular tools – GPU-Z, CPU-Z, and HDD SMART readers – under the NZXT suite.
We previously awarded NZXT's H440 an Editor's Choice Award, and it looks like its budget-priced cousin – the S340 ($70) – is pretty respectable in its own ways. The S340 is a minimalistic case designed to keep costs low without sacrificing quality; it’s plain, it’s neat, and it gets the job done efficiently.
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