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Alan Fackler Jun 01, 2011

NZXT H2

At A Glance

H20

Really quiet; USB 3.0; three-step fan control; interesting fan config.

H2NO

Kind of cramped; grommets arent very secure; chintzy optical drive latches.

Simple, affordable, quiet

NZXT’s H2 is a simple-looking case—in fact, simplicity seems to be the overall theme—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In the world of PC building, simple can be good.

The H2 is an ATX mid-tower, constructed of sturdy steel. The side panels (which lack windows or adornment of any kind) are lined with acoustic-dampening foam to keep your hardware quiet. It works well for the most part. We had the case running three fans, and the addition of the side and front panels made the case noticeably quieter.

The NZXT H2 has a very simple and, dare we say, classy design.

The 8.5x18.3x20.5-inch chassis comes stock with a 12cm exhaust fan and two front-mounted 12cm intake fans, which are latched into the front of the case and use electrical contact points to connect with the fan power and control switch at the top of the chassis.

Eight toolless hard drive bays are accessed by removing one or both front intake fans, and the hard drive trays slide forward out of the front of the case. The front panel features snap-off bezels over the three 5.25-inch bays for easy and toolless optical drive installation.

The inside of the H2 is workable, though it felt a bit cramped for a mid-size case. Thanks to the way the hard drive bays are designed, long videocards, such as the Radeon HD 5970, can fit in the case, though you’ll need to remove one or two hard drive trays to accommodate the longest cards. The three grommeted cutouts for internal case wiring are a cool addition, though they can be slightly difficult to access due to the confined space, and the rubber grommets tend to fall out of the cutouts easily.

Not impossible to build into by any means, but a little more cramped than we like.

Up top, the H2 doesn’t disappoint, featuring a drop-down SATA dock, the standard audio inputs, three USB 2.0 inputs, and a single USB 3.0 input, as well as power and reset buttons. The USB 3.0 port uses a pass-through that will work with many boards but is unsightly compared to the few cases we’ve tested that are now using the new internal USB 3.0 header spec. There’s also a nifty three-speed fan-control switch. The H2 accommodates an additional 12cm top fan behind the SATA dock. The case doesn’t come with the fan, but it’s nice to have the option. If you don’t want to utilize the fan port, it can be covered with a magnetic fan cover that comes with the case.

Ultimately, the H2 is a simple but solid case made more appealing by its super-low price tag. At just 100 bucks, you’re getting a sturdy chassis with USB 3.0, a drop-down SATA dock, and an innovative fan configuration. Minor inclusions, like a slide-out dust filter below your PSU, and the aforementioned sound-dampening foam, are awesome additions for a case at the H2’s price point—the Fractal Define R3, reviewed in the February issue, offered similar features but lacked USB 3.0 ports and fan control, and cost 10 bucks more.

$100, www.nzxt.com

THE VERDICT

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