Are mid-towers the future of PC chassis design? Used to be that a mid-tower case was a compromise—an admission that you were willing to sacrifice a few features for a rig that could fit under your desk (or on top of it) without making drastic changes to your decor or furniture. Based on the products we’ve seen in the Lab over the last few months, those days are all but over.
Read on to learn more about five of the hottest (or coolest) cases around.
The NZXT Phantom is gorgeous in a Dark Side kind of way—whether you opt for Darth Vader black, Imperial Guard red, or our favorite: Stormtrooper white. Though NZXT considers the Phantom a full-tower chassis, at 8.75 inches wide, 21.25 inches tall, and 24.5 inches deep (and with no EATX support), it’s no taller or wider (and barely deeper) than the other mid-tower chassis that make up the rest of this roundup. The Phantom packs seven toolless hard drive trays in a dual-bay configuration that (hooray!) leaves room for long cards like the Radeon HD 5970. We’re not crazy about front-panel doors like the one that covers the Phantom’s five (toolless) optical drive bays, but the Phantom’s door is at least nicely weighted and has a magnetic latch.
We're not into the whole branding thing ourselves, but if you're a fan of AMD's dragon graphics, don't plan on rolling your own rig, and don't have a hankering for Intel hardware, then iBuyPower has a chassis right up your alley. Designed in conjunction with AMD, the new Dragon Special Edition enclosure is really an NZXT Lexa case with a killer makeover.
"The uniquely wrapped NZXT Lexa enclosure features the metallic AMD Dragon with its piercing red eyes, wings spread, and jaws open poised to strike," iBuyPower explains. "The AMD Dragon Special Edition chassis is designed to add an element of lethality to gamers' lifestyles."
And a bit of flair to your desktop. But the real draw here is that iBuyPower isn't price gouging. The Dragon themed Lexa is available on iBuyPower's entire range of AMD systems, including as part of a fully configured Athlon II-based setup starting at $439. Just ignore the 'X6' tag on the side of the case, we won't tell.
Do you share NZXT's concern that traditional case lighting methods that involve cold cathodes and solid LED boards tend to consume too much case space? If yes, then NZXT would be very happy to share “a fresh approach to case lighting” with you for a small price. Its new Sleeved LED Kit might just be the answer to many case lighting problems.
“NZXT’s unique design pairs sleeved wires with a high density of LED’s, enabling enthusiasts to snake the lights between side panels and under components with ease. The end result is a beautiful glow throughout the case with a clean installation that doesn’t detract from the internal aesthetics. Users can adjust the light brightness to low, medium, and high levels with red, green, blue, white, or orange kits,” reads the press release announcing the Sleeved LED Kit,” reads the press release announcing the Sleeved LED Kit
It will go on sale at the end of this month, with prices starting at $9.99.
Later today, NZXT will officially announce its HALE90 power supply line, which the company says it built from the ground up specifically for gamers and enthusiasts.
"HALE90 offers the unparalleled combination of efficiency, ease of use, premium components, and silent operation," said Johnny Hou, Founder and Product Manager at NZXT. "Gamers and enthusiasts can rely on this lineup to deliver the most efficient power on the market through premium components that will ensure system longevity."
More than just hyped up marketing speak, NZXT seems intent on backing up its claims, at least from a paper spec perspective. Sporting a modular design, the HALE90 series is 80+ Gold certified, it comes equipped with high-quality, 100 percent Japanese capacitors, and utilizes a single +12V rail, a stable of the venerable PC Power & Cooling line.
The HALE90 series is available now in a variety of wattages, including 550W ($120), 650W ($140), 750W ($160), 850W ($180), and 1000W ($210).
NZXT has come out with another case the company hopes will appeal to gamers, and anyone else looking for a cooling punch with a bit of flair. It's called the "Phantom," and like many of NZXT's cases, this curvy addition is meant to turn heads. NZXT insists it's also highly functional.
"This is the most intelligent and elegantly designed chassis we've ever conceived," said Johnny Hou, Found and Chief Designer at NZXT. "The profoundly unique contours combined with a highly functional, robust feature set solidifies Phantom as one of the most innovative case designs on the market."
The Phantom comes equipped with 7 fan cooling options with dual 200mm, single 230/200mm, triple 120mm, and front 140mm fans. It can also support dual radiators and has four watercooling cutouts, as well as an integrated fan controller with up to five 20W channels.
Other features include E-ATX support, tool-less installation, easily removable front and top panels, and an LED on/off button to control fan lighting.
The Phatom will start shipping in September for $140 and come in white, red, or black.
NZXT Product Manager and Co-Founder Johnny Hou this morning sent out a letter that wasn't quite as seething as the one Cleveland Cavaliers majority owner posted online after LeBron James skipped town, but almost as defiant. With the subject line "NZXT Still Kicking Ass and Thriving," Hou wrote:
To our friends and loyal customers in the PC enthusiast community,
Yesterday at 7:30 PM PST the NZXT website was infiltrated illegally. While having access to the site, hackers made several malicious changes including sending out an erroneous newsletter to our database claiming that NZXT is going out of business. They also changed product warranties, deleted product and home page banners, etc.
Well, I’m happy to report that NZXT is NOT going out of business and to the contrary we are more excited than ever to be a part of this tremendous industry. We are poised to launch several highly anticipated products over the next two months including the Phantom full tower case we unveiled at Computex. We feel this will provide enthusiasts with one of the most fresh and unique case designs in quite some time.
I’d like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere gratitude to the community for your ongoing support of NZXT. We design our products based on what you need to build a stellar PC and welcome your feedback as to how we can help your computing experience be as enjoyable as possible. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions.
Best regards, Johnny Hou
The source of the attack is unknown, and so is the intent, which may have simply been to stir up a bit of trouble or to pick a bone with NZXT. Either way, NZXT fans who may have read gloom and doom scenarios prior to today can breathe a sigh of a relief.
NZXT’s Panzerbox is akin to a Mini Cooper. It might look diminutive, but it has a surprising amount of space and is feature-packed, to boot. The Panzerbox is smaller than a mid-tower yet it has a slide-out motherboard tray, is made entirely of aluminum, and includes support for 12.2-inch videocards and even water cooling. At $120, it’s even affordable. On paper, the NZXT Panzerbox seems like the perfect case to house your LAN gaming rig. But is there a catch?
At 9.6 inches wide by 17.9 inches deep and 17.9 inches high, the Panzerbox’s all-aluminum chassis is one of the most compact modern ATX cases we’ve seen in years. And as mentioned above, that tiny chassis holds a lot of stuff, and still manages to offer decent airflow.
Power users rarely consider a micro ATX case because of the space constraints for high end hardware, but with the introduction of NZXT's Vulcan chassis, perhaps it's time to rethink that philosophy. This thing was built with the LAN gamer in mind, and as such, it comes ready to house not only one, but two full-sized ATI Radeon HD 5970 videocards.
"Most Micro ATX cases currently on the market make a lot of sacrifices to save space" said Johnny Hou, Chief Designer at NZXT. "With Vulcan, we’re making a huge statement by empowering gamers with a portable solution that is 40% more compact than ATX full towers that still offers superior cooling and space for larger heatsinks and the most demanding graphics cards like the Radeon 5970 in CrossFire."
The Vulcan retains NZXT's flair for gaming oriented designs and shares similar traits with full-sized ATX enclosures. Features include an all-black interior, two 5.25-inch and four 3.5-inch slots, non-slip finish, dual 8W fan control, watercooling cutouts, two top mounted 120mm fans with support for a 200mm side fan, routing holes for easier cable management, removable hard drive cage, and thumbscrews for all drives.
NZXT tells us the Vulcan will be available by the end of the month for $70.
We've seen a handful of unique (and some funky) cases come out this year, including Thermaltake's Level 10 and Lian Li's Spider. You can go ahead and add NZXT's limited edition Tempest EVO Camo case to the fray.
This special edition chassis comes decked out in a camouflage theme that will appeal to past, present, and future military buffs. NZXT isn't exactly a stranger when it comes to non-traditional case design, but even this is a departure for the company, though not necessarily in a bad way (we'll let you be the judge of that).
Underneath the camouflage exterior is the Tempest EVO like any other. The mid-tower case comes constructed of steel and plastic, and includes 3 external 5.25-inch drive bays, 1 external 3.5-inch drive bay, 8 internal 3.5-inch drive bays, and 7 expansion slots. It also comes with a bevy of fans, including 2 x 120mm blue LED front fans, 1 x 120mm rear exhaust, 1 x 120mm blue LED side panel fan, and 2 x 140mm top fans.