Review: NZXT H2 Classic


Breaking free of the confines that big box electronics retailers force upon you when it comes to PCs is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you’re free to pick literally anything you want from anywhere you please. On the flip side, where do you start with so much to choose from? While the starting point is arguably everyone’s own opinion, we’d go out on a limb and say the computer case itself should be the beginning of your ventures. For if you don’t know the space you have to work with, how can you work at all?

Can NZXT’s H2 Classic please both the general populous and high-end segments of the market, and do so at a rather affordable $99? Gadgetsteria has the answers and images to answer that very question (and more) after the break…


Features

NZXT’s Classic case may not look all that impressive, but once you open up the case you’ll find some rather nice touches throughout.

We’ll start at the top of the case were you’ll find 3 USB 2.0 ports, 1 USB 3.0 port, audio/mic inputs, 3-speed switch for built-in fan controller, and reset and power buttons. Moving backwards, a handy external drive bay is hidden underneath a flip-up cover. This non-hot swappable bay will accept all sizes of HDD and SDD. Finally, the very rear of the case has a nice little magnetic cover that can cover up the exhaust grill should a fan not be in use in that location. (NZXT does not provide a top exhaust fan by default.) On the back of the case you’ll find a pretty standard layout featuring 7 PCI slots for motherboard sizes up to the usual ATX size as well as two pass-through ports for watercooling systems should you decide to go that route. While watercooling loops on midtower systems used to be near impossible at best, modern cases have come a long way. Which takes us to our next point — space.


Cable Management & Space


With many handy features built into the design of the Classic, how impressive is it when it comes to cable management and space — to some, the most important part of a computer build? With an ASUS GTX 580, included fans, and five hard drives, the 25mm spacing behind the back panel really made setup and building easier than the midtower footprint would suggest. For references sake — it was far more roomy than our usual Coolermaster Storm Scout. Simply put: the NZXT Classic is much roomier than it seems.


Moving on…the H2 Classic is designed to be a silent case. In our testing, using the included fans (top exhaust, rear exhaust, and two front intakes) the computer was whisper quiet, even at max settings and during a hard gaming sessions. Though that is also due to the fact that our GTX 580′s fans were far louder and more overpowering than the slower RPM case fans. But besides slower spinning fans, NZXT used copious amounts of sound insulating foam on the front, left, and right panels making an already quiet case even less detectable.

While we’re on the subject of fans, we’ll highlight one of our favorite features of the Classic — the “cordless” front panel fans. Thanks to a well placed contact point on both the case and fan unit, NZXT was able to make the fans easily removable and due away with the age old two-pin connectors. We wish more case manufactures (and even more of NZXT’s own cases) would pick up on this design. It really is “the future” if you will.

On that same note, we can understand why more fans aren’t designed this way. It is both (1) more difficult to engineer cases with the necessary contact points in more tricky locations such as in the middle of a side panel and (2) more costly to build the overall fan housing itself. Still, we’d like to see some more case manufacturers at least attempt the effort.

Dislikes

While we were again very impressed with the amount of space within the NZXT Classic, there were a few issues we had with the case that we feel are worth pointing out.

Perhaps most irritating is NZXT’s over zealous attempts to fasten the PCI slot thumbscrews. We had to use pliers to get them off. Not only that, two of the screws were stripped and/or crooked meaning we had to literally pry them out with judicious amounts of self ingenuity and a slight helping of good ‘ol fashion elbow grease.

To us, this is a very poor reflection of NZXT’s QA regardless of the case’s price. With that said, we haven’t seen any other reports of a similar issue (outside of one or two random PC enthusiast forums), so perhaps we were just rewarded with some bad luck. Either way, we’d like to hear from the PC enthusiast community as to whether or not they’ve had some grief with thumbscrews on NZXT hardware.

The last feature of the Classic that just didn’t sit well with us was the front-to-back HDD rack design. For the dual front 120mm fans to cool most efficiently without taking up too much space, we understand why NZXT oriented the HDD rack the way they did. With that said, front-to-back HDDs make a case much messier in our eyes as the power and SATA cables now dumb right into the middle of the case. Of course, the Classic does not feature a window or mesh so any such mess wouldn’t be visible. Though visual likes/dislikes aren’t the only thing affected by messy cable management. A tidy case will also run cooler as the air has less obstructions.

Conclusion

While we could say this case “is the best ever and you should buy it without a doubt”, custom PC building is hardly that simple. For starters, everyone has their own likes and dislikes, and their own list of priorities. Do you prefer whisper quiet operation over the coolest running temperatures or do you like a case with the most spacing for cable management? There are literally dozens of different scenarios and features to take into account. But if we had to give this case a rating from which you’d deduct a decision to buy or ignore…

We really like the ample interior space and cable management possibilities the 25mm back side of the case offers. We also love the dual 120mm “cordless” fans in the front panel. Personally, we’re not too obsessed about whisper quiet computers. Though we do see people who cherish said feature as numero uno liking the NZXT Classic. It is again, very quiet. The front-to-back HDD orientation isn’t our first pick and the over-tightened thumb screws were a turn off from the beginning. Nonetheless, we feel that at even at $99 the H2 Classic is a good buy especially for those who want a whisper quiet PC without sacrificing innovative features such as the top-mounted external hard drive bay and cordless fans.

[NZXT Store]

Gadgetsteria Rating: 7.5/10


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