by William Kelley on May 27, 2009 in Mid-Tower
When building a PC on a budget, one of the most difficult components to pick out is the chassis. For many, $100 is the sweet-spot, as it usually gives a solid design and great aesthetics. With the help of the Beta, though, NZXT helps prove that even $50 chassis’ can handle the task at hand just fine, and after our look, we’re impressed.
Staying on budget is never an easy task. I can never decide just where to cut those last few dollars so I can get a better graphics card or CPU. Even then, my attention turns to getting faster memory or maybe a more powerful power supply. I can say this for certain… the very first place I look to save money is how much I spend on a case. I would be willing to bet money that most people would also cut their budget in this very same area if given the choice.
Once you’ve decided to purchase a lower-priced chassis, you then have to consider the trade-offs. If you’re running a Quad-Core processor, then you must consider airflow. If you want a high-end graphics card, you must have a lot of room. If you want lots of hard drives, then you must have the space, and no matter how much you may think it doesn’t matter, it must have some nice aesthetics, or else you’ll completely regret your choice in short order.
Today we are looking at one of the least-expensive cases we’ve ever had in our lab. Coming in around $50USD, is the NZXT BETA. NZXT is a company whose main focus is to satisfy the needs of PC gamers and hardware enthusiasts. Keeping power users happy is no easy feat, and doing the job cheaply without sacrificing performance is never an easy task. Let’s take a closer look and see just how closely they have hit the mark.
The BETA is a mid-tower chassis supporting ATX and mATX platforms. It is built out of steel with a plastic molded front panel. It is a simple design but it is also pleasant to the eye as well. The shipping box was not the usual glossy picture covered type that I have grown accustomed to. Instead I received a very plain brown box with the specs printed on the sides. This is a great way to save us a few dollars. There was plenty of protection offered by the foam padding inside and even UPS could not make a dent in it.
Once out of the box, we take a look at the front panel first we see the top 5 ¼ bays are sporting a mesh design to allow some airflow and the main included 120mm fan (with blue LED lighting) is tucked neatly behind a large grate. The power and reset buttons reside in the front as well.
The left side panel is able to support dual 120mm intake fans should you choose to install them. Thumbscrews are provided for ease of removal as well.
The backside of the chassis is a simple yet effective design. We get our first surprise in that the entire case is painted. This is a feature not found on any case in this price range, and it’s sure to please a lot of people. The power supply mounts up top and there are 2 large holes with rubber grommets to allow water cooling lines to pass through. There are also a lot of grated openings as well to help hot air escape.
The right side panel is pretty standard fare other than a stamped area allowing you to get a better grip on it when removing it. This may seem insignificant but I can attest that this does indeed make a big difference over a smooth panel when it comes to removal.
Up top we get our I/O panel. This is another simple yet very effective design. You get dual USB ports, headphone/microphone jacks and an e-SATA port. Other than that there is nothing else remarkable up here.
A closer look at the front shows off the power and reset switches which are also lighted up with blue LEDs. The power switch remains lighted to signify the PC is powered up and the reset switch lights up for HDD activity.
Taking off the left side panel we get a look at the fully painted interior. It is also very important to note that all edges are either rolled or rounded off. I looked everywhere for a sharp edge and found none. This is a remarkable feat for a budget priced unit.
Looking at the inside of the back, it is hard not to notice the lack of an exhaust fan. I understand why they did it since the aim is to save the consumer more money but I am not sure this is such a good idea. Looking down at the PCI slot covers we see they are made of mesh, which is a very good idea and a huge improvement over the usual stamped solid covers.
Inside the front you have space to mount up to four ODD drives and up to six 3 ½” internal drives. While the one of the slots is marked to hold a floppy drive there is no way to access it from the outside so it makes little sense to label it this way. The front intake is housed behind the HDD cage. This does limit airflow to some extent and is another reason I wish they did include an exhaust fan on the back.
There is a fair bit of hardware included to allow tool-less installation of all your drives. We also receive a mini-speaker and all the standoffs and screws needed to build your PC. I do like the inclusion of washers for the motherboard screws as well. A locking tab is also part of the package. One thing noticeable missing is any sort of owner’s or instruction manual (not that it is really that necessary if you ask me).
Simply put, out of the box this must be one of the best low budget cases that has ever crossed my desk. I was very impressed with the build quality and the whole package. Most companies just don’t put as much thought into their budget offerings and it is refreshing to see one on this level. Right from the beginning I was looking forward to the build process, so let’s get to it!