Building a PC requires several considerations. What’s in it? What’s powering it? What case do I use? How do I cool it? For using air cooling there’s a wide world of cases open to you but if you’re using aftermarket water cooling your options start to narrow. Today we look at a new case from NZXT that lends itself to both air and water cooling.
Here’s how she looks completely done and buttoned up. As you can see the smoked panel does a great job of blending into the door until there’s something lit up behind it. You can also see what I was talking about when I said the upper chevron wasn’t quite as bright as the lower one. The lower one really pops!
In lower light you can see just how nicely the window works, it really cuts the glow from your LCD devices to an easily livable level for those of us that keep our PC’s going 24/7. I’ve got to say that it’s a feature I really like.
Well, that about wraps it up, in the last pic you can see the tool-less PCI slot lock in the latched position. What I like about this is that you can put a screw through the lock in any spot that you feel might need extra support. Notice that NZXT kindly put holes in the case frame to allow you to get a screwdriver into the screws without putting them at an angle. Nice touch.
I’ve been running this setup for the last week and I’m happy to report that it’s quieter than the Armor I had been using, I’m running the radiator fans at 5V and have the same or better temps than with the Armor on the watercooled components and the case temps are much better. The side fans do a great job of pushing a lot of air over the motherboard so PWM circuits stay nice and cool, this is a big concern for water coolers as you’ve removed the fan from the CPU and that fan is generally responsible for keeping things in check in the PWM area. I’m also happy that the front fan has a filter, the side fans are pretty much filtered by the side grill which is a fine mesh, I’ve had to dust it off 3 times in the last week. Better to wipe it off the outside of he case than blow it out of the case later! :-)
The final ding I haven’t discussed until now, the paint looks fine in the photos but looking at the case in person you can see what looks like texture to the paint. This would be fine for a matte finish but for a gloss finish it should be as smooth as glass.
When it’s all said and done the NZXT Zero is a fine case for most users looking for great cooling with a minimum of noise. Water cooling buffs might want to look at the Zero too. it does offer a nice alternative to the usual suspects even if it is a bit cramped inside. I’ve heard rumours that NZXT might be working on a water cooling case, I’d like to see what they come up with. They’re just a few degrees away from having the right product with the Zero. I’m awarding the Zero a 7/10 with the caveat that if the paint was cleaned up it’d get an 8. Spending around $150+ for a case you should get a smooth finish.
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