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NZXT Adamas

Date: October 23, 2006
Author(s): Rob Williams

NZXT is back with a sophisticated new case that proves to be one of the most “solid” we’ve ever taken a look at. It also includes a few innovations not seen in other cases. The primary downside? Small interior. Read on to see all of what this case has to offer.



Introduction


NZXT is back yet again with another unique case for our consumption. To this day, my favorite NZXT case by far has proven to be the Apollo, and no other case has touched it since. Matt took a look at the Zero last week and was left less than impressed. It proved to be a good case but had it’s flaws, especially when it comes to water cooling.

Today I am taking a look at the Adamas, which targets yet another audience. The case is designed for quiet operation, and look great at the same time. Adamas is a Greek word meaning “unconquerable”. That well describes the case… it’s tough. So tough in fact, that NZXT told me I should jump on it. However, I don’t feel like breaking a neck, so I choose fully believe them. Without further ado, lets take a close look at what the Adamas has to offer.

Closer Look

When I received the box, it was beat up… beat up good. So I did not include images, as UPS seems to be having field days with my received packages lately. Luckily the case was well protected with styrofoam pieces, and covered in a thick plastic so as to prevent any scratches.

Looking at the case speaks for itself really. It looks like one giant heat dissipater, but stylish at the same time.

This is an NXZT product, no denying that much.

What’s hard to show in the images, is that the entire case has a brushed aluminum look. Looking at it closely… it’s a sweet deal. Here in the front we have (4) 5 1/4″ drive bays, the top designed exclusively for a CD-Rom. I will get more into this in the installation section.

Power on and the reset buttons, in addition to he LED activity lights. The buttons are also brushed aluminum.

In the front we have a small grille, which has a filter installed behind it. This will catch the dirt to disallow it entry into the case. Deeper inside is an intake fan, to suck cool air in from the outside. You cannot see behind the grille unless you get real close to it.

Like so.

Here is a better photo of the front as a whole. The bright light from the camera helps the brushed style show up better.



Closer Look

The doors to the Adamas require absolutely no screws. Each door has two latches that you press down to release… very easy. But, while the door is secured, there is no chance of it falling off due to lack of screws. None.

The left side of the case contains two large 120mm intake fans. Like the front mounted one, it will suck in cool air to help keep the PC cool.

If you haven’t gathered by now, this is one black case. Looking at the back proves it. Every single space on the exterior that someone will notice, is pitch black. Definitely a classy looking case as a whole.

The opposite side of the case is clean of anything. The door has the same ease of removal as the other side though.

Inside, we can see a better view of the only exhaust 120mm fan in the case.

This is one small case, as you can see in the following picture.

The front 120mm intake fan that I mentioned earlier is better seen here.

The case is built for good heat distribution and dissipation, so the storage mounts for your CD-Roms, hard drives and other peripherals are no exception. The brackets also help dampen noise.

One thing I do not like about the case thus far, are the rear slot blockers. Once removed, they cannot be put back. You simply tear them off the case and be done with it.

Finally, here is a better view of the top heatsink design and also the dual 120mm intake fans on the door.

I have to admit, this is one of the best looking cases i have seen in a while, and is definitely comparable to Silverstone offerings.



Installation, Final Thoughts


Sadly, I do not have any photos of the installation process, as I am currently without a camera. So, bear with me! First off, this is a small case. It’s roughly the same size as the Apollo, but the inside leaves far less room to move around in. The first thing I did was install the motherboard, and that proved challenging as I expected. At first, I was unable to install the motherboard (DFI SLI M2R/G) with it’s onboard sound card installed. Luckily that’s removable, so I managed to get the mobo in that way. The reason it would not fit with the card is due to the back 120mm fan… it was clearly in the way. I blame the small design of the case moreso than I do the placement of the fan however.

Even with the card removed, there was -just- enough room to move around. Even with a removable motherboard tray, this case just does not give you that much room to move around with.

Installing the power supply proved easy though. Took me half a minute… nothing was in the way. The same goes for the CD-Rom and hard drive, there was ample room. Actually, installing the CD-Rom shows off one of the coolest features of the case, so I truly regret not having images for your consumption, however the following image from NZXT is entirely accurate.

The front panel can be removed entirely, simply by pulling a lever underneath. Once removed, you can slide your CD-Rom into place and then return the panel. As noted in the bottom picture, this is exactly what the case will look like with your CD-Rom installed. Pushing the eject button here will do just that. Looks far better than a CD-Rom that clashes with the scheme of the case!

I use Corsairs Nautilus 500 water cooling on this rig, and this case did indeed prove to allow enough room to accommodate. If you have a setup that requires an internal pump or rad, you will be out of luck… don’t even think about it. Besides that though, there proved to be enough room for simple tubing, as the N500 is completely external.

Boom, installation complete. Overall, the -only- hitch I had was the tight area with the motherboard installation. It was the roughest time I ever had with installing a motherboard, so a little more room would have been appreciated.

Testing

To perform some temperature testing, I ran a series of benchmarks over the span of a half hour. Two instances of Prime95 are run, one on each core, for maximum CPU action. RTHDRIBL is run in order to keep the GPU warmed up, and HD Tach RW 3 is run for hard drive stress testing. All of these combined accurately stresses all components at the same time for maximum temperatures.

All of the components were in the NZXT Apollo prior to moving over to the Adamas, so I ran the same benchmarks in that case before installing them into the this one. During all of the testing, the room temperature remained at a somewhat cool 76°F – 77°F. Here are the results of the CPU Core 1, GPU and Motherboard. All temperatures were grabbed with Everest 3.0.

I have to admit, I am incredibly impressed that the cooling ability of this case proved better than the Apollo. The Apollo had a bit more room, but the Adamas felt like I had to crush everything together to get the door back on. So overall, I am impressed.

As a whole, the Apollo proved to be better for overall CPU temperature, but the Adamas took serious charge with the motherboard temps, shaving off well over 10°C! Even the GPU proved better as a whole.

Final Thoughts

As it stands, I am impressed with the Adamas quite a bit, but at the same time disappointed. First off, this is a great looking case… I absolutely love it. It’s pitch black in color, looks solid, and is solid. It’s designed for good cooling ability and as we have seen from our motherboard temps, that’s certainly true.

The design of the case… is great. There are enough unique features here to help the Adamas stand alone. The doors are easy to remove and just as easy to put back on. The front panel mechanism is probably by far my favorite. Simply pull on a lever and remove it, and then put it back in place and secure it again. Honestly, the coolness of this feature has to be seen in order to fully understand how well it works.

I am not entirely sold on the heatsink design though. I would have preferred a completely clean looking case, with the same fan placements. The way the top of the case is designed, it will collect dust and dirt easily. I have found myself required to use an air duster to it every few days, which is far more than anyone should need to.

What I also enjoyed were the CD-Rom and hard drive installation. It’s an old fashioned method, so you will need to grab a screwdriver.

In addition to everything I enjoy about the Adamas though, there are things that I equally dislike. The biggest gripe I have regards the motherboard installation. There is simply not that much room in there, at all. It’s design didn’t even allow the DFI boards sound card to be installed, and this is the first case I have run into this particular problem with. In order to fit it, I would have to completely remove the 120mm rear fan.

Really, that’s my only real complaint. The other complaint would be the $170 asking price. If this case was larger, it would be well worth it. As it stands, even with it’s innovative features I think the case should be priced a little more competitively.

In the end, this is a superb case, but would be near perfect if only it was a little larger. I would love to see a revision of this case to take care of that single concern. If there was a larger version available that allowed internal watercooling rigs, it would be a great combination. This case already proved better cooling than the Apollo, so a larger version should only help things.

In the end, I am awarding the Adamas a 9 out of 10, and I will explain why. Though the size bothered me, but this is one of the highest quality cases I have ever encountered. Even the motherboard mounting screws are shiny chrome colored… NZXT really pays attention to detail. If you want a full sized HTPC case to look great in your livingroom, this would be a great choice. However, it’s not for enthusiasts… if you have SLI or an internal water cooling rig, you will want to choose another case.

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