Date: September 23, 2011
Author(s): Ryan Perry
Since 2008, NZXT’s Tempest line-up has become well-known for offering a good bang for the buck. All of the models released to date have bold designs, but nothing over-the-top. The latest variant, the 410 Elite, focuses on efficient airflow, and includes a front honeycomb design and room for a dual-rad out-of-the-box.
When it comes to cases I’m an excitable person. Unless the case is known to be a nightmare before it arrives I usually rip into the box with a demented smile on my face along with a bit of drool, all so I can revel in that new kit smell.
The case up for review today certainly has me smiling as it’s the latest addition to NZXT’s Tempest series, and as I have fond memories of the original Tempest and Tempest EVO, a lot is expected from this one. It’s time to take a look at the new Tempest 410 Elite!
Like the previous Tempest cases the 410 Elite features a steel frame and panels with plastic accents on the front and top. It sports a black paint job inside and out and can support mini-ATX, mini-ITX, micro-ATX, Flex-ATX and ATX motherboards with baby-ATX and extended-ATX support dropped this time around.
The front panel of the 410 Elite is styled a bit differently than other Tempest cases. Under some accents at the top are 3 5.25″ mesh drive bay covers with quick-release latches on the right side. Below the covers are 2 quick-release 120mm non-LED intake fans.
Extending up and over the top along the right edge of the front panel are the power button and I/O area. Starting at the top, the I/O area is comprised of the white power and hard drive activity LEDs, 3 USB 2.0 ports, a single USB 3.0 port and the 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks.
For those who like to show off their gear, the left panel features a large slanted window.
Around back at the top is a catch that allows part of the top panel to be removed, but more on that in a moment. Below the catch in the top left is a small hole that looks to be a carry-over from the H2 that allowed for a front panel USB 3.0 cable to be run to the motherboard I/O, however the 410 Elite has internal USB 3.0 connectivity making this opening unnecessary.
Moving on we see said motherboard I/O opening and a 120mm non-LED exhaust fan beside it. Further down are 7 mesh PCI slot covers beside two pass-through holes with rubber grommets for external water cooling, an extra mesh area just below to help with airflow and finally the power supply opening at the very bottom.
There isn’t much to show on the right side panel as it’s completely solid, however both panels are secured with black thumbscrews for easy removal.
Moving up to the top shows off a push-to-open compartment at the front that can be used to hold various bits and pieces. Running from each front corner of the compartment is a channel used to route cables from the front panel connections, allowing smaller devices to be tucked away while remaining available for use. To the right of the compartment is the top side of the power button and the reset button directly behind it.
The remainder of the top is taken up by a mesh cover that can be removed by pressing the catch at the top of the rear panel that was mentioned earlier. With the catch pressed down the cover slides back and lifts off to reveal a recessed area and mounting points for up to 2 optional 120mm or 140mm fans or a 240mm radiator.
A quick flip over and we see the mounting area for another optional 120mm fan and directly behind that is the removable filter that covers the vent used by the power supply. At each of the four corners is a rubber foot that lifts the case off the floor while absorbing any vibrations created by the system.
From the outside there are still some styling cues taken from the original Tempest but things are sure to be quite different when the panels come off.
Let’s get into the meaty bits of this review right away. After removing all of the drive bay covers and fans we can see the metal contact pads along the right side of the frame where the fans draw power. This translates into fewer wires running through the system causing clutter and possibly disrupting airflow.
The fans also feature a removable filter sandwiched against the bracket that can be removed for cleaning by pulling up on the lip at the top.
Behind the fans are the 8 hard drive bays stuffed with plastic drive trays. 3.5″ drives install without tools but 2.5″ drives will require a screwdriver.
Rather than piecing together individual shots to get an idea of what the interior looks like, here is an overall view from the left side.
Running down the side of the hard drive cage are two thumbscrews for each drive. This allows the drives to be secured and provide more stability especially if the case is being moved.
Above the drive cage are the tool-less retention locks for the 5.25″ drive bays along with two more thumbscrews to secure each device.
The floor of the case has the mounting points for the optional 120mm fan and the area where the power supply mounts at the rear. The power supply sits face down on four raised rubber pads to absorb any vibrations created by the fan.
When it comes to cable management, there should be enough options for most users. In addition to two openings on the right side of the motherboard tray and another in front of the power supply there are also two small, round openings where any front panel cables can be routed to the appropriate headers on the motherboard.
At the mid-way point across the top of the tray is another small opening and a final one in the top left corner. Finally there is a generous opening around the CPU area to help with installation and removal of CPU coolers.
There’s not much to look at on the rear panel that wasn’t visible from the outside but guess what? More thumbscrews used to secure the PCI slot covers and expansion cards.
The inside of the top panel shows where the optional fans or radiator can be installed. NZXT has cut away additional spots at the front and back to allow for all-in-one liquid coolers to be installed in either orientation by providing enough clearance for the block and pump to feed down into the main section of the interior.
On the back of the motherboard tray there are a few more options for cable management. There is about 3/4″ of space between the tray and the side panel allowing for cables to be tied up tight using the included zip ties fed through the loops bent in the metal. Also, since the hard drives are mounted front-to-back, there is a large space on this side of the drive cage to tuck away unused or extra long cables.
Included with the 410 Elite is everything needed to build a system and all of it keeps with the black theme. There are the motherboard standoffs along with my favorite standoff socket, screws to secure the power supply, motherboard and 5.25″, 3.5″ and 2.5″ drives as well as some zip ties and a fold out manual.
If there’s one thing that the original Tempest and EVO cases were geared for it was air flow, but the 410 Elite is missing a 120mm fan on the side panel and two 140mm fans on the top. We’ll see just how this plays out after our test system finds a new home.
After finding the small hole in the top-left corner of the rear panel I had a hunch about how the build would go. It looks like I was spot-on because from the inside the 410 Elite and H2 are identical, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing seeing how the H2 scored an Editor’s Choice award.
Starting off like always, the power supply mounted flush and all of the cables were able to be routed through the cable management area. I have called out NZXT before about the grommets pulling away from the motherboard tray, so I took every precaution and moved this one back into place half a dozen times as soon as it started to move, and in the end all of the cables were routed cleanly with room for more.
There was no problem installing the motherboard either. All of the holes lined up perfectly once the standoffs were installed for our micro-ATX motherboard.
The hard drives were easy enough to install thanks for the quick-release fans and tool-less mounting method. Our 3.5″ drive snapped in and the demonstration 2.5″ drive was secured through the bottom using the included screws once the pegs were removed that run down one side of the tray. Even though there are more thumbscrews than you can shake a stick at, the drives are held very securely without them.
Our test GPU also went in snugly as well although larger GPUs with the power connector(s) on the edge that face the hard drives will run into clearance problems. Luckily there are loads of drive bays available so they can be positioned above or below the GPU.
The demonstration optical drive installed cleanly after sliding the small lock towards the front and pulling out on the back of the lock to disengage the pins. Once the drive was in place the back of the lock was pushed down and held the drive snug with a reassuring click.
Cable management is very good and again the options provided should be good enough for most users. The finished result looks like this and there will be no issues with any of the cables impeding airflow.
As mentioned earlier, there is a ton of room to tuck cables away on this side of the hard drive cage so I took full advantage of it. The rest of the cables are tucked or tied up behind the motherboard tray and the side panel went on easily without any bowing.
All of our testing is performed in a near steady 20°C ambient environment with readings taken before and after with a standard room thermometer. AIDA64 Extreme Engineer is used for monitoring and recording all system temperatures throughout the testing process.
Windows is allowed to sit idle for 10 minutes after startup to ensure all services are loaded before recording the idle CPU and GPU temperatures. CPU load temperatures are generated by performing a 20 minute run of OCCT LINPACK using 90% of the available memory, while GPU load temperatures are generated by OCCT’s built in test, also for 20 minutes.
Stock CPU settings were obtained by setting the AI Tweaker option with the BIOS to Auto and the maximum stable overclock frequency of 4.0GHz was obtained after extensive testing to ensure stability. The final clocks for the GPU are 760MHz on the core and 1000MHz QDR (4000MHz relative) for the memory with the voltage increased to 1.087V using MSI’s Afterburner overclocking utility. As with the CPU overclock, testing was done prior to ensure full stability.
The components used for testing are:
Techgage Test System
Intel Core i5-661 – Dual-Core (3.33GHz)
ASUS P7H55D-M EVO mATX – H55-based
Corsair Dominator 2x2GB DDR3-1600 7-8-7-20-2T
EVGA GeForce GTX 470
Western Digital 2TB Green
Antec TP-750 Blue
Cooler Master HAF 932 Advanced
Cooler Master Silencio 550
Corsair Carbide 400R
Corsair Obsidian 650D
Corsair SE White 600T
NZXT Tempest 410 Elite
Silverstone Raven RV03
Thermaltake Level 10 GT
Corsair H60 (Exhaust Configuration)
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
Well go figure, the 410 Elite turned in nearly the same temperatures as the H2 while overclocked, which is not surprising given that it’s essentially the same case on the inside minus the sound-absorbing foam lining. The removal of the foam helped lower temperatures slightly with a 1 degree improvement in all aspects except when the GPU was idle.
If even one top fan was included, I’m sure it would be closer to the performance of the Corsair Obsidian and Graphite cases. Cooling performance may look middle of the road in our tests but both the CPU and GPU stayed well within the safe thermal limits.
From a noise standpoint the case is fairly quiet with the front fans being lost in the sound of the H60. This would be an ideal case to pair up with NZXT’s Havik 140, which would add almost no extra noise to the system provided the hardware configuration being used will allow it since itâ€™s quite a large cooler.
After our usual testing, I feel like we’re left with a mixed bag, but I’ll do my best to sum things up.
On the outside the case is all Tempest. The overall shape is carried over, which I really like and have been a fan of since I first laid my hands on the original. I really like the I/O area along the right side because it keeps the case very clean looking and moves cables out of the way of the optical drive, which is usually a problem for me.
The quick-release drive covers and fans are something that I’d like to see more companies adopt because, let’s face it, having to remove the front panel to install or uninstall components gets very old, very quickly.
Front panel USB 3.0 support is never a bad thing and the paint job is very well done although I was wiping finger prints from it quite often. The small storage compartment is also a plus and the channels where cables can be run is brilliant. A fast moving 2-year-old with the hands of a ninja can snatch an MP3 player without anybody noticing, and mine is usually left plugged in when not in use.
Another great feature is how the top cover pops off to allow fans or a radiator to be installed from the outside. This means no more fumbling around inside of the case, especially since the extra room that would come with extended-ATX support is missing.
Speaking of the inside, the 410 Elite unfortunately feels like an H2. Don’t get me wrong, I like the design of the interior and it’s part of what won me over with the H2 – but it feels like the same case only with different panels. I expected the two to be very different because they are designed for very different users. They should be two different cases in two different series’ with two different internal designs in my opinion although the one that it does have works very well.
The previous two Tempest cases were dubbed the “Airflow King” but the newest release feels like a gentle breeze. Maybe I was expecting something other than what the case was designed for but it just doesn’t feel like it belongs with the other Tempest models to be honest. It’s not big, aggressive and able to suck small pets or children into the plethora of included fans while keeping system temperatures low.
Having the case ship with the top area populated with two 140mm fans just as the other models do would certainly help temperatures for those who do not plan on putting a radiator in this location.
I do need to mention that our review sample was received with one of the fan brackets not delivering power to the fan. During testing the power supplied using a 3-pin to 4-pin Molex adapter to ensure accurate temperatures were recording using all of the included fans. I’d like to chalk this up to a one off problem because of the quality of cases that NZXT has produced up until now but it may be something to keep in the back of your mind when going shopping.
The 410 Elite checks in at ~$90 while the standard 410 that ditches the window in favour of an opening where up to 2 additional 120mm fans can be installed and knocks about $10 off of the price. Based on what I feel the Tempest should be, and that’s a cooling power house, I’d be inclined to go with the standard model and use the extra money to add at least a couple of fans to the top.
The Tempest 410 Elite is not a bad case by any stretch of the imagination. Itâ€™s a new product with a proud name and a long legacy but a copied interior.
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