If you asked me my first thoughts when you mention NZXT my instant response would be boldly designed gaming cases. NZXT even state in their mission statement that "NZXT is a company built upon gamers dreams". A catchy line to use for a corporation that was initially founded by a group of gamers. NZXT has never been afraid to follow there design dreams, but unlike some other manufacturers they have managed to meet gamers needs both in a design perspective and surprisingly also on a financial level as well.
Today we have the Panzerbox on the bench for review, don't mistake those clean looks for a basic case because it is hiding some unique features. Talking of features lets take a look at the specifications.
|CASE TYPE||MID TOWER Welded Aluminium|
|FRONT PANEL MATERIAL||ALUMINIUM|
DIMENSIONS (W x H x D)
|244 X 455 X 455 mm|
|COOLING SYSTEM||FRONT, 1 X 190mm fan@1100RPM, 150CFM (included)|
REAR, 1 X 120mm, TOP, 1 x 190mm fan@1100RPM,150CFM (included)
|DRIVE BAYS||7 DRIVE BAYS |
3 EXTERNAL 5.25" DRIVE BAYS
4 INTERNAL 3.5" DRIVE BAYS
|POWER SUPPLY||500 WATT PS2 ATX 12V 2.0 ( OPTIONAL )|
|WEIGHT||6.3 KGS (W/O Power)|
|MOTHERBOARD SUPPORT||MOTHERBOARDS: ATX, MICRO-ATX, BABY AT|
Lets head over the page for our first proper glimpse of the case.
Boxes with cases pretty much all follow the same pattern now, a thick walled cardboard box, the case inside protected by a thick plastic bag and polystyrene end caps. The Panzerbox came exactly like this as expected so Ill save you the bandwidth and omit those photos! The case at first just feels a little wider than normal, a 190mm fan can easily be seen behind the front and roof mesh, but its not until you go around to the back of the case that eyebrows get raised. The PSU is not above or below the motherboard as you may expect, but to the left of the PCI slots which now explains its extra width. Also at the back you can see the 120mm exhaust fan and a pair of watercooling grommets.
Removing the side panels it is all very well laid out inside with what appears to be a great layout for airflow, the cables being on show are already quite a concern so it will be interesting to see this case with a system built in it. There are 3 5.25" optical drive bays available, and 4 3.25" HDD mounts, two vertically on the floor in front of the fan and 2 horizontally below the optical bays. Space behind the motherboard tray is a good as non existent, you could get a fan wire down behind but 8pin motherboard power is a no go unless you want to fiddle with the door when trying to refit it.
A great feature for a case of this size is the removable motherboard tray. It makes building and maintaining your system so much easier, even more so when space is limited in a case such as this. The case itself sits on 4 thick rubber feet, nothing fancy just simple and effective.
Building the system was made much easier by the removable tray, in fact I could not have fitted our test system heatsink with the motherboard in the case, the joys of pushpins! With the motherboard built up it was a simple job to slide the tray back in and fit the power supply.
With the power supply now fitted and connected up my earlier concerns about cabling have reigned true, with the side panel off it is just a mass of cables. Without spending a few hours routing the cables and in some cases buying extensions I don't think there is any way of getting this system to look tidy. We purposely use a twin card system and a large power supply to demonstrate a worst case scenario (pun intended).
Another thing I noticed that if you use the vertical HDD mounts on the base of the case these act as a great wall to block direct airflow over the graphics cards. A quick swap later I tried the mounts under the optical bays but with the reduced damping this allowed the drives to resonate into the case. I have to admit the 190mm fans do move a massive amount of air, 150cfm@12v according to NZXT, this is great if you are deaf. However, my other-half is not, and at 1am one morning the fans actually woke her up and I had to connect the fans to the motherboard headers just to be able to slow them down. When running at 12v they kept the CPU temperatures down to a very respectable 31c idle and 50c load. The GPU temperatures were not as great thanks to using the vertical drives during testing and the GPU's coming out at 52c idle and 71c load with the fans set at 50%.
The case does ship with brackets to fit a 240mm Radiator to the roof fan, and there is easily 40mm of room for that, but you would have a task ahead of you trying to fit all the components needed to watercool a system along with hard drives and a decent sized power supply.
Lets head over the page for a final conclusion and the video review.
So you are looking for a case small enough to take to a LAN event, but big enough to house your twin graphic card system that's also got a CPU water loop... with a pot a Vaseline and some patience the Panzerbox could indeed be the case for you. The airflow is great if you don't use the vertical hard drives and don't mind the noise of the fans, and the layout does use the space wisely if you don't want to have the side off (or a window) showing off your kit inside. I however do like to have a tidy case, this for me personally at least is a big let down, I think the if NZXT had spent a little longer designing in some cable routing options it would make this case far more desirable. If the case had come with this and a built in fan controller for say an extra £10 - £15 it would have scored much higher in my eyes.
The size and the fact it is water cooling ready are a definite bonus, if you don't want to look at the internals but just have a system that's quick to build, is cool and just works then this should definitely be a case that is on your short list.
- Compact and unique design
- Great airflow
- Fans are crazy loud at 12v
- Vertical HDD location impedes GPU airflow
- Cable routing options non existent
We would like to thank NZXT for the sample reviewed here today, you can discuss this in our forums.