NZXT Source 530 Review Page: 1

NZXT Source 530 Review

Introduction

The first thing that strikes you about the Source 530 is the absence of the sculpted plastic panels that have become something of a trademark with NZXT cases and the Phantom range in particular.  That's not to say there's no plastic on the 530, there's a bit around the front fascia, but it's not a dominating feature of the design.  Opening up the 530's windowed side panel reveals an interior that's more than slightly reminiscent of the Phantom 530, and as you might have guessed there's a good reason for that as for the greater part the two cases share the same chassis.  It looks then that with the Source 530 NZXT appear to be trying to keep it simple, providing what appears to be the features of the Phantom 530 for £25 less.  Question is though, apart form the fascia have NZXT trimmed anything else? 

 

Technical Specification

Size

Full Tower

Model Number

CA-SO530-M1

Drive Bays

External 5.25" x 3 
Internal 3.5" /2.5": 6  Internal 2.5": 1 + 6

Cooling System

Front 2x140mm/ 120mm or 1x200mm
Rear 1x140mm / 120mm (1x120mm included) 
Bottom 2x120mm
Top 2x140mm or 3x120mm (1x120mm included) 
Interior 1x120mm/140mm

Clearance

CPU Cooler 282mm (With Pivot Fan)
VGA Card 310mm (With Cage)/ 444mm (Without Cage)
Cable Management 26mm (Lowest Point)/ 34mm (Highest Point)

Dimensions

235mm x 507mm x 510.5mm

Material

Steel, Plastic, Mesh

Motherboard Support

ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX, EATX   (322x272mm)

Expansion Slots

8

External Electronics

1 x Audio / Mic
2 x USB 3.0

Product Weight

9.2 kg

Warranty

2 Years



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NZXT Source 530 Review

Up Close:  Exterior Overview and Roof

Having voiced our thoughts on NZXT keeping it simple for the Source 530 we're delighted to see that they've done away with the frippery of a half window, half fan grill design we've been having a bit of a go at them about for some time now.  Instead they've wisely opted for a single good sized slightly angled window.  Well done NZXT!              

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Although not covering the entirety of the side panel the window lets you see the sexy bit whilst shielding the more mundane drive racks from view. 

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The roof of the case is made from steel with circular mesh covering it almost entirely.  The front of the case is again given over to a mesh.  Thinner and finer than that in the roof and painted a gloss Black, matching the 3 vented 5.25" bay covers perfectly.

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Slotted screw holes spaced for 3x120 and 2x140 can mean only one thing.  That's right boys and girls, like the Phantom 530 the Source 530 can also take a 360 or 280 rad in the roof.  We'll see how thick when we move to the build.  Meantime it's nice to see that NZXT have popped a 120mm white bladed fan in there.

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NZXT Source 530 Review

Up Close:  Exterior Front, Rear and Base 

The front mesh grill is recessed slightly into a gloss black chamfered surround which forms a kind of lip around the perimeter of the fascia.  This both affords a degree of protection whislt at the same time splitting up what would otherwise be pretty bland lines.  A pair of USB3.0s and a set of Audio sockets are located under the hood of the fascia in the top left hand corner, whist over to the right there's a HDD activity strip and a power on LED.  Almost un-noticed in the top left hand corner sits a small NZXT logo which illuminates gently when the unit is powered up.

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The actual buttons for power, reset and rear I/O light control are located discretely down the right hand side of the case.  Just be careful if you reach round to switch the rear I/O light on not to hit the reset switch.

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The Source 530 shares the same back panel as its numerically identical Phantom brother.  A large rear fan area provides for both 120mm (included) and optional 140mm fans with elongated screw holes meaning you can move the fans or AIO water cooler by a small degree.  You also get no less than 8 vented PCI slots and the usual PSU cut out a the bottom, not forgetting of course the switched LEDs that illuminate the rear I/O area.

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NZXT certainly haven't skimped on the filters either, with both the PSU and rear intake areas being given the plastic mesh treatment.  The filters though are rigid enough and slide in and out with ease.

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NZXT Source 530 Review

Up Close:  Interior Overview and Drive bays

The interior of the Source 530 is pretty cavernous, even with a full modular rack of 6HDDs.  There's a large CPU cut out, as well as plenty of cable management holes.  Sadly they're not grommeted as they are with the Phantom 530, but let's remember the £25 price difference shall we. 

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The 530 affords you 3x5.25" bays, each of which is equipped with a tool free  ratchet down system, and as NZXT have had the forethought not to put a roof in the upper most drive bay, and to keep all the front I/O wires out the way there's plenty of room to extend a 360 rad into this space with no modding required.

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We covered the near infinite permutations of the 3 rack drive bay system when we reviewed the Phantom 530 a few Months back.  Suffice to say that the Source 530 has exactly the same quality bays with exactly the same degree of flexible configuration.  Even the 3 bay drive retains it's 120mm vary-angle fan mount.

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Six cushioned supports are in place for even the largest of PSUs to rest on, with additional space anterior of them for either 2x120mm fans or a 240mm rad.  If you wish to utilise this space you will of course have to remove some of the lower HDD racks

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NZXT Source 530 Review

Up Close:  Interior Rear, Roof and Reverse

Being as this is a full tower case we get no less than 8 PCI slts to play with, each one is vented and held in place by a thumb bolt.  Rear exhaust ventilation is provided by a pair of 120mm fans set on extract.  A bit of a difference from the Phantom 530 which has a 140mm in the rear position and nothing up in the roof. 

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There's acres of room up in the roof, certainly enough for a 360 rad or even a 280, we'll come to the thicknesses when we get to the build section of the review.

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Round the back we're also delighted to see the feature count remain high, with a good 25mm of space for cable management and 24 cable tie points (we think there are 24, there's actually so many we kept losing count).  Not only are they plentiful but they're actually in the right places, note the line of tie points running up the right hand side of the case for routing the 8 pin CPU power cable.

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The cable management options around the rear multi point fan hub and the stealth 2.5" drive mount are also much appreciated, along with the additional row of tie points running up the left as well as the right side of the main management holes.  Shame about the lack of grommets but I guess the accountant had to draw the line somewhere.

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NZXT Source 530 Review

Up Close:  Stripped

The Source 530 in all it's naked glory.  Not a bad bit of kit for £80 is it.  Very solid construction combined with a good use of cross head screws makes for good quality build as well as great modding potential.  Our thoughts on this case sharing the Phantom lineage are also confirmed now that we have the front off, which is by no means a bad thing.

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With the fascia removed we were delighted to find that both front I/O modules remained screwed to the chassis.  Why were we delighted?  Well if you want to change the front filter you have to take the front fascia off to get at it and can you imagine how much of a fag that would be if you had to feed wires through every time.

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Talking of the front intake area we can't help noticing that although there are fitting points for 2x120, 2x140 or even a 200mm fan there's actually nothing installed out of the box.  We think at the vey least there ought to be a 120 in here, even if it was a the expense of the roof mounted unit supplied.

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NZXT Source 530 Review

The Build

Wires Sarge...Faaarsands of em!  Nah we're not worried, this is an NZXT case with 24ish cable tie points, more management holes than you can shake a stick at and a good 25mm of clearance behind the motherboard tray.  Should be a piece of piddle.

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With the Motherboard in we can get an idea of the size of the case.  This is a full ATX tower, able to take the larger E-ATX boards and although the larger board may slightly obscure some of the management holes, with a standard ATX you're spoiled for choice, there's even a pair of good sized holes along the top edge for passing through the 8 pin CPU cable and as many fan cables as you like.  Shame about the Grommets though.  I don't think we'd have minded an extra fiver on the price for them to be added.

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We thought this case would be easy to build into, and it was, as you can see from this minimal install there's plenty of room to work with and even if you chose to mount your SSD back here you've still got cable tie points around its mounting plate along with a dedicated SATA power cable hard wired in so you're not going to have to branch off an ugly  portion of SATA power from your main PSU supply.  As always a good sized trench at the base of the case is ideal for stashing away all those unused and unsightly lengths.

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Our NZXT Havik 120 matches the black and white fan colour scheme perfectly but with the Source 530 being able to accept tower coolers up to 183mm in height it almost looks lost in there.  If you're looking to shoehorn some serious graphical grunt inside you'll pleased to know that even with all drive cages in and a fan attached to the pivot arm a GPU of 282mm is still a viable option.  Whipping of the pivot arm fan ups the max to 310mm and with the appropriate drive cages removed, remembering their modular nature, the max GPU length climbs to an gargantuan 444mm. 

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So we know it'll take pretty much any air cooler or GPU on the planet, but what about water cooling.  Well there are a total of 4 locations in this case with native water support.  Assuming that you're not going to buy a case of this size and stick a 120 or 140mm AIO in the rear extract location, lets move to where the real action is.  Up in the roof you'll not only be able to mount any of the 120mm fan based 240mm AIOs such as the H100i and Seidon 240 but also the biggest 140mm based AIO on the market, NZXTs very own 140mm fan based 280mm Kraken X60.  If you're looking at custom water then as the image below left shows you've got 55mm of space between the roof and the edge of the motherboard, which means when coupled with 25mm fans any rad up to 30mm thick will be fine, not forgetting of course that if your're using 120mm fans then a 360 will fit but f you're going down the 140mm fan route then you're going to have to keep it at a 280mm rad.  If for some moral, ethical, cultural or religious reason you didn't want to put a rad in the roof, or perhaps wanted to add a second large rad to the loop, perhaps to deal with a multi GPU set up and a hefty overclock then all you have to do is whip out the drive bays and unscrew the plinth at the base of the case.  This opens up 300mm of head room and a whopping great 135mm of depth.  Alphacool NexXxos Monsta anyone???

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NZXT Source 530 Review

Conclusion

It's fair to say that prior to opening the box and with no prior knowledge of the Source 530, our hopes weren't awfully high.  The reason for this reticence stems from our experience over the years of manufacturers who put a lot R&D, high levels of features and top notch build quality into their flagship models, but then turn to cheaper OEMs for the models further down the food chain.  What you the consumer can be left with is a premium Brand with a premium "Badge" but something that unfortunately falls well short of a premium product.  If you've read the full review you'll already know that the source 530 does not fall into this category.  The clue's in the name you see.  Google the word "Source", or look it up in a dictionary, for you youngsters a Dictionary is an analogue device made from pulped trees forming pages that have words and their meanings printed on them.  What we have with the Source 530 is the essence of a brand, the point from which others form, in this case, the source or essence of the Phantom 530.  You’re not of course going to get everything that the Phantom 530 offers, but you are getting the same chassis and the same great build quality, and to be honest most of the features.  The Source 530 might be missing the rubber grommets, a fan or two and for that matter a fan controller.  Also gone are the large sculpted plastic panels that give the Phantom range its distinctive looks, but then they've never been to everyone's taste anyway.  But that's about all you lose, and let's not forget you also lose £25 off the price tag of the Phantom.

Now let's concentrate more on what we have rather than what we don't have.  For starters there's the size, we're not dealing some jumped up Mid-Tower here, oh no, this is a full fat, full tower chassis, able to handle not just standard ATX but also the larger E-ATX motherboards.  there's plenty of room and support in the base for long PSUs and so many cable management holes in the motherboard tray that if you turned it into a game of "Whack-a-Mole" you'd have no chance guessing which hole the next critter was going to pop its pesky head out of.  You also get exactly the same three bay modular HDD system with what seems like infinite assembly configurations.  Want to house a large GPU?  How does 444mm grab you?  Granted you've got to take a drive cage out but even with them in you're still going to be able to fit cards up to 310mm in here.  Gargantuan tower CPU coolers are also on the menu, with a max height of 183mm there are few if any coolers on the planet that won't fit in here.

Chances are though that if you're buying this case you're thinking more along the lines of a water cooling set up.  There are some very good AIOs on the market and the Source 530 will take them all, no questions asked.  The roof alone will take any 240mm rad based set up such as the H100i or Seidon 240 or even NZXTs own 280mm rad based Kraken X60, but that's not the end of it, pop out a few drive bays and unscrew a plinth and both the front and the base of the case will also take a 240mm rad based AIO system.  If you're planning custom water, and with that big window who wouldn't want to set up a gorgeously aesthetic loop, then the dimensions do become a bit more critical but non the less impressive.  Assuming the use of 25mm thick fans a 360mm or 280 rad up to 30mm thick will fit just fine, and there are plenty of those on the market, with Specialtech alone offering no less than five 360mm rads under 30mm thick.  If you want to get seriously silly removing the front drive cages will garner you with 135mm of space to play with.  AlphaCool NexXxos Monsta anyone?

Turning the case around to look at the reverse holds further delight.  Back here you'll find a stealth SSD mount along with a 10 channel, shared 30W max fan hub.  With 25mm of space there's stacks of room for cable management.  Throw in what we think are 24 cable tie points, we say "think" because there's so many we kept losing count, but it's at least 24, and a plethora of management holes and you start to realise why any serial OCD cable tidy freak will love this case.  And for those of you who love to fiddle with cables or who are forever swapping out your rear I/O or PCI connections NZXT have seen fit to retain the 2 small LEDs that illuminate these respective areas. 

Remembering the £80 price tag there’s only one thing we’d perhaps want to impove.  Cooling out of the box isn't great.  You do get two 120mm fans in the back/roof but there's nothing at all up front.  We think perhaps NZXT are assuming that the purchaser will be going down the water route in which case they'll be getting fans either with the AIO or selecting others for a custom loop based on their own performance parameters.  As a result the stock fans supplied with the Source 530 would most likely either be redistributed or confined to the cupboard.  We don't see this lack of fans as an oversight on NZXTs behalf, more an astute decision based on the future usage of the case.  However, that said, if you're not using the case for water then we do recommend you pull the roof 120 fan and put it in the front.

So what of the competition?  Well if you're looking for a full tower case at this price point you're going to really struggle.  It's not until you get above the £105 mark and into Define XL R2 and Phantom 530 territory that you start to get the level of quality and flexibility offered here.  Even if you step down to the smaller mid tower form factor there's still little out there that is able offer what the Source 530 does.  Some may have elements, and some may even excel in one or two areas, but taking everything into account the Source 530 still presents a favourable choice. 

Are we pleased with the Source 530? You bet your buttocks we are.  Are we going to give it a Gold?  Hell yeah.  Does it represent excellent value for money?  Well if you've got this far and haven't worked that out for yourself we aren't going to tell you, well actually we are as value for money award is a bit of a giveaway but you get the point. 

 

         

Thanks to NZXT for sending in the S530, you can discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.