NZXT H2 vs Fractal Designs R3 Review

The Face Off

  NZXT H2 vs Fractal Designs R3

Introduction

Well well well look what we have here, the NZXT H2 gracing the front page of OC3D! This was not part of the plan originally, we did a brief video of the case over on the OC3D.tv YouTube channel and because we were not all that impressed we were going to be nice and not bother with it on the main site. After that very raw video that basically skimmed over our thoughts on how we felt NZXT had dropped a clanger with this one the response was somewhat of an eye opener. 

NZXT decided to reply by using the public forum of their Facebook page and the reassignments of advertising budgets to demonstrate their unhappiness. We take our journalistic integrity very seriously and so hopefully this will clear the matter up by showing that we don't just throw baseless comments about, but rather condense our considered opinion into a format that is readily digestible by our readers.

So a few weeks on, the dust has settled and all seems well.... Until now that is. Because we dug the H2 out of the store room and have got the case that we feel the H2 is trying to imitate the Fractal Designs R3 in for a face to face show down. With the 2 cases side by side we can really explain why we felt the NZXT H2 was a cost cutting exercise too far. This is the point where we explain exactly why we didn't like the H2 and go that step further to explain why the R3 from Fractal is actually the case you should be buying. Get the comfy chair, make that tea and have plenty of snacks on standby guys and girls because this isn't going to be a short one!

Lets first take a look at the specifications from the manufacturers websites before moving on to the video.

NZXT H2 Specs:

ManufacturerNZXT
Model NumberH2-001-BK
Specification 
Case TypeMid Tower
Motherboard SupportATX
Micro-ATX
Baby-AT
Power Supply SupportATX
Maximum GPU Length310mm Without HDD, 270mm With HDD
PCI Expansion Slots7
External 5.25" Drive Bays3
External 3.5" Drive BaysN/A
Internal 3.5" Drive Bays8
Internal 2.5" Drive BaysN/A
Front I/O Panel1 x USB 3.0
3 x USB 2.0
1 x e-SATA
1 x HD Audio/Mic
ColourBlack
Removable Motherboard TrayNo
CPU Mounting Hole in Motherboard TrayN/A
MaterialsSteel
Plastic
Dimensions215 x 466 x 520mm

Cooling
 
Front2 X 120mm @ 1200rpm (Included)
Rear1 X 120mm @ 1200rpm (Included)
Top1 x 140mm Fan (Optional)
Bottom1 x 120mm Fan (Optional)
SideN/A
Watercooling SupportYes
Radiator SupportN/A

Additional Info
 
Special Features
Touch powered fans with fan filter for easy maintenance and fan swapping
Noise dampening foam and a top magnetic fan cover for minimal PC noise
8 Front facing HDDs for optimal airflow
Ample 25mm space behind motherboard for cable management
Weight8.90KG
Warranty24 Months

 

Fractal Designs R3 Specifications:

ManufacturerFractal Design
Model NumberDefine R3 White
Specification 
Case TypeMid Tower
Motherboard SupportATX
Micro-ATX
Mini-ATX
Power Supply SupportATX
Maximum GPU Length290 mm
PCI Slots7
External 5.25" Drive Bays2
External 3.5" Dive Bays1 (converted from 1 x 5.25" drive bay)
Internal 3.5" Drive Bays8
Internal 2.5" Drive Bays8 (converted from 3.5" internal drive bays)
Front I/O Panel2 x USB 2.0
1 x E-Sata
1 x AUdio I/O
IR RecieverN/A
ColourWhite
MaterialsSteel
Cooling Front1 x 120mm Case Fan (support for 2)
Cooling Rear1 x 120mm Case Fan
Cooling Topsupport for 2 x 120mm Fans (not supplied)
Cooling Bottom
support for 1 x 120mm Fan
Cooling SideN/A
Watercooling SupportYes
Dimensions (W x H x D)207 x 440 x 521 mm
Special FeaturesSound Dampened Case
White Internals
PCI Fan Controller for 3 Fans

 

Video Review  

Conclusion

Right then fellow enthusiasts, we hope now we have explained our thoughts about the two chassis in enough depth that at least most of you can understand why we feel the way we do. To be honest this is a big shame for NZXT because they really were on the right path with the Phantom, it was perfect but by NZXT's standards it was the best chassis they had ever produced. All of the OC3D team really did hope that the H2 was going to follow in the Phantoms footsteps and emerge an amazing chassis that you would all be falling over each other to buy or, as normally happens, win in an OC3D competition.

OC3D Competition? Yes lets not forgot that we are not here to just bash NZXT as a brand because we are big fans of the Hale90 power supplies, the MATX Vulcan chassis and of course the Phantom which we did the public release for last year at i40. So the stage has been set, we have explained all the things we have worked on with NZXT before, so hopefully you will understand that when we go over the H2's short comings when compared to the R3 there will be no childish fan boy comments!

There's so many points to cover so I will try and keep it brief. The attention to detail on the Fractal R3 for a case that costs from £75 is nothing short of amazing. The fact the foam and bitumen sound deadening is also covered with a fabric material just ads that extra bit of quality and just emphasises how cheap the H2's 99p microphone foam really feels.

This attention to details is very apparent on the roof of the R3. The hexagon stamped mesh really does look the part and all the engineers out there will sit back with me and understand that that's not the simplest or the cheapest thing to do at all. It looks the part though and really suits the case, add to this the fact the grills are blanked off from behind and those blanks also have sound deadening foam on them as well! See what we mean about the details? That's why when you look at the roof grill and dust cover on the NZXT it looks and feels so cheap and basic in comparison we almost can't believe it made the final design. The dust cover looks like something you would find on a Fisher Price toy rather than on a high quality PC chassis.

The layout of the R3 is superior not just for the fact it looks so much tidier, but also the fact that you can fit larger graphics cards and most importantly even though it comes fitted with one less fan in the front it still performs a significan't amount better thermally as well. Both the CPU and GPU temperatures were cooler in the Fractal. This is mainly down to the fact that the front door on the NZXT is practically suffocating the air flow, insufficient airflow just means you end up with a box that will just get warmer and warmer. To make matters worse what little air that gets in then has to fight its way past the cables front your hard drives which are right in the main compartment of the case.

We have to admit we do like the hot swap fans in the front of the NZXT, that is a very nice touch. We can't help feeling though that it would have been nicer to have had hot swap hard drives too just to make that whole switch out experience much better. It does feel like somewhat of an oversight when that's the only reason we can see that the hard drives in that orientation would actually make sense, they could have even saved some space for graphics cards that way as well.

The long and short of it is the price, they are now pretty much the same money, but after all the points raised here today would you honestly choose the NZXT over the Fractal? We know we would not and we would honestly advise you not too as well. The Fractal R3 is the more superior of the two in every possible way. it's because of this clear gap between the two on every level that we are happy to award the Fractal R3 the coveted OC3D Gold award. We also felt that the R3 deserved a higher score for the price because of the must higher quality it delivers for the same price.

NZXT H2

    

 

Fractal Designs R3

    

Thanks to the guys at QuietPC for supplying the Fractal case we used in comparison here today. Discuss in the OC3D forums.

«Prev 1 Next»

Most Recent Comments

16-05-2011, 05:05:28

tinytomlogan
Finally the NZXT H2 on the front page of OC3D. We put it up against the Fractal R3, time to see which one is the boss!



Continue Reading

16-05-2011, 05:21:22

jonowee
Oh hello... *rubs palms together*... *starts reading*.

Edit: Done reading.

NZXT if you're reading this thread. Suck it in, start with a blank sheet, and only things that are needed and work in the real world. Corsair improved their 600T and made the amazing if rather expensive 650D, but they did it right, no gimmicks.

We await the H3 for dissection, the ball is in your court now to put in the effort.

16-05-2011, 05:29:54

SieB
I'm glad you did this Tom and proved your points

I don't understand why NZXT reacted the way they did you wouldn't give a psychiatrist a mental patient and not expect him to study him and you wouldn't give a detective a murder case and not expect him to try and solve it. So why NZXT do you think that they can give a PC case to a PC enthusiast and not expect him to pick up on design flaws and poorly made features?

NZXT can't argue now and try to make out it was a bad review based on opinions, the proof is there for all to see.

If you read this NZXT, which I guess you will, you should take this as constructive criticism and not a bashing. Everyone on this site is a PC enthusiast and we notice all the little things that Tom piked up on. If you want a good review and an award I would listen to what Tom has said, go away and fix the bad points, send Tom the improved version and i'm sure if it deserves it it will get a good review and an award.

16-05-2011, 06:11:34

Runebeard
Huge kudos to you dude for sticking to your guns.

NZXT can't complain, I've been following your videos for tiiiiiiime now, and I've seen you slate other products worse, but those companies never QQ about it.

As Jonowee said, Corsair even went so far as to make a new case with suggestions you added lol and received a "Rusty Gold or a polished Silver" award because of it.

Keep the truth alive brother! http://th699.photobucket.com/albums/...k_emoticon.gif

16-05-2011, 06:43:43

sheroo
I've seen one site take a dremel to the bottom of the front door to improve airflow in the H2. These cases (at least from the outside) always remind me of the original Antec P180.

16-05-2011, 06:45:36

benhanna
One thing you didn't mention is on the H2 they put a small grommeted hole for the USB 3 pass through, which if I remember correctly you mentioned on another case review as something you really wanted to see. Minor thing but wasn't sure if you remembered. Great review, I'm glad you aren't just folding to NZXT.

Like Runebeard said, NZXT must have known your review style and how easily you pick up on things.

16-05-2011, 07:20:22

Mumbles37
Just the facts, I like it. You can tell the difference so easily between somebody who does it because he loves it and somebody who just does it for the money.

As a Phantom owner, I wonder what the major quality differences are between it and the H2? It's quite easy to see the design setbacks in the video! Aside from the cheap foam and bad top fan mesh/plastic, is the build quality really up to snuff? Is it cheaply made?

To me, the Phantom is very well built (despite its own design issues). But I'd always read how other NZXT models had shoddy materials and workmanship. Wonder which category the H2 falls in... Not that I'd think of buying it, of course!

16-05-2011, 09:37:49

sheroo
I seriously thought he was gonna rip that top fan grill off.

16-05-2011, 10:27:27

Alicarve
Great review as normal

16-05-2011, 12:13:07

Saltire35
Great review TTL.

I mentioned on another site a few weeks ago that "I don't think the H2 comes near the Define R3 in terms of build quality".

This video review just proves I was correct in saying so.

Cheers

16-05-2011, 13:31:10

dugdiamond
nice to see that i was "sort of" mentioned (snow white winner), as i am the the only R3 winner that has got his case (ATM)

R3 = lights on (likey)

H2 = lights off (no likey)

16-05-2011, 13:47:44

Pat123
Good to see you sticking to your guns, everyone hates a bully.

Excellent review as always.

16-05-2011, 13:48:40

zeppas
I've looked at some other reviews of the H2, and so far only TTL and hardware canucks

had the 'cojones' to "tell it like it is". You did however come of as overly aggressive

when first reviewing it. It didn't feel like your usual videos. I'm glad you've explained

the reason for that in this video (utter disappointment, lol).

The HC vid:

[media]http://youtu.be/g6uqupcZHN0[/media]

16-05-2011, 13:49:43

Mad4Tech
Are my eyes playing tricks on me? The hard drive bays are far to closer together on the NZXT H2 which will restrict the air flow from the front fans where the Fractal R3 hard drives bay look like they have a good gap between them so the front fan can get a beater air flow over the hard drives?

Keep up the good work and the honest reviews

16-05-2011, 14:16:19

dugdiamond
the Japanase Space Program had named their first two rockets H2, and they were a massive FAIL too.

i wonder if NZXT will fix the problem(s) with the case and name their chassis' H2A, just like the japs did, as well

i hope not...

REASON:

the japs are cutting costs by reducing the number of parts.

less parts means less things to go wrong - lol

now, if NZXT are copying the JSP, this may lead to the first PC case being made from cardboard

16-05-2011, 15:08:10

murphy7801
Fractal makes good products and revise there products with feed back from reviewers and users this the third revision. So the one thing Im defending NZXT is the fact that there case has had no revisions unlike the veteran fractal. That said don't buy the H2 also the first version of the Fractal was still better than that if little more basic than its current rendition. Also fractal revised the R1, R2, R3 quite quickly which was also good. I dont know Im just waffling now fractal makes nice cases I own a XL its great and has so much room (as long as like large cases).

16-05-2011, 16:13:37

MrMightyMind
I've already posted my comments on facebook (Paul Fletcher) and YouTube (mrmightymind) already, so won't triple up on them

But, can you let us know if you do get a response from NZXT, would br good to hear what they say, positive or negative. I think that it would give us some "behind the scenes" insight into the murkey world of PC products! I really didn't think that this kind of behaviour happened in this market place.

I've had plenty of interesting conversations with system manufacturers before, but cases??? Oh well, have fun with them Tom!

16-05-2011, 16:40:27

Merlin
NZXT need to remember the Japanese mantra; copy, adapt, improve, with the emphasis on improve. Whatever happened to 5S and Quality Circles at NZXT?

A gold plated turd is still a turd, albeit a very shiney turd; they need to remember that no amount of turd polich will stop it from being a turd.

That is all.

17-05-2011, 19:25:55

Luger718
only one thing i dont like about, the review the price on the r3 should be 9/9 or 10/10

idk about the UK but over here in the US its $30 more then a 690ii adv

thats 110 bucks which is chump change considering what you get (and i thought the 690ii was a steal!)

the only thing i would even mark it down for is the slightly increased heat compared to other cases

but you know that going in because its a quiet pc case not a highairflow case

the h2 looks like a case youd pay $5 for at a garage sale

20-05-2011, 14:09:49

Goralux
As a Define XL owner i must say that i do like my chassi; and the smaller R3 seems like a good product too. However, something i have noticed is that despite hunting for it, i have not seen one "proper" review of the R3 on OC3D.

As i said, i own one; and i like it, but there are faults, faults that i find acceptable due to the price point; but still... I would love to see a proper 20-30 minute review of the R3, give it the same treatment that the other cases get.

This was the first "review" of the R3, and to be honest, it felt like the focus was a little bit on highlighting the problems of the H2 and not really bringing up the flaws of the R3. This whole "affair" would have been much better if there was one solid R3 review done; before the h2 was posted.

So perhaps sit down and do a long, solo R3 review? Because its slightly fishy to promote the case, make give away builds, aswell as sing its praises but not sit down and give it the long, and detailed reviews you give most other products.

21-05-2011, 06:50:21

andyvee
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goralux View Post

As a Define XL owner i must say that i do like my chassi; and the smaller R3 seems like a good product too. However, something i have noticed is that despite hunting for it, i have not seen one "proper" review of the R3 on OC3D.

As i said, i own one; and i like it, but there are faults, faults that i find acceptable due to the price point; but still... I would love to see a proper 20-30 minute review of the R3, give it the same treatment that the other cases get.

This was the first "review" of the R3, and to be honest, it felt like the focus was a little bit on highlighting the problems of the H2 and not really bringing up the flaws of the R3. This whole "affair" would have been much better if there was one solid R3 review done; before the h2 was posted.

So perhaps sit down and do a long, solo R3 review? Because its slightly fishy to promote the case, make give away builds, aswell as sing its praises but not sit down and give it the long, and detailed reviews you give most other products.
can't help but agree , we'll see if it happens .

21-05-2011, 08:08:44

tinytomlogan
The R3 got its gold award for a reason, for the money there is nothing majorly wrong with it. I raised some slightly negative points in the face off review if you go and watch it again.

Im a big fan of this case hence me CHOOSING to use it on other projects including the build I did for Hayley.

You will be seeing other Fractal products getting the full treatment very soon though

23-05-2011, 17:52:56

SiLo
Nexus, acting in a way that will lose them more customers!

Great review too Tom, loving the vids!

25-05-2011, 07:06:07

dugdiamond
is the H2 the "Hush 2"

???

if it is, Aria are giving one away in today's comp. must be cos they cannot sell them now - lol

25-05-2011, 07:30:55

tinytomlogan
yeah its the "keep it hush 2"

05-06-2011, 10:22:00

metaaltebbes
Completely blown out of the water...

Btw,nice new case coming up,Bitfenix Outlaw,with an inverted lay out...better cooling maybe?

09-06-2011, 23:34:43

cfire
Bitfenix Outlaw with upside down mobo tray good concept, but the hard drive bays are facing the wrong way haha fail.

I will just tern my Fractal up side down lol.

17-06-2011, 00:07:04

aes0p
Quote:
Originally Posted by jonowee View Post

Oh hello... *rubs palms together*... *starts reading*.

Edit: Done reading.

NZXT if you're reading this thread. Suck it in, start with a blank sheet, and only things that are needed and work in the real world. Corsair improved their 600T and made the amazing if rather expensive 650D, but they did it right, no gimmicks.

We await the H3 for dissection, the ball is in your court now to put in the effort.
Well said, it seems they care more about sales than making a good case.
Reply
x

Register for the OC3D Newsletter

Subscribing to the OC3D newsletter will keep you up-to-date on the latest technology reviews, competitions and goings-on at Overclock3D. We won't share your email address with ANYONE, and we will only email you with updates on site news, reviews, and competitions and you can unsubscribe easily at any time.

Simply enter your name and email address into the box below and be sure to click on the links in the confirmation emails that will arrive in your e-mail shortly after to complete the registration.

If you run into any problems, just drop us a message on the forums.