NZXT H7, H7 Flow, and H7 Elite Review
Published: 25th May 2022 | Source: OC3D Internal Testing | Price: |
Let's face it, this isn't a normal case review. We're reviewing three cases here, and while they all have their similarities, they are all designed for different types of PC builder.
NZXT's standard H7 is a classic monolith design, offering users traditional NZXT styling and a traditional NZXT airflow pattern. Love it or hate it, that design aesthetic is very popular, especially amongst OEM PC builders.
The H7 Elite takes things to the next level with RGB lighting, more fans, an integrated fan/RGB controller, and a tempered glass front panel. It's for PC builders who want something with a little more flash, replacing the monolithic look of the H7 with a little RGB and tempered glass bling. That said, the easy criticism for the H7 and H7 Elite are their restricted airflow pattern, and that's where the H7 Flow comes in.
If you are performance focused and don't want the design aesthetic of the H7 or H7 Elite, the H7 Flow is the case for you. With a perforated front panel, the case offers PC builders a completely different look and feel, but with that comes increased airflow and better thermal performance. To say the least, it is our favourite case within NZXT's H7 lineup.
Now that we have the differences out of the way, let's talk about what's common amongst these new H7 series cases. For starters, all of these cases are easy to build in. Side panels are easy to install/uninstall, fans and liquid cooling radiators are easy to mount, and cable management is a breeze. We expect these three cases to be incredibly popular within system integrators, and with PC builders who just want something that's simple to use.
All three H7 models support top mounted 360mm radiators, with enough space for a 30mm radiator and a set of 25mm fans before reaching your motherboard, and that's with plenty of space to spare. If your motherboard has short enough VRM heatsinks and a low profile DRAM kit, you could even fit a thicker radiator within this chassis. We managed to place a 60mm thick 360mm radiator in place without any major issues, even though the H7 does not officially support radiators of that thickness.
Cooling-wise, NZXT's H7 Flow is the clear highlight of the H7 lineup, offering cooling performance levels that are amongst some of the best PC cases that we have tested at low fan RPMs. Even with its four 140mm fans, the H7 Elite cannot best NZXT's H7 Flow with its two 120mm fans. That said, the H7 Elite can barely best the standard H7 despite is upgraded fan setup. There's a reason why NZXT created the H7 Flow, and that reason is airflow. The front panels of the H7 and H7 Elite restrict airflow, and that's the price that you have to pay for that design aesthetic.
While the H7 Flow is the clear performer within the H7 lineup, that's not the say that the H7 and H7 Elite are terrible case designs. They are sub-optimally designed from an airflow perspective, but they aren't the worst cases that we have tested. Even so, the fact that the H7 Flow exists shows that they H7 and H7 Elite have a compromised design, and you'd have to love the aesthetic of the H7 or H7 Elite to overcome that.
As good as the H7 looks and as easy as it is to use, there is no getting around the fact that the H7 Flow exists and that it delivered much better thermals. Even if we added two more intake fans to the H7, its performance wouldn't improve that much. How do we know this? Just look at our H7 Elite results. Even with more fans (that are also larger), the difference in thermal performance between the H7 and H7 Elite is minimal, and the H7 Flow outperforms both with ease.
While we understand NZXT's position with regards to aesthetics, it cannot be denied that the airflow patterns of the H7 and H7 Elite are compromised. If NZXT wants that font panel aesthetic, they need to enable more airflow. Perhaps their fans need to be turned on their sides and use the right side panel as a direct air intake? All we know is that their current solution is sub-optimal, and that makes the H7 Flow shine a lot brighter than the standard H7.
NZXT H7 Flow
With pricing that's identical to the standard H7 and much better thermal performance, it cannot be denied that the H7 Flow is the best case within NZXT's H7 lineup. In our testing, it proved to be one of the most capable cases that we have ever tested at low RPMs, and that was with only two pre-installed fans.
Even with additional, larger, fans, the H7 Elite could not best the H7 Flow's thermal performance, and that fact alone makes us want to see an NZXT H7 Elite Flow model. If the H7 Flow bests the H7 Elite with fewer fans, just imagine what would happen if the H7 Flow was upgraded with the H7 Elite's upgrades.
At £119.99, the NZXT H7 is worthy of a Value for Money Award and a Performance Award. It is clearly the best case within NZXT's H7 lineup, and the H7 and H7 Elite do not even come close from a thermal perspective.
The H7 Flow is a case that performs well, is easy to build in, and looks great. You couldn't want much more than that. We love the H7 Flow, and the sad thing for NZXT is that the H7 Flow also clearly highlights where the standard H7 and H7 Elite fall short of greatness.
NZXT H7 Elite
The H7 Elite is a mixed bag. For an extra £60, NZXT upgrades the H7 with larger 140mm fans, more-pre-installed fans, a CAM compatible fan controller/RGB hub, and adds RGB illumination to the fans at the front of the enclosure. That's great value, but sadly that's value's all for nought when you look at the H7 Elite's thermal performance.
Simply put, the extra fans on the H7 Elite do not do much to boost the case's thermal performance. Simply put, the case's airflow is too restricted to allow the H7 Elite's fans to breathe. With fewer fans, the H7 Flow delivers better thermal performance, leaving us to lament at the fact that NZXT has not launched an H7 Elite Flow variant of their H7 chassis.
The flaws of NZXT's standard H7 are the same as the flaws of the H7 Elite, though these fans are more pronounced with the H7 Elite. The extra money that NZXT has spent on fans has done little to improve the case's thermals, making the H7 Elite a case that we cannot recommend. The question that you need to ask is whether or not the H7 Elite's aesthetic is worth its compromised performance. To us, it isn't, and that's why we want to see the H7 Elite with the H7 Flow's front panel.