NZXT Source 530 Review
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.