NZXT has been on a bit of a streak lately. Each new iteration of their Phantom chassis has proven to be stellar (or at least extremely solid), and the H630 silent enclosure was a fresh take on a stagnant concept. At the same time, the under $99 segment was still being served with one of their worst enclosures, the H2. A late and unmentioned tweak did help the H2 make up for its lackluster appearance by increasing ventilation around the front of the enclosure enough that the intakes weren't starved for air, and it's remained a favorite for system integrators.

Now we have a compliment to the H2 in the form of the H230. The H230 comes in at just $69, making it one of the most affordable silent enclosures we've ever tested, and at least in terms of build quality and features, you definitely get a good value for your money. It's when performance enters the mix that the H230 falls apart.

But first, the build quality and aesthetic. The H230 is, as you can see, extremely shiny. The side panels have been painted with a reflective black paint, and the front plastic door has a mirror finish to boot. As a whole the aesthetic is very simple, but ventilation is restricted to a set of openings on the left side as the door opens to the right. Open the front door and there's a single 120mm intake fan at the bottom.

The side panels are both held into place with thumbscrews and notched as is unfortunately traditional of this market segment. Both side panels have sound dampening foam affixed to them. Remove the panels and you'll find a pretty run of the mill ATX case interior. Each drive cage holds three drive sleds; the bottom one is permanently affixed, but the middle one is removable. The sleds actually exit behind the motherboard tray and they're unfortunately pretty flimsy and not held into place especially securely.

Gallery: NZXT H230

Evaluating a $69 case, you have to learn how to make do with what's there. Evaluating a case designed for silent operation, you have to modulate your expectations accordingly. NZXT is still, at least in terms of features, making a fairly strong value play, but there are only two 120mm fans here and you can bet they're tuned for silence instead of performance.

NZXT H230 Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX
Drive Bays External 3x 5.25"
Internal 6x 2.5"/3.5"
Cooling Front 1x 120mm intake fan (supports 2x 120mm)
Rear 1x 120mm exhaust fan
Top -
Side -
Bottom 1x 120mm fan mount
Expansion Slots 7
I/O Port 2x USB 3.0, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic
Power Supply Size ATX
Clearances HSF 158mm
PSU 170mm with bottom fan / 280mm without
GPU 290mm with drive cage / 400mm without
Dimensions 17.6" x 19.8" x 7.7"
447mm x 502mm x 195mm
Special Features Acoustic padding
Removable drive cage
Price $69

NZXT's website even describes the H230 as "the perfect silent chassis for users looking for the bare essentials," and for the most part that's accurate. This is a no-frills silent case, with very little in the way of expandability. However, remember that "silent" design can't make up for mediocre airflow; two low-powered 120mm fans can be easily overwhelmed.

Building in the NZXT H230
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  • ghitz - Monday, September 16, 2013 - link

    Totally agree. 1/3rd of the space of common mITX cases is for the unnecessary large standard ATX PS. We need a new standard. Reply
  • Barbarossa - Sunday, September 15, 2013 - link

    You might be right, but standard ATX mid towers and full towers still account for more than 3/4 of all case sales. Mini ITX and Micro ATX are growing, but slowly. It's a bit of chicken and egg scenario, though.

    Why build Micro ATX system if all the cool cases are ATX or larger? And then once you've already got the case and nothing's wrong with it, when you decide to upgrade, why limit yourself to Micro ATX or smaller?

    Don't get me wrong - I think a lot of people are buying smaller PCs, and it's more and more each year, but the vast chunk of the DIY market is still buying standard or full tower cases.

    -George @ Corsair
    Reply
  • ghitz - Monday, September 16, 2013 - link

    Most of them end up being mostly empty. Reply
  • Grok42 - Tuesday, September 17, 2013 - link

    I've looked a lot for good stats on that the ATX, mATX and mITX market numbers. Very interesting to know it's still highly skewed toward ATX. I would love to read an article on where the market is and where it appears to be going. I certainly put 100% of the blame for the current emphsis on ATX at the feet of consumers and not companies like Corsair. Reply
  • Dentons - Friday, September 13, 2013 - link

    Why not Fractal Design's R4?

    It's often discounted to the same price as this and was very well reviewed here. It's available from Amazon, Newegg, Microcenter and others. The Nanoxia is very difficult to recommend, not only because of its price, but because it's so hard to find a reseller stocking it.
    Reply
  • meacupla - Friday, September 13, 2013 - link

    My thoughts exactly.

    H230 looks exactly like a Define R4, except done worse in every conceivable way...
    I would rather pay the extra $10~20 for an R4.
    Reply
  • Touche - Saturday, September 14, 2013 - link

    You really need to improve your noise floor. There are significant idle noise differences that aren't showing up in your tests. Reply
  • kevith - Saturday, September 14, 2013 - link

    For a brief walkthrough and a quick summary, AT´s case reviews are absolutely fine, often with a subtle humor, nice to read.

    For the in-depth review with an extra emphasis on noise, go to SPCR.
    Reply
  • EnzoFX - Saturday, September 14, 2013 - link

    This. It's surprising actually since the rest of Anandtech is so thorough. Stark contrast. Reply
  • Barbarossa - Sunday, September 15, 2013 - link

    That's easier said than done though. It's not like you can just add some foam to your walls and drop the sound level. Especially if you're reviewing from an apartment or townhouse or something. Reply

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