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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  • flemeister - Monday, September 16, 2013 - link

    New Audio Test Gear 2008 [SPCR] -- http://www.silentpcreview.com/article875-page1.htm...
    An Anechoic Chamber for SPCR -- http://www.silentpcreview.com/anechoic_chamber_SPC...
    Reply
  • rpg1966 - Saturday, September 14, 2013 - link

    Can you please produce charts that show both temperature and noise on the same chart, one on X axis and the other on Y-axis, so that we can more easily interpret the results and compare cases? It would be trivially simple to do. Reply
  • jasonnovak - Saturday, September 14, 2013 - link

    I bought an H2 when they first came out, I'm interesting in some more info on the factory tweaks you mention they made to improve airflow. I did a mod I came across somewhere cutting some material away from the bottom of the door. Reply
  • Building Wealth - Saturday, September 14, 2013 - link

    When's the pink version out?

    I like the design of this case. The front door looks good in my opinion. Those drive trays are annoying, though.

    Building wealth http://bit.ly/14P6Too
    Reply
  • Silma - Monday, September 16, 2013 - link

    I have a loud pc with 6 7200 rpm harddrives in raid 6, 2 ssds, 1 gtx680, and an Intel i920.
    Would a silent enclosure work or is it wishful thinking? If yes which enclosure?
    ON my Alienware laptop I have a silent mode which switch from gpu to processor gpu - the laptop basically goes silent, the difference is very noticeable. Is there nowadays a similar technology for desktop pcs?
    Reply
  • TGressus - Thursday, September 19, 2013 - link

    Near silence can be done in your situation with oversized or multiple radiators used with water blocks and mid-speed/dampened water pump(s) for the the cpu and gpu. This will eliminate the loudest fans and allow you to tune the fans around the case and at the radiator to a lower speed. Fluid-dynamic bearing fans seem to be the best balance of silence/longevity.

    Without water cooling you best bet is a huge aluminum case that allows for convection and radiation through the case itself. Again most of the noise is going to be a result of your cpu/gpu heat sink efficiency and how their fans react to your workloads, plus the tuning of the case fans.
    Reply
  • dehemke - Monday, September 16, 2013 - link

    Antec P180 retread again? Was the 180/2 the one true silent case that everything since has just been a refactor of? Where's the new innovation? Reply
  • quas - Saturday, September 21, 2013 - link

    How did you test? Did you open the front panel door to allow more air in? Reply
  • xoham - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    If the front door was a rectangle instead of that cut, and if they took off the brand name, this would be a perfect looking case for me. I don't get why they are putting on brand names. It is not like I take this computer around and people get to see what brand it is and then go buy one. Reply

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