Introducing the NZXT H2

When we saw the NZXT H2's prototype at CES, we were impressed. The case isn't just unusually austere for NZXT, it's genuinely attractive and feature rich. More than that, it's a case designed with silence in mind for the crowd not willing to pony up for bigger, badder cases like SilverStone's Raven series or Antec's P183. With even the updated Sonata IV sporting a daunting $169 asking price, could the NZXT H2 be the silent case frugal builders have been waiting for?

Without a doubt, the NZXT H2 (vowels need not apply) is a fairly attractive piece of kit. As an enthusiast I personally tend towards more modest looking enclosures like this one, so it's nice to see this kind of design trickling down. The H2 has an MSRP of just $99 and comes in white and black models; I really like the white one (just because a computer's white doesn't mean it wishes it was sporting an Apple logo), but the black one is certainly appealing too. But more than color, the H2 offers a lot of features for the frugal builder's dollar.

NZXT H2 Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX
Drive Bays External 3x 5.25"
Internal 8x 3.5"/2.5"
Cooling Front 2x 120mm intake fan
Rear 1x 120mm exhaust fan
Top 1x 140mm fan mount
Side -
Bottom 1x 120mm fan mount
Expansion Slots 7
Front I/O Port -
Top I/O Port Mic and headphone jacks, 1x USB 3.0, 3x USB 2.0, hot-swap tray, fan controller
Power Supply Size Standard ATX
Clearance 170mm (PSU), 11" (Expansion Cards)/12" if HDD tray is removed, 170mm (CPU HSF)
Weight 19.62 lbs.
Dimensions 20.47" x 8.46" x 18.35"
Price $99

If you don't need all the hard drive trays installed, you can definitely get away with a 12" graphics card, but it's still going to be a tight fit as you'll see later. Likewise, there isn't really a hard limit as to how long a power supply can be in this enclosure, but at a certain point it's going to cover up the holes in the motherboard tray you'll need for routing cables.

In and Around the NZXT H2
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  • SquattingDog - Thursday, May 26, 2011 - link

    I was quite looking forward to seeing how this case faired, as the H1 Hush was decent and quiet overall. The H1 Hush looks like it may have had more intake capabilities, with around half of the front 120mm fan exposed.

    Perhaps this case would be ideal for standard builds, but just not cut out for the job of a high-performance gaming machine, given it's comparatively low airflow characteristics.

    I agree that the asthetics are decent for the price-level, and the dampening foam and internal build quality definitely has an appeal...what a pity NZXT didn't sort out the intake capabilities...
    Reply
  • sometaken - Thursday, May 26, 2011 - link

    I assume anandtech will be testing more cases in the future. I would like to see how the Fractal Design Define R3 stacks up against this NZXT offering and vs. the P183. It is very similar in design and sells at the same price point of the NZXT. However it looks to offer better cooling yet still provide silent operation. Reply
  • EnzoFX - Thursday, May 26, 2011 - link

    SPCR has a great review on the Define R3.

    Regarding the review, a noise floor of 32db is too damn high. I'll take your noise assessment seriously when you get under 16db.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, May 26, 2011 - link

    Under 16dB? Really? That would require a serious investment in testing equipment and facilities, because you're not going to get to that level otherwise. I have a somewhat better SPL meter compared to Dustin, and when my house is completely silent I've gotten measurements as low as 28dB. Even the slightest noise at that level (e.g. a bird chirping outside, a passing car or plane, etc.) will increase the level to 30-32dB.

    Regardless, all of the cases are measuring above 34dB in our tests, so while that might be slightly higher than you could measure with a different test location and better equipment, the scores are relative to each other and show a clear difference. If Dustin gets a case that doesn't register above the noise floor, then there's more to complain about.
    Reply
  • hechacker1 - Thursday, May 26, 2011 - link

    As an owner of the Fractal Design R3, I can say overall it's a nice case, especially for hard drive and cable management.

    It's touted as a silent pc, and indeed, it is much quieter than my former Lian Li case it replaced. However, it's not silent in the truest sense, it's clearly audible over background noise.

    But then I have a gaming rig in it, so I don't expect it be to silent, just quiet, which it does really well.

    I would like Anandtech to tackle the R3, and perhaps their newer Arch series, which looks like an slightly fixed version.

    The only thing the R3 lacks is USB3.0, and more space behind the mobo tray.
    Reply
  • jrs77 - Thursday, May 26, 2011 - link

    If you want to build a silent PC, then there's no better cases around then the Define-series from Fractal Designs. They changed the dampening-material from bitumen to something foamy that doesn't smell anymore a while ago and their internal layout is clean and efficient.
    Having only two 5.1/4" bays in the R3 and Mini is very welcome in that regard.
    Reply
  • doctormonroe - Thursday, May 26, 2011 - link

    Hopefully this site will test this power supply and release a review of it in the not too distant future. Reply
  • kasseren - Thursday, May 26, 2011 - link

    To me it looks like you'd be better of buying the Fractal Design Define R3 or if you want silence and design more the new Cooler Master Silencio 550 that both seem to be in the same price range. Reply
  • jasonnovak - Thursday, May 26, 2011 - link

    I have this case and really like it. The last page of the SPCR review shows how to widen the slot on the bottom of the door for more air intake, though they didn't retest it. I haven't had any overheating issues on mild overclock i5-2500k but I think I may break out the dremel and give it a try Reply
  • DLeRium - Thursday, May 26, 2011 - link

    If you're going to review a case every 2 years, then how do you compare data?

    How about comparing this to a P182 or P183 or a R3?
    Reply

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