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NZXT H440 Mid-Tower Computer Case Review

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Mid Tower Case Final Thoughts

NZXT’s decision to keep the H440 free of any externally accessible drive bays is a bold new step in tower case design. While we’ve seen optical drive bays vanishing from small form factor systems for a while now, this is the first tower case to have this “feature”. Although most people will immediately think of not being able to install an optical drive, it also means you can’t install a fan controller, a card reader, or a bay reservoir. Of course, all of these devices can be installed externally, and it’s hard to argue with the fact that physical media like optical disks is simply going away. Apple, the first company to eliminate floppy drives from their computers, has eliminated optical drives from their entire computer lineup.

It’s easy to say that optical drives are rarely needed by most people…but think about it: if you’re interested in this case, you’re building your own system. Which means you’ll be installing a separately-purchased motherboard. And what will all the drivers for that motherboard be delivered on? And installing Windows is still a from-DVD process for most people. So for now you’re going to need an optical drive; it’ll just have to be an external one. I would have liked to see an integrated SD card reader like the one NZXT has on their Phantom 630 case.

NZXT H440 completed build

That said, eliminating external device bays opens up the interior of the case to an amazing degree. You have room for two 360mm radiators, and cable management becomes much easier. With NZXT’s other design features, constructing a super-clean, professional-looking system becomes so simple that even neophytes can do it.

I’m pleased with the results of the build, but I wish NZXT had included a fan controller. The case comes with four 120mm fans, and while every removable panel has thick sound absorbing foam, it did not strike me as a particularly quiet case: the fan noise was clearly audible at all times. Being able to turn down the built-in fans would have helped.

NZXT H440 Conclusion

Optical drives aren’t the only thing slowly vanishing from the desktop computer world: tower cases are an endangered species as well. Increasing motherboard features and graphics card power make the seven or eight slots of a full-sized ATX motherboard redundant for most builds, which is why mini-ITX and micro-ATX cases are exploding in popularity.

Still, sometimes you just need a full-tower case (personally I’ve never been really comfortable running air-cooled SLI or CrossFireX systems on an mATX system). With the H440 case, NZXT is adapting to the times, and while its lack of external drive bays will rule it out for some, others will appreciate the advantages of this design. Personally, I’m torn: I have to have an optical drive, but I love the case. Could I live with an external drive? Well, maybe…

The performance of this case right now is in a class by itself. If you want an exceptionally neat, easy-to-build rig, this is your case. My only build complaint was the lack of space behind the motherboard tray. The fit back there is so tight that when I removed that side panel for the first time, there were depressions and small tears in the foam just from the standard case cables. There’s ample cooling, and little touches like the lights on the back of the case for the ports and slots can make day-to-day tasks a lot easier.

Some people have suggested that the white version of this case looks like a Stormtrooper accessory or a small refrigerator. I find the very understated looks attractive; since there are no front bays to access, were it on my desk, I’d turn it sideways so I could look directly into the case window. (I’d also add some interior lighting.)

All the case panels and parts fit together smoothly and appear to be well-made. I was impressed with the quality of the heavy white paint used on this case; I’ve seem other painted cases that weren’t nearly as well-done.

Functionality…well, that’s a tough one. If you need an optical drive or anything else that requires an external bay, this case is a non-starter. If you don’t, you’ll appreciate the tremendous versatility you’ll have in designing your cooling system, the fantastic cable management, and the little touches like the fan hub and power supply cover. Still, in the final analysis, the functionality of this case must be judged as limited compared to other cases.

Costing $119.99 (NewEgg), this case competes well against the likes of similarly-priced cases like the Antec 1100, Corsair Carbide series, or the venerable Cooler Master CM690.

If you’re ready to take the next step in computer case evolution, your case is ready. Wish it had a card reader, though.

Pros:

Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award Logo (Small)

+ Can accommodate multiple closed-loop water coolers
+ Unique internal design makes it trivially easy to build a super-neat system
+ All air intakes have easily-removable filters
+ A bold new step in tower case design

Cons:

- No externally accessible drive bays
– Limited to ATX-sized motherboards
– No card reader
– Doesn’t seem particularly quiet even with foamed panels

Ratings:

  • Performance: 9.50
  • Appearance: 9.25
  • Construction: 9.50
  • Functionality: 7.50
  • Value: 9.00

Final Score: 8.95 out of 10.

Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.

NewEgg.com

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4 comments

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  1. Rich Paul

    First, I cannot think of a single question to ask because you’ve covered this incredibly well! Seriously, I was pulling my money out of my pocket to buy it and I don’t even need a case!

    Of course, my wife would have had a problem with that so I reconsidered but ONLY because I would have had to cut the case’s front face to fit my Xigmatek card reader and optical drive!!!

    WHY, oh WHY, did they not accommodate those two components?! This case is one of the best I’ve seen in the mid tower class and when I realized that I’d have to use external readers and drives I just couldn’t believe they would have played a gamble like that with the buying public.

    It’s not like I use a reader or OP drive very often but they do have to be used occasionally and in a limited desk space home office, I already have enough cluttering the place without adding external card readers and such.

    I don’t want to have to stop what I’m doing and dig through my desk drawer searching for the OP drive or card reader and then finding the right cable and then, yadda, yadda, yadda… All that for a need to have a quick 60 second look at some old document I had stored on a 16GB mini card is pretty time consuming. So yes, it does actually make that otherwise beautiful case a no-sale item for me.

    I run a CLS cooled system in a Corsair Carbide 500R case, (which is a pretty sweet case), but this NZXT would have beat that 500R if they would have applied a little more engineering in it.

    A ‘hint’ to NZXT:
    I personally would have kept that front face clean just like they have BUT, I would have added internal hinges and made it a ‘door’ that’s secured when closed with a simple mag-lock system.

    Then the user only needs to reach down and pull it open with light force in order to get to the readers and optical drives. Of course, a string of bright white LEDs would line the inner edge of the swing-open face and automatically turn on when the face was opened.

    But that’s me… Thanks for the incredibly detailed review!

  2. David Ramsey

    Glad you liked the review! It’s a unique (full tower) case to be sure. As I noted, we’re not quite at the era in which we can do entirely without optical media, but a simple USB-powered external optical drive is < $35 these days, and can be stuck in a drawer when not in use.

  3. tweak17emon

    i have kind of a urgent question as i love this case. I have the LGA2011 Asus Rampage IV Extreme which is labeled as a E-ATX motherboard, but its dimensions are 12″ x 10.7″. I have seen ATX boards that are 12″ x 10.5″ and would really like to know if my motherboard will fit into this case, given that the cable holes are slightly angled. I would really really really appreciate if you could do the measuring for me.

    Thanks!

  4. David Ramsey

    A standard ATX motherboard, such as the one I used for this article, is 12″ by 9.6″. At 10.7″, your Rampage IV Extreme is just over an inch longer front to back. If you look at the third picture down on the “Building a System” page, you’ll see that adding an inch of length to the motherboard would at the very least cover the cable routing holes; I don’t see how you’d be able to run the main ATX power cable and SATA cables even if the motherboard’s edge didn’t physically contact the case.

    I don’t have an larger motherboard to test-fit, but I think this isn’t the case for you. Sorry!

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