Silent Computer Case Final Thoughts
I think I’m guilty here of judging a case by its exterior (just so we’re clear, that’s something to be avoided). When I initially unboxed the H630, my reaction was…meh. It looked like a big black box. And with what looked like inadequate ventilation to boot! Surely, this thing was going to be an average choice, only fit for those “HTPC” type builds that focus on low-temperature quiet components. No way would it handle hot, overclocked, enthusiast, multi-GPU builds!
I’m not sure if I could have been more wrong. Once I took the time to really dig into all this chassis has to offer, I found a smart design with a lot of performance potential (is there a life lesson in here somewhere…?). There are still some revisions to be made I think, and some areas that need a little focus if only because there’s always room for improvement. Overall, it’s a well-built enclosure that offers a fair amount of really compelling features for the price – it has the effect of making up for any of the relatively minor issues. The style really started to grow on me, and I didn’t realize how nice it was to not hear EVERY component in my build. When my curiosity got the better of me and I filled all of the 200mm fan slots, the H630 really impressed me – far more than I initially gave it credit for. Then consider the built-in SD card reader, the illuminated motherboard and PCI ports, quality sound dampening materials on all panels and easy to work in interior (with enough ventilation capability for TWO 3x120mm radiators!)…that’s a case that offers a lot for the price. Perhaps not surprisingly, my main computer build has lingered inside this case for much longer than usual…
NZXT H630 Ultra Tower Conclusion
If I had to sum up my experience with NZXT’s H630, I’d just have to say: I like what NZXT is doing. That applies to their new Phantoms, and now their “H” line of cases. Normally, I’d care more about the little nitpicks and issues I discover in a case, but it is clear that NZXT is aggressively iterating on each one of their designs. With the introduction of the Phantom 820 less than a year ago, NZXT has subsequently released (or will release soon) the Phantom 630, H630, H230 and Phantom 530 – and each version appears to be an improvement in some area.
I have to admit though, I’m not sure how to rate the performance of the H630. Do I rate based on the stock configuration? How about the cooling potential of the chassis (which I discovered was incredible!)? After all, most users will retain a case longer than many of the components in it – shouldn’t you factor in future expand-ability as well? At the end of the day, the H630 answers this question pretty easily as it performs satisfactorily for most builds in its factory configuration. I would have been curious to see if the stock configuration would improve if NZXT had traded the rear 140mm exhaust for a top 200mm exhaust…but really, with most typical builds it probably doesn’t need it. It’s just nice that the option is there for more performance if desired.
Appearance is always the tough one – everyone has different tastes. The basics are all here – everything “fits” together nicely, NZXT has their own unique design applied for visual interest, the paint quality is good, the surfaces blend well, the curves on the panels are well done… The biggest praise I could probably give is this: I normally prefer the more extravagant designs (the Phantoms are more my style…) but the H630 caught my attention. Maybe I’m just growing up, I don’t know, but the H630 looks really interesting for a big black box. It looks better in person, I’ll say that much – the pictures do not do it justice. If anything, I’d like it to be a little smaller as it barely fits under my desk (I could almost use the top of the H630 as an area for a mouse pad…check the dimensions to make sure it works for you!)
The H630 is constructed as you would expect a $149 enclosure to be. It is solid, hefty (but lighter than you’d think – 30lbs / 14kg – given the solid construction and lots of sound dampening material throughout) and sturdy. The problems I had with removing the front panel shouldn’t make it to the retail cases, so I’m not sure I’d count that. If anything, some of the wiring for the LEDs looks like it would break pretty easily if ever messed with, but that’s mostly out of the way anyway (I didn’t encounter any issues with this during my build). The most serious issue I encountered was the top panel, or more specifically the power button unit. It might have some slight clearance issues as I needed to flex it a bit after my computer shut down suddenly during testing (and subsequently began to boot loop, in curious four-second intervals…). It seems it only takes slight pressure along the top panel to trip that power button – but after flexing the panel a bit and reassembling, I no longer experienced any issues. If the H630 is sitting on a flat, solid surface this probably won’t pop up as an issue for anyone, especially if you remove the top panel during assembly.
It may not look like it from the outside, but there’s a lot of functionality contained in the H630. The SD card reader was a thoughtful and useful addition, and the illuminated real panel makes so much sense I’m surprised it isn’t more prevalent. There’s adequate room for almost any cooling configuration you could think of, and the intakes are protected by removable dust filters (while the front mesh intake is removable as well, the entire panel needs to be removed to take it out – I’d like to see a removable filter here that doesn’t require this). The space inside is well utilized, with the SSD mounts on the back of the motherboard tray and additional pivoting 140/120mm fan mounts on the back of the drive bays. This case should be able to accommodate almost anyone’s build, and provide some noise muffling features as well as keeping everything cool – not an insignificant achievement, by any means. The intake and exhaust paths seem carefully planned, and are surprisingly sufficient – they provide more than adequate airflow while redirecting noise.
As of August 2013, the H630 is available online for $149.99 (Newegg | Amazon). Once you go over $100, you start needing cases that excel in certain areas to justify the price. When you consider that you’re getting the cooling performance and most of the features of the Phantom 630 (modular drive trays, ten port fan hub, etc.) which retails for $179, you can begin to see the value here. Add in the sound dampening materials and muted but still unique style, not to mention the better cooling potential (4x200mm fans!) and I believe you’ll agree this is a fair price for what you receive in return.
The bottom line: there’s enough here to justify the price if it fits what you’re looking for. Really, it’s just nice that NZXT adds another “630” option for those with less flashy tastes – but still retains the performance, even if it may require some additional investment (depending on your hardware). A solid offering. I feel like I could only recommend it to those that are okay with the size (it’s deceptively large!), but if you’re looking for a full-featured case that is relatively subtle and will accommodate almost any build, I don’t think you’d be dissatisfied with the H630.
+ Adequate stock cooling, lots of cooling potential
+ Accommodates multiple radiators
+ Sound dampening features work as expected – component choice still matters more though…
+ Stylish and attractive, for what amounts to a black monolith – well designed
+ Interchangeable hinged side panels!
+ Filtered intakes
+ Included features (ten port fan hub, illuminated ports, integrated SD card reader) add an impressive amount of value and innovation
+ Ultra tower size provides lots of room for components and airflow
– May need a “break in” period to mitigate some panel fit issues
– Should have had another 200mm fan instead of rear 140mm for stock configuration…
– Front panel needs to be removed to remove/clean front mesh intake
– Make sure you have room for a big case!
Final Score: 8.70 out of 10.
Recommended: Benchmark Reviews Seal of Approval.
COMMENT QUESTION: who makes your favorite computer case?