Building in the NZXT S340 Razer Edition
Building is always the fun part, so let’s get to it! There isn’t anything structurally different about the Razer version of the S340, so this should go pretty well considering how easy the S340 is to build. Perhaps we can take advantage of the green theme though…
With wide open ATX chassis such as the S340, build order doesn’t matter quite so much. We’ll start with the motherboard and plan out the cable connections from there.
Gigabyte’s Sniper series of motherboards seem to be the natural fit for a green-themed chassis, so in it goes! The raised center post makes installation quite easy – no need to prop the motherboard in place with one hand and try to line up all of the screw holes with the other. Wider/extended ATX boards aren’t really an option in the S340; most users with premium boards like that will probably move up a chassis price point anyway so I can’t imagine that’s much of a concern. The raised cable management bar/hider could easily be removed if necessary, but the S340 only officially supports standard ATX boards.
This non-modular Antec VP450 PSU is pretty short (140mm); longer power supply units could be easily accommodated in the S340 without much trouble. While it’s possible to install the PSU from the side like most cases the S340 uses a removable frame to make installation easy from the back. Simply attach the frame to the regular ATX mounting points on the power supply and slide the whole assembly in. (On a side note, it’s easy to see in the above picture that the two installed FN V2 120mm fans are already connected – their adapter just needs to be plugged in to the power supply.)
The S340 is pretty compact for an ATX tower so even a budget unit like the Antec VP450 didn’t have a problem routing cables (like the 4/8-pin CPU connector) behind the motherboard tray to the top of the board. Mounting a 2.5″ drive can be done at any time with the removable drive trays; you’ll want to make sure to poke some SATA power connectors up through the PSU shroud (as well as any GPU power connections needed for a graphics card). While not entirely necessary, a Corsair H80i easily mounts to the rear 120mm fan, providing another green LED for the build. The mounting location up top can fit a 140mm fan as well, but there really isn’t enough clearance there for an AIO radiator + fan. If you plan to watercool in the NZXT S340, the rear 120mm mount and front 120/140mm mounts are the only real options.
A GTX960 “100ME” edition from MSI adds another splash of green to the build and easily fits with room to spare. The S340 would have no problems fitting the largest video cards on the market, although if you plan to use a double-thick radiator along with push/pull fans you may want to start paying attention to clearances.
More green! Twin 140mm fans in front should provide more than enough airflow for the types of builds common to this segment of case. You’ll need to find a way to power them – unlike the H440, the S340 does not have any chassis fan controllers built-in. Given its budget nature, I’m not sure one would be entirely necessary – NZXT sent along one of their new GRID+V2 fan hubs anyway, and you can read more about that here (review coming soon!).
I remember when rubber grommets were (still?) all the rage – to think we used to be required to shove bundles of wires through little holes at all! (I’m being a bit hyperbolic here, grommets are one of the better things to happen to computer cases in recent years – at least the ones that stay in place!) The S340 sidesteps this issue quite elegantly by forgoing holes entirely (well, except for the PSU shroud). Easy access makes it a simple matter to connect everything at any point in the build process. There’s a reason why the S340 gets recommended quite often to new builders online, it’s a pretty forgiving chassis overall. However, that easy access and PSU shroud means you’ll end up with a spaghetti mess of cables faster than you think…
Before getting to the cables, and even though I rarely use mechanical storage in basic builds anymore, I thought I should show how to add a drive (and a few more cables!) to the mix. 3.5″ drives simply slide in to the drive cage in the bottom/front of the S340.
A few thumbscrews (or regular cross-tip screws, both will work and are supplied) and the HDD is locked in place. Remember, you can access the front of this drive cage easily by going through the wide-open front panel – no need to try and squeeze your fingers in there.
Anyway, I don’t plan on using a HDD for this particular build. The non-modular (and not even sleeved!) Antec VP450 makes it a little tougher to keep everything tidy, but the various tie-down points everywhere make it pretty easy to get things a little more organized. Frankly, it won’t matter much anyway – none of these (with the exception of a portion of the 24-pin ATX) cables really show through the window! I suppose a few more tie downs on the “floor” of the S340 could help in organizing a few cables, but it really isn’t necessary whatsoever. If you look closely, you can catch a glimpse of the GRID+V2 fan controller tucked in – it even fit nicely under the 3.5″ drive cage.
Looking at the finished product and reflecting on the build process, it’s easy to see why the NZXT S340 is constantly recommended to new builders in various PC-related forums online. It’s easy to keep tidy, there are very few (if any) clearance issues for the majority of mainstream components available, there aren’t any “gotchas” while building (the order of components doesn’t really matter), there’s enough performance to keep anything but a triple-SLI/CrossFire system cool (those aren’t typically housed in sub-$100 cases anyway) and a clean, good looking build can be achieved almost effortlessly.