NZXT Bunker Review

nVidia_Freak - 2011-01-05 12:53:09 in Gadgets
Category: Gadgets
Reviewed by: nVidia_Freak   
Reviewed on: January 18, 2011
Price: $24.99

Introduction:

NZXT is no doubt a well known company in the PC enthusiast market, what with having a large presence in the areas of computer cases and case accessories. Though NZXT has, as seems to be the trend these days, begun to dabble in other areas of interest as well, with their HALE90 80+ Gold series of power supplies. Today, however, I have the pleasure to review a brand new product from NZXT's natural case accessory realm, the Bunker. I'm not quite sure what to call the Bunker, because it seems to be the first of its kind. NZXT calls it a 'USB Lock system', but this doesn't satisfactorily describe what it is. So, for lack of a better way to describe it, the NZXT Bunker is a 'USB-front-panel-replacement-for-use-in-single-5.25"-drive-bay-with-locking-security-door'. Whew, that's a mouthful! I'd like to see Newegg add that to their drop-down menu.

What the Bunker is designed to do is provide a way for users to plug their USB devices into their computer and leave them in place without having to worry about them being stolen. This is obviously aimed toward the manically paranoid, and people who's computer is publicly accessible most of or all of the time, such as in a dorm or at a LAN party. Whether or not the Bunker turns out to be useful depends on a couple things; first, that the design is such that when locked, there is no direct way to unlock it without the key, or, remove the USB device plugs, and second, how easy it is to free what's plugged in given a little time. For now though, let's get a good look at it.

Closer Look:

NZXT is obviously working a military theme with the camouflage and pseudo-military typeset, and they go even further by referencing the disregard to form and aesthetics found in military constructs by printing black and white directly onto the cardboard box, which itself is small and just large enough to hold what's inside. Maybe that's because it's only a review sample and the design hasn't been completely finalized, but, I'll help NZXT with promoting the utility that this accessory is meant to provide, and say that it's all meant to instill the impression of an impenetrable military bunker.

 

 

 

 

 

On back NZXT provides some information about the Bunker. Of note is that the lock is key-based, so there's no chance for someone to sit by and roll through combination numbers until the door opens. NZXT assures us that there are twenty different keys, and thus also locks, that the Bunker might have one of, to minimize the chance that anyone else that has a Bunker can unlock yours [and take your things]. What irony... Now, what's inside?

Purchasing the Bunker includes the Bunker itself, a pair of keys, and a small, foldout installation/use guide. A closer look at the keys shows a number etched into one of the corners of both keys. Perhaps that number would allow NZXT to send replacement keys if both become lost.

 

Of particular interest to me is the locking mechanism itself. Looking in back of it shows it to be held in place only by two small nuts that are supplemented by epoxy on the bolt threads. I wonder how easy it would be with a ratchet and a couple sockets to remove these nuts, thereby unlocking the Bunker without a key. I shall find out during testing...

A closer inspection of the Bunker reveals that the housing is almost entirely made of plastic, the only exception being the grille on the front door. 'Inside', as it were, the USB daughterboard and spring loading mechanism are all that make up the Bunker. The spring loading mechanism is particularly clever, because, while the door is closed and locked, tension is stored in the spring. Immediately upon unlocking the door, the tension is released, resulting in the door swinging open and the daughterboard being pushed forward.

 

 

The facade of the Bunker is pleasant enough with a small portion of mesh, though, it would match best with a black case. In the bottom of the door is a small opening just large enough to allow cables belonging to anything plugged in to sneak out. On the far left is the key slot. Curiously, this lock is of a different style than the one shown on the back of the box. Perhaps this is simply one of the 20 available, and the one pictured on the box is another. Onward to information and testing!

 

Specifications:

 

Bay size 5.25"
Material Plastic
Color Black
Connection Type Internal USB header
Number of USB Ports
4

 

Features:

 

Though not a specification or feature, it should be noted that if you wish to lock up any USB flash drives within the Bunker, they can be no longer than 42mm/1.6" EXCEPT when using the port closest to the hinge, in which case they can be no longer than 22mm/0.6".

Information courtesy of NZXT and rear of product box, EXCEPT, those listed under 'Specification', which were derived from simple observation.

Installation:

Installation of the Bunker is very straight forward. Install the Bunker into an available external 5.25" drive bay and plug the USB plug into an available header on the motherboard. Of interest is that because the housing for the Bunker is long enough, there will be no problems mounting this in a case that utilizes tool-less drive bay retention mechanisms. Plug 'n' play and you're good to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Testing:

Testing Setup:

Functionality:

Testing the NZXT Bunker is very simple because its function is simple. NZXT claims this will prevent theft of any peripherals plugged into the Bunker while the door is locked, and so I must test it to be sure that this is indeed the case. Indeed, the cut-out on the bottom of the door is large enough to let the cable through, but nothing else. Tugging on the cable succeeds only in pulling the daughterboard forward and bending the door against the lock. There's no chance of a thief getting away with anything plugged in just by tugging at it. For its basic purpose, the Bunker works just fine.

On the other hand, imagine for a moment that the thief is at least slightly crafty and manages to find your second key. Be careful what you do with the keys, and, it may even be worth the exchange to keep both keys on your person to prevent anyone from finding the second. That does, however, mean that the chances of losing one meaning you lost both increases.

One major thing to worry about is the locking mechanism. This may be a problem only for the lock type that is on this sample, however, it is still very much worthy of consideration, and, that's because the nuts holding the lock in place are very easy to remove; all that was needed in this case was an 8mm socket and a ratchet. Below, the Bunker is shown with only the external nut removed along with the latch. The blue material that appeared to be epoxy over the threads provided next to no resistance, and, in fact, seems to be little more than melted plastic. It did little to prevent the nut from being removed and left no residue in the threads. Furthermore, the faceplate is removable with only the aid of a pair of hands. Both the lock and door are attached to the faceplate, rendering them useless when detached. Both of these might be considered fall-backs should both keys become lost, however, they do largely negate the Bunker's purpose.

 

 

As such, even with the Bunker door closed and locked, if your side panels aren't locked, the Bunker is not a particularly effective solution. With a ratchet it was absurdly easy to remove, and, I imagine that it could be done with a pair of pliers or an adjustable wrench. If peripheral theft is truly a concern to you, consider supplementing the Bunker's function by locking both side panels.

Conclusion:

The NZXT Bunker is the first of its kind and it starts off with a good impression. The idea behind the Bunker is solid enough, but, two glaring flaws make it rather useless on its own.

First of all, the nut holding the locking latch in place is easily removable, and after that's removed the latch comes off without a problem. This means that no key is necessary to unplug and remove any devices connected to the Bunker. On a similar note, the faceplate is also removable without any tools. Unfortunately, the door and lock are both connected to the faceplate, so removal of the faceplate also means that no key is needed to unplug and remove any attached devices. Although both of these facts might come in handy if both keys are lost, for something aimed at preventing theft, circumventing the 'security' is dreadfully easy.

Ultimately, although I understand the purpose of the Bunker, and I can imagine the situations where this might be useful, I can't imagine those situations happening so often as to warrant a purchase. LAN parties should have more than enough people around to dissuade anyone but close friends from bothering your rig, and really, taking the entire rig would be much more useful and indeed more likely than snagging a mouse or keyboard. Living in a dorm might make this a useful purchase if you don't trust your room mate(s) or any of the people they might bring over, however, if that's the case, might I suggest talking to your room mate? The Bunker is something you have to decide is worthwhile. If there's a thievery problem in your dorm or with your room mates, the Bunker would be an interim , and should certainly be used in conjunction with side panel locks whether or not access to tools is available, if it is to be of any use.

Unfortunately, for the Bunker to do what it's supposed to do requires the purchase of additional locks to prevent the theft of itself, and possibly a new case if it lacks support for locking the side panels. Because of its two glaring flaws, I cannot recommend the Bunker for purchase at any price point. For this judgment to change, NZXT must at least cover the locking mechanism and make the faceplate permanent.

 

Pros:

Cons: