NZXT Duet Case

robgs - 2007-05-22 22:33:38 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: robgs   
Reviewed on: May 24, 2007
NZXT
American Future Technology
Price: $80.00 US

Introduction:

A computer that is as simple to use as a television set?  Just press the “power” button on the remote control and your system is instantly on and ready to use?  Not quite, but with so many technological advancements happening every day, this type of system is not very far away.  As software and hardware companies continue to push the home PC into the living room of the modern home, it is natural to see computer components that resemble stereo equipment.  The Duet is a computer case manufactured by NZXT that has been designed to be used in a home entertainment computer build.  This case is very small in comparison to a gaming case and as such is designed to pack more into a smaller space.  As with many other cases made by NZXT, the Duet is very eye catching and stylized to complement an entertainment system or to keep your desk or home office looking up to date.

NZXT is a company based in Taiwan that tries to keep its finger on the pulse of the gaming community.  It produces many different styles of computer cases among other computer related components like power supplies and a temperature display.  Established in 2004, NZXT has quickly become a major contender in today’s computer enclosure market.

 

Closer Look:

Looking beyond the shipping wear and tear, the Duet’s packaging is quite attractive. The product is displayed clearly and simply on the front of the box while the back and side displays the features of the case.

 

 

The product is packaged very well to minimize any damage that may occur during shipping. You can see that even though the box is in rough shape, the case appears to be unharmed. The case is constructed from thin gauge steel for the chassis, and a combination of glossy plastic with brushed aluminum doors on the front bezel.

 

 


Closer Look:

This case is very attractive with its shiny silver bay doors in the front and polished black exterior. We can see that there are two 5.25” bays and one front accessible 3.5” bay hidden behind the panel door. Also to the left, the convenience ports are neatly hidden behind a smaller push-to-open panel door.

 

 

 

 

In the back we can see the two 80mm fans as well as the many PCI slots available for expansion.

 

The interior doesn’t reveal any hidden surprises. The bag is full of some pretty typical case components like screws and brackets for 5.25” components and of course the installation manual. To make efficient use of space, some of the component bays have been rearranged. This rearrangement will become more apparent as we move into the installation portion of this review.

 

 

 

Installation: 

The first step for this installation is to install the motherboard, but before we can do that, we need to install the mounting standoffs to the back pane.

 

 

 

 

Once the motherboard is installed, to make the cable routing easier later on, I installed the case switches and LED wires as well as the front convenience port USB and firewire connectors.

 

 

Then to install my sound and video cards, I removed the associated PCI knock-out plates from the back of the case. It’s a real shame that these knock-outs cannot be reused but at the very least if you take out the wrong ones you’ve just increased the interior air conditioning.

 

The next step is to install the power supply into the bay provided. In order to conserve space and to allow for the use of an ATX size motherboard the power supply bay is located near the front of the case and the power cord is jumpered to a connector at the back of the case.

 

Installation:

Supplied by NZXT are these fancy schmancy tool less clip on brackets to install the 5.25” components. Just insert the studs of the bracket into the mounting holes on the side of the DVD ROM and push the drive into the bay.

 

 

 

 :

 

We’re almost ready to start this baby up. There are two 3.5” bays to install a floppy drive or hard disk drive. The first is available under the 5.25” bays but I installed the HDD in the side or top bay to keep the bottom bay free if I decide to install a FDD later.

 

 

Now we can reinstall the front bezel being very careful to ensure that all the wiring is kept away from any pinch points.

 

 

Finally the last thing to do is to install all of the cables and wires to their correct position on the motherboard and we can move on to test this compact little case.

 

 

Specifications:


Case Type Mid Tower Home Theater/desktop Chassis
Dimensions (W x H x D)  455 x 148 x 455 mm
Cooling System Bottom: 1 x 80mm Fan (Optional)
Rear: 2 x 80mm Fans included
Side Panels: 2 x 120mm Fans (Optional)
Drive Bays 2 External 5.25" Drive Bays
1 External 3.5" Drive Bay
3 Internal 3.5" Drive Bays
Materials of Construction SECC Steel Chassis
PCI Expansion Slots 7
Power Supply 400W PS2 ATX 12V (Optional)
Weight 5.0 KGS (W/O Power Supply)
Motherboard Support ATX, Micro-ATX, Baby AT


Features:

Testing:


Test Setup:



Though this is not a high performance case, I will test its cooling capability with the stock 80mm fans.  For comparison, I will test the cooling capacity of the Duet against a generic low-end Supercase with only one 120mm fan.  In the first portion of this test, I will compare the temperature of the CPU and system at Idle.  I've allowed about one hour for the temperatures to stabilize with an ambient temperature of 21 C.





The Duet is somewhat limited on its cooling capability in the stock conditions as the graphs show, but still shows decent results.

Now I will run one instance of Orthos on “blend” setting for one hour to stress the CPU and RAM and heat up the system.





The temperatures at full load are not great, but still better than I’ve seen on some full size cases.

Conclusion:

The interior space for components is laid out fairly well given its compact size constraints.  I didn’t really like the fact that the extra cooling fan or fans were not included, but for the price of the case, picking up an extra fan shouldn’t break the budget.  As with any other computer build, you'll have to take into consideration the component sizing and whether or not the case can accommodate them.  This case will probably fit most off-the-shelf components, but be wary of the video card that you buy.  As the specifications show, the case can fit up to an 8" card.  The 8800GTX or larger won’t fit. 

The NZXT Duet is a beauty to behold with its glossy exterior and polished front-end complete with brushed aluminum doors.  NZXT has done a wonderful job in merging style with function in designing the Duet.  If you are in the market for a case to house your budget home theater PC, the Duet has all this, and at a very reasonable cost.

 

Pros:

 

 

 

Cons: