NZXT Gamma Review

Compxpert - 2009-10-28 17:02:45 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: Compxpert   
Reviewed on: December 15, 2009
Price: $49.99

Introduction:

With lots of cases out there to choose from, which do you go with? I suppose it all depends on what you're looking for. Some people only will buy certain brands and others don't care as to a brand, they just want a good case. What defines a good case, though, is entirely up to the person who is purchasing it. Ideally, what makes a good case is a case that performs and does just what you want it to do. If you like basic looks and want to put more money on other components in your setup, rather than on the case, then NZXT might have just what you're looking for with the NZXT Gamma. The Gamma has a basic, yet stunning design. Not only that, it is super lightweight, which makes it nice for LAN parties. What's more special is the fact that the entire case is painted black. Yes, both inside and out, the case is fully coated. So is this the right case for you? Read on and find out.

 

Closer Look:

Looking at the box, we are greeted with a rather basic, some might even say bland, design, but hey, it's what is inside that counts right? The front displays the Gamma name and shows that it is part of NZXT's Classic Series of cases. You can also see the big G on the front of the box. Both sides of the box show the specifications of the case. Lastly, we move onto the back of the box which shows the main features of the case.

 

 

  

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

Here we are unpacking the case, but doesn't something look a little familiar. The front is reminiscent of the front of the NZXT M59, though it's not quite the same. Of course, we have the case sandwiched between the usual two pieces of Styrofoam and wrapped in a plastic bag.

 

 

Moving on, let's go have a look at the outside of this case.

Closer Look:

In this section, we will look at the ouside of the case. Looking at the side, you'll notice two spaces for fans. Here you can optionally equip two 120mm fans, although it looks as though you could go smaller or even manage to rig up some 140mm fans, with some modification of course. The top of the case also features more fan space, which can take two 120mm fans or two 140mm fans. The front of the case has some of your typical front panel connections: two USB ports, headphone and microphone connections, and eSATA.  Also here are a power light bar and, below the power and reset switches, the HDD activity indicator. The front of the case also has capability for a single 120mm fan and even features a fan filter.  However, looking at the sides of the case in the first and last pictures, you'll notice gaps in the front panel between the panel and actual front of the case. With gaps like these, I would not expect much dust to get caught in the fan filter. It would seem to be a waste to have a filter there - if it really isn't going to do anything.

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

Moving on to the rear of the case, we have our only 120mm fan on the case. Yes, that is right, this case only comes with one fan.  It is expandable up to six, which is great, but it would be nice to at least have been given one other fan. Right above the fan on the rear of the Gamma are two grommets so that should you choose to water cool your system you can add the radiator outside the Gamma. Something that almost has become standard on gaming and enthusiast cases. We also have our bottom mounting PSU area here just like many other cases. Finally, we move onto the bottom of the case, which has a removable fan filter for your PSU and small rubberized feet to keep your case well grounded.

 

 

So, we just got a glimpse of the outside of the case, but what is on the inside? Let's find out.

Closer Look:

So it's the inside that counts, right? Well, here is the inside - as you can see it is indeed all black, inside and out. There are many holes for running wires behind the motherboard tray. This is great since it allows you to present a neat, cleanly-wired case as opposed to a messy one. There also is a motherboard tray, capable of holding a full ATX board. You don't even need to look close to notice the big gaping hole for mounting and unmounting heatsinks that use backplates. This seems to be becoming a staple in many cases that I see now.  I honestly wouldn't buy a case that didn't have one since it makes swapping out heatsinks a breeze.

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

Here we have our standard seven PCI / expansion slots. Although they aren't tool-less, this isn't really a problem for me as most tool-less designs feel flimsy and don't really make your videocard, sound card, or other expansion card feel properly secured. Moving on, you'll find the case is equipped with four 5.25" bays for all your needs. We also have two 3.5" bays for what ever you need them for besides hard drives. Finally, we have some storage capability here. This case can hold up to a total of five hard drives or seven if you use the upper two bays. This is great, considering that many people these days have a lot of harddrives in their cases.  I, myself, use four bays in my main case. Finally, here I show off the front fan area where there should be a front 120mm fan to cool your hard drives, but sadly there is not one there.

 

 

 

Moving on to the area behind the motherboard tray, we can see that even this was not left untouched when the case was painted. The next picture shows the front panel cover off with its wires exposed. Here we have the Power and HDD LED cords, as well as the power and reset switch, and who could forget the USB 2.0 and HD audio connections. Lastly, we have our box of goodies that was inside the case.

 

 

 

Here we have our only included fan. Sadly, they could only include one, which is sort of a disappointment as having at least one intake and one exhaust would probably improve overall performance. But, as an economical case that comes in just under $50, additional fans would drive the cost up. As for the fan itself, you can see its manufactured by NZXT. The provided specs don't even clue you into everything about the fan - they only tell you the decibel rating and CFM output, leaving you to wonder how many RPMs the fan runs at. If you're curious, the fan runs at a pretty quiet 23dB while delivering 42CFM. Looking at the sticker on the back, a few more things are revealed. The fan is a brushless rifle bearing fan and consumes 1.92W of power.

 

 

 

Opening our box of goodies, we reveal the tool-less hard disk mounting solution which uses two brackets that you put into the holes in your hard drive and then you simply insert it into the bay. We also have our screws for motherboard and PSU, as well as fan screws, motherboard standoffs, and screws to mount devices in your 5.25" bays. The case, like many others, also came with an instruction manual so you can figure out what is what as well as have another place to look at the specifications and features of the case. Finally, we have here our finished build which went together much easier than the M59 for some reason. Also, like the M59, if you have a big heatsink like Thor's Hammer and are running it in a push pull fan configuration, you will not be able to fit another fan between the top of the case and the top of the heatsink - there is not enough space.

 

 

 

So, we learned all we could learn so far, but there is still more. Let's take a look at the Specifications and Features next.

Specifications:

 

 

Model

Gamma Series

Case Type

Mid Tower Black Interior Chassis

Front Panel Material

Steel

Dimensions (W x H x D)

190 x 449 x 508 mm

Cooling System

Front, 1 x 120mm

Side, 2 x 120mm

Top, 2x 140/120mm

Rear 1 x 120mm, 23dB/42CFM (included)

Drive Bays

11 drive bays

4 external 5.25” drive bays

7 internal 3.5” drive bays

Material(s)

Steel Construction

Expansion Slots

7

Power Supply

500 WATT PS2 ATX 12V 2.0 (optional)

Weight

6 KGS (W/O Power)

Motherboard Support

ATX, mATX, BABY AT

 

Features:

 

 

All information courtesy of NZXT @ http://www.nzxt.com/products/gamma/

Testing:

For testing, I put the system through the usual gauntlet of tests. For idle values, I just simply allowed the computer to idle for one hour and then I recorded the resulting temperatures using both RealTemp and HWMonitor. For load temperature values, with the CPU and chipset, I applied the load using Prime95 in blend mode. For the HDD load, I used HDTune. For the GPU load, I used Folding@Home GPU client. For all load tests, I allowed the tests to run for one hour, after which I recorded the resulting temperatures.

 

Testing System:

 

Comparison Cases:

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wasn't surprised to see the Gamma not perform as well as many of the other cases. Its lack of fans handicapped its ability to remove the hot air from inside the case. Performance isn't necessarily everything, though, and I'm sure if you had more fans in it, then you would see way more promising results than this. Again, adding fans to the case will move the overall price point up and out of the sub $50 range.

Conclusion:

As a case designed to fit in the sub $50 market, the NZXT Gamma will fit the bill for a stylish, low-cost case. The all black theme, that is popular right now, is a point of difference between cases, as not all manufacturers paint the inside of the chassis. There are enough drive bays to keep the majority of people happy. While space is at a premium with large heatsinks, they can be installed. The Gamma also is designed to use video cards up to 10 inches in length, so the majority of the cards out right now will fit. Of course, the new behemoths from ATI will definitely need some persuasion and some modification to make them fit. When it comes to wire management, NZXT has provided knockouts in the motherboard tray that interconnect via a channel in the tray. There is not a whole lot of room, but the 24-pin ATX connector and PCIe video card power cable should surely go through. As a sub $50 dollar case, you can imagine that costs had to be cut somewhere. That somewhere is the amount of fans provided with the Gamma. A solitary 120MM fan is mounted in the rear of the case. You could mount this one up front and use the PSU fan as your exhaust to draw more air through the case and bring down the temperatures. But, on the other hand, you have room for five more fans. This case is water cooling ready, with the two knockouts right above the rear fan. By putting the radiator out back, you are not pushing warm air into the case to increase component's temperatures; this is a nice touch. The large hole in the motherboard tray means that if you use a large heatsink with a backplate or a water block, you do not have to remove the motherboard to do so. That feature alone is worth its weight in gold. While the amount of fans is a little disappointing, it's the little touches like the filter for the power supply intake (if you choose to mount it so it pulls in fresh air to keep it operating cooler), that set this case apart from others. For a $49 case, NZXT has a bundle of usable features that can provide you with a good solid build and allow you to spend some money on the high performance parts that really matter. Good looks, NZXT quality, and great features are all in this economical package.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: