NZXT H2 Classic Reviewairman , malmsteenisgod - May 22, 2011
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The first thing that I noticed after opening up the case is the full foam-lined interior that covers the entire surface area of the inside of each side panel. The eight hard drive bays is also an impressive mark, as well as the 1" of clearance behind the back of the motherboard tray and the side panel. This huge gap makes wire management a dream, as I can easily fit many heavy cables back there. Generally, anything over half an inch is substantial, but an entire inch is great! Behind here, the factory cables are already run and zip-tied for the new owner, making for a clean "rear end" so to speak — which everyone enjoys. Located on the back of the motherboard tray are many more loops for zip ties, easily more than a dozen. There are three wire management passages cut into the motherboard tray, which is usually enough for SATA cables and power wires, plus the two extra holes right beneath where the motherboard will be, presumably for the front I/O headers. These two holes are something new that I haven't seen, as they are dedicated to the I/O ports and are much closer to where the motherboard will be seated.
As we found from the outside views, the H2 Classic uses a bottom-mounted power supply, with either orientation being possible. There are perforations beside the seven expansion slots, whose covers are held in by thumbscrews, but I initially had to crack them loose with a screwdriver. Other than that, the case is entirely tool-less besides mounting the motherboard to the tray. You can also see where the bundle of cables sneak through from the front to behind the motherboard tray in the upper right, which includes the USB2.0 and USB3.0 cables, audio in and out, SATA power and SATA signal for the hard drive bay, and the power and reset buttons. The fan controller and hard drive dock are hidden well up in the front corner and are shrouded very well. Below the three tool-less 5.25" bays are the eight HDD bays, which is quite a stack in a mid-tower case!
The foam on the side panels is about 4mm thick and covers most of the inside panel, and both panels are dimensionally and visually identical since there is no window or fan cutouts. Many folks may believe that foam causes performance deterioration as it acts as an insulator. While this may be true, it cannot seriously affect the airflow inside of the case. So, if the user has the fans set up right, the performance hit from the presence of the foam would be little to none. This foam acts as a very strong sound dampener and will significantly reduce a lot of the drone from the fans and noise from hard drives inside the case.
The expansion slots in the rear are constructed of a fine mesh, both to act as a form of airflow, but also as a dust filter. Hopefully, with the two intake fans and only one exhaust, we should experience some positive pressure internally so we shouldn't expect these areas to accumulate dust, but the function is still there. The hard drives themselves clip into a tray (tool-less) and then slide into the drive bay from the front (behind the fans). Installing the hard drives "backwards" to place the power and signal wires out of view (one of my common practices) doesn't look to be possible judging by the small amount of clearance between the trays and the front intake fans. The pins that hold the drives in place are secured in a rubber sleeve — another noise-dampening solution. I've lost count of how many noise reduction accommodations that NZXT already has in this case.
The toolless 5.25" holders are just like that of other NZXT cases, where there is a corrugated strip of plastic that flexes and bends out of the way, and has a locking slider to keep it in place once the 5.25" device is installed. The holders come locked out of the box, but they have enough pressure holding them shut by themselves so I wouldn't be terribly concerned to leave them unlocked. I like these types of hold-downs better, as they are hard to break over extended usages and are effective. Other methods, such as clip-on rails, tend to wear out or can be clumsy for installation. This method is super quick and effective, as well as reliable.
As far as wiring that I found milling around the case when I first opened it, there are really three sets of things. I have already pointed out the USB3.0 cable that runs out a dedicated grommet in the back, as well as the rest of the headers for USB2.0, sound, status LEDs, and power/reset buttons. I haven't mentioned, until now, the two additional 3-pin fan connectors that are powered by the front fan controller. These two additional headers allow the user to run all five possible fans off of the one fan controller, where the additional fans are the one on top underneath the cover and one on the bottom in front of the power supply.
Getting all the components into the NZXT H2 Classic is just like all others. I did find that the drilled & tapped holes for the motherboard standoffs were painted over, so tightening the standoffs by hand is impossible after about a quarter of a turn. Fortunately, NZXT included the phillips head socket adapter for the standoffs and they went in with no problem. I did find a little difficulty in the wire management, even though NZXT provides a great amount of accommodation along the lines of cut holes, zip tie loops, and plenty of space behind the motherboard tray. My difficultly resided in not being able to pass wires through anywhere but the precut holes — such as between the motherboard tray and hard drive cages, and through the hard drive cages themselves. I also discovered that I would be unable to reverse the orientation of the hard drives, allowing me to hide the power and signal wires. Luckily, about 80% of the level to which I take my wire management is just looks — with there being no window to appreciate it, I won't be bothered! With everything in the case, I like the contrast between the black components and the white interior. It looks sharp.
With the case assembled and fired up, it's now time to take a look at the NZXT H2 Classic's features and specifications, followed by a rigorous stress test.