NZXT Hades Review

jlqrb - 2010-01-14 13:45:29 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: jlqrb   
Reviewed on: January 20, 2010
Price: $89.99

Introduction:

It was not too long ago that options for computer builders were limited to beige towers that all looked very similar regardless of which company it was manufactured by. But the days of the beige case are over and today's 'do it yourself' computer builder can find a case in any style or flavor of their liking. There are plain cases, extreme cases, aluminum cases, steel cases, windowed cases and the list just goes on and on. On top of this, cases today have more features than ever before. If a new case does not have a CPU back plate access area, water cooling options and fit a ton of hard drives and fans, it is considered low-end and would not stand a chance to sell well when sitting next to its competitors. The progress forward in case design is due to many companies and their great design teams, and one of the companies that has been there along the way is of course NZXT. NZXT designs cases geared toward gamers and enthusiasts and has always tried to add style and features that would be appealing to their target audience. Over the years, NZXT has released some popular cases, such as the Lexa and Tempest cases and continue to release or update their cases as needed to keep up with a consistently changing market. The latest from NZXT comes to us in the form of a mid-sized steel tower with the name Hades.

The Hades is a sub $100 case that offers users affordability without losing any of the features that we have come to demand. For airflow, the case has dual 200mm intake fans, a top 140mm fan and a rear 120mm fan. There is also an included dual fan 8W per channel controller that will allow users to change the fan speed of the two 200mm case fans on the fly. At full speed these fans will bring in an impressive 140 CFM creating exceptional airflow throughout the case. For expandability, the Hades has nine 5.25" drive bays, can house four 3.5" hard drives inside the chassis and has an adapter that will allow for the installation of two internal 2.5" SSDs. The Hades also includes water cooling holes, CPU back plate access, a three-temperature display, mesh drive bay covers and has LED fans that glow red, giving the Hades a look that lives up to its name.

 

Closer Look:

The case comes packaged in a surprisingly small box, that was much more narrow than I am used to. On the front of the packaging there is a futuristic city covered in fog with a cut-off of the lower portion of the front LED glowing red below it. I am not artistic so I never understand the deeper meaning of the box art, but it still looks cool! The front of the box also has a full image of the Hades as well as some of the selling points of the case. On the backside, NZXT has listed the features of the case and also included a few very nice images of the Hades. Turning the box to the sides, you see that both sides are the same and this is where you will find useful information such as support and specifications for the case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the box open, you can see that the Hades case comes face-up and is wrapped in a thin layer of plastic with Styrofoam inserts on each side to hold it securely in place. The accessories that are included with the case consist of installation screws, motherboard stand-offs, 3.5" HDD brackets, cable ties, a buzzer and stickers to secure the temperature cables in place. There is also an included installation guide that gives a good explanation of the installation procedures and comes in English, Spanish, German and French.

 

 

 

Now that we have given a good look over of the packaging and accessories, we can move on and get our first look at the case.

Closer Look:

Once unpacked, you can see that the Hades is a quite a unique case. It has a meshed door that covers the drive bays and extends all the way to the bottom of the front panel. This door, however, has a triangular shaped opening that is directly in front of the 200mm intake fan, which will allow air to travel freely though the front and into the case. Behind the door you will find four mesh bay cover, two fan speed controllers and a reset button. Below the fan controllers and power button is the front 200mm intake fan and is one of the fans that is controlled by the knobs above it.

Turning the case to its side you can see that NZXT has used the same styling to the side panels that they used on the Tempest EVO case, but there have been some changes made for the Hades to give it its own look. The biggest difference of course is the 200mm side intake fan. This fan brings in air though the side panel and can be controlled by one of the knobs of the fan controller on the front panel. The side intake fan has a large octagonal mesh fan filter placed over it that will prevent dust from entering the case. Another difference between the two side panels is that the outward groove on the side panel of the Hades has a small meshed vent on the front of the groove. This will allow for more airflow entering the case. Looking at the sides, you can see that both sides of the Hades match in appearance, but the panel on the opposite side does not have an intake fan. Looking at the back of the case you see a classic NZXT design. It has a bottom mounted power supply, meshed rear expansion covers, two pre-drilled water cooling holes, a 120mm rear exhaust fan and is painted solid black.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The front panel on the Hades has a opening at the bottom that when pulled outward will remove the panel giving access to front expansion bays. The cables that are attached to the front panel are pre-installed with them placed through the cable management holes in the case, which made the panel hold very tight to the chassis. So, caution should be used if you have not unwound the cables prior to taking the front panel off. Once the panel is off though, you can see the Hades case is very open and there is little in the way to block airflow. The mesh covers that are placed over the drive bays come out easily and have a thick filter in them that will collect dust and prevent it from entering the case. These filters can be removed from the cover and washed to clear them of the dust that builds up over time.

 

 

The front I/O ports on the Hades are placed at the top of the case directly behind the front panel. The ports included are two audio, two USB 2.0 and an e-SATA input. This top I/O port is held in by three screws that are found on the front of the chassis just above the top 5.25" drive bay. Once unscrewed, the I/O board slides into the case and is easily removed. Behind the ports are two top 140mm ventilation holes. NZXT has included one of the fans for this area, but that is a little disappointing as NZXT uses a unique white and black fan design, so it might look odd just shoving any old black fan in there. The ventilation area has room for either two 140mm or two 120mm fans, but if you are into water cooling, you can ditch the fans completely and place a dual radiator here instead. Turning to the bottom you can see that there is a rectangular ventilation area for the power supply that is covered by a fan filter. There are also four small padded feet that will help stabilize the case, as well as elevate it a bit, for better airflow to the power supply.

 

Closer Look:

With the side panels off you, can see that the NZXT Hades case has quite a few features built-in, which should help with installation and cable management. The first thing I noticed was the drive bays extending down the front of the case. These bays can hold up to nine drives, which is a good amount of expandability for a case in this price rage. The top five bays have a pre-installed tool-less mount in place and are there to secure 5.25" drives into the bay, where as the bottom four bays don't use the same design and instead you will use thumb screws to secure the drives here into place. Moving over, you can see NZXT's cable management system, which has been improving over the years leading to what we see today. The design has three cable management holes that are each has a rubber cover over them to help give the case a cleaner look. Also, to aid in cable management, there are small anchors on the back of the motherboard tray that allow you to use zip ties to secure the cables to the back of the tray. This will ensure the cables are held tightly in place and allow you to easily slide the side panel back on. When I reviewed the NZXT Tempest EVO it had a similar cable management set-up as the Hades and I did find that it worked rather well. The only problem I had with it though was that the rubber covers that are in the holes would come off easily and at times it could be difficult to properly back them into place. Next to the cable management holes is the motherboard tray. This tray is of course where you will install your motherboard. The Hades does have the ability to fix a few different sizes of motherboards with the smallest being Baby AT, then Micro ATX and the largest being the standard ATX form factor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Installing the DVD drive in place was easy, but it did require that both side panels be off to remove the tool-less mount on each side of the bay before the drive can slide into place. Once the drive was in the bay it was just a matter of lining up the screw holes with the holes next to the bay, then locking the mounts into place.

 

 

The bottom four 5.25" drive bays are where hard drives are installed in to the Hades case. For installation, you mount the drive to a 5.25" to 3.5" adapter and use the included thumb screws to secure the drive into place. I usually do not prefer this method, but NZXT has made installation a breeze and I ran into no issues while installing the adapter or while securing the drive into the bay. When the drives are in place they sit directly in front of the 200mm intake fan, which will bring in cool air to run over the hard drives. This should keep the drives cool even if you are running a four drive RAID array. One really nice feature that deals with hard drive installation is the inclusion of a 2.5" adapter that will fit two SSDs and allow them to easily fit into one of the 5.25" drive bays.

 

 

 

The rear expansion area has seven slots that each has a vented mesh cover over them. These covers allow air to travel though them, which should help the overall airflow in the case. Next to the expansion slots there are two water cooling tube access holes that are rather large and with room for a dual radiator at the top the Hades should be able to handle most enthusiast water cooling needs. Above the expansion slots you will find the two exhaust fans. One nice improvement I found with the exhaust fans is that NZXT has finally taken the cables and hidden them behind the motherboard tray. This is a very welcome addition as the exhaust case-fan cables can at times be hard to hide, due to the location of the fans. I for one, hope NZXT continues this design in future cases. The exhaust fans at the rear and top of the case are standard, and there is room for one more case fan on the top panel. The fan on the top is 140mm and the rear exhaust fans is 120mm in size. Below the expansion area is the bottom mounted power supply area. This area has four rubber pads that will hold the power supply off of the bottom of the case and there is a rectangular filtered vent directly below the power supply intake fan.

 

 

The CPU back-plate access on the motherboard tray is large, which should ensure there are no compatibility issues across different socket types. My ASUS AM3 motherboard fitted nicely giving me proper access to the back plate.

 

 

There are four included case fans that comes standard with room to fit one more 140mm or 120mm case fan at the top. The included 120mm and 140mm case fans are used to exhaust the hot are and are a nine blade rifle bearing design that deliver 42CFM at 23dB. The larger 200mm case fans are the intake fans with one being placed at the front and another on the side. These fans have the same color scheme to them as the smaller fans and are rated to run at 140 CFM. Both of the 200mm intake fans have filters, but as the image below shows, the side 200mm intake fan uses dual filters which should work well and keep dust out of the case. The last image is of the temperature gauge cables. These cables read your internal temperatures and displays them on the front of the case. The temperature cables come with a sticker on them that states the general location of where they should be placed.

 

 

 

With all of my components installed in the Hades, the cable management worked pretty well and I was able to get most of the cables to run behind the motherboard tray. The one exception was the 8-pin power cable, which I could not run behind the tray because there was just no access hole or room for it. As for room, there was plenty for the most part, but as you can see my large heatsink sat very close to the top exhaust fan and there was less than an inch separating the two. It did make installing the board a tad tight, as I had the cooler on the board before installing it in the case. The close proximity of the CPU cooler and top exhaust fan could be a positive though, as it might have been the reason that the case cooled my CPU so well, as all hot air would be exhausted relatively quick. When it came time to power the system on, I was surprised at how nice the red LEDs and temperature display looked as I am not usually into LEDs, but I have to say the Hades case won me over.

 

 

I am really looking forward to testing out the cooling performance of the Hades. With two 200mm intake bringing in 140 CFM at full load there will be no shortage of airflow and I really want to see how it stacks up to the other comparison cases.

Specifications

MODEL Hades Series
CASE TYPE MID TOWER Steel
FRONT PANEL MATERIAL PLASTIC
DIMENSIONS (W x H x D) 200 X 430 X 501 mm / 7.87" x 16.9" x 19.7"

 

COOLING SYSTEM

FRONT, 1 X 200mm red LED (included)

REAR, 1 X 120mm (included)

SIDE, 1 x 200mm (included)

TOP, 2 X 120/140mm (1 include 140mm)

 

DRIVE BAYS

9 DRIVE BAYS
9 EXTERNAL 5.25" DRIVE BAYS
4 INTERNAL 3.5" DRIVE MOUNTS
Screwless Rail Design
MATERIAL(S) Steel with black finish
EXPANSION SLOTS 7
POWER SUPPLY 500 WATT PS2 ATX 12V 2.0 ( OPTIONAL )
WEIGHT 6.95 KGS (W/O Power)
MOTHERBOARD SUPPORT MOTHERBOARDS: ATX, MICRO-ATX, BABY AT

 

 

Features:

 

Information courtesy of NZXT: http://www.nzxt.com/products/hades

Testing:

We all know that cooling performance can either make or break a case. Companies can add as many features and novelties as they want, but if the cooling is sub-par, that pretty much dooms the product in the overclocking community. The Hades however, does not seem to be a case that will be lacking in cooling performance. It has two massive 200mm intake fans that will bring in cool air from the front and the side of the case and exhaust it at the top and rear of the case. Also, the fan speed controller will allow for better cooling if needed by simply turning the 200mm fans to their max. Though the case seems ideal for cooling, there is really only one way to know for sure. I am going to install the same components in the Hades that I have used across multiple cases and run the same benchmarks in the same controlled environment and see how it stacks up to the other cases.

 

 

Testing System:

 

Comparison Cases:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The NZXT Hades case cooled each component brilliantly and was leading the pack when it came to efficiently cooling the CPU. There was definitely a lot of air moving within the case, which is good for cooling, but it did create some noise. I would not consider it to be loud or bothersome by any means, but the fans can be heard. This is not a surprise though, due to the amount of airflow. Unfortunately, the fan controller did little to change the noise level as the two smaller fans are the ones that I found were producing most of the noise.

Conclusion:

The Hades is a unique case from NZXT with an attractive price that manages to deliver a lot of good, a little bad and even some odd. The design of the case is very interesting and at first glance I was not sure if I loved or hated it. But once I powered the case on and I saw the red LEDs blending with the black chassis, any doubt about the appearance melted away and I quickly saw an appealing case sitting next to me. Along with the unique design, you also get exceptional cooling performance and in fact it was the best case I have used so far at efficiently cooling my processor. The exceptional cooling is due to the cable management and great airflow within the case. The airflow is created by the two 200mm intake fans that bring in cool air from the front while the hot air is removed by the two exhaust fans at the top and rear of the case. The two 200mm intake fans are connected to a fan controller that can adjust the voltage going to the fans and even when turned to the maximum, they remained quiet while pushing a respectable 140 CFM. Even though these two case fans are quiet, the overall noise level of the case can get a bit loud. But if you are bothered by fan noise, you probably already have a water cooling radiator ready to be installed in the supplied area at the top of the case.

The cable management system found in the Hades is similar to other NZXT cases and was able to hide most of the cables behind the motherboard tray and with these cables out of the way, there is little to reduce airflow, which allows the Hades to excel at creating optimal overclocking temperatures. The cable management works well, but as with the NZXT tempest EVO case, I had a hard time with the rubber covers that are found on each cable management hole. These covers just come off too easily and once they are filled with cables, they are hard to get back into place. When it came to installation, the Hades was easy to work in for the most part, but I did find some areas to be a little cramped - especially at the top of the case near the CPU area. This was due to the motherboard being extremely close to the top exhaust fan, but if you have any issues, the top fan can be easily removed for better access to the motherboard.

Another interesting feature of the Hades is the temperature display that allows you to switch back and forth from Celsius to Fahrenheit by pushing a button on the inside of the door. This display was relatively accurate and even though I did not take my time to carefully place the temperature cables in their optimal position, the display was usually within a few degrees Celsius of the temperature software I was using.

As you can see, the Hades is quite unique and even with its faults, I must say the time I spent with the case was a very enjoyable one with more pros than cons. At the price point NZXT is releasing the Hades at you would be hard pressed to find a case without faults in one form or another. With the faults aside, the Hades is a great looking case that matches much higher-end cases in cooling performance and offers the user features such as a dual fan controller, temperature display, great cooling and glows as red as Hades itself. For those of you out there that have the Hades on your shortlist, I say don't hesitate - you know you want it.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: