NZXT Source 220 Case Review
Reviewed by: BluePanda
Reviewed on: September 28, 2011
NZXT comes back to us again with another “don’t break the bank” gamer case. Much like the recently released NZXT Tempest 210, the NZXT Source 220 is a smaller mid-tower with the class to spruce up your room while keeping more cash in your pocket. Its simple design allows for location in any room — no arguing with your significant other about having that gaudy yellow RAIDMAX Blade in the living room. It’s time for class, and at a price you can afford.
Some people say they can’t deal with a case this size, they say it’s too small and they don’t want to see their cables. News for you guys — this case is small but doesn’t have a big window showing all your messy wiring. If you are out to show off your wiring skills and expensive hardware, then you are probably already looking at much more expensive cases already. This case is for those of you who want a nice simple set up, something you’ll put together and not tear down until something dies or you are ready for your next upgrade. The NZXT Source 220 is perfect for family, friends, and gamers alike. I wasn’t disappointed with the NZXT Tempest 210, so I am rather curious as to how this case will compare. Let’s take a closer look at the NZXT Source 220 and find out.
The packaging for the NZXT Source 220 is your average, plain cardboard box with black printed imaging. Coming clear across the US to arrive on my door step from California to South Carolina, she’s made her trip coast to coast without a problem. It really makes you wonder how some packages show up at your door so mangled when a big box like this can travel so far with so little harm. Moving right along, the quick preview of the case on the box as always leaves you ready to tear it open. It appears to be a super sleek and understated design.
The side of the box provides the quick specs consisting of case dimensions, weight, materials, and the answer to whether or not there are enough drive bays and fan locations to support your build plans. The check box at the bottom also indicates which color has shown up — it looks like there will be an option for those of you who are both fancy and can keep a white version clean. The “Cooling” section shows high hopes with positions for seven fans 120mm or larger — it looks like we are going to have a similar take to the NZXT Tempest 210. A USB 2.0 port as well as a USB 3.0 port are promised to be ready for use on the front of the case, given that you have a board that supports both.
The small size of the box no longer scares me after getting all my components in the Tempest. I’m ready to see what this one looks like. Let’s get on to the opening part already…
Slicing the tape line open on the top of the box, I find the usual plastic-wrapped case with foam end caps — like I’ve said, no need to change something that works. The foam is completely intact promising me an unharmed case beneath it. The “bag-o-parts” seems to be tied up inside the case. It’s simple; a case in a box, how else would they get it to you?
Now that we’ve got it out of the box it’s time to see how well the box diagram represents what is inside, hopefully it is as sleek as it appears! Head on over to the next page to see what’s under that plastic and foam.
As I take away the foam and plastic I find a nice simple design beneath it. It is basic, black, and even painted on the inside — a major bonus. It already looks pretty classy and it’s just sitting here. I still can’t get over how NZXT is willing to put the extra effort into painting the interior. I’ve bought much more expensive cases that I’ve had to paint myself to get the same finished effect. It really adds more to any case, no matter the size or price range — it just shows that the manufacturer finished the product. Very impressive yet again NZXT!
Moving right along, the case seems like something I’d see on my desk at work, or something very subtle for a living room computer or sophisticated office. It doesn’t scream "freak gamer" with mind-blowing orange, yellow, or blue, but remains classy in all black. Again, back to the idea of setting up a rig in your living room — no arguments with your significant other.
Looking at the sides there isn’t too much to say. They both hold up to a simplistic plain, black, flat panel. One of the seven fans can be placed on the hardware side of the case — perfect for pushing extra air on a hot CPU or GPU. The other panel does its job as it hides all messy cable work.
The front of the case is pretty basic with your mesh bay coverings and a large mesh covering below that. Immediate attention is drawn to the fact that the top edge of the design isn’t straight. It took me several photo attempts to figure out why it looked crooked to me. It tapers off from a higher edge on the left to a lower edge on the right. It seems to make room for a subtle addition of USB ports and headphone/mic jacks. Like the NZXT Tempest 210, there are three 5.25” slots to mount your water bay, optical bay, or what have you.
The power and reset buttons are located just below the third bay slot. The power button being the larger of the two makes it easy to find, yet hard to bump by mistake. The power button looks as if it might light up around the edge to provide a quick glance to whether your quiet machine is in the on or off position. The bottom left edge of the case carves out a subtle credit to the company that brings this beauty to us NZXT.
Taking a top-down profile of the case’s front edge we find another non-symetrical appearance following the same slant as the front edge of the case. One edge tapers down to the other showing the edge of the top bay cover from above. This doesn’t really affect the way the case performs, but it was something I noticed while handling the case. I like the consistent pattern!
Taking a look at the overall case as well as peering around to the back side of the case it appears to be a Plain Jane build. Not overly done, this gamer case just needs some hardware and it is ready to go. It seems to have the same appearance as the NZXT Tempest 210 from the back side. Let’s open it on up and see how things are going to work on the inside.
Opening the case up and taking a peek from both sides of the case, it’s a near spitting image of the NZXT Tempest 210. I honestly can’t find any difference other than the front panel and loss of one fan on the side panel. This case is down to the bones a NZXT Tempest 210. A creative and cost efficient move on NZXT’s part — no wonder they can sell a couple of these bad boys at such low prices to consumers.
Anyway, two fans are pre-mounted inside the case; one at the rear and one in the upper-left slot in the top of the case. The cables for the front panel and fans are already pre-routed and somewhat hidden from view. With the back panel off, there again doesn’t seem to be a lot of room for cable management, but we will see where the mess ends up.
Looking a little closer you will find the three drive bays followed by room to mount eight HDDs, just as the Tempest 210. The clips on the drive bays are just as annoying to position. They seem like they should slide forward and back like most; however, that’s not quite how these work. A careful squeeze at the notched position releases the mounts. Two prongs are revealed that should sufficiently hold your optical drive or water bay solidly in place. Getting them to pop open is still quite the challenge. Even with my small hands, the top two are pretty difficult to maneuver and aren’t the strongest of materials. Like with the Tempest 210, I advise you to be careful in opening these up. Don’t break ‘em!
The eight HDD slots are a bit more manageable with simple turnkey open and close mechanisms. Still made out of plastic, the HDD clips aren’t too strong but seem to do the job without a problem — all they really have to do is hold your drive in place, I’d cringe if they couldn’t do that. The added extra safety is as easy as taking one of your extras and holding on the other side of your drive. They mount the same way on the back side — no problem.
The big hole is still cut in the panel allowing for easy access to your CPU backplate. No longer do you have to worry about screws poking through and bending the back side of your case so your mobo can sit straight. You can easily assemble/disassemble the backplate while your motherboard is still attached to its risers. This is becoming a much more appreciated feature as time moves on, especially if you are dealing with a water block. Small case or not, the options are still positive! The cables from the front panel and fans are also prewired for some easy attachment. The excitement to get some hardware in here continues.
Looking at all the options for connecting the front panel it is nice to see some labels. With the cables all in black, if there wasn’t a labeling system I’d be crying at the trial and error to find my power switch connector. I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly want to jump start my computer on each boot with a screw driver. It has the HD Audio/AC’97 inputs, a single USB header (so half the size of those of you with dual slots), a blue USB 3.0 header (if your mobo supports it), the reset plug, and individual pins for your LED and power buttons. One really nice thing that seems to have already improved my wiring situation is the fact that the LED/power button plugs are all on one linked cable. They can be pulled apart if need be, much like a y-splitter, but it keeps them all together rather than the usual tangled individual wire mess. A manual, some screws, and zip ties are included to string your build together.
Wiring her up proved again that wiring space was limited. Granted, I might have more hardware than most, attempting to cram in a modified water loop, so I can’t complain too much. Everything fit just fine, but since I did get it in the Tempest 210, and since they are the exact same frame underneath, I wasn’t too surprised to get all in there in about the same manner. The only issue I really had was removing the front panel bay covers. Even getting my small hands through the case it wasn’t easy to release them. But once I had them out it was easy to put them back and seal the deal for a solid, sleek build.
Getting the wiring done in this case was a bit of a pain in the butt. I usually work with larger cases so getting the wiring just right in a smaller case proved more difficult than I remembered it being. One problem with such a small case is that there are no openings near the top of the motherboard tray to sneak cables through; because of this the 8-pin mobo connector had to be run across the board. While this isn't unheard of in smaller cases it was something that I had forgotten would even be an issue. The hard drive mounts, while easy to get to, proved to make the routing of the SATA power and data cables difficult. They ended up coiled up just above my pair of hard drives with nary a place to go. The back panel of the case allows for the hiding of some cables, but if you have a PSU with a lot of cabling you'll find yourself tucking most of them into the area around the spare hard drive bays. The back side of the case just doesn't have a ton of room to hide away large bundles of unused connectors.
195mm x 450mm x 495.5mm
Steel w/black coating, Plastic
ATX, mini-ATX, micro-ATX, Flex ATX, mini-ITX
1 x Standard Audio/Mic, 1 x USB, 1 x USB 3.0
External 5.25” Bay Slots:
Internal 3.5” Bay Slots:
- Front -2 x 120mm fans
- Side – 1 x 120mm fans
- Top – 2 x 120/140mm fans (1 x 140mm included)
- Rear – 1 x 120mm fan (included)
- Bottom – 1 x 120mm fan
- VGA Support – 230mm w/hard drive, 330mm w/o hard drive
- CPU Heatsink Support – 160mm
- Wiring Space Support – 20mm
All information courtesy of NZXT @ http://www.nzxt.com/new/
Testing the NZXT Source 220 required heating it up! Testing involved recording temperatures for the CPU, GPU, chipset, hard drives, and overall system during idle and load phases. Load was simulated by running Prime95’s small FFTs, HD Tune, and 3Dmark Vantage for one hour. The maximum temperatures were recording using HW Monitor. It is important to note that each case is tested from its factory setup, including location of fans, unless otherwise noted.
Although the NZXT Source 220 has multiple locations for fans, the case is shipped with only the 140mm in the upper deck as well as the 120mm on the back of the case, both positioned for negative pressure in the case (both are configured to be exhaust). Due to my water cooling setup, the radiator was mounted in the bottom of the case since the back of the case was too crowded for the radiator to fit without interfering with the motherboard. This isn’t too uncommon in these smaller cases — the same had to be done when I tested the NZXT Tempest 210.
- Processor: AMD Phenom II X3 720 @ 3.6 GHz
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE 990FXA-UD3
- Memory: 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 PC3-17000 9-11-10-28 Redline
- Video Card: 4870X2 2GB
- PSU: Antec TruePower New TP-750
- Hard Drives: 2x Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 RAID 1
- Optical Drive: N/A
- Case: Corsair Graphite Series 600T
- OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit SP1
- NZXT Tempest 210
- Corsair Graphite Series 600T
- HAF 932 Black Edition
The NZXT Source 220 really surprised me for its size and how cramped my hardware ended up being. The temperatures at load were comparable with those of the HAF 932, a rather large and roomy case, and were at no surprise comparable to the NZXT Tempest 210. I am very impressed with the ability for such a small case full of hardware to remain at such reasonable temperatures, if not excellent temperatures — major props to NZXT.
In the end the NZXT Source 220 is the NZXT Tempest 210 with a minor face change. The inner structure is exactly the same minus a hole or two for the non-existent top tray. It’s another look available for a case that fits your tight budget build. With a great price and simple appearance it really can’t be beat. Whether you are building for yourself, a friend, or family member this is honestly a great case to get someone into gaming. It’s affordable and looks great! What else can you possibly want on this level? If you can handle the smaller size, then this is your best bet — even with the low cost aside, this is genuinely a very nice case.
To be honest this case is pretty awesome; its low cost is really an added benefit. Once you get your hardware situated it runs like a champ. A few more fans inside and you’ll be competing with the low temperatures of a higher cost case in no time. The sad thing is that some cases still run hotter than this one with only two fans! This case was designed to follow NZXT’s classic line; it’s just unreal how inexpensive this case is and how well it performs. In the end, most cases in this price range aren’t something you would even buy as a last resort — this case really is of good quality at a very low cost. This might be the NZXT case for you. Way to go NZXT on the Source 220!
- Very inexpensive
- Sleek appearance
- Sturdy overall build
- Good air flow
- Great for a build to not be messed with
- Somewhat small in size
- Cheap bay and HDD mounts — very fragile
- Side panels are a pain (but can’t complain too much)