NZXT Source 530 Case Review

hornybluecow - 2013-10-17 20:47:52 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: hornybluecow   
Reviewed on: November 27, 2013
Price: $89.99

NZXT Source 530 Introduction:

Today we take a look at the NZXT Source 530, which is the newest entry into the Source lineup. NZXT is a Los Angeles-based company founded in 2004, which makes it a relatively new company compared to the competition. That being said, NZXT is one of the bigger players in the chassis market, from the ground breaking H series, which are a completely silent chassis, to the heavy hitter Phantom. NZXT has branched out even further to provide the customers with a wide range of power supplies, fans and, of course, case accessories.

With a few features like a built-in fan controller, up to nine fans, and assortment of advance water cooling support, the Source series is NZXT’s answer to an affordable chassis without sacrificing performance. Priced at $89.99, it potentially has a lot to offer that puts it ahead of the game in its price range. So let's dive into the review and see what the NZXT Source 530 has to offer.

 

NZXT Source 530 Closer Look:

Following the trend previously set, I am going to dive right into looking at the chassis after it has taken out of the box. In all honestly unless the box has some major flaw or relates to the product itself, there is not much being missed. If you must know, the box was brown with the specifications listed on the side. Enough about that, here you have the NZXT Source 530, which has its own unique look to stand out from the crowd. The front flaunts the growing trend of three 5.25" expansion bays, along with a few different fan options for the lower half that I will cover later on. The back side of the chassis includes a 140mm fan with eight PCIe expansion slots and spacing for a bottom mounted power supply. Next, the left panel includes a triangular-shaped window allowing most of the motherboard tray to be revealed, but keeping the wires and unnecessary components hidden. Flipping the chassis around, you will find a solid black panel with the power and reset buttons at the front side of the panel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the ability to mount up to three 140mm fans or a 360mm radiator, the top of the chassis can be considered a major selling point. If extra fans or water cooling are not your idea of a good selling point, NZXT has a bit more to offer. On the bottom side of the chassis includes two separate removable dust filters - one for the power supply and the other for covering bottom fan mounts. The filters came out fairly easily and, unlike other designs, these stayed in place as I moved the chassis around quite a bit. However, being a smaller full tower has its disadvantages; from my observation it will be fairly hard to use either of the bottom fan mounts without sacrificing a 3.5" bay or needing a smaller power supply. Overall, I like to have an option to install the fans even if I cannot use it rather than not having it at all. Just be aware that the "up to nine fans" advertising includes these fans in the count.

 

NZXT Source 530 Closer Look:

NZXT took a different approach to the placement of standard I/O ports and Power / Reset buttons. As you can see below, the front has the logo lit by a white LED (covered later) with the mic and headphone jacks next to it. To the right of that are two USB 3.0 ports, which has become a steady replacement of USB 2.0 (since it is backwards compatible). The audio jacks were a bit of a disappointment because of a grounding issue; I often heard a buzzing sound. After wiggling the cables around enough, I was able to get it cleared away and it did not come back. I never did figure out what caused the issue in the first place, but luckily it was not around long enough to matter. Next, on the right front side is the power, LED lights, and reset buttons. All three felt solid enough and I did not have any trouble pressing them down. Unlike other chassis, while the buttons are made of plastic, I felt I could press on them for a long period of time without them breaking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Removing the front panel was not very hard and the only annoyance is the plastic pins that so many companies like to use. In this case, I did not have to fiddle with it much. I was able to pinch the bottom two and work my way up until I felt comfortable enough to pull the panel off all of the way. This time around you may want to actually remove the front to either install new fans or clean the secret dust filter. Yes, I said secret! Behind the front panel is a built in dust filter that can detach from the normal mesh, which can be cleaned and clipped back in. I spent a bit of time trying to clip it back into place, but if you are only doing this once a year, it is not that bad. I really was not expecting this. This is great, even if it is a bit of a hassle to get to because at least NZXT thought to add one. The fans themselves in the front are not included, but support for either two 120/140mm fans or a 200mm fan is an option.

 

 

The manual and a box containing all the screws were located inside the chassis. After past reviews and getting some feedback, I started to look at the manuals more to see if it holds up. NZXT delivers and gives a detailed diagram of what is modular inside the chassis, and what each screw is for. The Cooler Master Stacker was a good example of what not to do, which only includes a sheet with a YouTube channel link. I am still a little bitter about that, but NZXT has gone beyond the norm to make sure you know where everything goes, which is great news for any novice.

 

 

The chassis has a few surprises itself when it comes to lighting. After turning it on for the first time, I instantly noticed the nice lit NZXT logo on the front. To the right of that is the hard drive access light that blinks with a white LED when the hard drive is in use. Located on the right side of the front panel in between the reset and power buttons is where the light switch is. It is an unlabeled button and I did not even notice it until I accidentally pressed it trying to power the machine on. Once the button is pressed, you will notice the back of the chassis lights up with two white LEDs. This is something that I have not seen in a chassis yet. All too often I am fumbling around plugging cords into the motherboard I/O ports in the dark. Overall, the LEDs are fairly dim, but bright enough to illuminate the logo and see the I/O ports on the back. I really enjoy this extra bit of care placed into the chassis and it made my life a bit easier when trying to plug cables in.

 

 

NZXT Source 530 Closer Look:

Compared to the last few chassis I have reviewed, opening this chassis was a much improved experience. This time NZXT kept it simple, with each panel being held in place by two thumb screws and built-in handles. To remove each panel, simply remove both thumb screws and lightly tug on the spacing in the back of the panel for it to slide out. It is true that having handles can detract from the overall look and feel of a chassis. In this case, it does not have any effect and is a much better solution than getting finger prints all down the sides. Inside you can see three tool-less 5.25" expansion bays along with three separate hard drive cages, each of which holds a different number of internal bays (covered later). The motherboard tray itself supports all the way up to E-ATX, but due to the smaller compact size of this full tower, it can be a tight squeeze to get everything in place and plugged in. On the back are all the wires leading from the I/O ports, which were neatly zip tied into place. The key word is "was" because the photo shown below is from after being disassembled, as I forgot to take the picture initially.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each 5.25" bay has NZXT’s own style of tool-less design and this may be my favorite that I have come across so far. It is a very simple and intuitive design. To install a drive, simply pull back the latch, put the drive in half way, and then push the latch back down. As you slide the drive further back, the pins will pop into place without much fuss. NZXT’s idea to only include three bays is starting to become an ever growing trend and it takes advantage of this by wasting no space. When it comes to the 3.5" hard drive bays NZXT did something a bit weird and that is to include three modular cages and stick them together. Each bay is also a strange approach when it comes to installing a hard drive. The trays are made of hard plastic and built with a standard tool-less design. To install a tray, you push both sides together and pull. In doing so, the plastic bay slides right out, while installing is simply doing it in reverse. The strange part is that to install any drive you must open the back panel because that is where the trays slide out from. You cannot reverse the cages or trays. While this is a bit odd, ultimately it really does not matter as installation of any drive requires removing the back panel to plug cables in anyway.

 

 

 

One of the neatest features the Source 530 has to offer is a fan mount directly adjacent from the top PCIe slots. This is great for anyone concerned about keeping those video cards cool, especially in a multi-GPU setup where they are a quarter of an inch away from each other. The fan mount is connected to the top hard drive cage and can be dismounted if the space is required. In fact, with the fan installed, the official spacing is 282mm (11.1"). This can be a concern for dual GPU cards or aftermarket coolers that are 11" or longer. Pictured below is the GTX 770 reference card, which is using the 780/Titan cooler. I think when NZXT measured the length it only took into account reference models of AMD and NVIDIA video cards. It is not a bad thing, but be aware that in order to take advantage of this feature, you will need to double check the length if you have an aftermarket cooler.

 

 

The back of the Source 530 holds a good amount of space for cable management. Like many other full towers, including one inch of clearance is overall a good idea. When you are not using a modular power supply, you may still want to hide all of the wires. I was able to hide all of the wires without any issues (which tends to be a pet peeve of mine if I cannot hide the wires).

 

Here you have it: a fully assembled NZXT Source 530 chassis! Installation of the motherboard and components was very simple with little problems. There was only one major concern that I noticed half way through installation: the USB 3.0 header on the motherboard was almost between the tray holes. This caused the bulky USB 3.0 cable to bend the header of the board in an unsafe manner. Ultimately, I disconnected it in fear of breaking the motherboard. This will only be a concern for people who have motherboards with an angled USB header about half way up the right side or if they have a MSI Z87-GD65 motherboard. Just make sure to double check before using the chassis if you want to use the USB ports on the front. Otherwise, I did not have problems working with this chassis.

 

NZXT Source 530 Closer Look:

Normally a chassis does not require a page dedicated to all of its extra features, but I felt it was necessary here. The NZXT Source 530 has a few surprises for a chassis priced under $100. First, let's start with the basics and then onto the surprise at the end. NZXT went above the standard by including a dedicated fan hub that supports up to ten fans. It is not often that a company is willing to add a device of this type. Rather companies usually let the consumer fork over even more money just to use the chassis to its full potential. The only downside to the hub is that it is just a distribution point and not a control mechanism; so all of the fans attached to it run at full speed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As explained earlier in this review, NZXT took a different approach for the hard drive cages. On top of each hard drive tray being installed opposite of the norm, NZXT also chose to use three different cages - each its own size. It does puzzle me a bit why the designers chose this and I can only assume the reason is because they wanted to leave a hard drive bay if longer video cards are installed. Each cage is held in place by thumb screws on the back and once removed, the cage slides right out, thus creating a simple and effective method for a modular cage .

 

The top allows for installation of either three 120 or 140mm fans, as explained before. It also allows for installation of radiators for water cooling support, like the Corsair H100i pictured below. Installing it was easy enough and cleared the VRM heat sinks just fine. It is also possible to install up to a 360mm slim radiator, which will take up the top 5.25" bay once installed. This brings up the issue of being a compact full tower; you really have to treat this as a mid tower when it comes to water cooling support.

 

Following the top, the lower half of the chassis also supports a 240mm radiator. It was a surprise to me to find this feature listed in the manual because of the compact size of this full tower. Unless you can think outside the box, it may be hard to install everything needed for a custom water cooling setup. It will be a challenge once everything is installed, including the tubes, wires, and reservoir. It is good that NZXT tried to include features that may be overlooked or unused. Unlike the Fractal Design ARC XL with the bays that can be relocated to the left, once either front radiator is installed, you lose the ability to use the hard drive cages.

 

NZXT Source 530 Specifications:

Case Type
Full Tower
Dimension
235 X 507 X 510 mm
Side Panel
Transparent Window
Color
Exterior & Interior : Black
Cooling System
Front (intake) :
2x 140 / 120mm or 1 x 200mm (optional)
Interior:
1x 120 /140 mm Fan (optional)
Rear (exhaust) :
1x 120 /140 mm (120mm included)
Top (exhaust) :
3 x 120mm or 2 x 140mm (120mm included)
Bottom (intake) :
2x 120mm (optional)
Material
Steel, Plastic, Mesh
Drive Bays
Accessible : 3 x 5.25’’
Hidden : 6 x 3.5’’
SSD Behind Tray: 1x 2.5”
Expansion Slots
8
Motherboards
ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX, EATX (322x272mm)
I/O Ports
2 X USB3.0 / 2 x AUDIO
PSU
Standard ATX PSU (optional)
LCS Compatibly
Font:  Up to 280mm Radiator
Top: 240 / 280 / 360mm Radiator
Bottom: 240mm Radiator (?)
Rear: 120 / 140mm Radiator
Other
CPU cooler height limitation: 182mm
VGA length limitation: 310 mm (444mm W/O Cage)
Cable Management 26mm (Lowest Point)

 

NZXT Source 530 Features:

All information is courtesy of: http://www.nzxt.com/product/detail/137-source-530-full-tower-computer-case.html

NZXT Source 530 Testing:

Testing a chassis requires the computer to stay at idle and load for one hour. Doing so will give you an idea of what your computer may be like under stress. Normally your computer will not be running this hot, but we do not all live in cold weather or do similar things. Therefore, a full stress test can give people the idea of what it can handle and whether or not heat gets trapped over time. The case is left with stock features to give you an idea of the temperatures without the need for extra fans. It's almost guaranteed to have a slight drop in temperature when more fans are added, but that will not be covered unless noted. I will be using Prime95 "small FFTs" for the CPU load and 3Dmark Vantage "Extreme preset" for GPU for one hour. After an hour the temperatures are recorded using HWMonitor in Celsius (°C).

Setup:

Compared Cases:

 

 

 

 

 

The results are in and the Source 530 stands fairly well against the competition. The CPU and Video Card did very well at idle and load all without a front fan. I was a little suspicious of what this chassis could offer in a compact form. In fact, this was beneficial because even though everything is a bit closer, there is less space for air to linger. The chipset temperatures fell in the middle, but as we move onto the new 1150 Intel socket, the chipset temperatures are cool enough not to require a fan. This in turn shows even under load hitting 40 °C is not a big deal. The solution to lower the temps across the board is to install a front fan and that should drop the temperatures a few degrees. I would have liked to see NZXT add a front fan, but as you can see from the charts, it did not hurt the chassis enough to be noticed.

NZXT Source 530 Conclusion:

Let us recap my reasoning and scoring method before diving into my final words. First I look at what the company is saying it offers. For example, say the company states the case supports large / long graphic cards or ten quiet fans. In this example, I examine what is advertised versus what is actually offered. Most of this becomes uncovered as I take pictures to document the product. If the company does not stay true to its word, then it loses points because no one ever wants to be sold on false advertisement. Next I look at what the product is marketed for and put it into perspective. An example of this could be trying to overclock a CPU in a Mini-ITX case and expecting a low temperature. This would contradict its target market and something I try to catch so it does not affect the score. The last bit is my own interjection. What could the case offer in its price range, and what do other companies offer. This category may include an extra fan, cable management, different color paint, or support for larger video cards. This list is endless so let's move on to the conclusion.

NZXT shows that care and thought can be placed into a sub $100 chassis. Before we conclude, let me explain the pros and cons listed below. Starting with the cons, my problems with this chassis are very minimal. The front audio ports' initial buzzing was very disappointing to me with everything else turning out so well for the chassis. I tried to narrow down where the problem was coming from, but it is entirely possible that the buzzing came from the extension audio connector NZXT provides. In any case, after removing the front panel again and plugging the audio cable back in to the motherboard, the buzzing went away. I could not get the buzzing to come back after three weeks, but it still is something to mention. Second, as I mentioned earlier in the review, the USB 3.0 port on the motherboard can potentially not fit the cable. This is not something NZXT can really fix and it is unfortunate that the cable is so large, along with the placement of the port. In all honestly, if I had to choose between using the port with a bit of a bend or losing the front USB ports, I would choose to bend it and hope it does not cause damage in the long run. This also only affects a small number of motherboards with the port in exactly the same place and angled; just double check before buying this chassis.

With a good amount of positive things to say, I am going to try and focus on the most important topics. Overall, for a chassis to be successful, it needs to have a large video card and CPU cooler support. NZXT hits the mark and even goes a bit further by including a fan mount on the top hard drive cage to provide extra air to the video card, if installed. Being a sub $100 full tower can cause companies to cut corners or remove features, but NZXT once again goes above the norm and includes a decent fan hub in case you want to use the chassis to its fullest. Lastly, with a solid metal frame and an ability to install up to a 360mm radiator on top, this chassis has a lot going for it.

The NZXT Source 530 is an overall great chassis with very few flaws at this price. In fact this is one of the best sub $100 full towers I have come across. It may not be the best chassis on the market, but it hits all the marks and definitely follows the NZXT affordable approach without sacrificing quality. If you can overcome the minor potential issues in this chassis, you cannot go wrong for a compact, full tower case for under $100.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: