NZXT Tempest 210 Case Review
Reviewed by: BluePanda
Reviewed on: September 20, 2011
Your case is often the piece that really says something about you. Wild with colors or subtle and plain - the case says something about your style. In the end it all comes down to getting all your hardware inside; this is where size starts to count. Suddenly having the biggest video card on the market to support your e-ego soon becomes an issue when trying to cram it in a small case, no innuendo intended. However, just because you have all the parts in the world doesn’t mean you don’t want a small sleek case to conceal it all.
Today we take a look at NZXT’s new release, the Tempest 210. Designed for those on a small budget or even just someone looking for a cost effective case, the Tempest 210 stands in as the affordable mid-tower. As NZXT’s latest addition to their series of “Airflow Kings,” the case is intended to “aggressively dissipate heat with advanced mesh design.” With the potential of housing up to eight fans this case is ready to blow you away. I have always found NZXT to be a powerful supplier in the fan world, so I am quite excited to see what they have to offer for containing and cooling my components. Let’s take closer look at the NZXT Tempest 210.
The packaging for the NZXT Tempest 210 is your average plain uni-color printed cardboard box. Designed to hold up to long delivery trips and the fun and games of your local delivery crew the box still has some pep left in it when it shows up on your door step. The quick sketch preview of the case gives a small idea of what is going to be inside but leaves you wondering and ready to tear it open.
The side of the box lists the usual specifications of case dimensions, weight, materials and such. The best category on this side is the “Cooling” section where it lists all the possible fan setups you can run; with placement for as many as eight fans, 120mm or larger, this case seems ready to move some air. Rotating the box around to the back we are given a few quick glances of notable features: massive mesh for flow, inclusion of two fans in the box, screw-less drive bays, a 3.0 USB slot on the front of the case, and cable management slots to route cables. For such a small stature in its box I am becoming a little nervous about getting all my components squeezed inside, yet yearning to find out how much air this bad boy can move.
Cutting open the top of the box I’m not surprised to find the usual plastic wrapped case and end caps of foam. The majority of all cases are shipped this way and has worked pretty well over the last several years – no need to really change. The usual “bag-o-parts” seem to be secured with in the case, so pulling it out of the box, you’ve got a case in some plastic with some foam; nothing to exciting, but what did you expect? Clowns?
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 they hype is all worth it! Move on to the next page to see what’s under that plastic.
The first thing I notice as I remove the plastic veil is the simplicity of the design. It isn’t lame like your stock Dell case from ten years ago, but rather basic, black – and wait a minute – the inside is painted as well! A lot of newer cases are coming shipped with the insides painted, but thinking back to my Tuniq 3 and plenty of other cases I’ve run through, painting the inside myself was never fun. It always, always looks better with black on the inside, unless of course your case has the metal finish all over. I am impressed; considering the low cost of the case, I expected there to be less.
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.
The front of the case is pretty basic with your mesh bay coverings and large mesh covering below that. Immediate attention is drawn to the fact that there are only 3 bays to this case. However, considering most people have only a single DVD drive, possibly two, this shouldn’t be an issue. Personally I tend not to mount an optical drive, but rather use an external; however, in its place I can mount my water cooling bay reservoir, which (fortunately) only requires a single slot.
Turning it around to the backside the continued mesh pattern appears. A 120mm white NZXT fan is already mounted for use, now all we need are some components. The removable video card and other SLI/PCIe slot covers are mesh as well so there won’t be any need for removing further for extra air flow. The I/O plate cutout and power supply bay are begging for some constituents.
Looking at the sides there isn’t too much to say. They both hold up to a simplistic black theme. Two of the eight listed fan locations are located on the main side panel of the case. With sliding adjustments available it’s possible to place one or two fans over a particularly hot CPU, or GPU for that matter, for better cooling. The other side, on the other hand, does its one job – hides the messy cable work.
Taking a closer look at the front panel of the case you’ll find a USB slot, a 3.0 USB slot (it’s the blue one), a headphone and mic jack, a power button, a reset button, and the lights for power and hard drive activity. Basically, these are the typical indicators and quick plug locations. The power and reset buttons are made of soft silicon that click when pressed. The reset button is nice and small and nearly requires a pen to press it – no more accidental resets. The power and hard drive lights are very sleek and add a nice modest touch. They are very thin and light up in white. The HDD light seems to have multiple brightness levels which increase with the HDD load. To literally top it off another seemingly cup holder style top is presented. Somewhat like the HAF 932 top the NZXT Tempest 210 can hold your favorite beverage or a couple of thumb screw while you are working on a quick hardware swap. However, it is a rather shallow bay, and really seems to only serve as for looks.
If you look at the first two drive slots in the picture you can see that they have little black sliders on them. They slide left to release the panels so that you can quickly rinse off some dust or easily install a new optical bay. Made of plastic they aren’t entirely strong, but considering how often you will actually use them… they should be okay.
After opening the case on up and taking a peek from both sides the case, like I mentioned before, this case is fully coated in paint. A finished inside is rather reputable for the price we are looking at here; I do recall several significantly more expensive cases that don’t have a finished look like this – but to avoid debate I will move on.
Two fans are already pre-mounted inside the case; one at the rear and one in the upper left top slot. The cables for the front panel and fans are already pre-routed and somewhat hidden from view. With the back panel off there doesn’t seem to be a lot of room for cable management, but we shall see.
Looking a little closer you will find the three drive bays followed by room to mount eight HDDs. The clips on the drive bays are labeled with the NZXT logo and seem like they should slide forward and back like most, however, that’s not quite how these ones 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 the difficult part. Even with my small hands the top two are pretty difficult to maneuver and being made of plastic they seem to be a little on the flimsy side. When I popped the top one open, I already shed some plastic. It still works but doesn’t really lock down anymore unless there is something in the bay. Just my words of advice, be careful!
As for those crazy eight HDD slots, they seem to be a little less of a struggle. Though they have turn knobs to release them, they are again made out of plastic. I didn’t break any of these, but they don’t feel to be the strongest things in the world. Again two metal prongs are ready to grab on to your drives. If you want extra security in them not moving, you can grab one of the extra (if you don’t have eight drives) and take it around to the other side. They mount the exact same way there!
Focusing your attention to the back of the case, we see more mesh. The PCIe/PCI slots are covered with mesh backing that can easily be removed with a screw driver. Two punched holes are ready to have their metal leftovers removed and replaced with the included water tube rings (pictures are coming up). Just above that is one of the pre-mounted 120mm fans ready to exhaust some heat.
Next, we take a look at the front panel connectors. The back side has the cables already pre-routed for use and zip-tied neatly in place. Where they have them located makes sense as they come through the bottom opening to plug right into the board. Labeled in white letters, the cables are clearly marked for position since they are all black in color. 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.
The last little bit before getting hardware in is the plastic bag with instructions and tons of screws. As with most cases a brief manual is included to break down all the features of the case if you hadn’t already found them all. A couple zip-ties are included for some cable management along with plenty of screws for all your needs. Two grommets are provided for filling in the back water tube holes and finishing up the overall look. Nine motherboard risers are provided with a nifty helper tool so you can get through the coating of paint with a screw driver rather than your fingers. It’s time to use the NZXT Tempest 210!
Wiring her up proved quickly that the “wiring space support” was very minimal. 20mm really isn’t that much when you are trying to route power cables. However, seeing that I did get my current rig components into this case speaks for its size not being too small. A 4870x2 isn’t exactly a small card, but without drives right next to it, it does fit. My re-tubed ECO ALC with water bay was a little more of hassle to get in. With limited room at the top of the case the radiator and fans ended up in the bottom of the case – perhaps this will provide better cooling. Unfortunately, it really just didn’t fit anywhere else. Again though, considering the fact that my water cooling components fit at all is another positive for the case.
The wiring was quite the pain. I usually have pretty good patience with trial and error in routing cables in odd places considering the small cases I’ve had in the past. I guess I’ve just been babied having larger full tower cases in the more recent times. I forgot how “tacky” cables across the board look. Unfortunately the 8 pin mobo connector had no other route than to the right, over the board and plugged in. There wasn’t enough room to route it out the back panel with all the power supply cables and radiator in the way. The SATA cables ended up being right next to the drives which just mean looping the cable length back and behind the bays. The majority of cable bulk didn’t fit in the cable management side of the case. Most of the extra lengths got tucked under the hard drives. But all and all, for the size of the case, and factoring in the fact that there is no window in the side panel, it’s not all so bad.
195mm x 455mm x 490 mm
ATX, mini-ATX, micro-ATX
1 x HD 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 – 2 x 120mm fans
- Top – 2 x 120mm fans (1 x 140mm included)
- Rear – 1 x 120mm fan (included)
- Side – 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: http://www.nzxt.com/new/products/crafted_series/tempest_210
Testing the NZXT Tempest 210 required heating it up! This testing involves temperature records 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 Tempest 210 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.
- 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
- Corsair Graphite Series 600T
- HAF 932 Black Edition
The NZXT Tempest 210 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. The idle temperatures were a bit higher in every situation, but that could easily be reduced with even the addition of one fan. I am impressed with the ability for such a small case full of parts to remain at such reasonable temperatures; major props to NZXT.
Overall the NZXT Tempest 210 really fits a tight budget build with a great price and simple appearance. It is a perfect for a build for a friend, co-worker, or family member who probably won’t require working much inside the case, nor care too much what it looks like inside. I’m not saying this couldn’t be a perfect case for you either – it is designed as a gaming case with a slight resemblance to the Cooler Master HAF 932 full-tower case; it’s just a smaller case which tends to be difficult to work with. However, if you are ready to settle in with a consistent build, one you don’t plan on changing out parts every month this is a perfect case!
To be honest, for the price this case is pretty awesome. Once you get your hardware situated it runs like a champ. I can’t even imagine putting a couple more fans in just to see how crazy the temperatures can be. This case was clearly designed well in the airflow category; it’s just unreal how the temperatures compare to more expensive cases. In the end, most cases in this price range aren’t something you would even want to give to an enemy – this case really is of good quality at a lower cost. This might be the NZXT case for you or a friend -- the NZXT Tempest 210, it’s ready to handle all the heat.
- Cost efficient – very cheap case
- Sleek appearance
- Potential for a ton of fans
- Great air flow
- Great for a build to not be messed with
- VERY small case (this could be a pro for some)
- Bay clips feel cheap, but can be replaced with screws
- Old school side panels difficult to put on