NZXT TEMPEST EVO Computer Case Review

jlqrb - 2009-11-25 12:43:03 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: jlqrb   
Reviewed on: December 30, 2009
Price: $99.99

Introduction:

NZXT is a company that entered the computer chassis market a mere five years ago, but in that time they have managed to make a name for themselves with releases such as the Guardian, Lexa and popular Tempest cases. From the beginning, NZXT has been focusing their products at the gamer and enthusiast market, which can be an extremely hard group to please. Enthusiasts and gamers expect all of the latest bells and whistles and will usually skip over products that don't include them, even if it means paying a higher price. When the original Tempest was released, it included six case fans, tool-less installation, pre-drilled water-cooling tube access, room for eight hard drives, cable management, bottom mounted PSU, side window, and many other features that were a must have at the time and it still managed to come in at just over $100. With its features and price, it quickly became one of NZXT's more popular cases. However, as time passes, new ideas arise and what was new a year ago quickly becomes old. So to keep up with users' demands NZXT has released the Tempest EVO, which is the evolution of the Tempest. The EVO keeps the design and many aspects of the Tempest, but brings a host of new features to the table, such as improved cable management, black painted interior, CPU backplate access, and new case fans for better air flow.

I am glad that NZXT has decided to update the Tempest, as it is a case I have used in the past and one that I liked. I liked the design and exceptional airflow, but I found some of the features such as cable management to be lacking. The front LEDs on my Tempest would also fall out of place every time I would remove the front bezel. These were small issues and overall it was a great case while I had it. I am really going to be looking forward to seeing if NZXT has addressed the issues I ran into and how the new additions change to the overall quality of the case.

 

Closer Look:

The Tempest EVO comes packaged in a large cardboard box. The front of the box has an artistic style to it and shows a Tempest (violent windstorm) bringing the EVO up from the ground. Surrounding the image you will see some general information and a short list of some of the new additions to the case. The back of the box lists the features of the EVO and gives an explanation of how each feature is beneficial to you. Above the features NZXT has included some of the awards given to the Tempest from past reviewers. If you look closely you will see an OCC Silver award; this award is from Alan's (ajmatson) review of the original Tempest back in June of last year. Next to the features, NZXT has included two stock images of the EVO, one is with the case turned on showing off the blue LED lighting in the front and the other gives you a good internal view of the case. On the side of the packaging, the specifications are listed. This is where you will see what sizes of motherboards are supported, the amount of drive bays, and other useful information you will need to know before starting your new build.

 

 

 

The EVO comes securely packaged in the box with two large foam inserts on the sides, as well as a thin layer of plastic wrap surrounding the entire case. The EVO is positioned on its side in the box so you will see the font of the case when you first open the packaging. The direction should prevent any damage to the front of the case from hits to the side of the box during transit. The accessories that are included with the EVO come packaged in a 3.5" box and secured into the hard drive cage. The accessories that are included are used for mounting hardware and wire management. NZXT also included an installation guide that shows you step-by-step instructions of how to install your hardware.

 

 

 

Now that we have taken a close look at the packaging, we can take the EVO out of the box and get our first look at the new features.

Closer Look:

With the case out of the packaging, you can see that, externally, the EVO looks almost identical to the original Tempest. After a closer inspection, you can start to see the new additions and how they might affect you while you are building your system. The first thing I noticed was the non-windowed side panel now protrudes out and matches the shape of the window on the opposite side. Even though this looks nice and gives the case a more symmetrical feel, its main purpose is not merely cosmetic. It creates space, which will give you more room to run your power supply cables up the side of the case which will greatly improve cable management. This was a huge issue I ran into with the original Tempest because my power supply has thick cables and I was not able to run my main power cable along the side of the case and close the side panel, so to me this is a big step in the right direction for the EVO. NZXT has also updated the side window on the opposite side and given it a tinted look, which blends in with the case. The included case fan on the side window has blue LEDs and comes covered with a metal dust filter. Turning to the back, you see some updated water cooling options. The original Tempest was able to support a dual 120mm Rad at the top panel, but it only had two small pre-drilled holes for water cooling. The EVO still supports the dual 120mm Rad, but NZXT has now added two additional water-cooling access holes and expanded the size of them at the same time, this will give the user more options when it comes to water-cooling. You will also notice that on the rear panel the rear expansion slot brackets have been redone and are now black in color and have ventilation holes which are beneficial to air-flow inside the case. The EVO, like its predecessor, is a mid-sized steel chassis with measurements of  211.5 X 521.5 X 562 mm. So at first glance, the two cases look the same, but the new features included in the EVO are really helping it to stand out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The top of the case has a recessed front panel that slightly faces upward. The panel includes a power switch, reset switch, e-SATA, audio jacks, and two USB 2.0 ports. Even though the front panel is recessed in, it is still easy to reach and should not give users any access issues. Behind the front panel are the two vented 140mm exhaust fans, the fans housed here are the largest in the case and remove hot air as is rises from the components below.

 

 

The front bezel comes off easily by pulling it outward from the bottom. Once off, you get a view of the three 5.25" drive bays. The top two drive bays are open and the third bay is occupied by a removable 5.25" to 3.5" adapter, this will be useful for those that still use a floppy drive. Each of the drive bays has its own individual cover and each cover has a rectangular filter that will help prevent dust from getting into the computer. The filters can be easily removed from the cover for cleaning by moving back the metal flaps that hold them in place. The LED cables on the front bezel of the EVO did not give me the same issue I had with my Tempest. In fact, the cables were very secure and did not come loose even after I removed the panel numerous times to test the connection.

 

 

 

Below the drive bays are two 120mm blue LED intake fans. Each fan sits directly in front of the hard drive cages and are attached to the front of the case by a thin metal panel that is secured in place with four screws. The fans can be easily removed by unscrewing the four screws attached to the case, once the screws are out the panel comes off with the fan attached to it. In front of the fan there is an air filter that can be removed by sliding it upward, once removed from the case it can be easily cleaned. When removing the filter, the DVD drive gets in the way, so you will need to remove the installed drive before the filter will come off.

 

 

Now that we have seen the external parts of the case, we can move to the internals and installation.

Closer Look:

When the case is opened, you can get a good view at the all black interior, which definitely gives the EVO a much cleaner look than the Tempest. The fans included with the EVO are an updated version of NZXT's clear LED fans. The new fans are still LED, but their color has now been changed to a white fan blade with black casing which really adds a nice contrast to the system and really makes them stand out. NZXT has also added rubber covers around the wire management holes, these covers are a nice feature, but I found them to be more an annoyance then anything. The covers are not secured very well so every large cable put though it would force the cover out of place and once it was full of cables getting it back on properly was not an easy task. One thing that is not new to the EVO, but is still a welcomed feature is the full support for E-ATX motherboards as well as standard ATX and micro ATX boards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The top slots of the Tempest are 5.25" drive bays and will fit up to three optical drives, the case can also be expanded and has the ability to hold up to six 5.25" drives. In order for the EVO to fit six drives you simply need to remove the hard drive cage and fan from the front of the case.  Once that is out, you can use the extra tool-less mounts to install the drives. The top three drives already have the tool-less mounting bracket in place, so all you need to do is slide your drive and a turn the knob to secure it in the bay.

 

 

The hard drive cages are located directly below the drive bays. Each cage supports up to four hard drives, which allows the EVO to house a total of eight hard drives. Each of the cages has a 120mm case fan directly in front of them that bring in cool air and moves it through the hard drive cages and into the case. The hard drives are installed by removing two of the pre-installed tool-less rails; one of the rails is placed on each side of the hard drive with a small metal insert that goes into the screw holes. Once you have a rail on both sides of the hard drive you simply turn the drive onto its side and slide it into the cage. It is a little disappointing that NZXT did not include any tool-less rails for installation of SSD's.

 

 

The back-plate access hole on the EVO is much larger than some other cases I have seen on the market and should be able to work across both AMD and Intel socket types. My ASUS AM3 motherboard fit nicely, giving me easy access to the back-plate. This is a great upgrade form the Tempest and it is nice to see that NZXT really thought out the placement and size of the hole. I have seen many cases out where the access area doesn't align properly with the back-plate making it completely unusable for certain motherboards.

 

 

Under the motherboard tray, you see that the EVO has kept the power supply at the bottom of the case. NZXT has now added four rubber stoppers that hold the power supply about half an inch off the bottom and an air vent directly below the power supply. Both of these new features will help increase the air flow to the power supply. Above the power supply are the seven expansions slots and the access holes for water cooling.

 

The included case fans on the EVO are a nine blade rifle bearing design that delivers 42CFM at 23dB. A Google search lists these fans as made by Xinchangfeng Electronics Co, which is also known as Martech. This fan also appears to be the same model that Silverstone uses as an exhaust fan on their high-end RV01 Raven Case.

 

 

The Tempest EVO has a large interior which made installation a breeze. My GTX260 easily fit in the case and left about an inch of room between the card and the upper hard drive bay. This should be plenty of room to fit all of the latest ATI and Nvidia graphics cards. If space is an issue due to a large graphics card, you can create more room by removing the HDD cage that is in the way. The wire management in the case is definitely improved from the Tempest, but the bottom of the case does still tend to get a bit messy. With the power on you can see that the EVO's LED lighting is unchanged from the Tempest.

 

 

Now that we have had a good look at the case and new features, we can get on to testing the cooling performance of the EVO.

Specifications

MODEL Tempest SERIES
CASE TYPE MID TOWER Steel
FRONT PANEL MATERIAL PLASTIC
DIMENSIONS (W x H x D) 211.5 X 521.5 X 562 mm

 

COOLING SYSTEM

FRONT, 2 X 120 mm Blue LED (included)
REAR, 1 X 120 mm (included)
SIDE PANEL, 1 X 120mm Blue LED (included)
TOP, 2 X 140mm Fan (included)

 

DRIVE BAYS

9 DRIVE BAYS
3 EXTERNAL 5.25" DRIVE BAYS ( up to six 5.25" )
1 3.5" External bracket
8 INTERNAL 3.5" DRIVE BAYS
Screwless Rail Design
MATERIAL(S) Steel Construction
EXPANSION SLOTS 7
POWER SUPPLY 500 WATT PS2 ATX 12V 2.0 ( OPTIONAL )
WEIGHT 11.2 KGS (W/O Power)
MOTHERBOARD SUPPORT MOTHERBOARDS: E-ATX ATX, MICRO-ATX, BABY AT

 

 

Features:

 

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

Testing:

Cases can play a major role in the cooling of a computer's internal components. A case with good air flow can drop your internal temperatures by a significant margin over a case with lackluster cooling.  This can aid in extending the life of your components, as well as help you reach higher clock speeds while overclocking. If your case does not cool well your whole system can suffer, which can lead to lower overclocks or even in some extreme instances system crashes. This is not to say that cases are the only factor in cooling, but they can be a major part of it. NZXT has updated the fan design for the EVO and have stated that the design delivers more air flow at lower noise levels. There was no specifications of the fans listed CFM or dB ratings, so I will do the testing by ear and cooling performance. To test the cooling performance of the EVO case I will be running a series of benchmarking programs designed to stress individual parts of the computer in order to see how efficiently the case cools each part. I will also be comparing the EVO to the mid-sized Antec Three Hundred (with stock cooling) as well as Tagan's full sized A+ Black Pearl.

 

 

Testing System:

 

Comparison Cases:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The EVO did an amazing job cooling my system. Each stress test I ran had the EVO performing equal to or better than of the other two comparison cases. The dual 120mm intake fans in the front managed to drop my hard drive temps down a whole 10C more of the Antec and Tagan cases. The top and rear exhaust fans also did an excellent job removing the hot air from the top of the case. With the hot air being pulled out, my AMD 955 was able to max out at 59C.  Normally, I wouldn't make a big deal about 3C, but seeing how 62C is my processors max temp, the drop is very welcome. The new fan design did create exceptional airflow and is definitely an improvement over the old design. The fans do create some noise though. That is not to say they are not loud by any means and in fact they create less noise than my Tagan case, but they are audible.

Conclusion:

The NZXT Tempest EVO is not just a simple paint job and repackaging of a popular product. NZXT really took their time in deciding which features would be the most beneficial to add, subtract or even keep the same. NZXT has recreated a case that not only keeps the positive aspects of its predecessor, but manages to surpass it in many ways. One such way is the improved air flow. This is in part due to the new blade design of the six included case fans, which were an improvement over the original Tempest. The exceptional cooling was able to drop my processor's temperature down 3C over the competition, helping it stay below the maximum rated temperature of 62C. Another improved feature is the cable management. The original Tempest had physical features that could be limiting while trying to hide cables, and some of the cable management options just just unusable. The EVO has really enhanced the cable routing by giving more room in the side panel, adding rubber covers over the cable management holes and, of course, painting the interior a solid black which really helps the cables blend into the case. Some new features also included in the EVO are four large water cooling holes, CPU back-plate access, better PSU cooling, vented rear expansion covers, and a tinted side window. All of these new features really add to the overall quality of the case and make the $99.99 price tag a great value.

While the Tempest EVO has made great improvements, I did still run into a few small issues. One such issue dealt with the cable management holes, every large cable put though the holes would bend the rubber cover in and knock it out of position. The cover was just not secure enough to hold in place when heavy cables were pushed through. Next issue dealt with the new fans. The new blade design did manage to produce better airflow throughout the case they also seem to produce more noise than the previous included fans. Like stated before, they were not at a bothersome level, but they can be heard. The last thing is not a problem with the case, but it would have been nice to get a tool-less mount for installing SSDs into the hard drive bays. Overall, I have to say that the NZXT Tempest EVO is a very well executed upgrade over the original design and one that I highly recommend to anyone looking for a mid-sized case.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: