NZXT Zero 2 Review
Reviewed by: RHKCommander959
Reviewed on: December 29, 2008
Gamers and computer enthusiasts are always looking for a way to keep their gear looking cool, while keeping it looking cool. Usually quality and strength are very important too, as well as size. It all comes down to personal preference and price range.
NZXT, a rather new company, was founded in 2004 and is based in California. The company's main consumer targets are gamers, and its main product is computer cases. The company also produces power supplies and mice. NZXT's newest case is the Zero 2, a sequel to one of its top models, the Zero. The Zero 2 bears some resemblance to the older model, with the quad 120mm fan holes on the side, X shape in the front, dual 120mm in back, single 120mm in front, two 80mms, and the full tower chassis design. The new Zero 2 does not come with quad fans installed however, and is steel rather than aluminum. Testing will tell if the new is better than the old.
When the box came, I was surprised by how glossy the surface was. It rattled a bunch so I was praying for the case's sake that some accessories came loose. Other than the usual scuffs, the box looked great. The front shows a profile view of the case, as does the back with some features listed and described. The top and bottom are plain blue, and the sides match – listing the specifications of the case, and whether it has a power supply. Also, each side has a handle to move this behemoth.
The case is protected by two thick foam blocks, and also by a large plastic sheath to help keep it from getting damaged (by scratches, moisture, etc). The box itself is fairly durable, but mine had a few punctures – damage was avoided because of how far the blocks spaced the case away.
The accessories come in a box labeled the “Accessory Box,” with the manual crammed next to it. It contains tool-free quick release drive-bay mechanisms for an easier installation and hardware maintenance. The hardware comes in individually labeled bags. Also included is a zip-tie and tie mount for wire management of the case wiring.
Let's open it up and see the performance!
The Zero 2 is a full tower case with five external 5.25” drive bays, supporting ATX, Micro-ATX and Baby AT. The case is made of steel, with plastic on the front panel. There is room for seven 120mm fans to be installed in this case, but it comes with only three, whereas the original Zero came fully installed with seven. When powered on, the case has a blue glow by the power switch and front fan area, as well as up at the power LED.
When powered on, the case has a blue glow by the power switch and front fan area, as well as up at the power LED. The back has room for two 120mm fans, which allows air to pass very close to the motherboard.
The front panel swings open to reveal the five 5.25” and two 3.5” drive bays, and is held shut by a couple of strong magnets.
The quad fan design is a nice feature, but in my opinion should be treated differently if it is going to be left empty. Unless consumers are going to purchase four fans, it looks rather funny. The case will be tested as-is, without installing four extra fans to see how capable it is of running without. The other side is plain, showing a glimpse of the thick hinges – they feel sturdy enough.
The top and bottom both feature room for 80mm fans, while the bottom is not listed as being used with a fan. The bottom hole also has a filter. The bottom of the case also has the handle for removing the front panel, and the feet are typical. The screws for the side panel are metal covered in plastic, and work nicely while also being soft.
Inside, the case is unpainted. A minor inconvenience, but since there is no window it’s even less to worry about. There are plenty of options for moderate wire management through holes and along the support beam. The wires for the front panel are hidden inside a white bag upon entry, with twist-ties holding them and the bag in place.
Dual 120mm fans in back are a very nice feature to have; the side panel quad 120mm fan holes are pretty basic mesh and large holes for the fans, little holes for the fan screws. Users must first remove the mesh, which is held on by a few small screws. The case comes with screws for fans as well.
Seven expansion slots are the standard for any case that supports an ATX motherboard; this one however, does not have a tool-free design. A nice support has been riveted near the expansion slots to help reinforce the case.
The drive bays are perforated, helping heat escape from devices that can get hot like hard drives. In front of the drive rack is a hole with a wire leading to the front 120mm fan, which will also push some fresh air through the holes to the hard drives. The included fans are labeled NZXT and are rated for 12v 0.8a, and feature both 3-pin and 4-pin male & female connectors so users can either connect to a motherboard, fan controller, or power supply.
The motherboard layout guide suggests that the case can support more motherboard standards than what are listed, with EATX, and Mini ATX also being listed. However, the drive bays cover up a few of the mounting holes required for an EATX motherboard. There are also at least a dozen extra holes drilled into the tray, a few larger without threads. The drive bays also have a few of these extra holes around.
The front panel comes with eSATA, USB, and three types of audio connectors in one (HD Audio, AC ’97, etc). It also comes with the standard four cables: power button, reset, hard drive activity LED, and power LED. Also included is a 4-pin connector for the extra power LEDs.
|ATX Full Tower|
210.5mm(L) x 532mm(W) x 536mm(H) (8.3"x21"x21.1")
ATX/Micro ATX/ Baby AT
|Power Supply Compatibility||Standard ATX|
|Material||Chassis: 1.0mm SECC; Front Panel: Plastic|
|Net Weight||10.2kg ~ 22.5lb|
|External 5.25" Bays||5|
Internal 5.25" Bays
External 3.5" Bays
Internal 3.5" Bays
3x120mm Fans, room for 4x120mm, 2x80mm more
USB, Audio In/Out, eSATA
- Full tower steel chassis
- Quad 120mm fans dedicated for CPU and GPU cooling
- Dual 120mm exhaust
- Screwless installation for 5.25" and 3.5" devices
- Intel HD audio compatibility
- Top mounted USB, Audio, and E-SATA Ports
- Sturdy 1.0mm steel chassis
Testing the Zero 2 will be done by seeing how well it can keep the system cool while idle and while under maximum load conditions. The main points of interest are the CPU, video card GPU, hard drive, and motherboard chipset. The competition is the venerable Hiper Osiris, which also features three 120mm fans. Prime95 is used to stress the CPU using the Small FFTs option, while ATITool’s 3D test will stress the GPU. The error scanning option in the program HDTune stresses the hard drive. Also, the CPU fan is set to run at its maximum, the GPU naturally throttles to keep itself in a safe range.
- Processor: Intel Q9450 Core 2 Quad 333x8
- Motherboard: Gigabyte X48-DS4
- Memory: Mushkin XP2 Redline 8000 2 x 2GB 5-5-5-12
- Video Card(s): HIS 3870 512mb
- Power Supply: Mushkin 800 watt Modular power supply
- Hard Drive: Samsung 750GB SATA
- OS: Windows Vista Ultimate
- Hiper Osiris
- Open Air
The Zero 2 cooled the chipset and CPU better, but didn’t fair as well on the GPU or hard drive compared to the Osiris. The Zero 2 has the worst hard drive temperature, likely due to the awkward holes not allowing air to pass the hard drive bay. Overall, the temperatures were held within a reasonable level, and if the side panel was installed with four fans it may fair even better, although it is not necessary to do so. The case should be wide enough to accommodate large aftermarket heat sinks, which would also help.
Overall, this case looks great from the outside, and does well inside. The ability to house seven 120mm fans is a huge bonus, but fans of the original Zero will be let down by the fact that it only comes with three. The front looks trendy, the blue lines against the black and smokey gloss make it look space-themed. Also, the USB, eSATA, and front audio are easily accessed thanks to them being located on the top. The case is plenty roomy, and easy to work in, especially thanks to the tool free drive bay devices. There are plenty of spots to run cable and also a few to hide them, which is nice for airflow and for cases with windows.
The many various extra holes dotted along in the motherboard tray, combined with the fact that the tray says it can handle EATX motherboards (while being partly covered by drive bays) leaves some confusion. All of the good looks are focused on the front and some on the side; the other side is plain, but this is not terrible, it just means that the case should be angled properly. Inside, the random little holes drilled into the drive bays look bad along with the over-spray. On a side note, this case wouldn’t be very easy to water-cool internally without sacrificing looks. I liked working with this case, it was fairly easy to use. Fans of the original Zero may not like this edition as much since some of the features have been removed, but some new ones were put in place. One is the switch from aluminum to steel for the chassis. This case is great for anyone looking for a large case with good airflow with even more possible with the addition of more fans.
- Easy drive installation
- Room for many fans
- Looks great from the front/side
- Front panel located on top
- Room for cable management
- Only three out of a possible seven fans included
- Interior quality (random holes & overspray)