NZXT H230 Silent Mid-Tower Case
The H230 is one of three NZXT's cases in their Absolute Silence line. These include the H230, the H2, another mid-tower, and finally the H630, an "Ultra Tower". Each of these have slightly different specs. The H230 is the entry level case in the Silent Line, two models are avaialable, a black and a white model. The review sample received has the part number CA-H230I-B1, which is the black version; the white version has part number CA-H230I-W1. Both cases are affordable at $69.99 shipped and are backed by a 2-year warranty.
The H320chassis is part of NZXT's Absolute Silence case line, they have pre-installed a sound insulation material on the two side panels. They have included two 120mm fans, which should be tuned for silent operation.
The H230 uses a tray system for 3.5" or 2.5" hard drives; there are six hard drive trays. These must be installed from the back side of the motherboard tray. For video card compatibility, cards up to 15.75in will fit, so all modern cards will fit when the hard drive cage is removed, otherwise if your card is under 11in you can keep the hard drive cage in place. If the middle drive cage needs to be removed, that causes the loss of three of the hard drive trays.
As a mid-tower the H230 measures 195mm x 447mm x 502mm (W x H xD) or 7.7in x 17.6in x 19.8in. Weighing in at 7.25kg or 16lbs which seems to be a good average weight and size. With these measurements, a CPU cooler less than 158mm or 6.2in will be needed; this should allow for most CPU heatsinks to be used, however keep it in mind when looking at the largest tower heatsinks.
NZXT H230 Key Features
- Classic styling, minimalistic design
- Noise absorbing internal padding
- Removable HDD cage
- Tool-free 5.25” latch design
- 7 motherboard expansion slots
- 2x USB 3.0 / audio external connectors
|NZXT H230 Case Specifications|
External 5.25" x 3
Front 2 x 120mm (One Included)
CPU Cooler 158mm
|Dimensions||195mm (W) x 447mm (H) x 502mm (D)|
|Motherboard Support||ATX, MICRO-ATX, MINI-ITX|
|External Electronics||1 x Audio/Mic 2 x USB 3.0|
|Product Weight||7.25 kg|
H230 Retail Packaging
NZXT says that the H230 has "Classic styling, minimalistic design"; the packaging follows the same design. Packed in a plain cardboard box, the front provides a side view of the H230.
The back of the box goes into detail, providing pictures of six of the major features.
One side of the box for the H230 provides a front view of the case. The other side lists all the specifications, making it easy to know exactly what the H230 is capable of.
As with almost every case, the H230 has two large Styrofoam blocks on the ends to keep it from getting damaged. Plus to provide a little protection to the finish, the case is inside a soft foam bag; a little extra protection with some scratch resistance.
As if we would expect anything less from NZXT, they have included a very organized accessory pack. Each set of screws was in their own plastic bag, and labeled exactly which screw was in each bag. For most of us that would not be necessary, but stop to think back to your first build. You probably had to sort through a jumble of screws to find the exact ones that was needed. In addition to the screws, three cable ties were included; a few extra would be nice, and shouldn't raise the price of the case. Finally, a highly detailed user manual is included. One type of screw appears to be missing, which I'll cover later.
H230 External Impressions
NZXT says the H230 has a minimalistic classic design, this is very true. Overall, this model of the H230 is solid black with a little accent on the front door. The finish is a flawless high-gloss piano finish, it will show fingerprints very easily. Covering the front of the case is a solid door, on the bottom left side of the door are a few tiny air vents. The side panels and top panel are plain, there are no additional fans or items worth noting on the side or top panels. More fans and openings means more noise potential. As the H230 is designed for "Absolute Silence" NZXT has to take everything into account to keep the case as quiet as possible.
Since the front panel is covered by a door, along the edge of the bezel are some vents that will allow the front fan(s) to pull in some fresh air. Thankfully NZXT also covered these vents with a wire mesh filter.
On the left side there is a little indentation to allow something to grasp the front door to open it. It is held closed by a couple of magnets. Most doors are fairly lightweight, however this one is pretty solid. It should help to reduce noise from the front of the case. The bezel itself, has three 5.25" drive bays, the covers are held in place by a little slider; I was surprised at how easily the drive covers came out once the slide latch was enabled. Below the 5.25" drive bays is the front fan intake.
The front I/O is actually at the top of the case, pretty standard grouping. A power button, microphone/headphone jacks, two USB SuperSpeed 3.0 and a reset button.
Exactly as we would expect, the back of the case is painted black, this time a matte paint was used. Power supply is bottom mounted which is common anymore. Black thumbscrews hold the side panels in place.
On the bottom of the H230, we find four large feet with rubber pads to keep the case from sliding around. There is a wire mesh screen in place over the power supply and bottom fan locations. This is held in place by clips and not easily removed for cleaning. Here we can see a large opening where the front bezel connect to the case, which this is a good grip when removing the front bezel, it can allow dust to get past the front wire mesh filter.
H230 Internal Impressions
The side panels are removed by two thumbscrews in the back. With the panel off, we can see the interior is painted to match the exterior. The difference is a matte paint was used instead of the high gloss black like the exterior. The 5.25" bays are tool-less, with the clips pre-installed, below the 5.25" bays are the two 3.5" bays. There are three oversize cable management holes, and two smaller ones below the motherboard. The edges are rolled to avoid any cuts, and there are no rubber grommets in place.
It used to be common for the power supply to be at the top of the case. Things have changed and the power supply is more commonly found at the bottom. The H230 follows this new trend, the power supply is at the bottom of the case. There are four tiny feet that have a little rubber anti-vibration spot. At the bottom is also an area for another 120mm fan.
A quick look at the back panel, shows what we would expect from a mid-tower case. On the left (also known as the bottom) is the power supply outlet. Then there are seven expansion slots, which have easily removed covers that are secured with thumbscrews. Above the expansion slots there is a small vent for additional airflow, and two water tube ports that are covered. Finally, the 120mm exhaust fan, and the motherboard I/O port key. It would appear that a 120mm water cooling radiator would fit here, however since I don't have one to try out I can't guarantee it.
As mentioned before, the NZXT H230 is designed for silent running; both of the side panels have some foam sound insulation on them. This soundproofing material is only on the side panels, and not on the top portion of the case. In trying to make the case as silent as possible, I would think you would want to cover as much surface area on the case as possible. The side panels are an obvious starting point, as there are no fans on the top panel. This would be another good place for some additional sound insulation.
Removing the front bezel is pretty straight forward, pull from the bottom and it will come off. Initially it required more force to remove it that I am used to, however that's not a bad thing. Behind the bezel, the 5.25" drive bays are ready for use, no metal plates need to be removed. Below the 5.25" bays, is an area for two 120mm fans, NZXT includes one on the H230. While NZXT provides the option for an additional 120mm fan, they did not include long screws to install a fan here. Looking through the manual it shows four screws should have been with the accessories, however they were not in the review sample. On the backside of the bezel there is a wire mesh filter to help keep dust out of the case. This is not easily removed for cleaning, you will need to use a can of air in order to clean the dust.
The back of the motherboard tray is fairly plain, there are no additional 2.5" drive mounts back here. Directly below the CPU cutout looks to be an area where NZXT could implement a single 2.5" drive mount, however it's not a requirement. There are a large number of cable tie points, which should help keep the cabled tucked away neatly and out of sight. Downside is that NZXT only included three cable ties with the H230.
Usually hard drives are installed from the left side panel; however, the H230 has the drives being installed from the right side panel (the panel facing the back side of the motherboard). This is a personal preference as to whether or not this is a good direction, usually I have four or five drives installed, so I have to remove the back panel anyways to disconnect the cables. However, in a system with only a couple of drives, this might be annoying. Keep in mind that most of those "smaller" systems probably don't change hard drives on a semi-regular basis anyways.
NZXT has implemented a hard drive tray system for the H230. These trays are designed to support both 2.5" and 3.5" hard drives. As is fairly common, the 3.5" drive installation is tool-less, where the 2.5" drives require the use of screws.
H230 Hardware Installation
Installing a system in the H230 is a breeze, for the most part there were no surprises during the build process. The middle hard drive cage is removable to allow for extremely long video cards, to remove it when installing hard drives, there are two thumb screws and the chassis slides out the back. With the chassis removed, you might be able to fit a 120mm radiator in there. Since I don't have one to verify, it's only an assumption.
Once the hard drives are secured to the trays they slide into place and lock in. It’s pretty simple, at least until you go to attach cables. If all the drives are the same size, it probably won't be a big deal. However, if you install an SSD as a boot drive and a 3.5" standard drive for data and try to place them on top of each other, the connectors do not line up. It takes a little more to connect the cables but it is still pretty easy to do.
Stacking the drives on top of each other you can see why the connectors do not line up when installed in the system. This is the only orientation for the drives, if you flip the drives around the holes do not line up correctly. Slight change to the manufacturing of the trays and it would be perfect. Definitely nothing to get upset over, just something that I would like to see changed on future implementations.
Most 5.25" tool-less bays use either a slide, spring loaded release, or a knob to release the locking mechanism. On the H230 it's a snap in type lock, simply squeezing the top and bottom of the latch (in the right spot) and it'll release the latch. Putting it back in place took a little more effort than I expected, but went into place securely.
Installing a 5.25" device is done very easily, as there are no internal drive bay covers to remove, the external covers can be removed without the need to have access to the inside. The slide latch moves easily and provides quick and easy removal. Once it is off, a device can slide into the bay very easily, then it is secured with the tool-less clips internally.
Once everything was in place, it was time to put the side panels back on. The back side panel was rather difficult to get back in place. There is only 14mm (0.5inches) of space for cable management. Unless the power supply happens to have a flat 24-pin power cable, it will be rather thick and with all the other cables back there, there simply isn't a lot of space.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
The NZXT H230 Black Silent Mid-Tower case is a beautiful looking case. The pictures in the review do not do it justice. The case is not very flashy, it doesn't offer LED fans, a windowed side panel, or other features that make cases stand out. What it does offer is simple looks, with clean lines, and a great high-gloss finish. I say this, while recognizing that I prefer the matte finish of most cases; purely because fingerprints on the case would drive me insane.
Cases built by NZXT are typically well built, and the H230 is no different; the physical build and paint quality is up to NZXT's high standards. The removable storage drive cage allows for the long video cards to be installed and the 5.25" tool-less clips work very well. However, the hard drive trays need to be reworked to make sure the drive connectors line up whether a 3.5" or 2.5" drive is installed.
I was unable to find any specific information on the sound insulation material that was used in the H230, it is a foam material that should help block the noise from the various fans inside. While we didn't use a sound meter or remove the foam to see what it was like without it, it appeared to do the job and when the computer was idle, it was barely noticeable.
The only physical issue I had with the NZXT H230 is that if I was going to install an additional 120mm fan, I couldn't do it from the front. There were no long fan screws included; unfortunately the manual says these should have been included. I assume this is an oversight on NZXT's packaging process or within quality control, which can happen at any company.
If NZXT wanted to know what they could improve on the H230, my first recommendation would be to take a close look at the hard drive trays. Next, would be removable filters. And finally, better sound insulation even at the top of the case. Of course, these could increase the price of the H230; keeping in mind that the suggested retail price of the H230 is $69.99 and has a 2 year warranty, even without these this case certainly has a lot going for it as a bare essential case. However, I can't recommend it for a gaming system, as when the fans spun up on mid-range components they were muffled, however they could be heard. If a system is built with components designed for silent operation, the sound insulation on the H230 should work well enough to lower any additional noise. Whatever system is built in the H230 just pick your components geared towards silent operation.
Legit Bottom Line: While generally, I can recommend NZXT's cases, I would be hesitant to recommend the H230. Build quality and features are up to NZXT's reputation. However, the sound proofing didn't seem sufficient, and several improvements should be done to make this a case that is worthy of the reputation of NZXT.