Page 4 - Installation and Conclusion
Installation of hard drives came first, and it was easy -- but it did require some work. We would have appreciated a screwless installation system to speed up the process, and make the lower bays more intuitive to actually use in a practical manner. Similarly, the rest of the installation from the motherboard down was a cinch and with very little frustration. With all the extra room, everything was simply easier; the extra room proved to be very valuable. The biggest issue we had was that we needed to install the power supply last, or else it would be impossible to install other items such as the motherboard or larger heatsinks.
The front mounted power supply led to some messy cabling as seen above. This power supply placement is definitely not optimal, and I understand why there is no window option available on this product. Yes, I may not be as skilled in cabling as teh chc, but even I could cable better if I could hide the cables behind the motherboard more conveniently. Leaving all the cables out does make it look pretty bad, but at the very least, I won't be spending too much time staring at it.
Installing my Cooler Master Silent Pro M 1000W was a cinch. There is a side mount that keeps the power supply from touching the base of the case, and using the included screws, it was easy enough to install the power supply. Predrilled holes made the installation process simple. Given the amount of space, even our relatively large (Both physical and wattage wise hehe) power supply proved not to be a big issue. The quality of the build is simply amazing, and everything from the inside to the outside works like a charm. The lightweight aluminum are well cut, combined with its smoothed out edges are simply some of the finest craftsmanship of cases I have recently seen. It may not be the most durable metal, but it sure is solid, and a lot lighter than steel constructed cases. Weighing in at only 6.3kg empty, there is a lot of space for such a lightweight chassis.
Even with everything installed, the chassis on the exterior looks the same as before. It feels like more of a camouflaged tank, or maybe one of those normal looking econoboxes with a turbocharged engine under the hood. Whatever the case, this chassis still looks amazing, and most of the installation process was easy enough. As they said it being "LAN ready", well, at this moment I am in a hurry to showcase this chassis to my fellow gamers at the next LAN party. Easier installation is always a key to chassis design; undoubtedly the NZXT Panzerbox has some simple issues, but it was still a lot easier to build than any German Panzer IV haha. At least the fans run very well, and even greatly improved the cooling performance of our Thermaltake TMG IA1 heatsink thanks to its immense airflow. So yes, the fans do make a huge difference in airflow, and it is evident without questions.
With everything plugged in and ready to go, we were ready to move on to our final ratings. The NZXT Panzerbox is aesthetically pleasing in its simplicity and shape. The front LEDs aren't anything special, but they do provide a nice complement with the blue power LED, and the green HDD activity LED. Similar to other new cases, the power LED cable is split into two independent wires for maximum compatibility with all motherboards. I've ran into problems in this regard before, it's not a pleasant sight to bend the pins to accommodate the connectors! One of the biggest advantages of this case is the fans and their excellent job in providing increased airflow. On the other hand, they are the do emit their share of noise. On a scale from 0.0 to 10.0 where 0.0 is the silent and 10.0 is loudest, the fans would come in at 5.0 subjective sound rating in my opinion. It is just a bit louder than those high RPM ball bearing 120mm fans, but much quieter than any of those even louder high RPM 140mm fans. It would be a lot better if there was a quieter fan, but a fan at 190mm is not only hard to come by, but at that size, it would be hard to make little noise at maximum speed. Anyways, it is possible to undervolt the fans using a fan controller or otherwise, since they use the three pin fan connectors instead of the standard four pin Molex connectors. Larger fans provide better airflow at lower angular velocity, so it has the potential to be quiet.
It's hard to say that any computer chassis is perfect, and you are absolutely right in making that conjecture. This case is by no means perfect, similar to some of the mechanical problems early Panzer IVs had. There are some minor problems that can be easily resolved, but all in all, the NZXT Panzerbox stands up to be a great competitor in the case market. Does the Panzerbox bulldoze over its competition? Well, yes -- in a sense. The airflow of the case is simply amazing. It adds a lot of cooling potential, and even greatly increasing thermal management capabilities. For all those power hungry and scorching hot components, this would be a great case to check out in order to accommodate your components both physically and thermal-wise. The chassis itself is also built very solid and aesthetically pleasing, while being clean and simple at the same time. Space is also a major plus for this case, as the widened stance gave more room for installing components as well as increasing airflow. Even little things such as the included external 5.25" bay to 3.5" drive bay converter could serve as a big convenience to users who needs to install parts such as a card reader. Placement of front panel connectors is decent, and the array of available ports certainly contributed to a level of convenience for today's computer enthusiasts. With the use of space behind the motherboard as a place for cabling, it's also one of those great features we'd always look for in a computer case. However, for all the good things I have to say about the NZXT Panzerbox, there were still some minor troubles I've had with it. The foremost is the location of the odd side mounted power supply bay. It may have been a good idea thermally or aesthetically, but it certainly didn't contribute to easy installation. Not only did it get in the way a lot of the time, but it also made good cabling very challenging. The second issue I've had with this case was the lack of complete tool-free installation rather than simple thumbscrews here and there; when I buy a case of this caliber, refinements in these areas are in expectation. At $120 MSRP, this has pretty much become the standard. The biggest concern was the fact that NZXT could include the tool-free drive installation system used in their own NZXT Beta, which ironically retails for half the price. Then there was the noise -- the 190mm fans provided very commendable airflow, but the side effects of this were the increased noise level at default speed. Improvements to these areas could be considered for an NZXT Panzerbox II, just like the German tanks, they need to be retrofitted to be the most effective on the move... err... market.
Special thanks to Matt representing NZXT for making this review possible.
APH: Renewal Award | APH Review Focus Summary:
7/10 means Great product with many advantages and certain insignificant drawbacks; but should be considered before purchasing.
8/10 means Definitely a very good product with drawbacks that aren't likely going to matter to the end user.
-- Final APH Numeric Rating is 7.5/10
Please note that the APH Numeric Rating system is based off our proprietary guidelines in the Review Focus, and should not be compared to other sites.
Like a Panzer IV back in the days, the NZXT Panzerbox is ready for almost anything with great features and a solid, high quality aluminum build. It has room for improvement and refinement, but regardless it has some of the best airflow possible for a computer case!
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1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Outside
3. Physical Look - Inside
4. Installation and Conclusion