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    Arrow NZXT Hades Mid Tower Computer Case review

    Description:

    Up for inspection today is the NZXT Hades, a mean looking mid-tower, designed for performance by NZXT. Read on to find out if this price conscious case can back up its claims of high airflow and enthusiast class compatibility.

    First Impression:

    Today we are checking out the Crafted Series: Hades case from NZXT. This case promises to provide plenty of space for your enthusiast class build and maintain a high airflow/low noise profile.



    The case appeared at my doorstep in the standard NZXT box, Gloss black with several full color pictures, key facts in several languages, and some more details (in English only) on the back.



    The Hades dropped out of the mildly mistreated box surrounded by a thick plastic bag and two sturdy foam end caps. Though there was no external damage, something inside rattled a bit more than I like to hear.



    Before we open this case up, lets take a look at the features.

    The NZXT Hades is:
    - a mid tower case
    - matte black on both exterior and interior
    - steel
    - designed with wire routing in mind

    The NZXT Hades has:
    - nine 5.25" drive bays (4 external/5 internal)
    - adapters for up to four 3.5" drive bays
    - an adapter to mount two 2.5" drives in a 3.5" bay
    - 7 expansion slots
    - two 200mm (1 led), one 120mm and one 140mm fans (included)
    - one additional 140mm or 120mm mount
    - top mounted USB, Audio, and e-SATA ports
    - a dual channel fan controller
    - three channel temperature display (F/C switch-able)
    - rubber grommetted hose ports
    - 2x120mm radiator mounting holes.

    NZXT seems quite serious with their airflow, 4 of the 5 available fan mounts are filled right out of the box! Both the front door and the drive bays are made with a perforated grill to allow for easy airflow.

    A Closer Look:

    The Hades is a steel mid-tower, so its not the lightest case to build with, but the massive quantities of mesh make it quite manageable. It is also quite sturdy because of the steel construction.




    When I popped open the side panel of the case I discovered that the side 200mm fan had separated from its motor, so I had to unscrew it from the door panel and press the 2 pieces back together. This seems was a bit of a pain, and I hope that it was a sign of exceptionally bad shipping as opposed to a design flaw with the fan.

    The huge bank of 5.25 inch drive bays is equipped with 6 sets of quick release mounts, and included with the spare parts kit are plenty of thumbscrews for those of you who are skeptical of little plastic clips. Noticeably absent however are the 3.5 inch drive bays for your hard drives. These unfortunately have to be mounted to adapter rails (4 sets included) before then being installed into a 5.25 bay. One perk that NZXT decided to include with the Hades is the SSD mounting kit. A small plastic tray came mounted (with one of the four hard drive adapters) in my case that allowed 2 SSDs (or laptop hard drives) to be mounted in a single 5.25" bay. This inclusion is nice for people who might like to run an ultra-fast gaming system or a low power server.



    The back panel is liberally perforated; a square mesh for the grating and fan grille and a smaller hexagonal shape for the expansion slot covers. This means that there is plenty of space for air to escape the case. Also note the rubber grommet-ed water cooling holes in the right side mesh.



    Moving to the top of the case, we see a pair of large gratings; these are two 140mm fan mounting positions (one left open by NZXT). Each mount is drilled to also accommodate the more common 120mm fans. Here is where you could mount a 2x120mm radiator, if you wanted. You would likely have to mount the radiator completely outside the case or perhaps do a "sandwich" configuration with the fans inside and the radiator outside. Towards the front of the case you'll find a pair of USB ports, an eSata port, and your headphone/microphone pair. This is perfect for your flash drives and headset.





    The motherboard tray has a huge cutout to access the back of the CPU socket -- this lets you install almost all aftermarket CPU coolers without taking the motherboard out of the case. Also included are several large cutouts between the motherboard and drive bays. These are presumably included to provide an easy cable management solution and have rubber grommets to protect whatever wires you decide to run through there.



    On the bottom of the case, we have the power supply mounting area which allows the power supply to be mounted in either orientation. There is a filter on the case outside of the case to provide some dust reduction for supplies that have intake fans on the bottom. In the center you can see the wire bundle for the fan controller, the temperature sensors, and the motherboard headers.



    Looking at the front of the case, there is a large meshed door with a small display and a couple LED's. The door leaves a bunch of open space at the bottom, through which you can see the molded plastic and mesh grill for one of the 200mm fans included with the chassis. Flip open the door, and you find 4 mesh drive-bay covers, two black plastic fan control knobs, and a shiny silver button.




    Finally, we get a look at what I like to call the "goody bag". In reality, NZXT packs it spare parts in a box, but I'll just call it the bag. Included is a small case speaker so you can listen for diagnostic codes, a molex to 3-pin fan adapter, extra sets of drive rails, a bag of thumbscrews (presumable to replace the tool-less clips), a standard bag of motherboard mounting screws and standoffs, and 3 pieces of special tape to mount the temperature sensors.





    Installation:

    When installing hardware in to this case, I followed my relatively standardized build order: Motherboard first, then optical/hard drives, power supply and finally graphics and other expansion cards. Here's a collection of all the bits and pieces I'm installing into the Hades. NZXT included a well documented installation manual for the case. (In several languages)



    Since I was swapping this setup pre-built from another case, installing the motherboard was quite easy, I just installed standoffs into the tray and popped it in. I'm always happy to see standoff layout instructions built it.



    My DVD burner and fan controller also installed quite easily. I had to pop off the front of the case to remove the drive bay covers, but luckily this is a tool-less operation. After opening the appropriate bays, just slide the device in and put one of the clips on it; twist to lock and you're good to go!



    Installing my hard drives on the other hand was quite a pain. Because the Hades does not include any dedicated 3.5 inch bays, you have to install two adapter rails to each drive. This operation is NOT tool-less, and rather finicky to boot. A magnetic screwdriver* is a handy thing to keep around. *I know that a lot of people say that you shouldn't use magnetized screw drivers in computers, but I've used a large variety of both magnetized and neutral drivers with no problems. Static is a much larger worry to me.



    Next I popped in my power supply. I chose to mount mine with the intake fan facing upward for three reasons. First, the intake on my power supply is a bit larger than the open area allowed by NZXT. Second, I had a similar design in the previous case, and I always forgot to clean the filter. Third, my case usually sits directly on the carpet, meaning that the power supply would be trying to suck air through the carpet. My previous case did not provide the "upside down" mounting option, so I had to build a platform for the case to ride on. With NZXT's inclusion of this feature, I can go back to my preferred case positioning.



    Next up I had to install all the wiring. Included in the Hades is a three position temperature sensor. The sensors are thin black wires that end in a non-conductive plastic type pad with two wires in it. I fastened these to the back of my mother board directly behind the CPU socket, on my primary hard drive, and on one of the memory chips of my graphics card. The tape provided by NZXT is non-conductive, but I ran into a few problems with my slightly dusty components. Make sure you carefully clean the contact spot where you mount these temperature sensors.



    I put the pass through holes in the motherboard tray to good use, though I'm sure my wiring job looks very messy to a lot of you (its unusually good for me!). The front 200mm LED fan came pre-wired up to one knob of the front panel fan controller, and the two included 140mm fans were wired to the second knob. The side 200mm fan (no LEDs included, though the mounting holes are there) has a standard 3 pin connector which I plugged into my motherboard.



    Observation:

    The install took a pretty short time, requiring nothing exceptional. I did spend a bit more time than usual routing the temperature wires and deciding where to attach them, but this was not a big factor.

    Check the long paragraph at the bottom of the page for a funny story about my initial attempts to turn the computer on.

    The temperature monitor works excellently, providing a simple way to keep track of some key components without opening the case up. The display is a bit dim, and from odd angles it can be difficult to read the numbers properly. Luckily, looking from above and slightly right (my default case position) gives me a good view of the numbers. There is a little tab on the backside of the display that allows you to convert between temperatures in Celsius or Fahrenheit.



    I did run into a small bit of trouble with that dislodged side fan I mentioned earlier. After I "fixed" it, I noticed that it ran with a noticeable wobble, which made a rather distracting noise in the case. Again, I give NZXT the benefit of the doubt here -- as I did not do a very precise job of fitting the parts back together and I have had several badly damaged packages come through this particular shipping company before.

    This case produced great results in terms of cooling, I can't feel the difference between intake and exhaust temperatures, which is a big difference from my previous cases.


    Warning: extremely long story about amusing reviewer fail follows.

    Once I buttoned up the case, I plugged in my monitors, keyboard, mouse and power cable. Then I stopped and looked at the front of the case. "Where's the power button?" I thought to myself. I popped open the front door and pressed the shiny silver button thinking "this has to be the power button." Nothing happened.

    I went back and made sure I had hooked up the "power sw" wires to the motherboard properly, toggled the power supply's hard switch a few times, then pressed the silver button a few more times. "Why won't this %*(@#& thing turn on?!" I searched the front panel a few more times looking for the power button, then found the little press tab labeled "C/F" on the back of the front door. "Is this the power button?" I pressed that a few times, and nothing happened.

    Getting really frustrated now, I just pulled the mother board header cable off and just shorted the two pins with my pocket knife. *whoosh* my computer was off and running. "Now why won't that danged switch work?" leaving the wire to the power switch unplugged, I pushed that silver button again and poof, the system hard restarted. After I just sat there shocked for a bit, I closed the front door again and noticed that a little piece of the door was different than the rest.



    "A-HA!" I said out loud (getting a weird look from my roommate) I pressed the button triumphantly and nothing happened. Sheepishly I plugged the switch cable back into the motherboard and I finally had a working power button.

    Conclusion:

    I installed a full ATX motherboard, a dual core Athlon with a decently large cooler, 8GB of DDR2 RAM, an overclocked AMD/ATI 5770, two hard drives and a 600 watt power supply in this case; there was never a point where I felt like I needed more room. This case has plenty of length and airflow for a pair of the super long graphics cards that define the high-end graphics card segment.




    The lack of blank area on this case might make it a challenge to mod, but it still has plenty of potential. This case is great, and a steal for the prices being asked by online retailers.

    And here's a shot showing the lit up front of the case, in the dark. You can see the red LED intake fan, the red and green power/hd-activity LED's, and the 3 temperature readings (in Celsius for this picture). The blue/yellow lights behind the temperature display are from my fan controller (the NZXT Sentry2) shining through the meshed door.



    ---
    Pros
    -Plenty of space
    -Huge fans included (great airflow)
    -Cable routing areas
    -Fan controller/temp sensors
    -PSU mounting options
    -SSD ready
    -Tool-less 5.25" bays
    -Water cooling ready

    ---
    Cons

    -Annoying to mount 3.5" drives
    -Impossible to find power switch
    -Paint texture collects/shows dust
    -Shipping damage to fan


    Sponsor: NZXT

    Price: $99 (MSRP)
    on Mon, Aug-02-2010
    Last edited by Mohamed Fouad; 15-08-2010 at 01:35 AM.


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