I am going to begin with an old-timer’s ramblings…
There was a time when a PC case was just that: a metal box to house your PC components. However, as time and technology progressed, we gained a better understanding of our need for good thermal management and got a taste for showing off just how flashy our components could get. After all, who DIDN’T want to show off their GPU with its fancy shroud?
We evolved from there to installing radiators, water-cooling loops, and addressable RGB lighting. Humble beige-or-black boxes would no longer do. New manufacturers arose to answer the clarion call of PC builders: build us cases worthy of our components. And they did.
For 14 years, NZXT has been creating cases in partnership with major players in the gaming and e-sports space, including Razer, ASUS, and Ninja (the Twitch streamer, not the blender). With tempered glass windows to peer into PC innards, one case stood out in their line-up: the NZXT S340.
But, after four years in the limelight, it was time to pass the torch along.
Whenever you call a product the “spiritual successor” to something iconic like that, you had better be able to back up that claim. The NZXT H500 is, without question, the spiritual successor to the S340. The mid-tower case, like its predecessor, puts sexy, sleek, and affordable together in minimalistic, yet gorgeous design. Within this review, we will tell you how the NZXT H500 takes this mantle and improves on it.
Let’s break it down.
- MSRP: $69.99 USD
- Tower Class: Mid-Tower
- Materials: SECC Steel and Tempered Glass
- Motherboard Support: ATX, MicroATX, Mini-ITX
- Front Panel I/O: 2x USB 3.1 (Gen 1), 1x Audio line, 1x Mic line
- Top: 1x 120mm - 140mm (Aer F120 Case Version Fan with filter installed)
- Rear: 1x 120mm (Aer F120 Case Version Fan installed)
- Front: surface mounting bracket capable of 2x 120mm - 140mm fan
- Aer F120 (Case Version)
- Speed: 1200 + 200 RPM
- Airflow: 50.42
- CFM Noise: 28 Dba
- Bearing: Rifle Bearing
- Front: Up to 280mm
- Rear: 120mm
- Drive Bays: 2+1 2.5” drive trays, 2+1 3.5” tray
- Expansion Slots: 7
- Rear cable lanes with Velcro straps
- Filters: Front right side panel, bottom front and PSU intake
- Weight: 7kg
- Dimensions: Width: 210mm, Height: 460mm, Depth: 428mm
- Available Colors: White/Black, Black, Black/Red, Black/Blue
As we begin, it important to note that outside of color orientation, there are two versions of this case - the H500 and the H500i. The H500i costs $100 USD and includes a CAM-powered Smart Controller along with two RBG LED strips. The case that we are reviewing in the non-“i” version.
The NZXT H500 is a lesson in spacial awareness and management. There is zero bulk to this case; if you see a space, you will likely use the space with for the components themselves or for cable management.
This does mean that you are going to have some tight spots when installing parts, especially if you are using it as a case for an ATX motherboard. For our build in the H500, I installed the Gigabyte X470 AORUS Gaming 7 WiFi and found this to be so. Fortunately, the H500 is already set up with the motherboard risers in ATX orientation with a guidepost in the center riser position. Hindsight being what it is, I should have left the case fans out to install the motherboard. Rookie mistake.
Speaking of the fans, the H500 comes with two NZXT Aer F120 Case Version fans pre-installed in the top- and rear fan mounting positions. In their stock orientation, the fans are oriented for exhaust. It is worth mentioning that pre-installed fans are a stripped down version NZXT’s regular Aer F fans using rifle bearings instead of fluid dynamic bearings and a lower RPM range. They do also lack the regular Aer F’s interchangeable accent color rings. A slight corner cut, but nothing to be mad at.
When it comes to cooling options within the H500, you have one rear fan mount that will fit a 120mm fan, a top mount which can fit a 120mm or 140mm fan, and a front mounting bracket that can fit two 120mm or 140mm fans. If you are going the AiO route like I did with the CoolerMaster ML204R, the front bracket can support up to a 280mm radiator. A 120mm radiator can also be outfitted on the rear exhaust. The lack of top-mounted radiator may cripple users with multi-rad aspirations but at this price point, there’s a good amount of options for air and liquid coolers alike.
This bracket is removable from the case, you will be able to work outside of the case. It is just as easy to replace back into the machine as it secures into guiding slots in the back of the case and is secured in the front by two thumb screws. While there is space between the bracket and the front case panel, NZXT recommend against putting anything within that space so that you do not block airflow from the front of the case.
When it comes to airflow, NZXT’s design leaves few entry points without dust filters. There are air filter pre-installed on the top intake port, coving the front air intake, and underneath the power supply. Each filter is easily removable for cleaning or if you just don’t want them in there.
Clean Lines, Clean Design
Out of the box, the H500 is very simple in its design, but do not for one second mistake simple for uninspired. The top and front of the case share a singular sheet of metal which creates a stunningly stark edge. On the front panel, so understated that you might miss it in lower lighting, there is a glossy white NZXT logo on the front. Very, very subtle.
On the top of the case, you will find the aforementioned fan mount and the front panel I/O. This includes a small power button with a white LED ring around it, two USB 3.1 (Gen 1) ports, an audio line, and microphone in port as well as a hard drive activity light. Fortunately, the front I/O cables come pre-routed out of the box with simple connectors to plug directly into your motherboard.
Moving to the side panel, you will find a removable tempered glass pane that exposes around three quarters of the inside cavity. This panel is held into place by two plastic connectors which plug snugly into the top the case and a thumb screw on which wraps around to the rear of the case. This design allows the tempered glass panel to sit flush against the rest of the case. No extra screws sticking out, no bezel, just a clean fit.
The lower quarter of this side makes up the PSU shroud. This space runs the entire width of the machine, providing a generous space for your PSU and power cabling. Within this space, you will also find the 3.5” drive bays. This is a singular unit which can be removed from your system if you find that you don’t need it. The H500 also has two 2.5” trays which can be secured into position on the grated plate above the PSU shroud or on the interior of the other side panel. This top plate also has a discrete hole for running cables through. I used it to route my GPU power cable and front I/O USB 3.1 connection through for clean look.
On the other side of the machine is a wonderful space for cable management with a few channels for your cabling with Velcro straps and different locations to tie down your cables, depending on how you were routing them. As I begin this process, it became apparent that, even in the tight spaces of this case, there were small, intentional cut outs or shrouds which helped tidy up your interior cavity.
At the very beginning of this review, I called the NZXT H500 the spiritual successor to the S340 and here is why:
Like the S340, the H500 offers a solidly built, beautiful case that won’t break the bank. In its simplicity and modular mounts, it offers builders the opportunity to show off their handiwork while providing a matchless canvas for their art form. Where the H500 carves its own path is in the upgraded tempered glass panel. Where the S340 only had a window on its side panel, the flush mounted 3/4 panel of the H500 takes the classy spirit of its predecessor to new heights.
When building in the H500, the corridors are extremely tight if you are using an ATX motherboard. If you happen to have larger hands (which I do) you might find that you need some help from with a little more demure digits to help run cabling. The channels provided for cable management make sense, but could use to be slightly wider for thicker cables.
All in all, if you are in the market for a PC case and you want something simple, but elegant to show off your components, you would be hard pressed to find something within the same price range that exudes the charm of the H500.
Simply put, the NZXT H500 is a show stopper worthy of its legacy.
- Gorgeously clean, minimalistic design
- Many options for clean cable routing
- Modular storage trays
- Great value for the dollar
- Cable management channels could stand to be a bit wider.
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.