NZXT products have a pretty iconic look: they’re sleek and minimalistic with their monochromatic matte colors with the occasional accent color. While this monolithic style makes the brand immediately recognizable, even the most titanic products need an update every now and then.
In Summer 2019, we saw an update to the 500- and 700-series of cases with some slight improvements and extra touches of class with the “i” variants, but it was the tricked-out H510 Elite that was the showstopper. Fast forward to Fall 2021 and we all got a glimpse of NZXT’s future offerings with the release of the H510 Flow. NZXT continues this evolution today with the H7 series: a refresh of the larger mid-tower cases.
We got our hands on the H7 Elite to see just how good this king amongst cases carries on the NZXT tradition.
- MSRP: $199.99 USD (H7 & H7 Flow available for $129.99)
- Tower Class: Mid-Tower
- Motherboard Support: ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX, E-ATX
- Front Panel I/O: 1x USB 3.2 Type-C, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 1x Headset Audio Jack
- Mounting Support:
- Case Top: 3x 120mm fans, 2x 140mm, supports up to 360mm radiator
- Case Rear: 1x 140mm/ 1x 120mm
- Front: support or up to 360mm radiator, 3x 120mm fans, 3x 140mm
- Fans Included: 3x F-Series 140mm RGB fans (front-mounted)
- Drive Bays: 2x 2.5” bays, 1x mounting bay (fits 2x 3.5” drives)
- Rear cable lanes with Velcro straps
- NZXT Fan Controller V2 equipped
- Dimensions: Width: 230mm, Height: 505mm , Depth: 480mm
- Available Colors: Matte White, Matte Black
- PCIe 4.0 Vertical GPU Mounting kit available for $89.99
If you are new to PC parts and peripherals, NZXT has been around for much of the 2000s. From humble beginnings in the PC case for DIY consumers, NZXT has exploded into a nearly one-stop-shop for PC components and peripherals. From microphones to mice, keyboards to Krakens, NZXT’s bid for desktop domination seems to be growing by the day. At the center of it all lies the humble PC case… well, not-so-humble in this case: the H7 Elite.
Before we get into what makes the Elite truly elite, let’s get a picture of what is new with the H7 series.
To begin with, the H7 chassis has been trimmed up a bit in height and depth. This shrinkage isn’t much, but the redesign has allowed for the expansion of cable channels as well as extra fan mounting room in the front of the case to support up to three 140mm fans. This isn’t the only area that supports a more intentional approach to thermal management, given a more perforated top panel for better airflow - a major concern with previous models. This is great news for the cooling conscious! Even better news is this: the H7 is available as the standard H7 and in a “Flow” version.
When it comes to mounting options, each H7 case can fit most consumer-sized motherboards within them (Mini-ITX through EATX) along with mounting points for up to six 2.5” hard drives. Front I/O gives users access to two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A connections, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C connection, and a headphone jack. Internally, the H7 series has mountings up to three 140mm fans in the front, three 140mm fans in the top, and one 140mm fan in the case rear. Both the top and front of the case can support up to a 360mm radiator for AiO and custom loop coolers.
Now, about the Elite.
Much like the H510 Elite, NZXT has taken the core unit and added some exclusive extras to make it feel that much more special out of the box. This includes a tempered glass front panel to showcase the three 140mm NZXT F-series RGB fans to match the case, a rear-mounted 140mm NZXT F-series Quiet Airflow fan, and, at its heart, an NZXT Fan Controller module. This module can control fan speeds as well as RGB lighting via NZXT’s CAM software. Unfortunately, the one piece missing from the H7 that was in the H510 Elite is a programmable LED strip mounted right inside the top lip of the side glass panel. It shall be mourned.
Taking another departure from the H510 Elite, the H7 Elite is available in both Matte Black or Matte White like the H510 iteration, but the tempered glass panels match the theme of the color: tinted for darker builds, transparent for lighter ones. This is great for builders looking to create a specific mood with their build… because, let’s be honest: this is a showcase for PC building art.
And, if it’s art to be built, let’s talk about the process.
Building in the NZXT H7 ELITE
As a fan of the “just-big-enough” footprint NZXT’s H510 Elite, I was a little concerned that I would find the H7 too bulky. Quite the opposite happened, actually. After building in the H7 Elite, I have a new appreciation for NZXT’s larger mid-tower offerings and the extra internal space they afford. This is great news… because I’m not a small guy and I have some larger components that I need to fit inside this box. And, with tool-less access to the main compartments, builders can dive immediately into the action of building.
Since the H7 Elite had three front-mounted RGB fans, I decided to mount a CPU all-in-one cooler to the top of the case… and we just had to go with NZXT’s Kraken Z73 to make it that much more elite! The H7 makes the process pretty simple by carrying the design of the front and sides over to the top panel: removable without tool. Once the top was off, we found a dust filter which was also easy to remove. With the screws securing the 360mm radiator in place, we moved on to the motherboard.
While it doesn’t sound like a big deal on paper, I cannot overstate the value of having a raised stand-off post at the center of the motherboard mounting space. Why? Because it helps secure the motherboard in just the right place for the other screws and the rear I/O to line up perfectly with where they are supposed to be. Of all of the technology we could brag on in 2022, it is this simple inclusion within the PC case that can remove some of the anxiety of PC building from a less-than-seasoned builder.
(Rear PCIe without Vertical GPU Mounting bracket)
Once the motherboard was in place (the Gigabyte X570S AERO G, to be exact), we started contemplating GPU mounting. NZXT was kind enough to send their new PCIe 4.0 Vertical GPU Mounting Kit with the H7 Elite to give us a full picture of the “Elite Experience.” The bracket has users remove all of the rear PCIe shielding to mount the GPU vertically within that open space. This design helps accommodate for growing GPU sizes and provides extra space for airflow, reducing the potential problem of shattering tempered glass by pumping hot air into it over time. It also has an adjustable foot on the bracket to help the card stay balanced within the slot. Looks pretty sharp, but I did run into a concern.
In this build, we used the NVIDIA RTX 3090 Founders Edition GPU - a rather sizable card - to test the extent of the space provided within the case for both orientations of the GPU. What we discovered is that the H7 does offer a good amount of horizontal space, but with a GPU like the RTX 3090 (and, specifically the Founders Edition and its proprietary cabling) vertical mounting created some odd cable routing issues. We also ran into an unfortunate space issue with the GPU in the vertical mount and the orientation of the Kraken’s pump head. With the flow going out of the button of the AiO, the Kraken’s hoses lay across the top of the GPU shroud. Long term, this probably is not the healthiest for either. If you are going to use the Vertical Mounting Kit, we would recommend using it with a more sleek GPU.
Moving to the back of the case, we find NZXT’s RGB & Fan Controller module. When connected to NZXT’s CAM software, users can control up to six RGB channels with this unit as well as any fans connected to the unit’s three fan headers. While the H7 Elite does come equipped with three front-mounted fans, those fans are daisy-chained together to occupy the Fan 1 slot on the controller, leaving room for some extras. This was great news because I did swap out the stock F140Q Airflow Fan for one of NZXT’s Aer RGB 2 140mm fans. Having the extra connection for both the fan and RGB controls was lovely.
Keeping on that side of the case, the cable management options within the H7 series are numerous. There is a wide center channel big enough to support the main motherboard power cable and much more, supported by Velcro tie-downs. There are two smaller channels, one at the rear of the case and one at the front, with similar tie-downs to run cables like CPU power to the motherboard, USB lines, or the route fan connections to headers.
The rear I/O and PCIe slots are slightly recessed, showcasing my motherboard’s I/O shroud inside the case without it being obscured by my rear fan, but much like I noted with Corsair’s iCUE 4000X, this is a bit of a double-edged sword. On the positive side, this recess provides some space for peripheral cables to be tucked away. However, on a less positive side, if you swap out cables on the regular or need visible access to those ports, access can be hindered by this design choice. Ultimately, it’s a point of preference. What it does internally, though, is it provides greater access to the motherboard itself… and this is where the layout of the NZXT H7 paid off. To explain, I need to share a story:
In the process of this review, NZXT sent us their C1000 GOLD power supply for our impressions (but, that’s another article). If you have ever had to replace your PSU, you know that untangling, disconnecting, and reconnecting cables can, in some cases (literally and figuratively), require more of a system teardown than simply swapping parts for parts. Now, I’ve commented on this before, but I don’t have the daintiest of hands… and getting into the guts of a PC typically has required much more of that aforementioned breaking down - and, yes, I do mean that both physically and mentally. That was, pleasantly, not the case with the H7 Elite. In around 30 minutes, I had uninstalled the existing PSU, replaced it in another PC case, and installed the C1000 GOLD… without having to remove a thing. Could I have? However, the H7 gave me the option… and for my sake, I am glad for that!
Out of the box, the NZXT H7 Elite offers a truly elite experience for someone looking to create a stunning showcase PC. While this iteration does come at an elite price tag of $199.99 USD, the other cases in H7 series provide the same tool-less access to a spacious interior, thoughtfully redesigned openings for better airflow, and plenty of options for cable management.
So, this begs the question: is the H7 Elite worth the extra money?
I would say that it depends on what you are looking to build. If you are going for a showcase build, there are a number of great options on the market, but if you are really attracted to that monolithic, monochromatic, iconic NZXT flair, the H7 Elite steps in as a showstopper. All things considered, if you wanted to keep things in the NZXT family with fans and an AiO cooler, a $70 upcharge for three RGB-equipped fans, a daisy-chain cable, and the controller isn’t too shabby. If, however, you are looking for a case that carries the look, but you need to consider better air handling, the H7 Flow might be a more cost-effective option.
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.