Introduction, Design Features
Building a PC from scratch might seem intimidating to anyone who has never pieced together a system before. Truth be told, it’s not that difficult—or at least it shouldn’t be. While it can be frustrating working inside a poorly designed case, a thoughtfully constructed enclosure offers the exact opposite experience. One of the things that separates a good enclosure from the pack is the type of cable-management scheme it offers, an important consideration both for the benefits of airflow and to show off the guts of your PC. And that happens to be a strong point of NZXT’s new H700i chassis.
The H700i is one of three new cases that carry the torch of NZXT’s expanding H-series. It’s the largest of the three, a mid-tower supporting standard ATX motherboards and components. The other two are smaller versions for MicroATX (H400i) and Mini-ITX (H200i) builds, with otherwise similar feature sets.
While technically a mid-tower, the H700i is larger than most, measuring 516mm (H) x 230mm (W) x 494mm (D). You can remove the feet so that it’s slightly shorter, though only by 22mm. We recommend leaving them on to keep the case raised off the ground. This allows cool air to circulate from underneath the case and up through a vent where the power supply is nestled.
The H700i is also heavy for a mid-tower. It checks in at just over 27 pounds, and that’s before stuffing it chock full of parts. That heft comes from a nearly all-steel frame and a large, tempered-glass side window that is heavier than acrylic. It’s not the kind of case you’ll want to lug around to LAN parties, nor was it designed to be.
At first look, it would be easy to mistake the H700i for NZXT’s S340 Elite, another attractive enclosure with overall similar styling. However, the H700i has a bit more character, both in form and function. It also costs twice as much, with a $200 MSRP. That’s a big upcharge, and it’s directly related to the case’s integrated “Smart Device” controller.
The controller provides the same capabilities as NZXT’s GRID+ and HUE+ products, combining a fan and LED controller into a single module. Purchased separately, the GRID+ ($60) and HUE+ ($30) would set you back $90. That’s in line with the price difference between the H700i and S340 Elite, though the H700i would be just fine without it, and a better value to boot. (We’ll discuss that in more detail further into this review.)
Overall, the H700i is a worthy addition to NZXT’s product line, and one that further cements the company’s position as a premium case designer. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that NZXT is the same case maker that released the Nemesis Elite, a garish-looking enclosure that, to be fair, reflected the gamer market when it came out over a decade ago. As with NZXT’s more recent cases, the H700i appeals to more mature tastes, but is nevertheless anything but boring.
Buyers interested in the H700i can choose from a few different color options, including matte black, matte white, black with blue trim, and black with red trim. NZXT sent us the black and red variant, and it looks gorgeous in person.
What stands out about the trim is that it doesn’t have a cheap-plastic look, as other cases sometimes do. And whoever painted the parts, whether it was NZXT or a third-party, did an excellent job. There was no visible bubbling or brush strokes on our review sample. A word of caution, though—handle the case with care, as the paint will chip if you scrape it. We managed to do exactly that, though it was on the right side of the case in a section that the side panel hides from view.
You’ll also want to take caution when removing the tempered-glass panel. It is held in place with four thumb screws. The screws twist off easily; just make sure you’re holding the glass firm when untwisting the last one, so the window doesn’t come crashing down on a corner. It also wouldn’t hurt to have a lint-free cloth handy to wipe away any fingerprints before you slap it back on.
We are starting to see a growing number of cases adopting multiple glass panels, as many as four in some instances. The H700i is not one of them. Each of the other sides is made of metal. The easiest one to remove is the right-side panel. It pops right off with the press of a button, and snaps back into place just as easily…
NZXT deserves a fist bump for this, as even today it can sometimes be a hassle lining up the side panel and getting it to close on certain cases.
While not a modular case like the Be Quiet Dark Base 900 Pro, the H700i has removable front and top panels, though they require a bit more hassle to remove than the side panels. This is an area we’d like to see NZXT address in the next iteration. The only way to remove the top and side panels is to yank them off with force. It feels unsettling, especially when you notice they’re held in place with plastic clips. To NZXT’s credit, the clips survived multiple arm-wrestling matches as we flexed our muscles and removed the panels several times. But given how easy the right-side panel comes off, we were hoping for the same level of luxury here.
At the very least, you’ll want to remove the front panel at various intervals for routine maintenance. There is a dust filter that sits in front of the two front intake fans. It’s a good idea to clean them out every so often, especially if you live in a dusty environment or have pets. Unfortunately, the only way to access the dust filter is to pry off the front panel and pray that the plastic clips stay intact.
You can add more fans to the top of the case, though it’s not ventilated. We used it to install a pair of NZXT’s 140mm AER RGB fans, one of which is shown here below. The main reason for the top section, however, is to house a liquid cooling radiator.
The H700i offers a good selection of USB connectivity on the front I/O panel, including two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports (same speed as USB 3.0) and two USB 2.0 ports…
Having easy access to that many USB ports is a boon for VR gaming, as you won’t have to reach around the back of the case to plug your Oculus Rift or HTC Vive into your PC. There is also a 3.5mm audio/micro combo jack and a power button on the top front of the case.