NZXT H500 Detailed Review
While the NZXT H700i the one we previously tested was a mid-tower case, the H500 is a more compact version of it that detracts from fan and radiator support. If you are wondering about the missing ‘i’ in the model name, then we have to tell you that all these cases come in two variants where the non-i versions don’t have the smart module installed. The H500 follows the same minimalist design approach and looks absolutely stunning in the white variant, the one we received for review purposes. It also offers convenient Velcro cable management routes, making the overall build process easier. How does the NZXT H500 perform in terms of cooling, with only two exhaust fans pre-installed in the case? Let’s find out.
Motherboard form factor: Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX
Power supply standard: ATX standard (max. length of 180mm)
I/O ports: 2x USB 3.1 Gen-1, 1x Headphone/Microphone Combo
Disk compartments: 3 x 3.5″ HDD, 2 x 2.5″ SSD
Support fan: 2 x 120/140mm (front), 1 x 120/140mm (top), 1 x 120mm (rear)
Radiator support: Up to 280mm (front), 120mm (rear)
clearances: CPU Cooler – 165mm, Graphics Card – 381mm
Dimensions (H x W x D): 435mm x 210mm x 428mm
Exterior of the NZXT H500
NZXT has used steel panels throughout the body while retaining the minimalist design somewhat unique to the new H Series than the older generation. It is also followed on the interior, which we will talk about later. We liked the glass panel removal technique, which is much better than the corner mounted screws. The upper part of the panel has a metal strip with clips that insert into the frame of the housing. However, you should get used to the force required to remove the panel and be careful not to apply too much force.
Due to the design choice of the H500, the front panel does not support air intake vents. Instead, the vents to the side panel have been moved forward. On the top panel there is a support for one 120 or 140 mm exhaust fan. The case comes pre-installed with another one on the back.
The ports on the top panel match the case well and they have the purple accent of NZXT instead of the blue indicators of USB 3.0. It would have been great if the IO ports also had a newer USB Type-C port.
We found nothing on the outside to complain about. The one area where we’ll nitpick, however, is the quality of the thumbscrews. They could have been better and more compact. Wherever air is supplied or removed, you will encounter dust filters.
Interior of the NZXT H500
The inside is well built except for the fan on the front panel. While the motherboard plate and PSU shroud were thick enough not to bend easily, the fan mount could bend easily. While it wasn’t flimsy, the thinner gauge was surprising compared to the other parts. Aside from the build quality, having a removable fan mount is extremely useful during the installation of a fan or radiator.
The difference between the H500 and the H500i is the presence of the smart module. You won’t find one in the H500. While this means relying on your motherboard’s fan headers to connect your case fans, it significantly reduces the price of the case.
The cable management system in the new H Series is brilliant. Like the H700 and H700i, it takes care of all your cables with a generous number of connection points on the back of the motherboard plate. In the middle there is a handy cable management channel to accommodate all thick cables behind Velcro. These pre-existing channels enabled us to better plan the construction during the construction process.
In terms of cooling capacity, the maximum radiator you can install is 280mm on the front panel. There is not much space on the top panel as you can only install one 120/140mm fan on the top panel.
In terms of storage, NZXT has come up with a clever way to make the SSD trays modular inside. The perforated PSU shroud allows the two SSD trays to be attached anywhere on top. They can also be moved behind the motherboard tray but that would also be a nuisance with the cables on the back.
Your HDD trays can be installed under the PSU shroud in the drive cage. It accommodates three HDDs. We were a little disappointed that installing HDDs wasn’t a tool-less feature. You would also need to remove the disk cage from the cage, increasing the complexity slightly.
If you need more space for your PSU cables, the drive cage can be slid forward by removing the screws on the bottom of the case.
Another feature that we want to highlight is the extremely convenient IO port connector. Usually you should connect the power and reset button cables separately. But NZXT has bundled all these connectors into a single connector that can be plugged in like the USB connectors. This is something other housing manufacturers should definitely adopt.
The H500 was initially tested with the two pre-installed fans. If you want to learn more about our testing process, we recommend you read our review of the Corsair Obsidian 500D† For our second part of the test, two 120mm fans were installed on the front panel as the inlet. In this configuration, the case had a balanced air pressure inside with two fans as inlet and the other as exhaust.
Our test configuration is as follows:
CPU: Intel Core i7-4960X
Motherboard: ASRock X79 Extreme9
Graphics Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7790
CPU cooler: Noctua NH-L9x65
RAM: Corsair Dominator 2x8GB DDR3 (16GB)
Hard Drive: WD Red 2TB
SSD: SanDisk Extreme II (240GB)
Power supply: Antec HCP-1000 Platinum
Two Aer F120 case version fans are included in the package, with each of them exhausting warm air from the top and rear panels. Without any air intake, we would have expected the indoor temperature to be slightly higher than average. However, this was not the case and the measured temperatures were within the acceptable range. Before we run the stress tests, let’s leave the system idle for 15 minutes. The Intel Core i7-4960X ran idle at 36 degrees Celsius and Radeon HD 7790 stabilized at 34 degrees.
In our Prime95 stress test, the CPU went up to 53 degrees while the GPU hit 69 degrees. For a better idea of how well the case performs with more fans, we’ve installed two more 120mm fans on the front panel as intakes. Surprisingly, it didn’t do much. Installing a radiator for your CPU in the future would be a better investment than adding fans to cool the case. In addition, later replacing the top exhaust fan with a high airflow fan will also lower the indoor temperature by a few degrees.
At this price, the case cooling performance is way above average. You can rest assured that the case fans will cool your system themselves instead of replacing them with new ones.