Mid-Tower Round-Up: Antec, Corsair, NZXT, Thermaltake

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If Hank Hill, Ron Swanson, and Johnny Cash collaborated on a computer case design, the NZXT Source 220 would be the result. This case is as unadorned as it gets--not that it's a bad thing. When you get down to it, most gamers don’t need anything more than what the Source 220 offers.


NZXT Source 220
Specifications & Features
Drive Bays:
3 Tool-less EXTERNAL 5.25" DRIVE BAYS
8 Tool-less INTERNAL 3.5" HDD Drives

Expansion Slots: 7
Weight: 6.5kg
Motherboard Support: ATX, MICRO-ATX
Dimensions: (W x H x D) 195mm x 450mm x 495.5mm

External Connections:
1 x Standard Audio/Mic,
1 x USB 3.0
1 x USB 2.0 
Steel/ Aluminum-like finish
Steel with painted interior

VGA Clearance Maximum 230mm w/ hard drive, 330mm w/o hard drive
CPU Heatsink Support 160mm
Wiring Space 20mm

Cooling System:
Front, 2 X 120mm
Rear, 1 X 120mm @ 1200rpm (included)
Top, 2 X 120/140mm (1x 140mm included)
Bottom, 1 x 120mm 


Features

The Source 220 is simply an all-metal (steel, with an aluminum-like finish), all-black case (except for the white fans). Even the motherboard posts and screws are black.  The only plastic pieces are the tool-less tabs on the drive bays and the fans. It’s also surprisingly light, which isn’t a bad trait to have either, especially if you haul your rig anywhere.

With three 5.25-inch and eight 3.5-inch drive bays, you should have plenty of spots for your storage and optical drives. The Source 220 can handle just about any type of motherboard up to ATX, and it has 7 expansion slots.

One glaring feature omission is the lack of support for 2.5-inch drives. We get that NZXT kept things pared down, but that’s not an area where you want to cut corners or costs these days.  SSDs are becoming all too common and popular.  Another omission that does make sense, however, is the complete lack of LEDs, which is fitting with the case’s overall aesthetic. In a pinch, the Source 220 wouldn’t make a bad HTPC case actually, if you had a bit more space.

     

Exterior

NZXT was focused on cooling and airflow with the Source 220, and indeed those are probably its best features. The front and back are mostly grills, allowing for a huge amount of air to pass through; even the expansion port covers are grills. You can mount a total of seven fans, on the top (2), bottom, front (2), back, and one of the side panels. Two of those fans come with the case (a 140mm fan on top and a 120mm in the rear). None of the fan mounts are for a monster 200mm fan--they’re all 140mm or 120mm--but being able to mount at least one decently-sized fan on five of the case’s six surfaces will do just fine.

The front panel is as austere as the rest of the case, and it hides the power and reset buttons, one USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0 port, and the headphone and mic jacks quite well. However, it’s also attached to the front panel, which is just a little odd to see these days.


Interior
The interior of the Source 220 is, like the exterior, solid black...and very cool.  For the most part, the Source 220 is a solid, well-built case with some simple yet intelligent designs. However, there are definitely some issues, and most of them are found on the interior.

For starters, the CPU cutout in the motherboard tray wasn’t wide enough to fit our CPU cooler backplate, which defeats the purpose of having one. Other motherboards may not have the same issue, but it’s a notable problem nonetheless. Also of note is that the fans were a bit loud--not overbearing by any means, but louder, certainly, that the other cases in our roundup.

The drive bays are a head-scratcher. On the one hand, the 3.5-inch cage isn’t very wide, which allows plenty of space for a mammoth graphics card (up to 330mm); it’s a smart little detail. On the other hand, why didn’t NZXT just rotate the drive cage 90 degrees to create the same space and also offer easier access and cable routing? Further, although the drive cage allows for a big graphics card, such a card blocks off a couple of the bays, limiting the user to a 230mm graphics card.


The tool-less locking tabs on the 3.5-inch drive bay are plastic, and they feel modestly secure; however, the type of tabs on the 5.25-inch bay are essentially worthless. They were clunky to use, and far worse, they kept popping loose when we were working with the case.

The Source 220 has, as they say in sports, “great upside”, but there are a few rough edges that detract from its value. Still, the upsides--great airflow, overall solid construction, purposefully subdued aesthetic-- are excellent, especially for the low $54.99 price tag.

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Comments

Comments
fat78 2 years ago

Nice review

Antec has some nice airflow cases, but most don't have airfilters to slow airflow. Which also makes them dust magnets.

digitaldd 2 years ago

[quote user="fat78"]

Nice review

Antecedent has some nice airflow cases, but most don't have airfilters to slow airflow. Which also makes them dust magnets.

[/quote]

You can rectify that with some swiffer pads over the fans or pantyhose. 

fat78 2 years ago

Well i dont mean that it is hard to clean the computer out, but their cases do need to be cleaned out more often.

I would love to get an antec df-85 case because i love the number of fans they stuck on it .

Edit:  the 1100 does have air filters. Although i don't see them doing much because they are very thin in front of  the hard drive bays, so airflow isn't really limited much and most of the air intake spots are opened mesh which helps airflow.

Personally i love antec cases because of how they make their cases with large open mesh for airflow.

JLawrence1 2 years ago

FYI guys, the Eleven Hundred does have dust filters in the front of the chassis and is easily removed by pulling the bezel off (which requires no screws to be removed).

realneil 2 years ago

I like the NZXT box, just because of it's plainness that comes with good features, and at a nice price.

The type of fasteners inside don't matter to me because I use screws to anchor everything anyway.

I also like the Corsair Carbide 500R for looks and utility if I were to consider building a Enthusiast Water Cooling Setup of my own. It has a lot of room and isn't gaudy either.

It's just BIG! Surprise

MayhemMatthew 2 years ago

NZXT just makes cheapo cases. Even the Phantom feels cheap.

dejasoul100 2 years ago

Antec FTW. I've used them a lot and no complaints.

AKwyn 2 years ago

Great review. Corsair makes some good cases but boy are they expensive; regardless, I'm surprised that all cases performed similarly. In this case it almost feels less like finding the best case and more like finding the case with the best looks. I'm not doubting Corsair's editor's choice win; just whether or not they'll ever be a truly unique case we can buy.

cowboyspace 2 years ago

Thermaltake, the Chaser-MK-I for me is the winner nice design ,nice airflow, acceptable price and just looks beast.i liked the corsair too

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