Mid-Tower Round-Up: Antec, Corsair, NZXT, Thermaltake
3 Tool-less EXTERNAL 5.25" DRIVE BAYS
8 Tool-less INTERNAL 3.5" HDD Drives
Expansion Slots: 7
Motherboard Support: ATX, MICRO-ATX
Dimensions: (W x H x D) 195mm x 450mm x 495.5mm
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
Front, 2 X 120mm
Rear, 1 X 120mm @ 1200rpm (included)
Top, 2 X 120/140mm (1x 140mm included)
Bottom, 1 x 120mm
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.
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.
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.