Hands-on experience can tell a tester as much about a case as its performance numbers. For example, Cooler Master’s Cosmos II had the heavy structure needed to provide superior noise dampening. It’s unfortunate that the radiator we told everyone we were using didn’t actually fit the Cosmos II, though we were able to verify that it holds traditional triple-fan radiators up to 1.8” thick.
Next in line for quality and features, Azza’s Hurrican 2000 is the least expensive unit in our round-up. Far smaller than the other cases in this review, it was still able to hold our cooling system once we tracked down a couple of metal tabs to secure it in place. We loved the super-value front-access hard drive backplane, were disappointed that the backplane didn’t support 2.5” drives natively, and lamented 2.5” adapters that required part of the backplane to be removed. Were Azza to slightly redesign the Hurrican 2000’s drive trays to hold both form factors natively, the company would certainly be in line to claim value supremacy.
Falling between those two in price, Aerocool’s Strike-X ST actually topped our cooling-versus-noise charts when it was running at full fan speed. It was still the noisiest, however, and didn’t have many of the features one might expect from a $200 enclosure. At this price, the presence of three fan controllers doesn’t offset the lack of any hard drive backplane. Furthermore, the combination of medium-gauge metal and slide-tab attachment should never be used on side panels that are this large.
NZXT’s Switch 810 sets a perfect example of how excellent design and manufacturing can assure proper panel fit—even when using metal that feels too thin for a case of its size. Advanced features, such as push-to-release latches on most access panels and dust filters, are certain to attract many buyers. Its use of a front-panel USB 3.0 internal connector also gets our stamp of approval. And though its “backplane” consists of only a single low-end bay adapter, we believe the balance of features brings it to value par with Azza’s similarly-priced, but smaller Hurrican 2000.
The Switch 810 is also the only case in the review to fit our cooling system and motherboard combination perfectly, rather than haphazardly. Yet, because most builders will install a different motherboard or radiator, that fitment doesn't qualify it for a universal recommendation. Instead of giving a generalized award to a product that didn’t top any of our performance charts and admittedly feels a little flimsy, we specifically recommend the NZXT Switch 810 to builders interested in copying our motherboard and cooling selection.
Editor's Note: We have some extra hardware on-hand, compliments of NZXT. For your chance to win one of three Phantom 410 chassis or one of three NZXT power supplies, enter our sweepstakes!
Update: Following up, our winners have been chosen, and their prizes shipped out. The lucky six are listed below, with their prizes. Congratulations all!
- One (1) HALE82 850 W PSU: approximate retail value: $140 – Justin Rexroad of Winston Salem, NC
- One (1) HALE82 750 W PSU: approximate retail value: $120 – Josh Steele of Kalamazoo, MI
- One (1) HALE82 650 W PSU: approximate retail value: $110 – Christopher Ellis of Fisher, IN
- One (1) Phantom 410 case: approximate retail value: $100 – Christopher Hailey of Mount Vernon, OH
- One (1) Phantom 410 case: approximate retail value: $100 – Jeffrey Lopez of Chicago, IL
- One (1) Phantom 410 case: approximate retail value: $100 – Sean Thompson of Grand Ledge, MI
- Bigger Than Your Biggest Fan
- Introducing Swiftech’s H20-320 Edge HD
- Building With Aerocool’s Strike-X ST
- Building With Azza's Hurrican 2000
- Building With Cooler Master's Cosmos II
- Building With NZXT's Switch 810
- Test Settings And Benchmarks
- Temperature, Noise, And Acoustic Efficiency
- Triple-Fan Water Cooling Cases, Evaluated