Hands On: NZXT Takes on Hyte With Glass-Happy H9 Dual-Chamber Chassis

NZXT H9 Elite
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Panoramic cases are clearly striking a chord with PC builders. When we wrote this, Hyte's panoramic Y60 case occupied the #8 spot on Amazon's list of best-selling PC cases (opens in new tab). But if you've spent any time on PC-adjacent social media or game streaming sites in the last year, you've no doubt seen it hundreds of times, if not more. It's no wonder that more-established case companies have taken notice.

NZXT's new H9 line is a clear attempt to offer up a Y60 alternative, with the H9 Elite offering glass front and side panels that but up against each other at a 90-degree angle, with no metal frame in between, allowing for an uninterrupted view. That model has a glass panel on top as well. The H9 Flow, shown in our photos, has the glass on the front and side, but swaps the glass top for perforated steel for improved airflow. Both models feature a right side panel that's perforated across its entire surface to make up for the lack of intake at the front. This panel also features a huge removable dust filter, that covers the entire surface area of the side panel. There's also a slide-out filter on the bottom of the case, which nicely pulls out from the side for easy access. 

Both the H9 Elite and H9 Flow are available in white or black, with tinted glass on the black models. The H9 Flow will sell for $159, while the H9 Elite also includes a fan and RGB controller and three RGB fans for its higher $239 price. Both cases should be available today, and will compete with the Hyte Y60 ($199) and the new Hyte Y40 ($149). Keep in mind, though, that while both Hyte cases come with an attractive PCIe 4.0 riser cable for vertically mounting your GPU, NZXT offers a vertical GPU and cable kit as an option, for an extra $89.

NZXT Specifications

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Dimensions (with feet)W: 290mm H: 495mm D: 466mm 
Motherboard SupportMini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX
Case MaterialSteel and Tempered Glass
WeightH9 Flow: 12.1 kg | H9 Elite: 13.1 kg
Compatibility & ClearancesMax CPU Clearance: 165 mm
 Max GPU Clearance: 435 mm
 Max PSU Clearance: 200 mm
 Cable Management: 91 mm
Front I/O PortsUSB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A  x 2
 USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C  x 1
 Headset Audio Jack  x 1
Expansion SlotsStandard 7
Drive Bays2.5-inch: 4+2
 3.5-inch: 2 
Included FansH9 Flow
 4 x F120Q Airflow Fan Case Version (Side & Rear)
  
 H9 Elite
 3 x 120 mm F Series RGB Duo fans (Side)
 1 x 120 mm F Series Quiet Airflow Case Version (Rear)

At 19.49 x 11.4 x 18.35 inches (HWD), the H9 cases are more than an inch taller than Hyte's Y60 (18.19 x 11.22 x 17.95 inches), but the other dimensions are pretty similar. With 6.5 inches of clearance for the CPU cooler and over 17 inches for the GPU, most core components should fit with room to spare. Both H9 models ship with four 120 mm fans (and support for up to ten). But the Elite sports three F Series RGB Duo fans (which feature RGB on each side) on the right side, in front of the motherboard, and one F Series Quiet Airflow fan at the rear exhaust. 

The H9 Flow brings four F120Q fans, focused on quiet performance, also located at the front side and the back. But since the front fans on the Flow are mounted as intake, you'll be staring at the back of those fans inside the case, which isn't as attractive as the front. Note that in the pricier RGB H9 Elite Pro, this may be less of an issue since the company's new Duo fans have RGB on both the front and back. None of the fans on the Flow model we received have lighting, nor is there any other lighting, which seems a bit of an odd choice for a case designed to show off your components. You'll have to bring your own lighting or opt for the much pricier Elite model.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

While we didn't get the H9 Flow case in time to do temperature and airflow testing, we did toss some components in it to get a sense of its features and how things fit. The company also sent along its new C1200 Gold ATX 3.0 modular power supply, which packs an impressive 1200-watt rating (including 600 watts for the GPU via a 12VHPWR connector) into a compact 150 x 150 x 86 mm chassis with an internal 135 mm fan. The C1200 PSU is priced at $219 and slots easily in its horizontal position behind the motherboard.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Also behind the motherboard hide some of the H9's nicest features. A magnetic swing-out door has mounts for four 2.5-inch drives on the inside, while a removable cage near the back can support two 3.5-inch drives (or two more 2.5-inchers). With many motherboards sporting several M.2 drive slots these days, six SATA drives should be enough for almost everyone.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

That magnetic swing-out SSD door also hides a massive cable-routing channel, with over three inches of depth and six big Velcro straps on both the rear of the motherboard area and a side panel near the front. The latter has the front panel and fan connectors nicely pre-routed, while the former holds the exhaust fan cable out of the box, with lots of room for your motherboard cables. There are even three straps along the top of the motherboard area for routing header and PSU power cables. I only wish the straps were a little longer, because things can still get tight when you try and route a whole system's worth of wires down the same channel.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

 Aside from just the general lack of airflow that comes with lots of glass, particularly in the Elite model, there's a lot to like about the H9's design. If temperatures are a concern, we'd definitely recommend springing for more fans – there's a reason this case supports up to ten. The cable routing and SSD placement in particular are standout features. And if you like the loads-of-glass look, the H9 line definitely gives Hyte some competition.

Really though, how appealing the H9 lineup is to you is going to come down to price and whether or not you want to vertically mount your graphics card. If the answer to the latter is yes, it's kind of hard to argue against the value of the Y60 at $199 and especially the new Y40 at $149. Both those cases come with an attractive PCIe 4.0 cable for vertical mounting included, while NZXT charges $89 extra for that privilege. Adding that would put the H9 Elite's total price at a rather wild $330.

But for $159, I do like the H9 Flow for its combination of showpiece aesthetics, ample storage and excellent cable routing. It's also a lot more affordable than the $239 H9 Elite. Just remember, you'll have to bring your own lighting to show off your components in the dark because the H9 Flow doesn't come with any lighting of its own. This still strikes me as odd for a case designed to show off your parts. Hyte's Y-series cases don't come with RGB fans either, but they do ship with a PCIe vertical GPU mount, which again is a $90 add-on for these H9 cases.

MORE: Best PC Cases 2022

MORE: Best Mini-ITX Cases 2022

After a rough start with the Mattel Aquarius as a child, Matt built his first PC in the late 1990s and ventured into mild PC modding in the early 2000s. He’s spent the last 15 years covering emerging technology for Smithsonian, Popular Science, and Consumer Reports, while testing components and PCs for Computer Shopper, PCMag and Digital Trends.

  • digitalgriffin
    I know looks are subjective, but that right side perforated panel needs to go. Keep the perfs around the fans only.
    Reply
  • Wutgaspump
    Go figure. The first case NZXT makes that won't perform horribly is an O11 knock-off. Has the entire PC case industry just completely run out of original concepts?
    Reply