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Rosewill Nighthawk 117 EATX/XL-ATX Full Tower Case Review

Rosewill's Nighthawk 117 targets power users with tons of features at a moderate price, but can a "more is more" case still beat its emptied-out rivals in overall performance?

Test Results And Conclusion

How We Test

We continue to use our reference PC with its reference overclock for case testing, apart from replacing the X99S XPower AC with the X99S Gaming 7. That replacement has allowed us to compare tighter "Standard ATX" cases, since the XPower motherboard is oversized.

Noise is measured .5m from the case's front corner, on the side that opens. The numbers are corrected to the 1m industry standard—used by many loudspeaker and fan manufacturers—by subtracting six decibels.

Drivers And Settings

Benchmark Configuration
Prime95 v27.964-bit executable, Small FFTs, 11 threads
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.3.0, Extreme Preset: Graphics Test 1, Looped
Real Temp 3.40Average of maximum core readings at full CPU load
Galaxy CM-140 SPL MeterTested at 1/2 m, corrected to 1 m (-6 dB), dBA weighting

Comparison Cases

Test Results

The Nighthawk 117 competes directly against the NZXT Noctis 450 in both size and price, but has far more features. Conversely, Azza's enormous GT1 gets included based on price alone. These are all considered to be true full-towers, with none of those "put taller feet on it" hijinks.

We've noticed that some cases require extended heat-soak periods of up to six hours, while others quit escalating temperatures after two. Rosewill's Nighthawk 117 gives us a clue to the reason, as it behaved normally (no long heat soak) with its fans set to full speed. That lets it match the Azza GT1, which doesn't have a fan controller. Meanwhile, its low-speed temperatures approach those of the Noctis 450, which was one of the first cases I tested on this platform to require extended heat-soak.

The Nighthawk 117 doesn't get much quieter at low speed than at medium speed, but the exhaust fans could be part of the problem. I had to leave those at full speed because they would shut off when slowed. I recommend connecting these two to the motherboard's controller in a real-world build, since those can read the fan speed and ramp the voltage up accordingly.

Because the noise difference was far less than the temperature difference between full fans and low fans, the Nighthawk 117 rates a far better temperature-to-noise ratio at full fans. Those low temperatures allowed it to blow way past the Noctis 450, which admittedly is designed to be used with the additional case fans that accompany an advanced liquid cooling configuration.

Better performance at the same price allows Rosewill's Nighthawk 117 to walk away with a top value score. Of course some readers will say that we used the wrong case for the comparison, and I have an answer for that. Check out what happens when we compare the top result for all tall cases that have been tested with this platform.

Only the Silent Base 800 can match Rosewill's Nighthawk 117 in cooling-to-noise ratio, and it costs more. I looked at even more cases and found that I have to get well into budget mid-towers before any manufacturer is able to reach the Nighthawk 117's price-to-performance ratio.

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Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware, covering Cases, Cooling, Memory and Motherboards. Follow him on Twitter.

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  • Onus
    Nice job. If I were going to build a larger system, this case would be on my short list. The lighted fans can always be replaced, and I'm not interested in liquid cooling since my OCs are mild. The features list, including the drive dock, is very good. At the risk of sounding like a fanboy, I've never been disappointed by a Rosewill case.
    Reply
  • cliffro
    I've looked at Rosewill cases in the past, even used one in a build for my father.

    The one thing I've noticed is they like to omit a feature or 3 in favor of being cheaper. This case, the front filter is "built into a screw-on fan panel". It's as bad as the case I used for my dad. It had a filter(sort of) built into the front bezel, non-removable from the bezel and it used the pain to remove round plastic clips to attach to the rest of the case. Neither of those are convenient.

    I looked at a couple when I decided to go Full ATX+, and while overall they were nice, they lacked a feature or 3 that would make it a must buy. I went with my Enthoo Primo, the most expensive case I've ever bought, also by far the nicest and easiest to build in. There were 2 others that were more expensive, but didn't offer all the features the Primo has. A CM Cosmos 2 and Lian Li PC-08, the latter was just too expensive to justify anything about it.

    Reply
  • Malzy
    Ever tried to fill in a scratched black object with permanent marker? That's exactly what this reminds me of
    Reply
  • maddogfargo
    OR...I could just get a Phanteks Enthoo pro or Enthoo Luxe... Better options, and you don't have to use the lights and they come in non-windowed versions for even less. When is Tom's going to review these cases? Would love to see them in the comparison, particularly where temperatures are concerned.
    Reply
  • TX_Tech
    If I may suggest... For $20 more than this case, just get a Corsair Obsidian 750D - larger, nicer case with a clean design, in my opinion anyway. I own two of them, one at home and one at the office, very nice case, easy to build with.
    Reply
  • Eggz
    I get the need for utility, and this thing clearly has a lot of utility, but it's also hideous - the computer-case opposite of a beautiful person with a terrible personality. It's function over form gone too far. While beauty resides in the eye of the beholder, a beholder'd be trippin' to think this is beautiful.
    Reply