SUPPLIED BY: NZXT
PRODUCT: NZXT Duet Mid Tower Case
PROD LINK: NZXT’s current offerings.
PRICE: $79.99 @ NewEgg
Price is at time of testing!
I love my little adjustable wrench.
Here we see the motherboard tray itself, both 80mm fans removed, with the first standoff installed. This case proved no more difficult than the others I’ve owned for board installing. Cheerfully, I dumped the whole bag of accessories out on the workbench, grabbed the standoffs, and set to work screwing them in and tightening them ever so gently with the wrench. Seven standoffs later, I could be seen dashing through the basement in a mad panic… I was short of standoffs! Despite the case being advertised as full size ATX compatible, it had come with exactly two fewer standoffs and screws than were needed to mount my AK79G-Max. How much more money would it have cost NZXT to make sure all the needed standoffs were included? Grumbling all the way, I finally found some leftover standoffs from an older (and cheaper) case close to the same height that would fit and got them all bolted down. Time to mount the motherboard.
As you can see, that massive Ultra heatpipe cooler just barely clears the side of the case. Cooler height will definitely be something you’ll want to pay attention to on this case. In addition, I discovered the above cooler smacks right into the 120mm fan if you choose to install it. I had to remove one screw from the cooler in order to fit that 120mm fan in place. I hear some of you pointing out that the two fans on the cooler and that little buzzsaw bolted to the chipset won’t be all that quiet. I thought of that… since this board is able to control fan speeds, I have it set up so the chipset fan stays off and the CPU cooling fans stay slow moving unless temperatures get out of hand. Thankfully, this case is very well ventilated and temperatures aren’t a problem.
The 120mm intake fan in place, ready to toss come cool air in the direction of the video card.
The above picture speaks a thousand words. The external 3.5″ bay is a nightmare if you have big fingers and decide to mount a full size ATX board in here before you get to doing the hard drives. It took no less than 15 minutes to plug the data and power cables into my 1.7 GB swap file drive. This was also the point when I realized cable management in this case was going to be a waking nightmare. Onwards, to the Pioneer DVD drive.
The drive rails are easily clipped into place, and the drive is ready for installation. To mount it, I needed to slide it in from the front with the front panel removed. It couldn’t have been much easier.
Here, we see my Ultra X-Pro 600W fitted into place and all screwed up. While the odd placement of the power switch looks like it will cause hassles with the way the cooling duct is formed, there was enough clearance to enable it to work properly.
The view from above. NZXT provided a grille in this side of the case just for power supplies like this one. While not quite the size of that 135mm monster in the X-Pro, it was big enough. There is a small gap between the side of the case and the PSU, thus enabling some airflow to come from behind the PSU in case you don’t install that bottom (or side) 120mm fan. Now, the video card goes in and the real wiring nightmare begins.
No, I didn’t pull a fast one here. This picture is actually of my SilverStone ST56ZF mounted in the case. Why did I switch? Quite simply, the Aopen AK79G-Max is merciless on the 5v rail – it powers the CPU and onboard video from it. While the X-Pro did fine in my old Antec case with two more hard drives in the build, 5v regulation fell apart without those two extra drives to load down the 12v. This is because the Ultra X-Pro was never intended to power such older hardware, and doesn’t have enough grunt on the 3.3v/5v rails to remain stable. So, the much louder SilverStone had to go in instead. Still, this picture makes it obvious that modular power supplies are a good thing for cases like this one. Fortunately, as loaded as the Aopen board is, all I had was a SPDIF riser in the expansion slot part of the case; and I could just cram all the extra wires beneath the video card.
I also found out but quick that the SilverStone’s fan wasn’t up to moving air through the cooling duct without making an intolerable racket in the process. So, I figured that was the perfect excuse to try out one of the 80mm low speed fans that came with the case. I popped one of them off the bracket and moved it into the provided fan location in the PSU cooling duct. The SilverStone got a little quieter, and I could hear nothing of the 80mm fan, which really is a low speed model… it barely moves any air at all.
On to page four for testing, observations, and final thoughts.