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Last August we took a look at the NZXT Beta enclosure. We found that to be a very well-rounded case compared to other cases in it's price range. Today we are taking a close look at NZXT's Panzerbox. Also black in color, this case has a little more to offer. But, it also comes with a slightly higher price tag. It's still not an expensive case, though, just not ultra low budget like the Beta. So let's dive in and take a closer look at what the Panzerbox has to offer.
|Make and Model||
The bundle is about as basic as they come. They do give you a basic manual and several screw types to help with the installation. They also included a mounting bracket to convert one of the optical slots into a 3.5 inch external bay for a floppy disk drive, if you still lug around those old floppy disks.
The first thing we noticed about this case is that it's chubby. It comes in a little wider than most towers. That shouldn't be too much of an issue except for the few people that stuff their computer in the thing little compartment under their desk. Plus, if you tuck this under a desk, doesn't that just make it a pain to get to your front ports?
NZXT included what we think is pretty much the bare minimum these days for front ports, 2 USB, headphone and mic jacks, and an eSATA port. This front port bracket came mounted upside down, we think it was a just a minor oversight and it only took two screws and two minutes for us to fix it. The ports are on the top, front of the case, at a slight angle, which did prove to be convenient.
The side panel is a thin aluminum, not plastic. There is no bling to it, but it does have small mesh grill in the bottom corner. This is to get fresh air to PSU, which is mounted on it's side in that corner of the case. We'll see why a little bit later, but for now let's take a look at backside of this chunkster.
So, at first glance, the rear doesn't look too spectacular. There's the common 7 expansion slots, an irregular vertical PSU slot and a 120mm fan. NZXT did enthusiasts a favor and tossed in two liquid cooling holes. But the best thing of all was only noticed by the observant type. There are a few thumbscrews on the back. As we'll see a little bit later, this Panzerbox has a removable motheroard tray. This is the reason for the tilted PSU design. But before we get to how the removable tray works, let's take a peek inside.
The big bling here is of course the two 190mm fans that rest at the front and top of the case. These are in addition to the 120mm rear fan. The least of our worries was air flow with this beast. The optical and hard drives slots don't have any type of toolless installation, so that's a bummer. There is, however, a HDD bracket mounted right behind the front fan, adding to the two permanent slots just below the optical bays. There is room to work during installation but no intuitive way to route wires unless you are a guru at cable management (we are not). Now that we've seen what we're working with, let's actually get our hands dirty.
After removing a few thumbscrews, the motherboard tray slides out the back side and thanks to that PSU location, it stays out of the way.
Installation of motherboard was a breeze. Including the rear fan with the tray was a great design because it allows for third party coolers can be installed while the tray is out. If that wasn't an option, the mobo could be installed but the cooler would have to wait until the tray is slid back, which would have defeated the purpose.
The removable HDD cage was nice additional feature as well. The main downfall is that we could only install two HDDs in this cage. Additional HDDs would to be installed in the remaining slots in the case. The Panzerbox would surely benefit from toolless hard drive slots.
And finally, here we are fully installled. A lot wires just wandering about, but we must admit, we didn't make a huge effort when it came to cable management with the Panzerbox. Maybe we were just lazy, but more so, we are probably spoiled by other cases that give us better routing options.
|Aesthetics / Appearance||20/20||
|Internal Layout & Installation||16/20||
|Warranty & Support||10/10|
|Price / Value||9/10||
The Panzerbox is a nice little step up from the Beta, but it is also stepped up in price. Not that the price is bad though, coming in at about $100 for a solid case is reasonable. The Panzerbox does come with some of the nice options that high end cases have, like toolless HDD and optical drive options. It also wouldn't hurt to have doubled the number front USB ports from two to four. After putting together a fairly well engineered and solid case, NZXT threw some cheap plastic power and reset button on the front.
The Panzerbox did a lot of things right as well. They were obviously out to compete in some ways with the higher end cases. It included a couple water cooling grommets and some very nice fan options that we don't see in all top teir offerings. Most notably, the Panzerbox includes a removable motherboard tray, which is an option this seldom seen in cases.
Everyone won't get everything they want from this case, but are we ever 100% satisfied? Overall, the price is extremely reasonable for what you get. The Panzerbox offers many ammenities that are not commonly found in cases that cost twice as much. If a removable motherboard tray is more valuable to you than toolless drive installation then you may have just found a bargain.
Its always nice to have more than one opinion on a component before you spend your hard earned money. For one, We may see something others missed, or vice versa. As with all reviews published at HardwareLogic, we'll not only give you our recommendation, but also point out some reviews from some other great sites around the web.