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Review: NZXT Nemesis Elite
Hardware
Written by Zinoberrot   
Sunday, 25 March 2007 03:01
Article Index
Review: NZXT Nemesis Elite
Features
Package and Bundle
External Details
External Details - Front Door and LEDs
External Details - Fans, Case bottom, Window
External Details - LCD Temp Controller
Internal Details
Internal Details - Drive cage, System layout
Conclusion
All Pages

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All computer related parts have evolved very fast during the last decade. The computer cases were not left out from this evolution. The simple beige cases that you probably still see on older systems are becoming extinct. Cases have come a long way, so nowadays there seems to be a case matching not only a group of people but individual styles as well. One portion of the case market are the gaming cases, which are supposed to be light and not too big in order to be carried easily to LAN parties for example, but also to be very good looking in order to draw attention to them. The functionality of the case is a major concern too. Today we will present you a very good looking, high quality gaming case from NZXT, the Nemesis Elite case, which is probably one of the most easily identifiable and feature-rich gaming case available currently. Let us see how much effort NZXT put on this case while designing it and building it.


A few words about NZXT would include that the company was founded only recently, in 2004 and the headquarters are in Taipei, Taiwan. Although a very new company, their designers and engineers are highly experienced. They are a company which currently strives to get a big piece of the gamers case market, as they build high quality and innovative gaming cases, which seem to appeal a lot on people that want such a case.

Features and specifications from the manufacturer’s website:

  • Simple installation through screwless rail design
  • Light 1.0mm aluminum chassis
  • Customizable eye 7 color LED
  • First ever die cast styling that combines the aesthetics of aluminum with design
  • Three 1800 RPM 12CM blue LED fans for efficient and silent cooling.
  • Luxury thermal meter featuring: 3x fan control, 3x temperature display, clock and date, clock alarm, temperature alarm
  • External ports: USB 2.0, headphone jack, microphone jack, 1394 firewire (optional)
  • 9 drive bays
  • Magnetic closing door
  • Weight : 6.5kg
  • Dimensions : 205X436X450 mm



The package and bundle

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The Nemesis Elite comes into a thick cardboard box which is well designed. It has nice pictures of the case and the specifications all over it. It is ok to draw attention and even more ok to protect the included case. The case is also held by two large pieces of Styrofoam, and the face of the case is facing up. Considering that it is also a very lightweight case, these are more than enough protection for it.

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The bundle of the case is found at a very strange place. NZXT used a specifically designed box which is mounted in the 3.5” bay. You can actually keep the box there with all you like inside it and carry the case along without hindering its functionality at all, save for 2 less 3.5” bays of course. Inside the box, you will find all necessary items included. First of all there are all the drive rails that you will need, since the case is using a screwless design and all the optical and disk drives are mounted by rails. The rails used by this case are the only ones  I have ever seen in which you can adjust the drive location a few mm back or forth, as there are 3 bolt holes which you can use to mount the drive. I would guess that is convenient for those with drives that have larger faceplates or other devices, in order to have them align with the door. There is a small badge with all the stand-offs you are going to need and motherboard screws, as well as some screws for the power supply unit and a few fan screws. There is a strap and self-adhesive pad for some cable control, if you would like to install them. There is also a PCI slot cover in case you will need to cover a slot once you remove an installed card, since the PCI slot covers of the case are not re-usable. Finally there are of course manuals for the case itself and an extra small manual for the LCD control unit of the case.


External details

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The case instantly catches attention once out of the box. The paint finish of it is marvelous. Even being black, the case is a real mirror. I had to grab a picture from a very tight angle to reduce reflections to a minimum. The case is entirely made out of aluminum, not a single steel part on it. The front portion of the case and the LCD panel on top are plastic, but the top part of the front panel is an aluminum plate also. The top aluminum plate at the front is bolted on the plastic door beneath it with 8 bolts and gives the case an ‘armor’ style, as NZXT suggests. Indeed, a few people who don’t know much about computers told me that it looks like an armor or helmet already.

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The front panel of the case may look very good but also hides many surprises. One of them is the external power button, the artistic knob which is found towards the left side of the door. By pressing it you can power on the system without having to open the door. Helpful enough as I find it a bit annoying to open the door to simply start up the system. Also the ‘Nemesis’ engraving at the top left corner of the case is actually the hard disk drive LED activity light. A bit too large for a hard disk drive LED, but it certainly will not go unnoticed!


 

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By opening the door of the Nemesis, you will find that even the plastic parts and drive bay covers share the great paint job of the entire case. Black drives will match it perfectly, as you can see from an old Ricoh drive of mine that I installed in it. Another nice thing that I rarely see is that the door hinge is metallic, which makes the door stand better and is of course much more durable than plastic hinges. At the back of the door, right in the middle, you will find a small button. That button is for changing the color of the ‘eye’ of the case. You have 7 colors to choose from; here is a picture of them all.

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As you can see the 7 colors are blue, red, yellow, green, white, teal and purple. The blue matches the case most, especially due to the front blue LED fan which illuminates the front vents of the case, but you can choose any color that matches your theme and style. It would be nice if there was a rotating program as well to have the colors slowly change themselves, but unfortunately you are stuck with the color you choose.


 

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By removing the whole front panel of the case you will see the front 120mm fan of the case. You can remove it or change it if you prefer. The fan is held in place by a locking mechanism, but I did not remove the front panel just for that. Unfortunately you will have to do it too in order to install drives in the case (you cannot push the rails in without doing so). It is done so that there will be no spaces when the system is assembled, and you can see that from the previous picture with the CD-R drive installed which shows not the slightest opening present. Fortunately very few people change their optical and floppy drives frequently, so most probably you are only going to do this once or twice.

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Yes, even the bottom of the case is a perfect mirror finish. To add to that, the case stands on 4 rubber feet which have gold rings around them, pretty much like the HTPC feet. The feet are exceptional for keeping the case into place, creating enough friction for the case to be hard to move and absorbing most vibrations from the case itself.

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A window side panel could not be missing from such a case. Most of the left panel surface was replaced by a Plexiglas window and a 120mm fan is installed right in the middle of it. A nice detail that NZXT took care of is the aluminum frames at the 4 corners of the window, which are not only aesthetically appealing themselves but they also hide the bolts that hold the window in place. Most people rightfully don’t like that most side panel windows have their bolts uncovered and visible to everyone, it makes the construction look cheap. The fan used on the window is the same Martech 1800RPM 120mm blue LED fan, like the other 2 included in the case. The fan has a customized fan grill over it with a nice looking design and the NZXT logo at the center. Between the customized fan grill and the fan itself, there is also a piece of metal mesh which is rightfully there since the grill is most probably for design only, as it barely covers the fan surface. The aluminum mesh does not degrade the aesthetics in my humble opinion and ensures that everyone (and everything) is protected from the spinning fan blades.


 

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The most notable feature of this case is probably the included LCD control unit that is mounted on top of the case. The blue backlight LCD adds a lot of character to the case and it has several functions which you can control from the 3 buttons that it has beside it. The first button rotates between the 3 available temperature/fan readings, being the CPU, SYS and HDD. The second button enabled/disables the alarm function of the unit. Finally the third button will switch the temperature readings between Celsius and Fahrenheit degrees. By holding the first button down for 3 seconds, you will get in mode to adjust the time/date settings, alarm settings and temperature alarm thresholds. By holding the third button down you can switch to full screen mode, where all icons and reading appear for 4 seconds and then it returns to normal mode. The control unit adjusts the speed of the SYS and HDD fans according to the temperature reading, but not of the CPU fan, to avoid damage of it by the misplacement of the sensor. Quite a few features from such a small thing, which is nice since all you have to do is place the sensors and adjust the settings once and the controller will do its work from then on itself.

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The front part of the LCD control unit also hides the front ports of the case. Simply by rotating it, you will find yourself 2 USB 2.0 ports, front audio jacks and a firewire port. The front ports are handy and hiding them is even better for the aesthetic part of the case. The only problem with the LCD control unit part is that it is all plastic, which is not all that strange since making it out of aluminum and encasing a display into aluminum as well would cost the earth, but it does appear a little cheap on a whole aluminum case. Fortunately the paint finish is great on it too and no one will even notice unless they have a good eye and get very close to the case.


Internal details

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The case construction, despite the use of lightweight aluminum, is very solid. A bar across the side of the case and a support plate at the lower part of the case make it very steady and durable. The aluminum construction makes it a bit more susceptible to scratches though, so be careful while working with tools in there, although I don’t think that is necessary since the case can be assembled with only a simple screwdriver for mounting the motherboard and power supply unit (no other tools are required). What I did not like is that the PCI slot covers are not re-usable which means that you simply throw them away once you break them off the case. There is one spare PCI slot cover included in the bundle, but I would certainly prefer all the covers to be re-usable to begin with. That should be no problem for people that do not switch systems and add/remove PCI cards very often.

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On the other hand, what I really did like about the PCI slots is their retention mechanism. A simple lever controls the mechanism which holds or releases all of the expansion slots in a single move. It is a very nice and innovative way to hold all of the cards in place with a single move of your thumb. It won’t restrict VGA cards which require two PCI slots too, like many of the tool-less PCI retention mechanisms out there.


 

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The HDD drive bay is placed sideward, facing the side panel of the case. I prefer the HDD bays placed straight myself, facing the system, for better cable management but that is not a true problem. All of the drives are mounted in place with rails of course, which slide and come out with ease.

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This is a mere example of what the case could look like with a system assembled inside it. The case despite not being very large size offers enough room for good cable management and components, but it is not ideal for things like large watercooling setups. You can use your creativity to adjust the setup of the case on your needs.


 

Conclusion

To keep my epilogue short, I believe that this case is very nice looking and innovative and should satisfy most gamers and modders. Of course it is not perfect, as every item it has its own flaws. There are many strong but also quite some weak points for this case, although NZXT gave a lot of attention on details. Summing up:

Pros:

  • Whole aluminum construction, solid and innovative design. Few plastic and no steel parts.
  • Great mirror paint finish on most parts.
  • Tool-less design. You won’t need more than a single screwdriver for this case and that just for mounting the motherboard and power supply unit.
  • External power button and hidden front ports increase functionality and ease of use.
  • Color changing ‘eye’ LED light. Innovative HDD LED.
  • 3 x 120mm blue LED fans are included. Excellent cooling capabilities.
  • Excellent PCI slot retention mechanism.
  • A lot of attention on details like the aluminum window frame which hides the bolts and the metal hinges of the door. Not a single sharp edge.
  • Magnetic type door, smooth to work with and unlikely to be damaged.
  • The included LCD control unit adds a lot to the functionality and character of the case.

Cons:

  • The included fans are ok, but not what we consider silent.
  • The door is designed to close tight to the chassis; anything that protrudes even a few mm from the bays will prevent it from closing properly, which means that rheobus devices and switches should be avoided.
  • The PCI slot covers are not re-usable
  • The quality of the plastic cover of the LCD screen at the top of the case feels much inferior to that of the rest of the case.


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