NZXT Tempest 210 Case Review

Author: Hienrich Jager
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Tuesday, October 18th, 2011
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/nzxt_tempest_210/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

NZXT is an up-and-coming player in the consumer grade computer case market, making inroads since their inception in 2004. This year has been good to NZXT as several of their new product lines have found their way to store shelves. This current quarter has seen several new case releases like the Tempest 410 and its sibling, the Tempest 210, as NZXT tries to make themselves a household name in the markets. 

Computer enthusiasts are a fickle crowd to please, and aside from a few die-hard purists who will battle to the death using RAM sticks over whether NVIDIA or ATI make the better graphics card, their tastes will shift at the drop of a dime depending on which piece of gear has better performance. This market is understandably difficult to tap into but the folks at NZXT might just have a few aces up their sleeve. In a mid-tower market dominated by Antec and Cooler Master (judging from the number of product reviews they've garnered anyways), NZXT has its work cut out for it, but the Tempest 410 and Tempest 210 might just be the tools that it needs.

The Tempest 210 is directly geared toward dedicated gamers who demand performance on a budget. Most of the time when I come across budget cases I notice that the manufacturers tend to focus on cutting corners wherever they can to save costs. Unfortunately this usually eliminates the little details like styling, cooling, and quality of manufacture that the mainstay products typically enjoy.

The Tempest 210 however looks to be pleasant change, as it doesn't seem to skimp on anything but flashy styling (which is A-OK in my books). The engineers at NZXT have released a solid product for those on a tight budget. Priced at $54.99, the Tempest 210 defintely isn't going to break the bank.

Specifications
Material
Steel Construction, w/ Plastic Front Bezel
I/O Ports
USB 2.0 x 1, USB 3.0 x 1, Mic x 1, Headphones x 1
Dimensions
(W x H x D)
195 x 450 x 497 mm
  7.67 x 17.71 x 19.56 inches
Weight
6.6 kg / 14.55 lbs
Supported Motherboard
form-factor
ATX, MICRO-ATX
5.25" Drive Bays
3 exposed
3.5" Drive Bays
8 hidden
Expansion Slots
7
CPU HS/FAN Clearance
160 mm
GPU Clearance
230 mm with HDD
330 mm w/o HDD
Fan Mounts
FRONT: 2 x 120mm
SIDE: 2 x 120mm
REAR: 1 x 120mm
(1 included)
TOP: 2 x 140/120mm
(1 x 140mm included)
Bottom: 1 x 120 mm
Water Cooling
2 x Rubber Gromets for
Pass-through Holes in rear

The Tempest 210 arrived on my doorstep looking like an entire team had just finished playing rugby with the box. The box written off as a loss, but fortunately the case itself was still in really good shape.

The Tempest 210 sticks to a utilitarian design. A little plastic piece of molding right above the front panel connections is the only allowance for spurious styling that this case allows, and thankfully even that was designed to be useful as it is large enough to corral loose screws, thumb drives, and cell phones or mice chargers.

One of the little features that was left in the Tempest 410's kid brother case are the quick-release drive bay covers. I really liked this feature in the 410 because it allowed for installation of extra optical drives without needing to remove of the entire front panel of the case. This is not as much of a concern with the 210 however, because the front panel is quite easy to remove anyways. It's nice to know that you won't have to give up on convenient little design features just because you aren't opting for one of the pricier cases. Unfortunately, the Tempest 210 only comes a single USB 2.0 connector on the front, which limits its quick connectivity options.  A USB 3.0 port is also on the front panel, and this ensures this case will remain useful for years to come. However, that is assuming your motherboard is fairly new and supports the internal USB 3.0 headers that have recently been standardized by Intel.

The ubiquitous headphone and microphone jacks round out the connection ports available. Large and easily accessible switches for the power and reset functions are located just under the thin LED for power and hard drive activity. The LEDs used for these indicators are a nice subtle blue and will not illuminate an entire room like on some other cases. The rear of the case is fairly standard with a 120 mm fan right behind where the CPU will sit, and expansion slots for seven PCI cards. One of the interesting things about the backside of this case is that NZXT chose not to punch out the watercooling holes at the factory, leaving that for something the end user to do when needed. NZXT also made sure to provide the rubber protecting grommets should you decide to install a liquid coolant system.

The left panel of the Tempest keeps the same slotted fan-mount design seen on the 410. These mounting slots allow you to adjust up to two 120 mm fans to the exact position where needed to most efficiently cool your parts. That makes this area is a prime location for intake fans, because it allows you to focus the incoming air right to where it is needed most. However the same issue of dust control emerges here as it did with the 410. I feel that at least some effort towards dust filtering should have been considered by the case designers at NZXT for the other fan locations besides the front panel. It is good that they included filtering capabilities at the front of the case, but if the equal amount of square area located on the side of the case is still drawing in unfiltered air, then the filtering implemented elsewhere becomes pointless.

Unlike the 410, the Tempest 210 uses hard plastic feet that are securely attached to the case with a plastic rivet. This means that they should stay on longer than the glued-on feet of the 410, but the hard plastic means that this case will reverberate slightly and amplify acoustic noise during operation on a hard surface like tile or wood floors. Just like the 410, these feet are barely tall enough to allow for air to enter the case through either of the bottom two intake ports. This is probably a good thing however since neither of these ports have dust screens, though there are retaining tabs present if you happen to have a spare filter handy. Keeping with NZXT tradition, there are two fan mounting positions at the top of the case supporting either 120 mm or 140 mm fans. 

With all the fan mounting locations in this case, it is clear to that the engineers at NZXT have made it top priority to ensure that budget does not mean inadequate cooling performance. So far there are seven places to stick a 120 mm fan or grate, and that's before getting to the front panel fans!

A surprising amount of of open space lurks underneath the covering panels on the Tempest 210. With both side doors and the front panel removed, this case looks positively skeletal, and feels just as barebones in terms of weight as well. Coming in at barely over 6.6 kg (14.5 lbs) completely assembled, and probably closer to 4.5 kg (10 lbs) stripped, this is one of the lightest cases that I have worked with in a while.

Structural integrity has not been sacrificed either. Even laid wide open as it is in the picture above, I would not hesitate to use the Tempest 210 as a stepping-stool in a pinch.

The 210 is fairly standard in construction and design under the hood. Eight hard drives are supported in a rigid bracket system that dominates most of the front of the case, leaving enough room to fit an enthusiast class motherboard behind them. Things do get a little tight in the videocard area, but that is an issue inherent in the entire Tempest line-up. The motherboard tray has a decently-sized cutout for installing modern heatsinks that have as large of a piece of metal at the back as they do up in front. It seems that NZXT has skimped a little on the cable pass-throughs, but there were enough to get some some degree of cable management accomplished even if it was a pain at times trying to route cables through tight spaces. Instead of a drive-rail system to hold the hard drives in place, a screw-less system was incorporated here that uses two little metal pins that fit into the screw holes on the hard drive and secure it to the case with a twist lock system.

On paper this system sounds like it would work, but I encountered endless problems trying to fit those two metal prongs into the hard drive screw holes and it almost seemed as if they were too big to fit. Thankfully, these plastic retention brackets can be bypassed in favor of the standard installation screws. This "old-fashioned" solution is still useful because in my opinion the drives feel more secure installed this way. Additionally, the plastic brackets were only on the left side of the case while the other side of the hard drive was either left flopping around or required screws, which to me kind of negated the benefits of a screw-less tool-free system in the first place. I ended up just completely bypassing the plastic clips and simply secured all the hard drives with screws like in the good old days.

With the front bezel removed, the mounting holes for the front two 120 mm fans were visible. They only support 120 mm fans, but installation will be easy and should not get in the way of the hard drives at all.

The 120 mm and the 140 mm fans included in this case are rifle bearing fans manufactured by Xinchangfeng Electronics Co., Ltd. (also known as Martech) based in China, but are distributed by NZXT under their own brand. These are the exact same fans that were shipped with the Tempest EVO and are most likely found on all NZXT cases.

All the testing parts fit inside the Tempest 210 nicely. The videocard is just barely long enough to prevent the use of two complete hard drive slots, but this still leaves the potential to comfortably hold six drives. Space was a little tight when it come to plugging in the top +12V power line to the motherboard, so it to be easiest to plug that in before the motherboard itself was installed. Unfortunately, the space behind the motherboard for cable management is woefully lacking. With just 20 mm of clearance, there is not much room for organizing the spare cables and most of them ended up stuffed beside the hard drive brackets.

Time to crank it up and see of all these fans provide the cooling required.

The Tempest 210 will be tested by running OCCT 3.0.1's CPU, GPU, and Power Supply tests. High and Low temperatures will be recorded with HWMonitorx64 after a continuous burn-in of 30 minutes. Between each test I will allow the system to equilibrate for an additional 30 minutes.

Temperature data will be recorded at the processor, the video card, the hard drives, and the chipset. Ambient air temperature was recorded with your standard glass-alcohol thermometer. Throughout the testing the ambient room temperatures never varied from between 24°C and 26°C (74°F).

For all of this testing: the CPU cooling fans were set to 100%, the videocard fan was left on auto, and the case-fans were left at their only speed.

Test Setup

Test Results:

The graphs above proved that there is no longer any reason to resign yourself to sub-par cooling performance from a budget case. In fact I've owned modern computer cases that cost twice as much as the Tempest 210 and do a worse job at keeping expensive parts nice and cool. The Tempest 210 does not quite match the Tempest 410's performance, but it comes really close in all areas, posting some seriously competitive numbers. Videocard cooling is the only area that saw slightly elevated temperatures though this temperature should go drop by quite a bit if an additional fan were to be installed onto the side panel.

The Tempest 210 is a great mid-tower computer case that was designed with the budget system builder in mind. Do not let that put you off from this case however, as a lot of important features that you would normally find only on high-end systems were retained in this design. With support for up to 8 different 120 mm or larger case fans, the Tempest 210 can really move some serious air. The cooling performance results speak for themselves, and the fact that this case is nearly as competitive with its bigger brother the Tempest 410 is also saying something.

There are still a few areas that NZXT should take a closer look at in order for the Tempest 210 to claim the crown of "Best Budget Mid-tower." The first would be to replace the poor hard drive retention system with something more solid, resilient, and easier to use. The tool-free system currently implemented would've passed for a good had it actually worked. Thankfully the old-fashioned screws and screwdriver were able to step up to the plate to deliver. Next would be my old beef about dust filtering. You'd think that if you went to the effort to filter one intake port that all the rest should be filtered, otherwise you are just spitting in the wind. That is unless NZXT intends every fan mounting that isn't filtered to have an exhaust fan anyways, which would simply be ludicrous these days.

The Tempest 210 has a MSRP of $54.99.

 

PROS:

CONS:

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