NZXT Tempest 410 Case Review

Author: Hienrich Jager
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Wednesday, September 7th, 2011
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/nzxt_tempest_410/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

The latest entry from NZXT for the mid-tower case market is the Tempest 410. It's predecessor, the Tempest EVO, was a solid product with room for improvement, mainly in its front panel removal and dust filtration systems. The Tempest 410 is immediately recognizable as part of NZXT's Tempest lineup thanks to its sleek and angular lines. Whereas the base Tempest case is the entry level product for the series and the EVO more geared toward enthusiasts, the 410 carves out a niche for itself by focusing on raw workhorse performance. The 410 boasts no flashy strips of LEDs, lights, or outlandish designs, but behind its simple looks lies raw usability.

Have the engineers at NZXT learned from the issues that plagued the EVO, namely the dust filtration and poor cable routing behind the motherboard, and designed a case that solves them? Let's find out!

Specifications
Material
Steel Construction, w/ Plastic Front and Top Bezel
I/O Ports
USB 2.0 x 3, USB 3.0 x 1, Mic x 1, Headphones x 1
Dimensions
(W x H x D)
215 x 481 x 496 mm
  8.46 x 18.94 x 19.53 inches
Weight
7.8 kg / 17.19 lbs
Supported Motherboard
form-factor
ATX, Mini-ATX, MICRO-ATX, Flex ATX, Mini-ITX
5.25" Drive Bays
3 exposed
3.5" Drive Bays
8 hidden
Expansion Slots
7
CPU HS/FAN Clearance
170 mm
GPU Clearance
240 mm with HDD
315 mm w/o HDD
Fan Mounts
FRONT: 2 x 120mm
(1 included)
SIDE: 2 x 120mm
REAR: 1 x 120mm
(1 included)
TOP: 2 x 140/120mm
Bottom: 1 x 120 mm
Water Cooling
2 x Rubber Gromet
Pass-through Holes
Room for 140 x 280 mm Radiator on top.

Under all that protective packaging lies a very familiar looking case. There are definite similarities between the Tempest 410 and the Tempest EVO, which stands to reason given both are in the same product line.

While the EVO is a mid tower case crafted with killer looks and visual styles, the 410 seems to be more of the no-nonsense, efficient kind of killer.

LED lighting and crystal clear case windows have been traded out for efficient fan mounts and well designed cooling options.

For additional cooling options, NZXT designed the left panel with mounting options for either two 120mm fans, or a single 120mm fan that can be adjusted to focus on your hottest components. Since this is an intake mounting spot, it's odd that NZXT went to all the trouble with the filters on the front fans while neglecting to provide even minimal dust filtering for these side mounts.

It is interesting to see NZXT's take on the 5.25" front panel covers seen in the Tempest 410. Usually if you want to remove one of the covers to add an optical drive or fan controller (Sentry Mix), you have to remove the entire front panel and then pop out the drive-bay cover held in place with plastic clips.  Instead, here NZXT has come up with a new design that utilizes spring loaded clips that are accessible from the outside of the case. This way you do not have to remove the front bezel at all if you wish to remove a drive bay cover. This is a really neat take on an age old inconvenience, and the solution has appeal.

It may seem as if there is a hand-hold at the top of the case, but do not be fooled. That is actually part of the release mechanism for removing the top grill. Once the grill iremoved, it is a simple matter to swap out fans or radiators if required. Truth be told, this case is not designed with portability in mind. There are no real hand-holds on either the front or the back of the case, and it it rather difficult to move around.

The feet on the bottom of this case also leave something to be desired. They are hard plastic and definitely far too stubby for use on carpeting. This renders the two 120mm fan holes located at the bottom of the 410 pretty much useless in any situation. If you have your computer sitting on carpet, any airflow would be blocked. If the 410 was instead sitting on tile or some other hard surface, the lack of dust filtering capability would still quickly render every component completely choked with dust bunnies. In my opinion, if there are going to be air intake ports on a case, there needs to be at the very minimum some rudimentary dust filtering capabilities.

There are several nifty little features found in this case. The first is a pressure-latched compartment built into the top-front of the Tempest 410 for extra storage. It's not exactly clear what NZXT intends this storage base to be used for, because it is not deep enough to hold a mouse, not wide enough to contain a cell phone, and there is a divider bar within that prevents any sort of optical media storage. It's the perfect size to hold USB sticks or short cables like USB A:B patch cables, but it would have been nicer if this storage space accomodated mice or CDs.

It is worth noting that the power buttons and USB ports have been placed along the side of the optical drives, and are slightly recessed. This placement is actually quite ideal because they are out of the way, and the danger of bumping them by accident or damaging them is reduced.

The second neat thing about this case is the cooling options. NZXT really brought something quite innovative to the enthusiast consumer market with the Tempest 410, the fan mounts in particular. The two 120mm intake fans mounted in the front panel are actually completely modular and easily detachable. These fans are screwed into a pop-out module that houses the fan, dust filter, and the power interconnects as seen in the following picture:

These fans draw power from the contacts on the left side of the housing, completely eliminating the need for wires tethering the fans to the case. At any point the user can walk up to this computer and pop out either one of these fans in mid operation and clean it. No hassle, no trouble. This could be a gigantic leap forward in case design, and definitely demonstrates progress and innovation when compared to the Tempest EVO. With the EVO, it nearly required an act of Congress to remove the front panel alone, much less get to the fan filters themselves.

This is no longer the case with the Tempest 410, as the dust screen neatly fits into place in a custom designed cavity located between the outer grill and the fan itself. There is a small lip for grabbing onto the filter and with very little effort at all the user can quickly pull it out without disturbing any of the collected (caked) dust thanks to small 1/8" plastic risers that keep the screen away from the rest of the housing and provide structural support. In fact, it will take more time to read this paragraph than to reach over to the Tempest 410, pop out both fans from the case, remove, clean, and replace the filters and fans back inside. It is seriously that easy with theh Tempest 410. Bravo NZXT!  You may have just trumped Antec in filtering design.

It is really easy to forget and think that you are working with a full tower case at times with the Tempest 410, as its shorter length becomes evident when looking at the the case in profile. It could prove a challenge trying to fit some of the larger parts like high-end video cards in between the hard drives with this foreshortened space. The Tempest 410 supports video cards up to 240mm in length, but space proved tight when installing the HD6970 used for Neoseeker's testing. In the end, Neoseeker had to give up three hard drive slots and that's taking the test videocard's side mounted power plugs into account. It would have been nicer to see this case lengthened by roughly two inches at a minimum to enable those hard drive slots to be utilized.

There is plenty of room behind the motherboard for cable management however, with nearly an inch (2.54 cm) of storage space back there. This made cable management really easy once the parts were installed. One thing that didn't sit too well was the limited amount of pass-through holes machined into the motherboard tray. Two oblong slots on the edge of the tray are not nearly enough for all the cables required for modern motherboards, and Neoseeker had to get creative in a few areas with cable management.

The 410 definitely proves itself as the workhorse of the Tempest family once the side panels are removed and the interior revealed. Accommodating up to eight hard drives and three optical drives, this case can handle some of the demanding storage configurations today. Raid 0+1? This case can handle the number of drives that nested RAIDs require with ease. Just make sure to account for videocard length in your planning! The hard drive mounting system utilizes standard plastic drive-rails that snap into the screw holes onto the side of the hard drives. These rails then slide into the case from the front, passing through space where the front fans are mounted. This front-mounting system made it really easy to load the hard drives, and the user won't have to juggle around with the tight quarters created by the power supply and the videocard.

With the side panels removed, you can clearly see the massive 140mm mounting holes for exhaust fans located on the top of the 410. This design feature was one of nicer aspects of the Tempest EVO, and it would equally nice if all case manufacturers offered such massive exhausting capabilities. Hot air naturally rises, so it just makes sense to put the best venting capabilities at the top of the case. NZXT was also wise to go with either 120mm or 140mm fans and not a single gigantic 220mm fan or the like. By sticking with a standard case-fan format, the end user can purchase aftermarket fans that can really crank the airflow, gaining maximum cooling performance while keeping the no-nonsense design of the 410.

Unfortunately like a lot of manufacturers, NZXT has provided the capability for mounting a 120mm fan on the very bottom of the case, but also failed to provide any sort of dust filtering. Being the closest to the floor, a bottom-mounted fan will be pulling the most dust and debris. This is compounded by the fact that this case's very small and stubby feet are so ineffectual, they barely lift the case above the level of linoleum or other hard surfaces. There is a small metal mesh screen over the power supply intake port, but it looks like it was an afterthought and does not have any of the carefully thought out engineering that went into the rest of the case. Long story short, if cases are going to have bottom-mounted fan ports, they should be designed to be effective and not detrimental to the total cooling of the system.

Installing hardware was a snap with this case. It took a little bit of ingenuity to get all the hard drives and all their cables in place, but they weren't much more difficult to work with. It's worth pointing out that at least two, and perhaps even three of the hard drive slots were completely blocked by the girth of the videocard. Right there the lack of an extra two or three inches will keep this case from being in the top five cases ever reviewed at Neoseeker.

The Tempest 410 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 cooling capability offered by this case was impressive. The sheer amount of airflow possible inside of this case really shows in the numbers.

It will come as no surprise that the Tempset 410 swept the field in terms of videocard and processor cooling. Only the Tempest EVO could even come close in these two categories and this is very likely a direct result of their similar architectures. This case posted relatively higher tempuratures when it came to hard drive cooling, however that can be directly linked to the close-packed nature of Neoseeker's tested hard drive configuration. Unlike the Tempest EVO review where only two hard drives were installed into the case, this time Neoseeker opted to go with a more 'real-world' setup with the 410, packed four big drives right together to fully test the cooling performance of this case. You'll see more of this type of testing in future reviews, as well so keep an eye out for it. Regardless, the Tempest 410 still delivered quite respectable cooling numbers despite having five 1Tb drives in such close proximity.

The Tempest 410 is definitely a no-frills work horse of an enclosure and its fine engineering really shows in the cooling data results. It's reassuring that the engineers at NZXT have learned from their previous work with the EVO and produced a case where the user do not have to remove the front panel just to clean fan filters. It's also commendable they stuck with the 120/140mm fan format, and devised the sheer number of fan mounting positions. This mass of fans are what made this workhorse of a case a show-winner when it came to cooling performance. The only mini-complaint is that it would have been nice if NZXT had provided a few extra fan-screws with the case, but that can't overshadow the modular fan mounting system that NZXT has included with the Tempest 410 which hopefully will set a new standard in fan mounting systems.

It would also have been nice if the case was about 2 inches longer, so that you wouldn't have to sacrifice up to three hard drive slots in order to fit a top-end videocard. Other than than that, this case is one of the best Neoseeker had the pleasure of reviewing, and it's a definite winner.

PROS:

CONS:

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