NZXT Vulcan Review

Author: Chris Barry
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Sunday, June 27th, 2010
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/s/nzxt_vulcan/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

Introduction:

We've looked at a few cases recently, however, we've been focusing on cases for the full sized computer. In reality not all computers use ATX motherboards. This means we don't always need to use Full or even Mid tower cases. In fact, many computers, even gaming rigs, can get by in much smaller cases.

Today we'll be looking at one such gaming case that doesn't quite fit in the Mid tower category, the NZXT Vulcan case, which for some odd reason always reminds me of Star Trek. NZXT manufacturers many cases, and I've got to hand it to them. They make some of the coolest cases I've ever seen!

This "Gaming mATX" case is composed of plastic and steel mesh. It stands at 422.5mm High, is 180mm wide, and is 406mm long. so it's almost the same size as a standard ATX motherboard! This means there is absolutely no way you'll be able to fit an ATX motherboard inside this case. Instead you'll need to use either a mATX or ITX setup.

The NZXT Vulcan is considered to be a gaming Chassis, so NZXT gave you some room to work with while installing a video card. As long as your GPU is under 350mm long it should be able to fit inside the case. While we're on the subject of things fitting inside the case, you'll have about 165mm of clearance for a heatsink.

MODEL
Vulcan Series
CASE TYPE
Gaming mATX Chassis
LED Color
Orange
Front panel connectors
1 x HD Audio/Mic, 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x eSATA
FRONT PANEL MATERIAL
Plastic / Steel Mesh
DIMENSIONS (W x H x D)
406mm (D) x 180mm (W) x 422.5mm (H) / 16” x 7” x 16.6”
Dimensions w/o Handle 
406mm (D) x 180mm (W) x 380mm (H) / 16” x 7” x 14.9”
VGA Clearance
350mm
CPU heatsink height support
165mm ( without side 200mm fan )
 
COOLING SYSTEM
FRONT, 1 X 120mm (included)
REAR, 1 X 92/80mm
TOP, 2 x 120mm ( 1 x Orange LED fan included )
SIDE, 1 x 200mm
 
 
DRIVE BAYS
6 DRIVE BAYS
2 EXTERNAL 5.25" DRIVE BAYS
2 EXTERNAL 3.5" DRIVE BAYS
2 INTERNAL 3.5" DRIVE BAYS
Screwless Rail Design
MATERIAL(S)
Steel with powder black coating inside
EXPANSION SLOTS
4
POWER SUPPLY
ATX
WEIGHT
5.80 KGS (W/O Power)
MOTHERBOARD SUPPORT
MICRO-ATX, ITX

Now that we've got the introduction out of the way. Let's see how this 5.8kg contender stacks up to the rest of the competition!

The Exterior:

Let's start off by taking a look at the front of the NZXT Vulcan. From what we can see there are two knobs, two meshed 5.25" drive bays, two meshed 3.5" drive bays, and a meshed area where an Intake fan is located. On the right side of the case's front we can see a long groove. This groove is actually the Power LED, and the HDD LED. Both lights will glow orange when the computer is powered on. The HDD LED will of course only glow when the HDD is active. One thing that is obviously missing from the case's front is the power button. Could it be those knobs? Nope, those knobs are actually for the NZXT Vulcan's built in fan controller. This is a cool feature, and it will also mean that the power button is located somewhere else on the case.

Next up let's take a look at the two sides of the NZXT Vulcan. NZXT took an interesting approach at making your hardware visible from the side panel. Instead of a large chunk of acrylic, NZXT made most of the Vulcan's side panel meshed. While this does allow you to see through the case very well, it causes me to worry about dirt, dust, and pet hair getting into the case. If you live in dusty environment, they'll probably be able to easily enter the case. The opposite side panel follows a similar design, but without the mesh.

Right at the top of the case's rear, we can see two holes which will allow you to route water cooling tubing inside through to the outside of the case. Directly under this is a grilled area where an optional exhaust fan can be installed. To the right of this is where the I/O shield will be attached. Under that is four Expansion slots, and directly below this is where the PSU will be located. I was pleasantly surprised to see such a small case following the trend of mounting the PSU at the bottom.

The NZXT Vulcan's top panel also has a meshed area where two additional exhaust fans can be installed inside. However, only one 120mm fan comes included with the case. In this same area you'll be able to mount the NZXT Vulcan's external handle, which will allow you to easily carry the case to LAN parties. Also located at the top of the case are the power switch, reset switch, and front panel connections. The bottom of the NZXT Vulcan sports rubber feet which will prevent it from scratching wood flooring.

Now let's move on to the NZXT Vulcan's interior!

The Interior:

One of the most important parts of any case interior is the case fan positioning, because fans can make or break any case's airflow. It's hard to tell whether it will be the intake or the exhaust fans which are most important, so we'll start by looking at the NZXT Vulcan's included intake fan. This baby is your ordinary 120mm fan.

The only other fan that NZXT included in their Vulcan case was an exhaust fan located at the case's top. Like the intake fan, the exhaust fan is 120mm. However, it is equipped with orange LEDs which should nicely complement the NZXT Vulcan's power and HDD LEDs.

The NZXT Vulcan comes equipped with a total of two 5.25" bays, so you'll be able to have a maximum of two ODDs. In reality this should be enough for any gamer, but at the same time being limited to two 5.25" bays could be problematic if you want to use one for a reservoir or fan controller. Along with the two 5.25" bays you'll be able to utilize four 3.5" drive bays. This will, of course, allow you to use up to four HDD's, which might be a bit much for a LAN PC.

As with all cases there's a big mess of wires attached to the NZXT Vulcan. Please note that I'm using the term "mess" very lightly as NZXT actually did a great job at pre-managing the wires that will be attached to the motherboard. The wires were neatly routed around the back of the case, and through holes in the motherboard tray. These wires include a USB cable, and an HD audio cable. You'll also need to connect the power switch, power LED, reset switch, and HDD LED cables to the motherboard. The remaining cables are for the fans and fan controller. The fans can either be attached to the fan controller, or they can be plugged directly into your motherboard. I'd suggest using the fan controller.

If you do decide to use the fan controller, you'll need to attach the wires correctly. In order to switch the controller on and off manually, you'll need to attach the correct cables to the two pin cables on the back of the button. You'll then need to make sure every cable that is labeled "Fan Controller", "1", or "2" is connected to power. Once you've done this you'll be able to turn the knobs in the front of your case in order to change the fan speeds.

Now that we've seen what the NZXT Vulcan looks like, let's install our hardware!

Assembly:

Included with the NZXT Vulcan are standoffs, screws, and thumbscrews, and the nifty case handle. You could probably get by without using the included screws and standoffs, but hey, they always make it easier.

After we've screwed in the correct amount of standoffs, we can install the motherboard and memory. I'll be using the ASUS AT3IONT-I in order to test the NZXT Vulcan. The ASUS AT3IONT-I is an ITX motherboard, so I only needed to install four standoffs. Once the motherboard has been installed we can start connecting the front panel cables to it.

Next it would probably be a good idea to install the HDD and the ODD. NZXT made the Vulcan's 3.5" drive tool-less, so you'll simply need to attach the HDD brackets to your drive and slide it into place. I was very pleased to see how secure the drive was. The 5.25" bays however, were not tool-less. Even so, installation is still extremely easy. Simply slide the drive into place and secure it with screws.

The very last thing you'll need to do in order to complete your build is attach the NZXT Vulcan's handle. Managing the wires might also be a nice thing to do. Either way we've completed the build and that means it's time to run the benchmarks!

Testing Setup:

Comparison Cases:

Testing:

In order to test the performance of the NZXT Vulcan I used HWMonitor to monitor the temperature of my components. The idle temperatures were taken after the computer was idling for an hour. The load tests were taken after the computer had been running at full load for an hour.

I was very pleasantly surprised to see the NZXT Vulcan outperform every case on the charts.

Conclusion:

If you're looking to build a portable LAN rig, the NZXT Vulcan would be an extremely good case to use. It's small, it performs great, and it's got a handle! The only downside to the Vulcan is that you won't be able to use an ATX motherboard with it, so you'll need to get by with either an mATX or an ITX setup. That being said, don't let the size full you. You'll still be able to fit a rather large video card and a decent sized cooler inside the NZXT Vulcan.

As far looks go the NZXT Vulcan had a very pleasing design, plus used mesh in a very interesting way in order to create a window. Unfortunately the mesh does look as though it will let large amounts of dust and dirt into the case. This could cause problems depending on the environment you live in. On the plus side the NZXT Vulcan did feature a built in fan controller, which is always handy in any case, especially one so small!

The NZXT Vulcan was also a top performer, but this is probably because the bigger cases couldn't do much for the tiny hardware. No matter what the reason the Vulcan performed great, I just wish you could fit more hardware into it.

I'd recommend the NZXT Vulcan to anyone looking to build a nifty little LAN rig. Furthermore I'd suggest the case to anyone using mATX hardware. If the Vulcan was slightly larger I'd recommend it to anyone, so hopefully NZXT will make a larger version. Good job on a great mATX case, NZXT!

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