NZXT has revisited its popular H-series PC cases, adding one more mid-tower to the lineup: the NZXT H500. As yet another stylish compact case, the H500 ditches the smart tech from its predecessors – that we weren’t all that fussed on – but retains the smart design and high-quality machining that we’ve come to expect from NZXT.
The H500’s design is about as clean-cut as you’ll find in the case market today, save for maybe a few very high-end cases. The style-centric design and seamless functionality is evident in almost every nook and cranny of the case. Just take one look at that tempered glass side panel that has been sunken into the chassis. The case’s orderly form allows the thick pane of glass to rest securely in place with only a single thumb screw around the back and out of sight.
The front intake too is hidden away towards the side panel of the case. This allows the front and side panel of the case to be almost entirely void of any visible functionality that would otherwise subvert its chiseled style. As such, this case’s finished styling is really all down to what components you decide to put inside of it – and as neat or garish as you choose to make it. With a simple exterior, the eye is drawn to what’s inside the case first and foremost
But that simplicity is a double-edged sword. While I personally don’t mind a few extra degrees in lieu of dusty front intakes intakes, this is far from the most airflow-optimised case out there. The side intake is minimal at best, and due to its location, can be easily obstructed depending on where your PC will sit once you’re done fiddling with it for a few months for no real reason.
Aside from the front intakes, there’s still a single 120mm intake on top and one in the rear. You’ll only have two Aer fans included with the case, however, so choose wisely.
There is a slight issue of where to put a radiator as well. With just one 120mm mount up top, you are pretty stuck with a front intake location if you’ve picked up a 240mm rad. Again, this isn’t the best location for airflow. Hefty air coolers, like that of the Zotac AMP or MSI Gaming X Trio, are pretty self-sufficient and will manage all by themselves, but reference coolers, or those of similar blower ilk, might need a little more third-party thermal dissipation, which is something you’ll need to consider due to the H500’s airtight design.
But at least the front intake fans are easily installed via a removable plate. Building in an NZXT case has always been a rather hassle-free experience, and the H500 is no different. Even building into the compact frame of the H500 is a breeze. While that’s somewhat down to the fantastic build quality, it’s the accessibility and finer details at the design’s core that really keeps blood pressure to a minimum.
And that attention to detail carries over to the cable management too – which is yet again exceptional. The rear of the motherboard frame features various straps and channels to easily manipulate wads of cable with some semblance of style and organisation – user depending, of course. I tend to prefer the mullet style approach to cable management myself, business in the front and party (read: complete mess) in the back. But, thanks to the Velcro ties and generous channeling, even a lazy builder like myself managed to keep the H500 clear of stray cables.
If NZXT intend for this case to carry the torch on from the classic S340, it really had to be something special to convince builders to stick with the brand. However, in keeping with the S340’s simple, understated style, NZXT has certainly managed to build a worthy successor that does just that. And thanks to the range of colour options – white, black, black and blue, black and red – there’s still plenty of personality up for grabs.
It’s one of the more compact mid-tower designs that’ll still support an ATX motherboard in a straight tower fashion, and it’s a wonder it all comes together so easily in that limited space. While it might not be the most accommodating case when it comes to optimising your airflow, the cable management, four SSD slots, two HDD drive bays, and perforated PSU shroud all come together in a case worth considering.
There aren't many PC cases in this price range that manage to offer style, quality, and function all in a single package quite as well as the NZXT H500. While its compact form and minimal style can require a little more planning and forethought going when it comes to airflow optimisation, the finished build will almost certainly have been worth the extra effort.