|NZXT Alpha Classical Series Mid-Tower Case|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cases|
|Written by Chip Terrell - Edited by Olin Coles|
|Tuesday, 06 May 2008|
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Classical Series Final Thoughts
There are a couple of alterations to the design of the Alpha that I believe would greatly enhance it's value and performance. An exhaust fan in the roof of the case would certainly improve ventilation and cooling, while filters would also improve the quality of the air inside the enclosure. With the ever increasing demand for PCI slots, additional slots in the rear panel would be a much needed relief for those utilizing SLI and Crossfire, wireless PCI cards, etc. Some water cooling hose grommets would be preferable to an unfiltered passive rear vent. One interesting thing to note while discussing case alterations, is that the Alpha has a great reputation with the case modding community as an easy case to modify because of it's basic, clean lines and simplicity.
The NZXT Alpha: Conclusion
I struggled with where to apply the points awarded for NZXT's multiple "Small Extras" and eventually settled on including them in with the Presentation score because most of the time this score is a reflection on the particular company in question's packaging and marketing efforts. NZXT's packaging was well done but the high marks in this category pertaining to the Alpha are because of NZXT's repeated and welcomed efforts to enhance the customers initial experience with their product. The case's vulnerable surfaces are protected even during the manufacturing process, quality accessories, key edges rubberized for customer safety, extras like insulating washers, a manual, and the Piezo speaker, and lastly a neat and secure interior upon arrival that confers the impression of quality.
The exterior appearance of the Alpha is certainly the strength of the case. The Alpha is an attractive case that is neither understated or over the top. NZXT succeeded in pulling off the futuristic look, and at the same time, by providing the windowed side panel as optional, designed an enclosure that could find itself in an office as easily as the desk top of a gamer. So well is the futuristic flavor captured by the Alpha's design, that the look and feel of the case remain unchanged even when the enhancing LED lights are not utilized. Accompany the case's design with the enhancing blue LED accents and experience the full effect of the case's intended aesthetics.
I found no flaws in the construction of the enclosure and noted a cleanliness about the final manufactured unit. The seems and edges were tight and there were no detectable manufacturing flaws other than a little unsightly paint over-spray on the inside of the side panel. The enclosure itself is exceptionally light, and remarkably weighs about 3 pounds less than the average comparable case! The side panel fastening system deserves to be mentioned here too because of it's simple yet durable design.
Functionally speaking, the case had it's own set of pros and cons. On a positive note, the addition of an e-SATA port was an unexpected but welcomed upgrade. The doorless design is convenient as well as practical and the option of a windowed or solid side panel model enables the Alpha to be adapted to a diverse range of potential environments. The screwless locking system employed isn't new but it is effective and greatly simplifies component installation. Unfortunately, the Alpha came sans the front intake fan. I was surprised that a company working as hard as NZXT to differentiate themselves and present a quality product, would then participate in one of the industry's most consumer unfriendly practices of not providing all the fans. The lack of interior or rear panel innovation and the heavy concentration on exterior aesthetics is a trend the enclosure industry will eventually have to break away from, but for now, it seems to be producing a lot of very aesthetically different cases with extremely similar performance characteristics. Sticking closely to the industries standard budget design caused NZXT to have only one fan more than the minimal cooling requirements for the design. The Alpha enclosure is designed specifically for gaming rigs, but even with it's full compliment of 3 fans the Alpha would be hard pressed to maintain an acceptable ambient case temperature with a couple of 8800GTX in SLI idling at 54c and on top of that the heat emitted by today's larger and more powerful high wattage PSUs. The gaming components of today have outgrown the cooling solutions of yesterday, so armed with barely more than the traditional minimal cooling and ventilation, the Alpha cannot be expected to excel in this area. Lastly, though the case is designed for gaming, which thrives on high end components often requiring additional cooling, there are no water cooling options available within the current design.
There is certainly value in the Alpha from NZXT, especially as long as there are overpriced cases on the market. I have seen comparable cases for less, but selling for $59.99 at Newegg prices the Alpha fairly competitively amongst it's peers. Some of the best value in the computer hardware industry are available in the budget mid-range enclosure market, as is exemplified by the NZXT Alpha.
If your looking for a light, well made, stylistic and attractive case, that is reasonably priced, then the Alpha by NZXT is worth taking into consideration when making your final decision on your system enclosure needs.
+ Attractive Design
- No Front Intake Fan Included
Final Score: 8.80 out of 10.
Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.
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