Road to the Perfect Mini ITX PC (Part 2): NZXT H200

The second of the bunch is one of the stylish cases from NZXT, the H200. While it is technically a mini ITX chassis, it is a large case for that market segment. Just like the Fractal Design Core 500, it is compatible with a wide range of hardware, making it the perfect enclosure for price-conscious buyers. On top of that, it also is beautiful.

Unfortunately, I do not have an image of a complete desk setup with this case. Here is one with a good look at the internal layout and installed hardware.

Design

Let me repeat it: this case is gorgeous. Although it’s "only" steel and not aluminum, the build quality is excellent, and it feels very premium.

As is the trademark for NZXT’s cases, the front is completely blocked off, and even its branding is minimal. It is white color on a different shade of the white background. I can appreciate the minimalism and prefer it to overly extrovert branding. I am also a big fan of NZXT’s implementation of the black and white theme – something I will get back to in part 3 of this series. The front, top, and right sides are white, whereas the inside is entirely black. The only exception is the white accent on the vertical bar that is a characteristic design element of NZXTs cases and serves as a cover for cables coming from behind the motherboard tray. The window borders are black as well, matching the interior nicely. It is an almost perfect design, and I like it a lot.

Compatibility & Experience

As you can see in the picture, the NZXT H200 can be home to big hardware. Enormous air coolers? No problem. According to the spec sheet, Noctua’s NH-D15 fits to the millimeter. Long graphics cards are also a non-issue. You can mount a radiator for CPU coolers at the front, with 240 or 280 millimeters. Finally: full ATX power supply support and 120mm exhaust fans at the rear and the top. This hardware support is why this case is one of the bigger ones for a small form factor.

But despite all that, there is one flaw. As I have mentioned in the first blog post on this topic, GPU thickness is an issue in small cases, and the H200 is no exception. Dual-slot graphics cards fit just fine. There might even be room for 2.5 slot cards – if it weren’t for NZXT’s iconic vertical metal plate thingy. Remove that, and you can easily fit thicker cards. It ruins the look of the case, though. Otherwise, you may run into problems with the fans contacting the metal, which is the biggest drawback of this enclosure and, ultimately, why I replaced it.

At some point, I wanted to upgrade the RX570 to something with a bit more "oomph," and searching for a replacement was tedious because of this restriction. You might now think, "well, that’s normal for an ITX case," and I would agree with you 100 percent if it weren’t for the fact that this is a big case. It is a big.SMALL™ computer enclosure that happens only to support ITX motherboards. It is a joy to build in and a joy to look at, there is no doubt. GPU compatibility, though, despite support for full-length cards, is limited because of a design decision. If NZXT had gone with an SFX power supply instead and kept the overall size the same, it might have been possible to fit a micro ATX board in there, giving the user more expansion slots. And even if that were not the case, it would have provided enough room for a triple-slot GPU – a better tradeoff, in my opinion.

Cooling

Regarding cooling, there are a few limitations that have nothing to do with the size of the coolers you can install. The first issue is the closed-off front panel. There are mesh openings on either side of it that shall provide gaps for air to pass through, and I believe the bottom has no restrictions at all. This is certainly not ideal, but it should be good enough for most use cases. Secondly, the GPU is worse off because it sits right on top of the power supply, and no front fan cannot push enough cold air to it to make a huge difference. There is not enough room. The best thing you can do for a GPU in this enclosure is to mount an SFX power supply, as Gamers Nexus have discovered. Watch their full review of this case as their content is worth the time. It is very well researched and stuffed with a lot of information.

My system did not have any issues at all, but it was only a mid-range build. You can put much more power into this case; because of its volume and the fact that you can mount two 120mm exhaust fans, warm air is expelled quickly. Unless you are overclocking high-end hardware to the limit, this case is adequate.

Pricing & Availability

Good news on this front: the NZXT H200, or its successor the H210, are usually widely available (in Germany) and cost around 80€. NZXT is a known brand, and its products are generally in stock and affordable. You get good quality for your money, although high airflow and optimal cooling are not the focus of their cases. If you are looking for that, you should go somewhere else.

Final Thoughts

It is a pretty case. A beautiful case, in fact. If you are coming from a mid-tower enclosure or something even larger, you will be amazed by the size of this thing. Even though it is on the bigger end of the ITX spectrum, compared to a regular computer case, the H200 is small and cute. I would like it a lot if it weren’t for the one big flaw: the GPU thickness. It may not be an issue for you, however. Maybe you are always only using mid- to low-end graphics cards that do not require a giant cooler. In that case, the H200 works perfectly. Even if you want to install something more potent, you can. You must invest a bit more time researching a card that comes with a dual-slot design that does not sound like a jet engine. Or maybe you do not care about the noise and buy what fits the case and your budget. Good for you! This case will work well.

For me, it did not, because this is part of the details I tend to sweat. Unfortunately, I did not do my due diligence upfront or underestimated my obsession sweating the details or lusting for more, much more power than an RX570. That is where the next case comes into play.

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