NZXT S340 Case Review
It’s been along time since I’ve had the opportunity to take a look at an NZXT case, the last one we saw was over two years ago! Well this is about to change as the NZXT Source 340 has recently landed in the pcG office. What sort of case is it then? Well the first thing to note is that it’s a small case (W 200 x H 445 x D 432 mm) yet most importantly it still supports an ATX motherboard (in fact it supports Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX also), also note that this case features no external drive bays. Internally there’s support for three 3.5″ drives and two 2.5″ drives. The NZXT S340 supports a maximum CPU Cooler height of 161 mm (so you need to choose carefully). There’s plenty of room for those extra long Graphics Cards though, with the NZXT supporting a maximum GPU length of 364mm.
The case is made predominantly from steel and weighs in at around 7kg, it features a single side window on the left side and is available in both black and white (we have the latter). It comes equipped with two 120mm fans one in the back and one in the roof. In addition to this the NZXT S340 features USB 3.0 support, filtered intakes (front and PSU) and there’s a rather useful PSU shroud helping you to keep that install as clean as possible. There’s also support for a dedicated radiator in the front of the case, supporting radiators up to 280mm in length, meaning that it’s perfect for an NZXT Kraken X61 Watercooler, well there’s a surprise! 😉
The NZXT S340 comes in smart looking black ‘n white box showing off the internals (of a pre-installed system), with a black build on the front and a white build on the back (or is it the other way around!?). Both the front and back of the box gives very little else away…
On opening the box we can see that the NZXT S340 is well packaged and protected by way of a plastic cover as well as sandwiched between two polystyrene blocks.
In the box other than the case itself there’s a small NZXT branded white box. In here we find a basic user guide, a plethora of screws, a stand-off insertion tool and four cable ties. In addition to this there’s a small leaflet describing how to install Windows 7/8 from a pen drive. Why would NZXT include that, you may ask? Well it’s because there’s no external drive bays so you logically can’t install from CD! 😉
courtesy of NZXT
|Model Number||CA-S340W-W1 (White)
|Drive Bays||External 5.25″: 0
Internal 3.5″: 2+1
Internal 2.5″: 2
|Cooling System||Front: 2x 140/2x120mm
Top: 1x 140/120mm (1 x 120mm FN V2 Fans Included)
Rear: 1x 120mm (1 x 120mm FN V2 Fan Included)
|Radiator Support||Front 2 x 140 or 2 x 120mm
Rear 1 x 120mm
|Clearance||GPU Clearance With Radiator: 334mm
GPU Clearance Without Radiator: 364mm
CPU Cooler: 161mm
Cable Management: Lowest Point – 17mm; Highest Point 168mm
|Dimensions||200mm x 445mm x 432mm|
|Material||SECC Steel, ABS Plastic|
|Motherboard Support||Mini-ITX, MicroATX, ATX|
|External Electronics||1 x Audio/Mic
2x USB 3.0
|Product Weight||7.05 kg|
|USB 3.0 Ports||2|
The NZXT S340 may be square but it is still a thing of beauty, although beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course! It is a simple yet elegant case, one that most of us would like, it’s not got any external bells ‘n whistles, it’s just a rectangular case with a window in the side, there’s very little to dislike to be honest and I’m a fan of the less is more approach when it comes to cases. So first impressions? Good! 😉
Taking a look at the top of the case we can see the top 120mm exhaust fan at the back, held in place (rather disappointingly) with those nasty self tapping fan screws. It’s disappointing as they’re all in at a bit of an angle, this cheapens the look of the top of the case, which is a shame as its soft touch surface is really rather nice. At the front we have the main power switch, two USB 3.0 ports, audio ports (headphone & microphone) and a Storage activity LED (white). Note, there is no reset button!? The gap at the front of the case looks kind of weird but it not only allows you to remove the front panel, but also acts as an air intake should you fit fans and or a radiator in the front.
Looking at the back of the NZXT S340 we can see the main motherboard I/O shield slot at the top left, with the other 120mm fan to the right hand side. This fan is also setup to exhaust air from the case, the same as the top one. Below this we can see that the S340 features seven expansion slots. Finally at the bottom we can see the mount for the Power Supply, note that this uses a bracket that needs to be fitted to the PSU first, this is then held to the case by way of four thumb screws. Each side panel is held in place by two thumb screws, these particular examples are captive, meaning they stay attached to the panel. I guess that should stop them getting lost…
Looking at the base of the case (hey that rhymes!) we can see that the S340 has four large (and surprisingly tall) rubber feet, also at the back there’s a basic Power Supply filter. At the front again we can see what appears to be a hand-hold, this is actually to allow the front panel to be removed and to allow air into the case. DON’T pick the case up by this, as it’s likely to end in tears as the panel comes off in your hands. In the middle of the two front legs there are a handful (well eight) mount points allowing an addition (or the third) HDD to be mounted to the bottom of the case.
Removing the left side panel allows us to see within the S340 as you can see there’s decent amount of room in here and the case seems to be nicely uncluttered. This is mainly due to the bottom PSU shroud that dominates the bottom of the case. We can also see that the S340 features a nice large CPU cut-out, two pre-installed 120mm fans and seven expansion slots. In the image below left we can also begin to appreciate how much room there is in the front of the case for water cooling. What is rather strange is NZXT’s Grommet-less cable management bar that is there to hide your cables from view, yet it’s just simple strip of metal, and it’s not boxed in; we shall have to see how well this works…
Removing the right panel allows us to see into the back of the NZXT S340 where we can get a better look at the cable management bar. Cable management depth is adequate for a case of this size and there’s also a handful of well placed cable tie points. At the bottom left we can see the main 3.5″ (HDD) drive cage, allowing up to two drives to be installed (with one below). Although I’m unsure why NZXT didn’t just make the cage bigger!?
Taking a closer look at the top I/O and the rather nice to the touch surface coating we can see that the NZXT S340 doesn’t feature a reset button, I find this kind of odd! But it’s not the first of a new batch of cases that seemed to have dropped the trusty (and dare I say, much used) reset button! The main power button features a circular ring around the outside that illuminates white while the case is on and flashes white when in stand-by. Looking at the image below left we can also clearly see the fan filter down inside the front of the case.
Looking up on the inside of the case we can see the main control panel fitted in the top corner. Again we can also see (in the image below left) how much room there is in the front of the S340 for a radiator and/or fans. We can also see that strange cable management bar, I’m unsure how useful this is actually going to be…
With the front panel removed (just pull, gently of course at either the top or bottom) we can see the main intake dust filer held in place by way of magnets, which is always kinda cool!
Taking a closer look at the HDD cage (below left) allows us to see that it’s pretty difficult to get all four screws in to secure the drive. This would be especially difficult when the system is fully built. Interestingly the user guide shows only two screws also, the ones accessed by removing the front panel, hmm…
On the top of the PSU shroud are two 2.5″ (SSD) mounts that are really rather cool. Just fit the bracket to your SSD (using four screws) and secure in place with a single thumb screw.
Below you can see the pre-installed cabling (all black which is good to see) for the two 120mm fans (note the additional Molex adapter), USB 3.0, HD Audio and Front Panel plugs. Also note that there’s cables for Power, Power LED and HDD/SSD LEDs but no Reset!
|Case||NZXT S340||Power Supply||Corsair Professional Series AX 760i|
|Motherboard||ASRock Fatal1ty Z97X Killer||CPU||Intel Core i5-4690K|
|CPU Cooler||Raijintek Themis||RAM||HyperX Savage 2400MHz 8GB Kit|
|Graphics Card||XFX AMD Radeon R9 290X DD Black Edition||SSD||HyperX FURY 120GB|
The first task was to install the Corsair AX760i Power Supply, this was a simple affair with the first task being to attach the NZXT PSU bracket to the back of the Power Supply. With this done the PSU was fitted fan side down, taking advantage of the PSU fan filter already fitted to the S340. I then plugged in all of the necessary PSU cables for the build – ATX 24-pin, CPU 8-pin, a single PCIE 8-pinx2 and a SATA power cable.
With this done I then added the additional stand-off required for the ASRock Fatal1ty Z97X Killer motherboard using the handy tool provided by NZXT. The motherboard assembly (MB, CPU, CPU Cooler & RAM) was then installed. Screwing down the motherboard didn’t go well though and at first I thought that I had used the wrong screws. Turned out that I was using the right screws but they’re just damn tight (READ: too tight!). This may have be caused by the motherboard tray being painted with the stand-offs in place, meaning they’re full of paint. It’s a shame as it wasn’t a pleasant experience and it’s a mark lost for Design/Quality.
The next task was some basic cabling that went well, and I was genuinely shocked at how well the Cable Management Bar hid all of the cabling! Fitting the SSD atop the PSU shroud with its associated bracket was a breeze and shows off the SSD nicely (if only SSDs looked a little more exciting!).
The final task was to fit the XFX 290X DD Black Edition Graphics Card; as the NZXT S340 supports GPUs with an overall length of up to 364mm , the installation was easy peasy! 😉
With the system complete it was time to fire it up, no problems were encountered and I found the S340 a nice position next to my own personal NZXT Switch 810. It was at this point the little NZXT S340 was re-named to mini-me!
At pcGameware we use Prime95 and CoreTemp to evaluate CPU temperatures and we use MSI Afterburner to evaluate the GPU temperatures. Of course Prime95 being a CPU stress test also helps to generate heat for us to check the case thermals. We also use UNiGiNE Heaven 4.0 for GPU temperature testing.
CPU performance testing is carried out using Prime95 to stress the CPU. Each run is timed for 15 mins and the maximum temperature is recorded for all cores and then the average core heat is taken. Testing was carried out at 4.0GHz courtesy of ASRock’s OC Tweaker within the UEFI.
GPU performance testing is carried out by running UNiGiNE Heaven 4.0 for 15 minutes and then by recording the maximum GPU temperature.
* All case fans (x2 in the case of the NZXT S340) and the CPU Cooler (Raijintek Themis) are run at 100% throughout testing. To ascertain case noise levels, the GPU fans are set to their lowest setting and the CPU Cooler fan is unplugged, whilst the dB is recorded from 1m away.
|Case||Ambient Temperature||Max CPU Temperature (core average)||Delta Temperature|
|Cooler Master HAF XB||24.00||61.50||37.50|
With just two 120mm exhaust fans and no intake fans I wasn’t expecting good results from the NZXT S340 when it comes to CPU Cooling. But to be fair it hasn’t done bad, with a average maximum Core temperature of 62 degrees Celsius during the Prime 95 test, resulting in a Delta of 58 degrees it’s just two degrees shy of our Test Case the Cooler Master HAF XB. And it betters the Xigmatek Aquila by two and a half degrees, pretty much middle of the road then.
It’s worth taking note of what we are showing here, and that is that with the NZXT S340 and a £20 Cooler (Raijintek Themis) you can sit down for an evening of Prime 95 and not see you CPU temperature go much over 62 degrees… and let’s be fair how many of us sit down for an evening of Prime 95, it’s far more likely to be Battlefield 4 or World of Warcraft where the maximum CPU temperature will be far less! 😉
|Case||Ambient Temperature||Max GPU Temperature||Delta Temperature|
|Cooler Master HAF XB||24.00||80.00||56.00|
The NZXT S340 also cools our hot XFX AMD Radeon R9 290X DD Black Edition GPU to a decent 80 degree maximum during the Unigine Heaven Test. Again no mean feat considering there’s two 120mm exhaust fans and no intake fans. I would expect this figure to improve markedly if we were to fit a couple of intake fans in the front! Proving that it’s just as important to get that hot air out as it is to get that cool air in…
With just two 120mm exhaust fans the NZXT S340 should be a pretty quiet case and it doesn’t disappoint. With both fans at 100% the S340 emits a quiet 29dB hardly audible over an ambient 27db. So the performance is good as is the acoustics, although I still think it might be an idea to add a couple more fans to the front of the case as the mounts and filter is already in place.
Once out of the box, I have to admit that I was already a fan of the NZXT S340 thanks to its small size and its ability to swallow a full ATX system, while showing it off via a beautifully placed side window.
The NZXT S340 came well packaged in a smart black ‘n white box, and once out of the box appreciation for this little ATX case immediately began to grow. Maybe there’s something about small things (ask my misses! 😉 ), but there’s just something about the S340 that makes it desirable from the get go! It’s not the shape either as let’s be fair it’s a square (well rectangular actually) box, but it still looks good. Of course this is helped by the fact that the S340 has no external drive bays, this helps to keep the exterior of the case clean and tidy. Of course for some this may be a drawback, but not for me, I love the idea personally…
The feature set is impressive too for such a small case, with a soft touch top surface, USB 3.0, fan filters (front & PSU) and a perfectly placed side window. Inside there’s room for three 3.5″ drives and two 2.5″ drives with the latter being shown of by way of a smart bracket that sits atop the PSU shroud that covers the bottom of the case. Add to this the support for water cooling by way of the ability to fit up to a 280mm radiator in the front of the case and it would appear that NZXT have a real winner on their hands.
Installation of our Test System into the NZXT S340 was easy too, despite its small size. Yes some areas of the case were a little tight but there were no gotchas! The only oddity was the screws for the motherboard that were just too tight (and yes I was using the right ones!), this made tightening the screws a somewhat unpleasant affair which is a shame. Other than that installation was a breeze, even the Cable Management Bar was far more useful than one would have thought, successfully hiding all of the main power cables. I love the 2.5″ (SSD) brackets on the top of the PSU shroud too, great for showing off your SSDs.
Performance wise the cooling of the NZXT was impressive considering that it only features two 120mm exhaust fans (x1 back & x1 top), although I’m sure better results could be obtained by adding a couple of fans to the front. Acoustically the S340 was near silent at just 29dB.
Overall there’s a lot to like about the NZXT S340, the main attraction is the fact that you can build such a good looking (well displayed) ATX system in such a small case, and with comparative ease. Just a couple of niggles with screws and build quality let it down. Although the price (approximately £70) is a little steep, although shopping around reveals a street price closer to £50! At that price the NZXT S340 becomes highly desirable…
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Many thanks to NZXT for providing this sample for review