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If you plan to put a PC in a highly visible place, you’re not going to want some hulking desktop case that is impossible to ignore. You want something sleek, small, and quiet, and that’s exactly what NZXT has made in the H1. With this mini-ITX case, NZXT understands how people use PCs in a living space. And it also ensured that the H1 is simple to build with.
The NZXT H1 is available now for $350 in black or white. That is a lot of money, but NZXT preinstalls an AIO liquid CPU cooler and a 650W 80Plus Gold modular power supply. That’s going to save you a lot of money, and it ensures the system is as compact and easy to use as possible.
What you’ll like
- Beautiful NZXT styling
- Front-facing design that looks great in an entertainment center
- Surprisingly quiet
- Simple to build with and easy to access components
- Supports large GPUs
- Front-panel USB-C
What you won’t like
- It’s physics, but I wish it was a touch smaller
- Putting I/0 on the bottom looks clean, but makes it difficult to access
- Keep in mind that working with mini-ITX boards often means making compromises.
What you need to know about the NZXT H1
- Available: Now
- Price: $350
NZXT knows what it’s doing with the H1. It built an attractive small-form-factor case that simultaneously looks unique and maintains NZXT’s overall design language. The result is a case that I’ve seen multiple people covet on social media. The H1 has sold out multiple times on the company’s website. And now, after seeing it in person, it deserves this buzz.
The company already had cases that meet the mini-ITX standard. An H200 looks a lot like NZXT’s other cases only smaller. And that’s nice, but the problem with a desktop design is right in the name. Traditional cases make more sense on a desk. The transparent glass opens up on the side so you can glance over and see the components while you’re working. That doesn’t translate well to something like a media room.
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You can put the H1 anywhere.
With the H1, NZXT designed an enclosure that will look good even if it’s staring at you from next to your TV. And that starts with its forward-facing orientation. Its tempered glass window sits on the H1’s face. This makes the finished product feel more like a consumer-electronic device from companies like Bose or something. And because of that, you can put the H1 next to your TV without it looking out of place. If anything, it’ll make everything else — like a gaming console — look cheap.
Quiet as a whisper
To keep the size of the H1 down, NZXT doesn’t leave room for extra fans. Instead, PSU, CPU, and GPU coolers are responsible for moving all the air through the case. And this is enough in part because of the vertical design of the H1.
The entire sides of the H1 are air intakes and the back is an exhaust. And since the GPU, CPU, and PSU all run along these grates, they are able to pull in their own fresh air directly without having to rely on air blowing out from other components.
This means that even as the GPU warmed up to 70-plus degrees Celsius in Time Spy Extreme, the CPU continued to run at just 35 degrees. This enables components to spin up their fans less frequently.
But for aspects like noise, I like to talk about real-world experience. And so far, I never hear the H1. I put it in the same place where I had the H700i, and I would hear its fans spin up frequently. I’m not having that experience with the H1 even with an RTX 2080 Super running at max.
H1 makes building a breeze
Building with an H1 was hassle free. The front and back panels pop off without requiring tools. The top and side piece then slides off, and you can access everything inside.
One of the joys of the H1 is the pre-installed components. NZXT has already put the PSU and CPU cooler into place, but it’s also routed their cables. The company also integrated a PCIe riser card, so you can easily mount a full-sized GPU in a vertical position.
Every time I thought I was about to encounter a headache, I would look closer to find NZXT thought ahead. Do I need to shimmy the ITX board into position? No, you just flip down the cooler to access that space. Am I going to have to force the GPU into position? No, the riser card is ready to go in its correct place. Do I need to fit a screwdriver into this tiny space to hold down the SSDs? No, the mounting tray is 100% tool-free.
So yeah, you’re paying $350 for a case, a PSU, and a CPU cooler, but you’re also paying for NZXT’s thoughtful engineering and design.
I love the H1. It looks so slick, and it doesn’t struggle to keep an RTX 2080 Super and i9-9900K cool while staying quiet. I’ve also put the H1 together, taken it apart, and then re-built it. And it was still just as nice to build with the second time around. The only difference is I needed my own thermal paste for the liquid cooler.
The only downsides are that it is still a bit tall at 15 inches. So I couldn’t fit it into the shelf I use to hold my devices — although to be fair, my Xbox One X also doesn’t fit in that. But even if you do fit the H1 into a tight space, that’s going to make it frustrating to access the motherboard’s I/O, which is on the bottom. Even on the floor, you have to tip the whole system forward to get into there.
Thankfully, the H1 has a top-panel USB-C and a USB 3.2 Gen 1 type-A port. But I can’t actually use that USB-C port because I wanted the ASRock Motherboard Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX for Thunderbolt 3. And the Phantom Gaming-ITX doesn’t have a USB 3.2 Gen 2 header. And you’re often going to have to make those kinds of sacrifices with an ITX board. Even though that’s not the H1’s fault, it’s still a problem to consider.
But despite those caveats, go get an H1. It’s the kind of case that makes building PCs fun. It has my highest recommendations.
NZXT’s H1 is available now for $350. NZXT sent a sample unit to GamesBeat for the purpose of this review.
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