If you’re looking for a compact mid-tower case that offers an easy PC building experience and plenty of room for expansion, then NZXT’s H500 might be worth a look. It includes support for liquid cooling, a tempered glass side panel and sensible cable management – not bad for its sub-£100 price point. Let’s take a closer look in our full review.
You may find it helpful to also refer to our NZXT H400i overview, which shares many design elements and features with the H500 and adds a smart fan system for Micro ATX systems.
Before we review the system assembly process and our thoughts on the case as a whole, let’s briefly cover the specifics of the design. The H500 is a modern-looking case with a boxy shape which makes the most of its dimensions. We’ve seen NZXT create more characterful designs with the Manta and Phantom, but the H500 retains a distinct look thanks to its blue or red cable management shroud. (The white and black models are a little less distinctive, by comparison.)
The H500 has a tempered glass side panel which extends from the top to the PSU shroud in the lower quarter of the case. The glass is fixed in place with a single thumb screw on the back of the case, making removing it a rapid process.
The front of the case is almost entirely blank, with only an NZXT wordmark centred near the bottom. There are no optical bays, as you would expect from a modern case design that emphasises space. The rear of the case is quite standard, with the usual motherboard, fan, expansion and PSU placements. The H500 does include chunky feet that provide good elevation and therefore adequate ventilation, even on thick carpet.
The top of the case features two USB 3.0 ports, two 3.5mm jacks and a circular power button. Towards the back, there’s a grille for the 120/140mm fan mount.
Finally, the case includes plenty of space for cable routing, including a cable shroud that makes it easy to have a clean-looking build. There are numerous places to site cable ties throughout. The covered PSU bay is a nice place to locate additional small components and extra cables without exposing them to view.
That just about covers the physical design, so let’s move onto the build log and our general thoughts on the case.
Before we get into our impressions of the case as we went through installation, let’s first run down exactly the sort of system we installed:
As you can see, it is a mid-range system that doesn’t rely on water cooling, instead opting for an upgraded air cooler. That means that we won’t be able to test the case’s water cooling amenities, but it does make installation a little simpler.
The installation proceeded without serious incident, apart from the usual fun inserting the I/O shield and installing the finicky 212 Evo CPU cooler. In general, we found there was plenty of room to guide components into position without worrying about damaging them.
We did find that the block-style front panel I/O connectors provided with the case were harder to install than the usual separated connectors, but the installation was still manageable.
A nicer touch were the SSD sleds, which can be securely affixed anywhere to the top of the perforated PSU shroud which aided cable management.
While the included paper manual is largely sensible and guided us well, it does appear to have some minor mistakes – such as the rear SSD mount being shown as vertical rather than horizontal in orientation.
The inclusion of velcro ties on the back of the motherboard tray, large channels and plenty of holes for cable routing makes it easy to keep your build looking clean and tidy without expending a great deal of effort. There’s also plenty of space for cables along the back and in the PSU bay, which is handy if you’re not using a modular PSU or if you have a lot of extra components (e.g. fan controllers, RGB lighting) to wire in.
The two provided fans, one Aer F120 on the top and one at the rear, are sufficient for airflow, but we also added an intake fan in the front as we weren’t using this space for a liquid cooler. Up to 280mm radiators are supported up front, but 120mm radiators will also fit at the top of the case in case you want to cool both your CPU and GPU with separate radiators. However, this was academic for our mid-range build.
The case felt well-constructed, with no flex or give evident in any part of the case. However, the top panel USB ports were a little wobbly in their mounts, although it’s hard to know if this is intrinsic to the design of the case or an issue with the construction of our review sample.
Thermals and noise
In terms of thermals, we saw stock temperatures of 40°C at idle and 80°C under load (FurMark). With the 212 cooler installed, these fell to 33°C at idle and 65°C under load. This is with the case’s stock fans rear and top fans installed, plus an additional generic 120mm fan in the front serving as an intake.
Regrettably, we didn’t bring any sensors to get an accurate reading of the noise produced by the system inside the case, but it could be vaguely described as ‘quiet’; not the quietest we’ve ever tested, but far from the loudest either.
The NZXT H500 boasts a sensible, modern design for a reasonable price. Careful attention has been paid to builders’ needs, with excellent cable routing options and plenty of space to work with. While we didn’t perform any stringent thermal or noise testing, we found the H500’s performance more than adequate in this regard. With no major flaws and solid customer reviews, the H500 is an easy recommendation to make.