The power button, along with the power and HDD activity LEDs are cleverly raised to poke through a hole cut into the door – a novel solution that means you won’t have to go to the hassle of opening the case door every time you want to switch your PC on or off. Bizarrely though, you’ll still need to open up the door to press the reset button, despite it being right next to the power button.
Eagle eyed readers will have spotted the lack of a visible front panel on the NZXT Whisper – that’s because, like the Cooler Master ATCS 840, it’s recessed into a pop up hatch on the roof of the case. Yet again we find the build quality extremely suspect, with the mechanism consisting of just a bog standard spring and a simple catch all that’s behind its pop out action. While it works fine, it just doesn’t feel very secure or solid and like it’ll last – a concern which proved correct when we managed to break it during testing, explaining this exact point to others. Whoops.
The panel itself packs a pair of USB 2.0 ports, microphone and headphone jacks with support for HD and AC'97 onboard sound and an eSATA connection, which while not as extravagant as other front panels that including Firewire and four USB 2.0 ports, should certainly suffice for the majority of users and eSATA is always a useful update.
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Talking a look at the back of the case, we see that the PSU mount is in the base – this a design choice we’re seeing more and more in chassis, although strangely there’s no intake vent for the PSU cut into the floor of the case. This is because here the PSU is mounted upside down, with 120mm cooled PSUs pointing upward and drawing in air from inside the case to keep themselves cool. There are also exhaust mounts for two 80mm cooling fans directly above the PSU mounting, as well as a 120mm exhaust mount at the top of the case.
While the NZXT Whisper’s exterior hasn’t exactly wowed us, especially with the disappointing case door, frugal front panel and dull design, the core chassis itself is unquestionably well put together. With that in mind, let’s crack the Whisper open and see what’s inside.
Both side panels are easily removed, secured using two thumb screws each at the rear of the case, immediately revealing one of the features hoping to make the Whisper one of the quietest cases currently available – sheets of 5mm thick high quality noise deadening foam glued onto the inside of both side panels and the riveted unremovable top panel too. The foam doesn’t interfere with the removal or refitting of the side panels at all and certainly looks like quality stuff, shaped in the familiar egg box style and spongy texture that is best suited for deadening sound.
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Looking inside the case itself, the main chamber has been divided to create two compartments; one at the top for the motherboard and 5.25” drives, and another at the bottom for hard drives and the PSU.
This lower compartment packs in mounts for a whopping nine drive tray based 3.5” hard disks. Five of the drive mounts are built into the main hard drive cage and then two additional removable cages with two mounts each are suspended from the divider that cuts the case in half. The trays, while not flawless in their construction (the steel used for them is notably scratched and blemished), are solid enough, although some were very stiff to remove and reinsert into the slides. All the trays do have very good silicon mounts for attaching your hard drives to, which goes a long way towards lessening hard drive vibration and noise.