For a lot of hardware enthusiasts, especially here at bit-tech, our PC case goes a long way to demonstrating our individuality and creativity. Be it a super neat cable tie job inside, ambitious water-cooling loop fitted into it, or a fantastic mod made out of it, an enthusiast will make their case their own.
Sometimes though the high price of premium cases can get frustrating, especially as in comparison to that 500 million transistor packing GPU or quad core CPU they’re comparatively simple – a few sheets of machined steel or aluminium, a bag of screws and a fan or two. If you’re considering a budget build or are looking for a new cut price case it’s hard to justify spending too much, which is where cases like the NZXT Beta come in, offering a full size ATX enclosure for a bargain price of less than £40.
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As you’d imagine for the price though, there aren’t too many luxuries on offer with the NZXT Beta. The case is made predominantly of black painted steel, with a stylised plastic front fascia to the front which doubles as intake ventilation for the solitary 120mm intake fan. The looks certainly stray towards the featureless black box side of design, but the front fascia does add a bit of interest, with the power and reset buttons neatly integrated just below the four 5.25in drive bays and the front panel located in the roof of the case.
While the right hand side panel is bare, the left panel has mounts and venting for two 120mm fans situated directly above where your core hardware will sit, with a third fan mount to the rear of the case accommodating either an 80mm or a 120mm fan. The case itself only ships with one 120mm fan though, fitted into the front of the case as an intake, which in comparison to the 120mm rear exhaust fan and 1x 140mm roof fan (wuth room for two more 120mm fans at the front) in the similarly priced Antec Three Hundred, seems mighty stingy and will doubtless result in some less than stellar thermal performance.
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The whole construction of the Beta isn’t too solid either. All the exterior panelling is disappointingly thin, and while it's adequate enough and everything fits together as it should, panels are easily distorted with a firm press of the finger and will inevitably dent easier than a tin foil car. Just picking up the case leaves you in no mind that it’s a budget model and it feels decidedly flimsy.
Looking inside you’re greeted with the unexpected surprise of a fantastic looking matt black painted interior, matching the external panels in aesthetics but also, unfortunately in build quality. Again everything feels very weak and flimsy and everything is all too easy to bend and distort just by hand.
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The layout is good though and with the PSU mounting in the roof of the case and a decent amount of room around the motherboard to make dropping an assembled lump of core hardware simple, although there’s no rear access for back plate mounted CPU coolers.
While our images show what look like some fairly sizeable cable routing holes, they’re all covered when you actually install your motherboard, making them largely redundant. This, along with almost no room between the motherboard tray and rear panel, makes tidying spare cables away a real challenge, with most of ours simply stashed in amongst the 5.25in drive bays.
One positive though are the perpendicularly mounted 3.5in drive bays to the front of case, with tool-less fittings making it a snap to quickly pop in or swap out hard disks, although the quality of the plastic fittings is a little suspect. The 5.25in drive bays also get the tool-less treatment with rotating plastic clips securing drives in place.
It’s certainly a spartan (or should that be Patrick) affair, but for those not looking to splash too much cash on a chassis it’s arguably all you need. Does it deliver on performance as well as price though? Let’s find out.