NZXT bills the H2 as a silent case, so it’s clearly been designed with sound levels as opposed to cooling performance in mind. Having said this, the same is true of the Fractal Design R3, and this still managed to cool our test components to reasonable levels. As a result, we put the H2 through the same gruelling thermal test as the rest of the cases that have graced our labs.
With its fan controller set to its lowing setting, the H2 returned relatively poor results. Its CPU delta T of 66oC was near the bottom of our ever-extending table and was well behind the 51oC that the Fractal Design R3 returned. This result improved markedly when we turned the fans up to their maximum speed, although the 59oC we saw at this setting was still behind the R3.
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GPU cooling wasn’t as far off the pace, however. At low speeds we saw a GPU delta T of 47oC, and while this is the joint worst result we’ve seen, it was still only 5oC behind the similarly silent R3. Turning the fans up to the maximum speed also benefited the GPU temperatures, as we saw them drop down to 44oC. This put the H2 only 2oC behind the R3 and ahead of other larger cases such as the Corsair Graphite 600T.
One of the reasons for this generally uninspiring performance is the fans that NZXT has used throughout the case. They're very quiet, which is good in this case, but the reason they also don’t shift an awful lot of air, especially at their lower settings.
The door of the case also allows very little in the way of ventilation for the front fans do draw air through. The foam at the back of the door also butts almost right up against the fans, which stifles the amount of air they can actually push through the case. Out of interest we ran our tests again with the fans on maximum speed but with the case door open. In this setup we saw a CPU delta T of 52oC and a GPU delta of 41oC, both of which are significantly below the temperatures we saw with the door closed, lending weight to our belief that the fans are being starved of cool air.
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We enjoyed our time with the NZXT H2. It’s got a lot of natty features that we love, such as the blanking plate for the empty roof mount, the easily removable front panel fans and the three-speed fan controller. We even like its looks, which are sleek but distinctive, and the case is very quiet in operation.
This quietness comes at a cost, though, as the cooling offered by the H2 is only mediocre at best. This makes it a tough call between the H2 and the Define R3, which costs almost exactly the same and runs just as quietly. The R3 just edges it, though, as the H2 could struggle in warmer climes than our air conditioned labs. However, the H2 is worth a look if you can’t get hold of a R3 (they aren’t available in the US yet, for example) or if you dislike the styling of the R3.