NZXT Source 210 Elite chassis

Computers get built around here an awful lot. There’s always some new-fangled part that we’re itching to try out or some theory we want to test. Believe us when we say that a computer in pieces on a table is the norm.

It should come to no surprise to the builders in the audience when we state that the case is the foundation of any build. If the case isn’t right for the application or even worse, it can’t hold the parts that were picked for the build, the entire build gets put on hold while you scavenge for a new case. There aren’t many people that would want a full-tower case , with all of it’s near 3 feet of glorious height, sitting next to their TV. Conversely, a cool looking Mini-ITX case isn’t going to hold enough high-end parts to able to be called a gaming system.

So where does one start? Especially if you’re on a budget for that next build? Well, the folks over at NZXT have a case just for you that’s light-years better than those generic cases in online stores. It’s called the Source 210 Elite.

The NZXT Source 210 Elite is a Mid-Tower ATX size case that come packing some nice features, especially for the price. Although it’s very similar, this case is not to be confused with the Source 210. The differences are minor, but they certainly make a difference.

Let’s lay out those differences right now, since we’re sure that’s the biggest question anyone looking to get this case will have. The Source 210 Elite has all tool-less drive bays, a front-mounted USB 3.0 port with motherboard header, it’s made from steel rather than aluminum,  and an extra 120mm fan mounted  on the rear-top of the case. While it might not seem like much, some of those differences can make building a system a dream or a nightmare.

The overall look of the Source 210 Elite is all business here. There’s no silly bells and whistles, nor are there crazy lights and windows like most raver gamer cases. The craziest this case gets is the slight angle on the front that reveals the 2 USB ports (1×2.0 and 1×3.0) and the audio inputs. And we love that about this case. It can work as a business case or be right at home on a desk playing games from Steam. The case we reveived is black on black, with only bits of color are the fan blades and the single USB 3.0 port. Again, it’s all business up in here, with a splash of ninja.

Cooling on the Source 210 Elite is okay by our standards, but its potential is actually quite impressive. Pre-installed, there are 2 fans -a rear mounted 120mm and a 140mm top mount. As you can see from our image, we moved the 120mm to the second top-mount fan location.  There’s enough cable length to move the fan without having to uninstall the cable, but pulling up some slack might take some effort.  In total, there are 6 fans mounts available for use in this case. That’s not setting any records for sure, but in a case this affordable it’s nice to have. It’s possible to slide 2 fans between the HDD rack and the front of the case. Removing the front panel gave us access to grill to mount the fans.

The case only comes with 2 120mm fans, but is capable of containing 6 fans total

Speaking of taking off the front panel, make sure to do so carefully. This can’t be stressed enough as the front panel header cables are amazingly short. Even though they can be unplugged from their pins on the panel itself, they didn’t feel like they wanted to come out for us. At least not without a fight.

That's as far as the front panel comes off this case without uncoupling the wires.

Installation is a pretty simple and straight forward affair. Even though the Source 210  Elite accepts full-size ATX motherboards, it’s deceptively small. Mind you, not small enough to not hold most of your parts, just small enough to feel tight. For example, the space from the bottom of the motherboard and the top of the bottom-mounted power supply is less than a quater of an inch. That’s less than 5mm for those on the metric system.

Drive installation was as straight forward a process as they come. It should be noted that there is no 3.5 inch external bay on this case. So any kind of 3.5 inch bay device is going to need a 5.25 inch adapter.

All of the drive bays are tool-less, but there is a small tab in the 5.25" bays to watch for

Speaking of 5.25 inch drives, the one snaffu we encountered during the build was trying to slide in our optical drive, There is a tab on the back side of the drive cage that will snag on the back of the drive if the drive isn’t pushed in near-perfectly even, Any kind of turn and the drive will get  stuck just before making it all the way in.

Everything else fit in the case with little effort. Our test build wasn’t very neat because all of the cables from the power supply were rather short (it was a cheap $30 PSU) which made routing cables through the cable-mangement slots a pain. Any current modular PSU should have cables long enough to make this a non-issue.

The complete innards of out test build

The NZXT Source 210 Elite may be a value case, but the value is very high here. A sleek design, an amazingly affordable price, and features that make building much easier but most users might take for granted make this a case worth checking out for that next budget build.

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