After looking at the Fractal Meshify C Mini last week I figured I would see what other cases I had in the office to check out and I happened to have another Micro-ATX case that I had been excited about. This time it was from NZXT and it was the H400i. Like the Fractal, the H400i is a smaller version of the H700i that I didn’t get a chance to check out so this is a great chance to check out NZXTs new line of cases. The H series of cases have a new look that is an extension of what NZXT has been doing with their cases for a while, but the biggest feature of their new cases is the built-in CAM powered controller that powers the built-in lighting and fan controls. So today I’m going to break down the cases features, then build in it and see how this smart controller works.
Product Name: NZXT H400i
Review Sample Provided by: NZXT
Written by: Wes Compton
Pictures by: Wes Compton
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Unlike a lot of manufactures, NZXT actually spends the money to make sure their packaging stands out from all of the brown cardboard of the others. The H400i has a purple and white theme for the box. On the main side, there is a picture of the black and white model with a full build in it. The NZXT branding is up in the corner and the model is below the case but the rest is very clean and simple. When you flip the box around there is another photo, this time a closeup of the front I/O of that same white and black case and just the model number on this side.
Then each end of the box has something going on as well. The bright purple catches your eye and then you have a short feature and specification list on one end. The other goes into more detail into features like the CAM powered controller. They also talk about the craftsmanship and how easy the H400i is to build in.
Last but not least, when you open the box up, the H400i comes in your standard plastic bag and then foam on both ends to help protect the case during shipping. Given the tempered glass side panel is going to be less forgiving than other designs, this is important.
So before getting an H400i, you do need to figure out what color combination you want to go with. NZXT has models with black on the outside and red or blue trim that are really sharp. Then there is a while exterior model with black trim like what was on the packaging. Then lastly is the black on black model that I’m checking out today. This is the least flashy of all of the cases and it almost looks like a standard setup but having everything blacked out is a great look. The H400i is 417mm tall or just under 16 and a half inches. The H700i that supports full ATX is 516mm or 20.3 inches tall so it is noticeably smaller. It is 20mm thinner and is 73mm shorter on the depth by not having to support those EATX boards.
One of the key features of the H400i is its tempered glass side panel. NZXT didn’t try to put glass on every side like some companies have been doing. Just the left side has glass. The glass isn’t tinted like most have been doing as well. They did, however, paint around the inside on the outer edge to make sure to cover up all of the mounting lip to make it look a lot cleaner. The side panel glass is held in place with four thumb screws. Each has rubber on the inside and then the mounting posts also have rubber to keep the glass from rattling or scratching. The only other thing going on the side panel is the perforated area just behind the front panel. It's not mesh, the metal case actually runs all the way up to the front without any plastic tricks. The ventilation is on both sides for the front mounted fans to get airflow while having a solid front panel.
Speaking of the solid front panel here it is. The NZXT logo is printed on down at the bottom and that is all that is going on. Just around the top edge though they did slip in the front I/O. Like the front of the case, the I/O is as clean and simple as possible. You have a hard drive activity LED over on the left and microphone and headphone jacks. There are two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports and then a single power button with an LED ring around it. The button feels solid and is blacked out matching the rest of the case.
While the front panel is steel, just like the rest of the case, they did attach plastic mounting pegs. So if you grab up under the bottom of the front panel and pull you can pull it off. Behind the panel, we can better see how the two perforated side vents help with the airflow. The bottom where you grab the panel is also open for airflow as well. Then so you can keep your case clean, there is a full height removable fan filter. It clips in up top and latches in the bottom but the top clip was a little finicky for me. I also love that pulling the front off gets full access to the PCB under the front I/O as well as the removable connections. This doesn’t seem important, but if you ever have issues in the future with the front I/O it should be easy to replace without having to ship out your entire case.
So the right side of the case, well this is the red-headed stepchild, isn’t it. Sure it has the same vent along the front edge but the rest of the side panel is metal, not a fancy tempered glass like the other side. The side panel does attach easily though. It has two built-in thumbscrews on the back and it latches in kind of like a car door so it is easy to take the panel off. No pushing hard and sliding hoping each hook latches in.
Up on top of the case, it is once again all sheet metal. I already touched on the front I/O but the rest of the top is also vented. I love that NZXT dented the vent in so that the included magnetic fan filter sits flush with the rest of the case. After pulling it off you can also see that they went even wider than the fan mounts with the venting for even more potential airflow. The top does have mounting for both 120mm and 140mm fans in a dual configuration. They are offset to the left side to allow for better clearance with the motherboard as well.
The back of the case has a mostly traditional layout with the PSU being down at the bottom, the PCI slots, then the rear I/O but there are a few features to note here. For starters, the PSU does have a removable mounting bracket, just like the Meshify had. Then the PCI slots are all mesh for a little more airflow. The rear I/O hole is noticeably lower meaning the motherboard should have room up above it and next to that the is another fan mount. This is for a 120mm exhaust fan and it has long slotted mounts to move it up and down depending on what you need.
Lastly, we have the bottom of the case. For feet, NZXT went with rectangle shaped plastic feet that keep the case a little over an inch up off the ground. Each foot has rubber on the end for traction as well. Also on the bottom and the reason for raising the case up at all is the vent for the power supply fan that faces down. NZXT put in a slide in filter that can be reached from the back of the case to keep dust out of that as well.
Next, I pulled both of the side panels off to get a look at the inside of the H400i to see what makes it so special. With our black on black model it is a little harder to see but one of the main features of NZXT cases that almost no one else has tried is the cover that runs from the top of the case to the bottom near the right side that is designed to cover up wire management holes and add a unique style. I was surprised to find out that NZXT also used sheet metal for this as well, I just assumed front photos that it was plastic like what most manufacturers would do. The same goes for the large power supply shroud down at the bottom. This really ups the overall feel and construction of the case.
Next to the stripe down on the PSU shroud NZXT slipping in one 2.5 inch mount where you can install and show off some of today's fancy SSDs. Normally you are just trying to hide all of these components, but what if you picked up an RGB SSD or just want everyone to know that you bought that 2TB SSD. This is the location to mount it, right up against the tempered glass side panel.
So on the top left corner of the H400i inside the main compartment, there are a few things going on. For starters, there is a huge access hole to allow you to get at the back of your CPU for mounting your pump or heatsink. Above that, rather than one small hole for the CPU power to run through they just went with a slot about 6 inches wide. This should account for motherboards that have different locations on the power connector and for things like RGB and fan connections on the top as well. We can also see the included 120mm exhaust fan that was included with the H400i. It is an NZXT Aer F120 but a specific case version that doesn’t have the swappable rings for different colors. That’s kind of a shame because with the red and blue models it would look really good to match the fans. In this case, though the blacked-out look is perfect. We can also see that there is an inch of space above the top of the motherboard as well as how the fan mounts up top are offset to help with clearance for fans as well.
Over on the right side of the case, the biggest thing we have are the two additional Aer F120 fans that are set up for intake. You can also see that the front is designed to support 140mm fans. In total the front supports a dual 140mm radiator with single fans or a dual 120mm radiator in a push-pull configuration. You will have to remove that stripe to fit that though. Speaking of, from the side angle you can see how the stripe allows room for the thicker 24 pin cable up at the top and has less room at the bottom to still get SATA and front panel connections in.
Also up front, you will notice a black RGB connection wire hanging. This is pre-run if you plan on running the NZXT AER RGB fans but it is a standard RGB header so you should be able to hook any RGB lighting to it or tuck it away if you don’t want it right in front visible through the side panel window.
With the H400i flipped around I can say without a doubt that this is the most unique looking back of a case I’ve ever seen. Layout wise it is about normal for a modern case. You do have the large access hole for the back of the CPU and the bottom is all open with the PSU shroud allowing for a hidden power supply and all of the wiring to be hidden. But it’s the wire management tracks that stood out to me and of course, the built-in CAM powered controller up top.
So the controller up top comes already hooked up. We have three fan headers over on the right side that are hooked up to the three included fans then power, USB, and an LED hookup over on the left. I think they should have left a little expandability on the controller, especially with two more fan locations being unused. Not to mention in addition to the RGB header already available, one more RGB channel back here could open up even more control options, like how the Hue+ has two channels.
So as I mentioned the wire management on the H400i is special. NZXT has installed plastic tracks that run up and down with Velcro to hold everything in place. In addition, the open area up the middle is covered by the metal stripe visible from the front so you have even more room there. What I like about the tracks though is they set your maximum thickness. They run all the way up against your side panel so when running your wires you can see right away if you need to make adjustments rather than waiting until the end and finding out the side panel doesn’t fit and you have to redo everything or smash it on. Overall you get ¾ of an inch here for wiring and the area up the middle has even more room.
The tracks continue up and around the CPU bracket as well. This helps you hopefully not cover up the access hole and then later find out that you need to undo your wiring to install your new cooler.
The bottom half has two SSD mounts that are attached with thumbscrews then down in the power supply compartment there is one more mounting location. You can actually mount a drive directly to the bottom and this is the only spot that supports a larger 3.5-inch drive. So keep that in mind, if you need high capacity spinning drives this isn’t going to be the case for you. But support for up to 4 2.5 inch drives isn’t bad, especially with a lot of today's builds only using SSDs if any SATA based drives at all.
Installation and Performance
Before I get to testing I did need to get a test PC setup. Lucky for me I already had our X299 Micro-ATX configuration mostly together already so I just had to prep the H400i by getting the standoffs ready and install the board with the heatsink, CPU, and memory all already together. NZXT did provide a nice standoff installation tool that uses a Philips head like most company’s but they went an additional step to make it also have thumbscrew like grips on the side to start all of the standoffs first. With those installed the board dropped right in. I did, however, go back and remove our heatsink and reinstall it in the vertical orientation to better work with the fan layout on the H400i.
I also went through the box of accessories in order to find the standoffs. You get labeled bags of screws, a good amount of zip ties, and they also include a second LED RGB light strip. One comes already installed in the case, this one isn’t installed to allow you to decide where you want it. It can be installed with double-sided tape or it also has magnets built in.
Next, I wanted to get our power supply installed. Unlike the Fractal you can actually slide this one in through the back side panel. But you also have the option to remove the PSU bracket an go in that way as well or to remove it later. While doing that I pulled all of the cases wiring out to get a good look at it an I was a little scared. Most of the wires are fine, but the splitters used with the fan controller end up looking like a mess, this is why I was wishing the controller had more hookups on it for both the fan and RGB connections.
Surprisingly though wiring ended up being extremely simple. The wire management tracks that allowed me to know if I was bundling up cables to much to be able to put the door back on helped a ton. In addition to that I ended up just using the metal stripe that runs up the case to run the thicker 24 pin motherboard power cable, it dropped right in and stayed hidden. I installed our SSD in the back rather than the front because I didn’t want to break up that black on black look, even though that Kingston drive would have looked good up front as well with its silver and black.
Then I installed the Asus 1070 Ti and once again it did sag a little but overall it looked and fit well. The longer card may prevent push-pull configurations with the front radiator though, but you can see that there is more than enough room for the fans with the radiator inside of the front or the other way around.
With the side panels back on I powered everything up. The whole setup looks amazing in the H400i with the exception of the Noctua cooler breaking up that murdered out look but I will fix that in another article soon. The pre-installed top-mounted LED lights look amazing and light everything up. I haven’t installed the second set just yet as I wanted to see what area might need it. I think on the right or down below the video card would both be good options just depending on if you want to light up the whole card or not. With everything powered up the power button lit up in white so I snapped a picture of that as well.
Once up and running I did installed the CAM software to play around with it a little as well. Especially with the controller and software playing an important role in the H400i. I’ve used the CAM software in the past to control the lighting on the Hue+ and I should note that you need to sign into the software to be able to use all of its features, including the adaptive fan profiles. The software actually has a lot of different functionality. For example, there is just a page that tracks your in game FPS all of the time. In addition to that, it will let you know what temps both your CPU and GPU reach while you are in game. You can also just get into details with a full listing of your current hardware
The main landing page is a lot more useful though. It shows all of your current temperatures, load, clock speeds, and fan speeds. Even beyond that, it shows how much of your drives you are using. You can also switch to advanced modes for each device and see graphs that show each of those results over time as well.
There is also an overclocking tab where you can at least on our setup overclock your GPU.
Now the lighting page, this is what I was used to working with on the Hue+ and all of the same functionality is here with the H400i and its included LED strips. You can pick from a list of presets or you can customize your own settings. Remember the lighting on the H400i is individually controllable so you can do some really cool stuff with waves and marquee’s that will chase around the inside of your case. I have the H400i alternating back and forth between red and blue on each light for a police effect right now. You can also get into smart functionality where the lighting can let you know how your PC is doing when temps go up or similar.
So the adaptive functionality is the second to last tab on the left and to get everything up and running you have to jump through a bunch of hoops. Each of the three pages up top have their own stress and idle tests that will need to run and in total that take a while. I actually spent a long time trying to get mine working. The calibration page would just start over and never finish, turns out my fan had come loose and I was having issues with the CPU getting too hot. That said when I got things up and running it did work alright. With our cooler being a little undersized for the monster CPU I put in the build there wasn’t much the software could do to help. I found that it ran a little warmer when in adaptive mode and noise wasn’t really too bad in either mode.
Overall and Final Verdict
So whats the overall verdict on the NZXT H400i? Well going in I was a little skeptical of the whole thing. NZXT is asking a lot for an M-ATX case, what could they even be including in it. For starters, unlike nearly every other mass produced case on the market the H400i is all sheet metal. There is a little plastic used for mounting things and of course for the included fan filters. But they didn’t just go with a plastic front portion on the case to make designing it simple. The all metal design means this should hold up better to abuse and it also contributed to keeping the design simple. It’s the simple and clean design that I dig with this case. The tempered glass side panel lets you have a little fun on the inside, especially with lighting, but then on the outside you have a design that would look good in an office or in a crazy gaming setup.
This is also the easiest case I’ve ever built in, without a doubt. The wire management on the back was great to work with and helped me get everything together. But NZXT even went as far as to make a simple one plug front panel connection. How long have people been asking for that, after not having to fight with any wiring on the back and then not having to get out a magnifying glass to see what each front I/O plug is I was basically home free. Those are the two things that make building a PC difficult. After building in the H400i I tweeted at NZXT complaining that they may have made things too simple. Now everyone can get perfect wire management, how will people who spend more time and care in their builds even show it.
The other big feature on the H400i is the CAM powered controller. This is basically a Hue+ and a fan controller built into one. Honestly, the individually controllable lighting deserves its own line on the pro’s and con’s below, but I had to lump it in with the controller. A hue plus costs $59.99 and while the lighting strips are shorter, you basically get that setup with this case.
So what are the downsides to the H400i? For starters, I would love to see that controller have a little more expandability built in. They give you a rats nest of wiring to allow you to daisy chain in two more fans but if the controller had those plugs built in it could keep wiring cleaner while still allowing you to add more fans later. Not to mention all of the RGB products on the market, a few more headers could be nice and allow you to control everything from one program, not split it up across your motherboard and the CAM software. Speaking of the CAM software, while it has a ton of features. It can sometimes become a resource hog so keep an eye on it. With you potentially using it for fan controls and lighting you can’t just close it all the time.
With the case itself, my only issue was with the single 3.5 inch hard drive that it can support. There is enough room in that same spot to have a double cage. I know most people are moving away from lots of drives in their builds, but some people still want them and the more flexibility in build options the better in my opinion.
The other thing to address is the price point. When NZXT announced the H series of cases a lot of people mentioned their prices and for good reason. At just under $150 the H400i isn’t exactly a budget case. It actually pushes it up into a premium case range and with a lot of the budget cases offering tempered glass and other features, it can sometimes be hard to justify spending more money. Add to that not getting a Type-C connection that I would be looking for on a premium case. The reality of the situation is that the H400i includes the controller and that raises up the price. If you were planning on adding something like a Hue+ to your build in the future this setup would actually save you money. On that point, I actually think the H400i is well worth its price, but those who are already strapped from the extremely inflated GPU and RAM prices may not be able to afford it. Right now is actually a great time to consider having NZXT build it all for you if you already want their components, it could end up saving you money with their lower GPU prices.
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