NZXT H1 V2 Review – mini-ITX Case

We loved the original H1 from NZXT for a number of reasons, and were pleased to see the company release anew version, the H2 V2, to boost cooling and solve a number of other issues that plagued the original case. Graphics card support wasn’t ideal in the original case, for example. Its cooling wasn’t particularly potent either, and not only did its PCI-E riser cable lack PCI-E 4 support, but it also had a fault that could short-circuit in rare cases. NZXT offered a replacement part, but the damage to one of the most distinctive mini-ITX cases of the last couple of years was done.

NZXT H1 V2 Review

Thankfully, NZXT claims to have fixed all these issues with the new H1V2. For starters, there’s an entirely new riser cable and mounting mechanism that’s now PCI-E 4-compliant. The graphics card length limit has been increased too, thanks to the case being a little taller and wider. Cooling has been boosted in two ways as well. Firstly, the three ventilated sides have larger perforated holes to allow air to be drawn in or expelled more easily, with the intake panels still sporting full-cover dust filters.

Secondly, NZXT has added a second fan in addition to the lone 140mm fan on the included AIO liquid cooler. A 92mm fan now sits at the top of the graphics card chamber to help expel the warm air that collected here in the previous version. In addition, the size of the motherboard tray has been reduced so that RTX 3000-series graphics cards with flow- through fans have somewhere to exhaust warm air. A small chamber now exists behind this area, which feeds the new 92mm fan, so cooling for these kinds of cards should see a particular improvement.

The Control

Another addition is a software-controlled fan controller. This uses NZXT’s CAM software to control the two fans, but according to NZXT, the pump needs to be run atfull speed and can’t be fine-tuned in the software. Thankfully, the pump is quiet enough to be drowned out by the noise from the rest of our test hardware, but it also uses a proprietary connector, so there’s no way to alter its speed any other way either.

The company was also keen to answer other questions before they arose, such as the decision not to include a replacement vented panel to replace the airflow-limiting glass panel fitted as standard. This has been a popular modification for the original H1, with custom vented panels available online that users claimed boosted cooling significantly. NZXT feels cooling is sufficient with the new case, given the improvements its made, but would consider the option in future.

Cooling and Power

Despite its tiny desk-saving footprint and cramped interior, the fact that the original case’s bundled SFX-L PSU and 140mm AIO liquid cooler were pre-installed and cable-tidied, meant that installing your own mini-ITX system in the H1 was actually a very quick and easy job. That remains the same with the H1V2, with the familiar flip-down radiator panel revealing the AIO liquid cooler and motherboard mount. The cooler is compatible with LGA17OO CPUs out of the box too, and NZXT has also boosted the PSU rating from 650W to 750W.

However, it has downsized the PSU to SFX from SFX-L, so using high-end graphics cards and CPUs could result in its small fan spinning up to create a little more noise than a larger fan in an SFX-L PSU.

The front panel is still on top of the case, but sports an extra USB 3 port, with Type-C here too, as well as an illuminated power button. The design of the case is otherwise identical to the original, with the top panel and two vented side panels together in one large U-shape section, and separate vented and glass panels clipping on to the sides.

Capacity

Despite the slightly larger dimensions, there are no 3.5in hard disk mounts, and only a pair of 2.5in SSD mounts, so this isn’t a case for people wanting to transplant large hard drives. Meanwhile, the SSDs are housed in a metal enclosure that can be removed to increase the space behind the graphics card.

Finally, the graphics card length limit now sits at 324mm, but it still lacks full triple-slot support, instead topping out at 2.5 slots. There’s only 58mm of clearance here, so you’ll need to check the depth of your graphics card to make sure its cooler will fit, even if it officially has a depth of 2.5 slots.

Performance

As the H1V2 comes with its own PSU and CPU cooler, we couldn’t use our usual test gear to get comparable numbers to other cases, so instead decided to focus on a head-to-head battle between the original H1 and new H1V2. We strapped a Core i9-11900K to a Gigabyte Z590 Vision D and used an RTX 3070 Ti Founders Edition card to check thermals in our usual way, and to test the new cooling system’s ability to aid a flow- through GPU fan design.

The CPU delta T of 63°C in the original case was, not surprisingly, bettered by the new case, which managed a 3°C drop in its standard configuration, and a 4°C drop if you remove the SSD mount to improve airflow to the new 92mm exhaust fan. It’s not a huge improvement, but it’s welcome.

The GPU delta T also fell by 3°C (5°C with the SSD cage removed), so there’s a more noticeable benefit here. However, we also noticed that the boost frequency on the G PU was consistently higher by40-50MHz in the new case, so the new case gives it a bit more headroom to run at higher frequencies. With a fixed clock speed, the temperature difference between the two would likely have been higher.

Conclusion

The original H1 was popular, despite its flaws, thanks to its unique, attractive design – it was a shame it never reached its full sales potential. The H1V2 is basically the case that NZXT should have made originally. Its pricey for sure, but a 750W SFX PSU, 140mm AIO liquid cooler and software fan controller would cost you more than half the asking price alone. It could do with an optional mesh panel, and its cooling still isn’t spectacular, but its better across the board than the original, it can cope with high-end hardware and its just as desirable.

Better than the original H1, and only slightly larger. Its expensive, but this is a great mini-ITX chassis.

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Chris Szewczyk

Chris' gaming experiences go back to the mid-nineties when he conned his parents into buying an 'educational PC' that was conveniently overpowered to play Doom and Tie Fighter. He developed a love of extreme overclocking that destroyed his savings despite the cheaper hardware on offer via his job at a PC store. To afford more LN2 he began moonlighting as a reviewer for VR-Zone before jumping the fence to work for MSI Australia. Since then, he's gone back to journalism, enthusiastically reviewing the latest and greatest components for PC & Tech Authority, PC Powerplay and currently Australian Personal Computer magazine and PC Gamer. Chris still puts far too many hours into Borderlands 3, always striving to become a more efficient killer.

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