NZXT Whisper First Impressions

Our NZXT Whisper came yesterday (thank you rush processing!) and we wasted very little time getting it out and into its component pieces.  Here’s what we think of the case so far:

Packaging

The box looks pretty nice and the packaging was adequate to protect the case during shipping, but it would have been nice if the box displayed a little more information.  All components and extras were included in a thick black envelope that I thought was a nice touch with the look of the case.

Exterior

The case looks good from a distance, but close-up the paint was rough with a lot of pock-marks and bumps.  I see a lot of sanding in our future.

NZXT Whisper
NZXT Whisper

The triangular brushed plate on the front, however, was very nicely finished.  Since it is the focal point of the case and defines it visually, I appreciate that they took the extra steps to make it look really good.

NZXT Whisper

The plastic grill behind the triangle is made out of decent-quality ABS plastic.  The entire front door (other than the triangle) is a single piece, which means replacing or modifying the grill would be labor-intensive and potentially damage the structural integrity of the piece.
NZXT Whisper NZXT Whisper NZXT Whisper

The blue light on the front is a clear plastic tube illuminated from one end by an LED.

The pop-up front I/Os include two USB 2.0 ports, mic and headphone jacks, and an E-SATA port, but the the push-button and spring mechanism feel flimsy.
NZXT Whisper NZXT Whisper

Interior

The interior of the case has a thin coat of a light beige-gray paint throughout.  It has a dual-chambered design to separate heat from the power supply and hard drive(s) from the other components, but the default fan configuration is fairly inefficient, especially considering that the case is insulated.

With nine HDD/SSD drive bays (up to fifteen with adapters in the front drive bays), the Whisper would make a good candidate for a server or home theater case.  The tool-less front 5.25 drive bays are sturdy, but there are better designs even at the price point.  The hard drive bays can be removed without tools, but screws are still used to hold the drives themselves in place.  There are seven expansion slots.

The only fan supplied for the main chamber is a 120 mm exhaust fan.  The case does come with a 5.25 drive bay adapter to add another 120 mm fan, thought it would be at the cost of three front drive bays.  The lower compartment has two 80 mm exhaust fans to aid flow from the front 140 mm intake fan.  For additional cooling potential, the case has two grommeted holes for external watercooling, however, they are on the smaller end of commonly used cooling sizes, which limits your options without further modification.

There isn’t anywhere to hide cables without a modular power supply, and while the pre-cut cable management holes in the motherboard tray and the partition are well-placed and have rounded edges they offer limited options on cable routing.  The soundproofing foam on the back panel could cause tightness without thoughtful cable management.

Mod Potential

The roof of the case could fit two 120 or 140 mm fans, which would greatly improve air cooling and provide mounting space for a 2×120 or 2×140 mm radiator for watercooling.  In addition, the factory watercooling tubes could be expanded, though it would require cutting into the perforated vent.  There is also space for new holes which would avoid that problem.

Removing the hanging drive cages would allow for a 120 mm fan to be added, which would draw cool air from the bottom intake fan before it hits the power supply.  This allows cool air to be moved into the main chamber and provide space for an additional 120 mm radiator.

The main hard drive cage could be removed or cut in half to improve airflow from the 140 mm intake fan or provide room for pumps, reservoirs, etc, in a watercooling setup.

Of course, almost anything can be done with the right skills, tools, and resources.

Conclusion

Pros:

  • Well-built
  • Efficient but lacking interior layout
  • Very quiet in default configuration
  • Decent quality included fans
  • Plenty of hard drive space for either HDD or SSD drives

Cons:

  • Underwhelming and inefficient cooling for a performance setting
  • Mediocre cable management options
  • Front I/O pop-up could be better
  • While the front bezel and door are made of a high-quality plastic, metal would have been preferable
  • Thick, uneven exterior finish

The NZXT Whisper feels like a server case aspiring to be more.  It lacks many features found in other cases in its price bracket, leaving it with underwhelming performance features for its price, but priced too highly for its intended use.  It is visually well designed and well constructed, but at the end of the day there are better, cheaper cases that you can buy better sound-dampening foam for, and similarly-priced cases with far better features and performance.

In closing, the Whisper has a great visual design if you’re willing to mod it for performance, but if you are just looking for silent computing, look elsewhere.

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About Marika

Writer, knitter, composer, artist, DIYer and a half-dozen flavors of geek. View all posts by Marika

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