NZXT Gamma Mid Tower Case Review

NVIDIA GeForce-Shield Gaming Bundle

Article Index

When you hear the word Gamma what comes to your mind?  Aside from being the third symbol of the Greek alphabet, this word makes me think of Gamma radiation, the stuff that caused Dr. Bruce Banner to mutate into the Incredible Hulk.  In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past 50 years, the story is about a scientist who is working on an experimental government-funded project to create super soldiers using Gamma radiation.  The experiment goes awry and Dr. Banner becomes victim of his own genius.


While I doubt a computer case will cause me to turn into a green behemoth, the NZXT Gamma mid-tower case does look like something Dr. Banner would have used in his laboratory.  The NZXT Gamma is a flat black light-weight steel construction that could rival the Stealth Bomber in looks and profile.  Part of NZXT’s Classic series of cases, the Gamma is anything but classic.

 

NZXT was established in the year 2004. Since its founding days, they have been designing and manufacturing cases with gamers in mind. NZXT designs and engineers their cases in the United States and manufactures them in China and Taiwan.

 

 


The NZXT Gamma Case

The Gamma is packaged in a plain cardboard box bearing no graphics to show the unique appearance of this mid-tower colossus.  I had no idea what this case looked like before I broke the seal on the box.  Even the two pieces of Styrofoam and plastic that covered the case succeeded in hiding the Gamma’s distinguished features.  Only after I pulled it out of the box and shed the packaging material did I see this case for the first time.

 

At first, I was not impressed.  This case is considered entry-level, at a low price point of right around $45. It is your essential no-frills case, meant for enthusiasts who want to get their system up and running as quickly as possible. As I continued to examine the case, I began to notice all the features the Gamma truly has.  It is quite obvious this case is built for one thing: ventilation. The Gamma is riddled with ventilation holes on virtually every side, including the bottom.  It can accommodate up to six (6) chassis fans, with one 120mm fan already installed on the back plate.

 

 


The NZXT Gamma Case (Continued)

However, the benefits of this case did not stop there.

On the bottom of the case and behind the faceplate are micro-fiber filters to aid in keeping the system dust-free.  Both of these filters are removable; the one on the bottom simply slides out, but the faceplate has to be removed to access the other.  However, on further examination the case’s component cables were twist tied to the motherboard panel, so I left the filter alone.

 

In addition to these filters, the Gamma boasts four (4) external 5.25” bays and six (6) internal 3.5” bays.   The faceplates covering the external drive bays are also perforated for ventilation.  Each one has another micro-fiber filter behind it.  There are also seven (7) expansion slots to accommodate all your PCI or expansion port needs.  Even the expansion slot covers are perforated for ventilation!

 

 


The Working Components

If the NZXT Gamma case is considered part of their Classic line, then the Gamma is redefining what “classic” must mean.  To me, a classic case is one where the power supply is top mounted, has cramped cable management, a solid construction motherboard panel, and standard aligned drive bays with dubious access at best.  The Gamma has none of that. Both side panels are removable.  They are held on with black thumbscrews. The left panel can accommodate 2 X 120mm or 140mm fans, but the right panel is the only fully solid piece of metal in the case.  The top of the Gamma can accommodate two more 120mm or 140mm fans also.  The rear of the case can accommodate one 120mm case fan which is included.  The sixth and final case fan sits in a narrow inset between the hard drive enclosure and the face plate.  The hard drive enclosure is not removable; therefore, you must remove the face plate to install the fan.


In addition to the six internal 3.5” drive bays which are rotated 90-degrees and accessible from both sides to allow for cable management, there are also two more internal 3.5” bays in standard alignment bringing the total number of 3.5” bays up to eight.  These two bays are not externally accessible, however, making them unsuitable for a floppy drive or media card reader. One of the bays is occupied by the front panel cabling, however.  I did not find any other way to re-route the cables to add an eighth drive.

 

Another great feature of the Gamma is the large opening at the top of the motherboard mounting panel.  This allows for ease of access to remove the heat sink without having to remove the motherboard from the panel.  There are also several cutouts and pass-through divots to allow for excellent cable management behind the mounting panel. And just in case six fans and all that ventilation is still not enough for you, there are two grommet holes with rubber inserts near the top of the back of the case to allow for tubing from liquid cooling systems. The final bits of working components inside the case are the front plate mounted audio, USB, and external SATA ports.  This component is mounted via two (2) Phillips head screws.  It can be removed.  However, you may note when doing so that the front chassis is actually two separate pieces – the front bezel and the mod frame which gives the Gamma its unique look.  The mod frame houses the power and reset buttons as well as a mounted blue LED above the aforementioned micro-fiber filter.  The mod frame is held on with Phillips screws as well, but generally, you should not have a need to remove it.

 

Also included inside the case is a smaller box which contains drive mounts, screws, and the user manual.  The screws are contained in small pouches which are clearly labeled to identify the type of screw.

 

 


Component Installation

As well as being a computer enthusiast, I am also an amateur musician and internet DJ.  I write and record music, do a great deal of audio editing, and basically use my system as a home studio.  There are also five hard drives installed to hold the massive audio projects I’m working on as well as all the music for my radio show.  Yet, the case the system was built in has no character, and certainly none of the many benefits the Gamma displays.  I decided the Gamma was the perfect case to reflect my inner rock-n-roller and give my home studio a much-needed makeover.

To start, I installed the CD drives.  The user manual suggests removing the front faceplate first in order to do this.  The drives are held in place by black thumbscrews similar to the ones used for the side panels.  The drives slid into place easily.  The bays are accessible from both sides and there are enough thumbscrews included to secure up to four drives.

 

Next, I mounted the motherboard.  It is a micro-ATX board so I had plenty of room inside to work.  There are mounting pegs and screws included in the accessories.  The Gamma will also support larger ATX boards, in case I ever upgrade the system.

 

I find that bottom mounted power supply units are far easier to install because they do not have to be supported while I screw it into place.  This case is no exception.  I installed the PSU next.  The mounting screws are the same used for the motherboard.  Don’t worry; there are plenty.  It is worth noting at this point that if your PSU has an exhaust fan on the bottom it will sit directly above the filter located on the bottom of the case.

 

Mounting hard drives has changed significantly through the years from standard alignment to removable bays to bays that swing out.  The bays in the Gamma are rotated to allow for easy insertion and better cable management.  The mounting clips included allow for a screwless installation.  The drive slides right into place and clicks so you know it is secure.  Because the housing is rotated, the cables are already oriented away from the inside of the case.  A word of advice, however, though the case is deep enough to accommodate standard-orientation SATA cable heads, you may want to use cables with 90-degree oriented heads for lower profiles.  They will lay flatter in the case when the side panel is re-fastened.

 

As far as PCI cards and the expansion ports, the screws are included.  Each port cover is already screwed into place.  You simply need to remove the one you need, insert your PCI card or device and replace the screw. Once the system is in place, you can tweak the cabling as necessary.  One twist tie is included for this task.  Depending on your system configuration, one might not be enough, so make sure to keep some on hand!

 

 


Specifications and Features

MODEL

GAMMA SERIES

CASE TYPE

MID TOWER Black interior chassis

FRONT PANEL MATERIAL

Steel

DIMENSIONS (W x H x D)

190 X 449 X 508 mm

COOLING SYSTEM

FRONT, 1 x 120mm

SIDE, 2 x 120mm

TOP, 2 x 140/120mm
REAR, 1 x 120mm, 23db/42CFM (included)

DRIVE BAYS

11 DRIVE BAYS
4 EXTERNAL 5.25" DRIVE BAYS
7 INTERNAL 3.5" DRIVE BAYS

MATERIAL(S)

Steel Construction

EXPANSION SLOTS

7

MOTHERBOARDS:

ATX, Micro-ATX, Baby AT

 

Features

The Gamma features an angular front chassis with front mounted USB, E-SATA, and audio ports.  It also has 12 total drive bays, although one is occupied by the front panel cabling.  There is one 120mm fan installed with the option of adding five more, giving the end-user freedom to customize cooling options or LED color schemes.  It is a perfect case for high performance, heavy work load, or server based systems.

  • 6 fan capability ( one rear 120mm included )
  • Black Interior
  • Meshed front panel allows for more airflow
  • Wire routing: motherboard punched holes allows for quick CPU bracket removable and optimal wire routing, turned HDD also helps with managing cables
  • Pre-drilled water cooling holes on the back plate
  • Front mounted USB, audio, and ESATA ports
  • Support for external dual radiator at the top of the chassis
  • High end graphics card support, the Gamma features space that is especially designed to fit longer 10" cards

 

 


Testing Methods

All Cases will be benchmarked under Idle and Load conditions. Room temperatures will be specified accordingly. Temperatures measured will be: Ambient Case, Motherboard, CPU, Memory and Hard Drive. All temperatures will be measured with IR Thermometer unless otherwise specified. In the event that AirFlow is measured, measurements will be taken with a Kestrel Airflow meter.

System

  • Processor: Pentium D 3.0 Ghz  800Mhz FSB
  • Motherboard: Asus P5GZ-MX
  • Video Card: ATI Radeon X1300 256MB PCI-E
  • Memory: 2GB DDR2 533Mhz
  • Hard Drive: Seagate 500GB SATA 7200 RPM
  • Media: Lite-On DVD 22X / Sony DVD-RW 12X
  • Power Supply: TurboLink 500 watt Standard
  • Operating System: Windows 7

 

Benchmarks:

  • OCCT

Testing Equipment:

  • Infrared Thermometer
  • CoreTemp

 

 


Benchmarks

The entire system will be placed under load by the OCCT program and temperatures will be taken. They will then be compared to the temperature readings taken after one hour of system idle.

Room Temperature: 24C

 

 


Conclusion

Gamma Case provided by NZXT

No compensation was received for this review.

Price Point

Price: $44.99 USD

Class: Entry

With a price of just $44.99 USD the Gamma falls into the Entry level category.

Performance

Although the system will support up to six fans, I ran OCCT using the default configuration as the system comes out-of-box with just the one case fan installed.  In idle mode, the overall system temperature was 42C. This number barely fluctuated, occasionally peaking at 50C, though quickly returning to normal.  Each hard drive had an idle temp of 44C and, under stress, peaked at 47C.  The CPU temperature was the most interesting.  While idle, its temperature was detected at 53C.  Yet, under stress, it stayed consistently between 81C – 84C and peaked at 84C.  This is a massive difference of 31 degrees. (Stock Cooling)

However, despite the high temperature and the stress test, the system was still responsive to mouse movement with little lag time when trying to open an image file.  Because the CPU temperature stayed consistent throughout the stress test and the system was still responsive, it is indicative all temperatures were within normal parameters.  Upon completion of the test, the CPU took approximately two minutes to return to starting temperature.

 

Reviewer's Opinion

For an entry level case, you get a lot of bang for your buck with the NZXT Gamma.  Not only is it built for ventilation, it is also quite light-weight.  Out of box, it weighed just over 11 pounds, making it a perfect case to take to LAN parties if you are not going to bog your system down with a lot of hardware.

The only real drawback to this case is that it does not have any external 3.5” bays for the addition of a media reader, which are becoming prevalent in today’s systems.  It is missing some of the features high-end cases have, such as screwless installation and insulation against noise.  Because the case is so open for ventilation, there is the possibility of excessive noise with multiple fans installed.  The buyer would have to be aware and make sure to buy noiseless fans.

Although the front faceplate is easily removable, it would have been nice to already have a front fan installed.  With a six fan capacity, that still leaves the end-user plenty of options for cooling customization.

Bottom line: whether you are using the Gamma for a top-secret government experiment or just to play the latest MMORPG, you really cannot go wrong with this case.  Once again NZXT has proven that just because a case might be considered entry-level, does not mean you have to sacrifice quality and features.  P.S.  Neither HTL nor NZXT can be held liable if you turn into a green behemoth.  If that happens, you might want to check your math.

 

Pros

  • Excellent ventilation
  • Turned hard drive enclosure
  • Excellent cable management
  • Liquid cooling ready
  • Specially designed for larger video cards
  • Fits up to 7 hard drives

 

Cons

  • No external 3.5” bays

 

gold

 

 

{aseadnetadblock|NZXT Gamma Mid-Tower Case|NZXT Case}

Login Form