Interior and cooling
The NXZT H700i and H400i have a largely similar layout, with the main difference being that the larger H700i offers space for full size ATX motherboards, while the H400i can accommodate up to micro-ATX. Both cases have a separate power supply compartment at the bottom, hidden from view by a metal shroud, which has hundreds of perforations at the top. What stands out immediately when we open the cases is the good build quality. All parts are made of sturdy steel with a good fit. It exudes quality.
With both casess, NZXT has a bracket for a 2.5 inch hard disk or SSD on the front of the shroud. This makes it clearly visible behind the glass side panel, an ideal place to exhibit your new 1 TB SSD. The cables of the drives can be hidden behind the metal strip. Cable management is the primary purpose of this metal strip, which you can easily remove entirely if desired. At the H700i we find two brackets on top of the shroud for 2.5 inch hard disks or SSDs. These brackets grasp into the holes of the shroud there are easy to move or remove. The smaller H400i does not have the same type of brackets.
When looking at the front, we find three 12 cm fans in the case of the H700i and two in the case of the H400i. These are NZXT's own Aer F120 fans, which are reported to generate 50 cfm of air displacement at 28 dBa. Both chassis are equipped with an identical fan as an outtake at the rear.
There is also ample space for water cooling. Of course, both models are suitable for NZXT's own Kraken CPU water coolers, but the H400i offers space for most common radiators up to 28 cm at the front, while the H700i can even house a 36 cm model. In view of the limited space above the motherboard at the H400i, it is not advisable to place a radiator there. With the H700i this space is available, and you can place radiators up to 28 cm underneath the top panel.
When we remove the back panels of both cases, what we see, makes us very happy. NZXT has once again put a lot of effort into cable management by doing more than a simple plastic duct on the back of the motherboard tray. It's a piece of cake to tidily guide cables through those channels, where they are held in place by a combination of protruding tabs and velcro strips.
On both models we find two more metal brackets on the back of the motherboard tray for 2.5 inch devices. The H700i also has a traditional 3.5 inch cage under the shroud where two 3.5 or 2.5 inch disks can be accommodated. The H400i lacks this cage so it can accommodate up to one 3.5 inch drive.
One of the spearheads of the H-series chassis is the supplied controller, with the generic name “smart device”. The smart device is a 2-in-1 device. Firstly, it is an RGB LED controller that can control the addressable RGB light strips. Both the H700i and H400i are equipped with a built-in light strip, at the top of the case, directly behind the glass side panel. Both also come with a second, flexible strip that you can paste inside as you see fit. Using NZXT's own CAM software it is possible to create different lighting effects. Since the LEDs are addressable and can therefore be controlled individually, moving light shows are also possible. The operation is superb, and the light output of the LEDs is excellent. However, there are two drawbacks: NXTZ does use standard 4-pin connectors for its strips, but these are (as far as we know) not pin-compatible with strips of other brands. A second disadvantage is that the strips are relatively short, namely about twenty-five centimetres. The fixed strip at the top of both enclosures is also bordered by the metal strip, thus illuminating only the rear part of the enclosure.
The second, and as far as we are concerned more interesting, function of NZXT's new smart device is that of a smart fan controller. The device has three 4-pin connections, and both chassis come with three triple splitter cables, so you can connect a total of nine fans. This may be normal 3-pin as well as 4-pin fans with PWM capability, for each channel it is decided based on the first fan whether the control takes place by voltage change or PWM.
What is special about fan control is that NZXT approaches this in a completely new way. Fan controllers that use temperature sensors (built on the motherboard) are of course nothing special, and according to NZXT it can be smarter. The smart device is therefore equipped with a built-in microphone, which allows the device to learn how much sound the PC produces at different fan settings, and what effect this has on the temperature of the processor and the video card at different loads. A concept that sounds clever, because in theory it is possible that one or more fans do produce noise, while not contributing substantially to a lower temperature in the housing under all circumstances.
The smart device's smart fan controller is also controlled via the CAM software. To use the “learning function” you must also be logged in and have an active internet connection. NZXT says this is necessary because the data in the cloud needs to be analysed, which also includes data obtained from other users to create a fan profile that is as smart as possible. It is difficult to estimate whether this really is true or not, as far as we are concerned, it is certainly not very user-friendly.
NZXT recommends that users not only connect the case fans to the smart device, but also connect the processor cooler fan to one of the three channels of the smart device. Once you have done this and logged in to the CAM software, the fans will initially work via a temperature-controlled profile. Using silent mode and performance mode profiles, it is possible to choose how the rotation speed of the fans should respond to an increase in the temperature of the GPU. Strangely enough, it does not seem possible to connect at least one channel to the CPU temperature, even if the processor cooler's fan (s) are connected to the smart device.
However, we are particularly curious about the smart, adaptive effect. To make this possible, we first have to go through a process of three steps. The first step is a measurement of the default silent mode preset. Initially, during an idle situation, the CPU and GPU temperatures are measured, and the speed at which the fans rotate. After this, the user must ensure that the processor is loaded at least 20% and the graphics card at least 50%. NZXT advises you to do this by playing a game. As soon as the software - which keeps track of both loads - becomes aware that this is the case, a baseline measurement for the load situation is started. In our case, this measurement of the silent preset caused the processor temperature to rise to 94 degrees, because the fan speed is not adjusted to the temperature of the processor, but only to that of the GPU which remained reasonably cool. Unfortunately, the software also does not let you know when this step is complete, but automatically continues to the second part of the test.
With this second part, CAM software itself creates a load on the processor, and then adjusts the fan rotational speed to see what effect it has on the temperature of the processor and video card and the sound level in the chassis. Once again, the processor temperature of our system rose to well above 90 degrees, which even once led to a blue screen. In the end we managed to finish the test, after which fan profiles were calculated (in the cloud). As a final step, these profiles are applied, after which the software takes a third and final step of checking measurements and applies fine-tuning.
All in all, the whole process takes about an hour. The result is a system that is indeed quite quiet, because under low loads all fans including those of the processor are switched off and also under load all fans run considerably slower than when using the “stupid” profile. However, the disadvantage is that in all cases our processor and GPU also get considerably warmer than via a standard profile. In any case, after the learning session, the smart device seems to understand which channel our CPU cooler is connected to, so that overheating does not occur again afterwards.