I would like to thank CaseKing.de
for supplying the review sample.
CaseKing is one of the few companies out there, which will not just sell anything. They only offer hardware that performs well and is of high quality. The shop offers quite a few exclusive parts and devices from all around the world and it is also the official distributor for a long list of well known manufacturers. Their assortment has grown greatly in recent years, while great service and support is still a very important part of the shop philosophy. The website may be in German, but due to great demand, an English version is in the works. We received continous support from CaseKing and they were kind enough to send us the latest from NZXT: the Vulcan mATX chassis.
- Durable Non-slip finished top handle for portability
- Black Interior
- Dual 5.25" slots and four 3.5" slots (internal and external)
- Wire routing holes + extruded side panel provides extra space for cable management
- Dual 8W channel fan control
- Fits at least 350mm video cards like the ATI 5970
- ATX PSU with removable filter + anti-vibration rubber support
- Dual external watercooling cutouts
- Dual top 120mm exhaust for optimal cooling
- Top mounted (2x)USB, E SATA, External HD Audio + Mic
- Fan LED on/off function: Turn off lights during night time use
- CPU heatsink cut-out + 170mm heatsink support
- Supports 200mm fan intake on side mesh
- Extra large mesh holes for optimal airflow
- Removable Hard drive cage
- Included thumbscrews for all drives
||Black exterior & interior
||6 DRIVE BAYS
2 EXTERNAL 5.25" DRIVE BAYS
2 EXTERNAL 3.5" DRIVE BAYS
2 INTERNAL 3.5" DRIVE BAYS
Screwless Rail Design
||4 standard slots
||FRONT, 1 X 120mm (included)
REAR, 1 X 92/80mm
TOP, 2 x 120mm ( 1 x Orange LED fan included )
SIDE, 1 x 200mm
|Dimensions (W x H x D)
||406mm (D) x 180mm (W) x 422.5mm (H) / 16” x 7” x 16.6” (including handle)
1 x HD Audio/Mic, 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x eSATA
The Vulcan ships in a brown cardboard box. Instead of the usual full color packaging you will find an image simply printed straight unto the plain box. The rear and sides go into greater detail about the case itself and. As you can see the package is not really very sturdy and has been bent inward during shipping. I hope the chassis itself is unharmed.
NZXT has sandwiched the chassis between two very small Styrofoam spacers. It looks like they are trying to save on the overall costs in every aspect of packaging to offer you the case at the most affordable price. It will be interesting to see if the chassis still has some quality to it or not.
You get the usual set of contents like a manual and all required screws with the Vulcan. The only additional part is the handle, which is made of plastic and feels very solid. This means that there is a bit of assembly required to get the final product ready.
A Closer Look - Outside
NZXT aims the case at the LAN party gamer, who wants to have a very compact enclosure with a handle to easily carry it around from location to location. That said, the Vulcan is very small, but features a very prominent, edgy front part to it. The overall construction quality had me a bit worried from the very beginning, as the case walls feel rather thin and the plastic - while solid - feels rather flimsy. Seems like NZXT has really pushed the limits to keep the price down. The question in the end will be if they went too far for comfort or not. As you can see, the handle is not yet installed.
The front is made of plastic and metal mesh. While the overall design features a prominent front, larger than the overall height of the chassis along with straight, edgy looks. This may not be for everyone, but it is nice that NZXT has gone the extra mile to give the case a very catchy shape. Turning the Vulcan over, we have an all black rear, which also means that the interior features the same paint job.
One side of the case has an opening covered by extruded metal mesh. This is not the first time we have seen this approach, but this one feels very fragile as you can easily push the mesh and dent it with your bare hands. Also, the very thin paint job of the case is way too fragile, as the edges of the mesh completely stripped the side panel on the edges. The overall construction quality of the Vulcan does leave something to be desired and the thin metal used does not help quench any worries either. Turning the case around, the solid side has an extrusion which looks similar in shape to that of the metal mesh. This is certainly a nice touch to keep the overall look of the case uniform.
Taking a closer look at the front, the bottom is a large metal mesh cover over the 120 mm intake fan. If you look closely, you can see the power LED strip on the right edge of the chassis. You will find four drive bays on top. Two 5.25 and two 3.5 inch ones. NZXT has also included a pair of dials to control up to four fans. This is certainly a nice and useful touch - especially for a chassis of this price class.
The power supply is bottom mounted, right below the four mainboard expansion bays. While there is no rear fan included, you may install an 80 or 92 mm unit. This also means that most tower coolers will not fit within the Vulcan. There are two openings to route water cooling tubing out to the rear of the case. If you look closely, you will also notice a button, which allows you to turn the LEDs of the fans on or off - a nice touch for sure.
There are a few features present on the top of the chassis. First off there is space for two 120 mm fans, one of which is supplied by NZXT. You may also install a dual radiator here as well, making the Vulcan an extremely compact case with such a possibility. You will also find all the I/O and buttons on top of the chassis. There are two USB 2.0, an eSATA and a pair of audio connectivity. Last but certainly not least, the handle is connected to the roof of the Vulcan by four screws.
A Closer Look - Inside
You can easily gain access to the inside of the chassis by removing a pair of thumb screws on each panel. The interior layout is intended to accommodate even the largest GPUs as the hard drive cage is placed on the very bottom of the case. This is definitely one of the biggest benefits of this chassis, as most mATX ones limit you in the choice and length of graphic cards. Turning things around, we have a large opening below the CPU area of the mainboard. This should give you easy access to any cooler backplate. I am a bit surprised to see such a large hole, as it reduces the overall strength of the chassis. A smaller hole would have done the job as well. NZXT has pre-routed most of the cables to the appropriate locations.
As mentioned before the two hard drive bays are located on the floor of the chassis, right behind the 120 mm front intake fan. Above the gap for large graphic cards you will find four external drive bays. The 3.5 inch variants can be used for hard drives as well.
Turning our focus to the rear of the interior, the PSU bay is located on the very bottom. There are simple foam pads in place to reduce any vibration of the power supply being passed on to the case itself. As you can see, the opening below the PSU is rather small, so the 120 mm fan within the supply will not get full access to clean air. This should not pose any problem at all, but may mean that the fan will spin faster as it needs to keep things cool. NZXT has placed their signature black mesh covers on each of the expansion bays. These are reusable and are held in place by thumb screws. Above that is the space for a small 80 or 92 mm fan and the two water cooling holes mentioned before.
The top fan simulates the air flow usually created by a top mounted PSU. While there is space for two such fans, NZXT has only included a single one. This reduces overall cost and is perfectly adequate for the consumer.
There are quite a few connectors within the case to get all the functionality. First off, there is the fan controller. It connects to a Molex plug from your PSU and allows you to control two pairs of fans with the two dials found in front of the chassis. The I/O cables are all black and are nothing out of the ordinary, but NZXT has chosen to use a Molex connector to light up the power LED instead of the usual mainboard header. Then there are two proprietary connectors to toggle the lighting of the fans on or off.
There are no surprises installing the motherboard. This is done by simply placing the short spacers in the appropriate locations and securing the board with the included black screws. Upon closer inspection it becomes obvious that there is basically no space left above the mainboard as the OEM coolers almost touches the ceiling fan. This means that you will not only be unable to use large tower coolers - as the case width is too compact, but also cannot install large blow down units either. This does not leave you with many options at all, especially if you value silent operations, as most of such coolers are large with slow rotating 120 or 135 mm fans. The only real solution is to go with a water cooling setup, which is something the majority of users will not go for.
To install the optical drive, one has to remove the front drive bay cover first. This turns out to be a bit more difficult than expected, as you cannot pull off the entire front cover that easily. The top I/O cables do not allow you to do so, as they come pre-routed within the chassis. But, after reaching in there with my hand, I managed to pull the cover out and slide the optical drive into place.
Installing the hard drives is very simple. Just snap the rails unto the drive and slide it into place. As you can see, the connectors are facing away from the open side of the chassis, so that you can nicely route them.
Once everything is installed, you can clearly see that most of the cable mess is hidden nicely below the hard drive or behind the mainboard tray. Thanks to the extrusion of the side panel, one can place all unwanted cables in the latter location. This is certainly a nice touch, considering the overall size of the chassis and it gives you the option to stuff the entire case with hardware and multi-GPU configurations, as the space is not cluttered with cables.
After placing the panels back unto the chassis and turning things on, the Vulcan makes a good impression. NZXT has done a nice job in placing the handle a bit towards the back of the case, as this results in a balanced case when being carried around.
The front LED lights up orange, and the interior hardware can clearly be seen through the mesh side panel. This opening also allows for noise to escape the chassis and gives way to dust entering the case as well. The top fan also lights up in a sexy orange color - a great change from the usual blue or red themes we have seen as of late.
Value & Conclusion
- The NZXT Vulcan will set you back a mere 60 Euros (incl. taxes) or 70 US Dollars (excl. taxes). This is certainly very affordable for a chassis of this nature.
- Justified price / quality ratio
- Small and compact with carrying handle
- Can still hold full size GPUs - perfect for a small LAN party rig
- Two fans included
- Water cooling ready
- Fan controller included
- Switch to toggle lighting elements on/off
- Interior black paint job
- Great cable management possibilites
- Rail system for hard drives
- Very restrictive on terms of CPU cooler
- Thin metal makes for a somewhat fragile & easily bendable case
- Thin paint job cannot take even the slightest amount of abuse
- Mesh side scratches paint & is easily bendable out of shape
- Somewhat inadequate packaging
||The NZXT Vulcan may have a few rather glaring drawbacks, like the fact that you will most likely end up with a noisy and compact CPU cooler as nothing else will fit or the fact that you will most likely end up scratching the thin paint job at the first LAN party you will go to. But you get what you pay for and for a mere 70 US Dollars the case offers plenty of features not found in any other chassis. On one hand you get the portability of a small system with the included sturdy grip on top. This is something very rare and coupled with the fact that you can still put the largest graphics caards into this case make for a unique case in the already crowded market place. These are the strongest benefits of the Vulcan and may well be the reason one will still go for it and overlook the other shortcomings. If you happen to go to LAN parties regularly, want the ultimate portability and are planning to put two large VGA cards into the rig, the Vulcan is the one and only choice and luckily delivers on these features quite nicely. |