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 the very successful Cooler Master Stacker 832 from them and they were so kind to send us the newest NZXT case in the Lexa series which is aimed at the mainstream market with an all black color and the choice of red or blue lighting. CaseKing is also the official distributor of the region for NZXT.
NZXT Lexa Blackline
The Lexa Blackline build on the very successful Lexa case, which has been selling for quite some time. The original is made of aluminum and also features the material on the plastic front door, which makes it quite light. The new Blackline edition utilizes steel and an all plastic door. This adds to the weight but does reduce cost a bit. NZXT has chosen to offer two variants of the Blackline Edition. One is lighted with red fans and features a red temperature LCD. while the other, which we have on our testbench today, has all blue lighting.
- NVIDIA 8800GTX Compatible
- Screwless installation
- 1.0mm Thick Steel chassis
- Stealthed clear side panel
- Three temperature display meter
- Glossy Piano Black Finish
- Low noise 1100 RPM@23dba Fans
- Removable Dust Filters for Dust Prevention
- Cable Organization via Rear Cage
- Ext. Ports: 2 x USB 2.0, Mic, IEEE 1394/FIREWIRE
||LEXA Blackline SERIES
||Mid Tower Steel
|Front Panel Material
||4 - External 5.25"
2 - External 3.5"
5 - Internal 3.5"
||ATX, MICRO-ATX, BABY AT
||7 standard slots
||FRONT, 1 X 120 mm (optional), REAR, 1 X 120 mm Blue LED Fan (included), SIDE PANEL, 1 X 120mm Blue LED (included), TOP, 1 X 80mm Fan (included)
2 x USB 2.0, 1 x Mic, 1 x Headphone
||220 X 522 X 569 mm
|| 11.5 KG
The entire package of the Lexa Blackline is kept in black and is fairly compact. Even though this case is available in two colors - blue and red, the former is used to underline the fact that this case is lighted. The front also shows the red version of the case. On the rear you will find further features of the case listed. The only thing letting you know that the case inside actually employs blue LEDs is a small sticker on the side of the case. Seems like NZXT designed the red variant first and then decided to add a blue one, as their website does not mention the former color at all.
NZXT is using solid foam spacers for this case, which is the same material used to protect the original Lexa and the Adamas we reviewed here
. The company does use Styrofoam for some of their cases like the HUSH. A sturdy plastic bag further protects the Lexa Blackline from damage during shipping. Once these materials are removed, the case can be viewed in all its glory. NZXT has opted for a glossy paint finish on the plastic parts, while the metal pieces are covered in a traditional, but very high quality paint. All scratch prone parts have been covered in plastic, which we will leave on until after the installation of all components.
You will receive a black & white manual and a small, white box. Both can be found inside the case. The cardboard box holds the small amount of screws needed. You will also find rails for every drive bay inside the case. After having rails missing in the Alexa and screwless locks M.I.A. in the Hush, it is good to see that you get everything in this case.
The front of the case looks great and very uniform. NZXT hat added a black plastic piece on top, so that the overall look becomes even. Interestingly enough, there is no company logo anywhere on the outer surface of the case. The only mention can be found on the inner side of the plastic door and on the side panel lock.
Another very unusual piece can be found on the back of the case. NZXT has done everything to keep the round silhouette on both ends of the enclosure. This "cage" doubles as a cable management system. To gain access to the doors, you need to remove the cage first.
The left case side is completely plain. There is no window or lock on this side. The front I/O is actually located on the right side of the case. If you have your case under the desk, chances are it will be toward the right of your chair simply because the door opens from left to right. This would make it hard to access these connectors. It would have been better to see them on the left side or the front of the case.
The right side features a large window and also sports a lock. This is the only place where you will find the NZXT logo. The plastic locking mechanism can further be secured with the included key, to keep intruders out. This is good especially since everyone will be able to see your high end components inside the case. The side fan is covered with a dust filter. This is a great addition, as many other manufacturers do not include such a barrier, allowing dust to easily enter the system right where the graphic card fan is spinning.
The front of the Lexa Redline is very clean and the glossy black somewhat swallows the edges and folds of the case. you will find the reset button, which has been placed to the right of the external 3.5 inch bays behind the door. This is actually not that bad, as you would only push that button in emergencies. Above that you will find the four 5.25 inch bays. The front covers of the smaller bays need to be pushed out from inside the case, while the 5.25 inch ones can easily be pulled out from the front of the case. The power button is placed on the top right corner, which is perfect if the case is standing under the table. NZXT has decided to make the LCD screen invisible while the system is turned off, so even though you cannot see it, the display is to the left of the power button - a very nice effect.
The bottom rear of the case houses seven PCI expansion slots which utilize reusable covers. Right next to that are two holes to pass water cooling tubes through, a very nice and currently very popular feature among case manufacturers. The middle segment is reserved for the usual mainboard backplate and the rear fan. You may mount an 80 mm, 92 mm or 120 mm fan in this location. NZXT already includes the biggest variant, which is the best possible choice. The top is meant for the PSU, which can only be mounted one way.
A Closer Look
To remove both sides, you will have to take off the rear plastic "cage" by unscrewing four screws. NZXT has chosen to keep the inside clean and robust. The layout is quite traditional, but has a 90° rotated hard drive cage. This way even GeForce 8800 GTX/Ultras will fit just fine inside the case. The steel construction is very sturdy as 1 mm thick metal is used.
The four 5.25 inch drive bays can easily be accessed from the front of the case. All sharp corners are rounded, so you will not cut yourself during assembly. These bays can be equipped with drives by using the included rail system. You will also find holes for screws in the external drive bays, just in case you want to install some front panel device which is unusually short or does not have the same placement of holes as a floppy or optical drives.
The mainboard connectors are the same kind you would find in most cases. NZXT includes all the different audio connectors, so you will not have to worry about any incompatibility. It is interesting how much time NZXT has dedicated to securing the case for shipping. Even the cables ship in a thin bag to avoid scratches on the side window. In addition to the usual cables, there are three temperature diodes which are clearly labled as CPU, HDD and SYS.
As mentioned before, the PCI slots can be reused in this case or any other. The installation of expansion and graphic cards is competely screwless. In the middle, the rear fan is one of three 120 mm fans inside this case, all of which have a Molex connectors. While this is fine for LED fans, as these need a bit more power, it would have been nice to see mainboard headers on all other fans inside the case. Even though it is listed as optional, the case does have a 120 mm fan in the front of the chassis.
There is an 80 mm fan on the ceiling as well. This one is in plain black just like the 12 cm fan cooling the hard drives in the front of the Lexa Blackline. Another oddity can be found on the bottom of the case, an airvent in the shape of an 80 mm hole. You could possibly mount a fan here as well. NZXT has included a dust filter, just in case you do decide to add one at this location.
Due to the very simple and no frills interior layout, the installation should be easy if you are switching from an OEM or no name case to this one. The only different aspect of installing the components is the locking mechanism. It removes the need for screws on the PCI slots and thus speeds up the installation. The mechanism works wells and does hold the card in place, so you do not need to worry about that big graphics card moving during transportation to and from a LAN party.
Installing the drives utilizes a screwless system as well. While the Adamas and Hush utilize different approaches to offer such installation, the one found in the Lexa series is the only one which truly works and does make installation simpler. Every type of drive can be installed quickly without the need for a screw driver.
Once the rails are placed on the drives, simply slide them in until they click into place, which then do not budge at all. This is by far the best system of all NZXT cases we reviewed so far.
Upon turning on the Lexa Blackline, I was speechless for a second. It looks great, with the blue LED fans. Much better than I expected. There is simply something about the combination, glossy black and blue or red lighting which is simply gorgeous. but that is just my preference. The LCD displays all the temperatures of the three diodes. All of them show 29° celsius as the computer was just turned on. The front actually lights up in blue as well according to power and hard drive access.
Value and Conclusion
- The NZXT Lexa Blackline sells for $99.99 US Dollars or 99.90€ with blue or red lighting. The new series is up to $60 USD or 50€ cheaper than the original Lexa case.
- Good price
- Very good build quality
- Large graphics cards will fit
- Quiet, even with all the fans
- Hide-effect LCD for three temperature diodes
- Tool-less system is complete and works perfectly
- Four fans included
- Awesome looks and well placed lighting
- Great paintjob
- Screwless expansion card installation
- Cable sorting cage in the back
- Front IO placed on wrong side of case
- Is twice as heavy as original Lexa
- Is a fingerprint magnet
The NZXT Lexa Blackline looks just as great as the original Lexa, if not better. While this may be more based on personal preference, it should be noted that NZXT did everything to make a uniform case, with the plastic parts up top, the rear cage and the feet on the bottom. Including four quiet fans inside the system is a great move as is the dust filter on the window and bottom of the case. The screwless system truly deserves the name and does make installation simpler and faster, while still holding all components tight, so you will not have to worry about vibrations or loose parts when carrying it to a LAN party. A great looking and fuctional lock keeps unwanted guests out of your case, while the LCD display for three temperatures and the power button are perfectly placed as well. That said, the only gripe I have with the Lexa Blackline series is the fact that the two black fans do not come with mainboard header connectors and the usual "front I/O" is located on the right side - the wrong side.