Sunday, August 12, 2012

NZXT Switch 810 Special Edition Review - Worlds Best Chassis

NZXT Switch 810 'Gun Metal Edition' Review

A few months ago we took a look at the latest chassis from NZXT, the Switch 810. It scored well but no case is perfect and since that original launch NZXT have been listening to feedback from end users and reviewers which has resulted in a special edition of the case. With a Gun Metal finish and some revised design aspects the latest 810 aims to provide everything the mainstream and enthusiast user needs and we have one on our test bench today.

NZXT Switch 810 - External

The Switch 810 is packaged in a large sturdy cardboard box with a clear image of the case on the front. On the opposite side we get details on key features and upon opening the box we find that the case is suspended in polystyrene then wrapped in a plastic bag for extra protection. Tape is also applied to add stability to the removable parts and a plastic film is applied to front, top and window too.

Bundled with the Switch 810 is a manual with clear instructions for the case as well as all the cables, ties and screws we require to build a system.

NZXT use a white and black design for the Switch 810 and an all black model is also available. The materials used are steel/plastic and at the front of the case we find four standard 5.25" drive bays. Further down is an air vent which is dust filtered and the front panel covers a 14cm fan which is installed as standard, upgrades to 2x120mm or 2x140mm are possible. The Switch 810 measures 235x595x585mm and weighs 9.1kg.

Near the top of the forward surface we find the front panel connectivity which is hidden behind a flip up panel. In this location we have a reset button and the connectivity starts with 2x USB 2.0 and moves on to 2x USB 3.0, card slot and 3.5mm audio in/out. Also present here is the reset button and an LED switch, more on that later.

The power button is located on the top of the case. Also found here are the hard drive LED and a curved strip LED which is essentially our power light.

Further back on the top of the case we find a large slotted panel which acts as an exhaust vent. By moving the switch at the back we open and close this. It can be fully removed via a push/click to release method and reveals a pre-installed 140mm fan with space for two more.

Turning round to look at the side of the chassis we find that the Switch 810 has a large window on the side which allows us to see the entire motherboard and PSU area. The right side of the case is entirely blank.

Round at the back of the case we find a reasonably standard layout. The IO location is at the top left and beside it is a 14cm exhaust location which is populated by a fan at the factory. Four wiring/tubing holes are below the fan and beside these are 9 PCIe slot covers. Our PSU location is at the base and there are a couple of features worth noting on this side. The first is that at the top of the PCIe slot area and the top of the I/O area are two LEDs which shine light on the back to aid in addition/removal of cables in dark environments. These are activated by the front panel button we mentioned earlier. Secondly the exhaust area is larger than normal and features screw holes that allow us to move our 120/140mm fan up or down.

Turning the case on its side we find that four rubber feet lift the case off the floor and there are two removable dust filters here. One for the PSU intake as well as another for the front. Both have a push/click to remove action.

NZXT Switch 810 - Internal

Upon removing six thumbscrews from the back of the case we can slide off our side panels. Looking inside we find a motherboard cavity which supports boards up to Extended and XL-ATX sizes and there is a significant CPU back plate cut-out present to assist with cooler changes. Ten wiring holes surround the motherboard area and these are rubber lined. Also visible in the above images are our case wires and a single fan controller is also present, centred on the back of the motherboard tray and capable of powering seven fans.

At the bottom left we find the PSU which has six feet that lift the PSU off the surface and each has anti-vibration pads applied. Moving higher into the main chamber we see the PCIe slots use thumbscrews and that our two exhaust fans are pre-wired to the controller.

Up at the top right we see that the optical bays feature tool free install via a push button method and that at bottom is a hot swap SATA bay.

Beneath the 5.25" bays are six drive locations for 2.5" and 3.5" devices, split into two removable cages (with handles). Then attached to the side of these are two fan locations for 140/120mm models which can be tilted to aim air at the CPU/GPU. We can also see a further two fan locations (again 120/140mm) at the base of the case and that the drives are actually added from the right of the system where there is 25mm of space for wiring.

Test System:
AMD Phenom 2 X6 1100T
Radeon 6870
Gigabyte AM3 Motherboard
2x 4GB DDR3-1600
Hitachi 3TB SATA
Hale82 750w PSU
Havik 120/140 Coolers

Case temperatures were measured using AIDA64, Realtemp GT and GPUz after 10 minutes of the case sitting with no activity and 10 minutes of each load test. Load was applied to the system using Prime95 and Furmark. Ambient room temperature during testing was 25°C.

(NOTE: The object of this test is not to compare the results with alternative products as there are too many factors which can impact thermal performance.)

Looking first at our case and cooler performance we have a great set of results from NZXT. The Switch 810 and Havik combination offers a huge amount of airflow which keeps the system very cool at idle. When we apply full load to the CPU and GPU there is minimal change in the internal temperature and our components run at some impressive levels, the CPU for example never rises above 46°C on the Havik 140. Noise levels are also very good, this is a very quiet system at full load as shown below.


NOTE: We are using our original images from the first 810 review from here on as the process/testing is identical.

With the heatsink (and CPU/memory) installed on the motherboard we can then install it in the case which is a simple process due to the spacious main chamber (which supports CPU coolers up to 19.5cm and cards of 375mm in length). Our PSU slots in at the base and the wiring passes to the back of the motherboard tray.

Our next step is to install the graphics card, securing with thumbscrews and then our drives are put in place with tool free installation of 3.5/5.25" devices and four screws used for 2.5" SSDs. Finally we route the case wiring, connecting up the components as required and the system is ready for use.


Overall the Switch case is very impressive on the build quality front with solid steel construction, a good paint job and some very nice plastic with soft touch coating that fits the overall chassis very well. Internally the high level of build quality continues with rubber covers on the wiring holes, more construction which feels solid and good, NZXT branded fans. We also noted that the top panel vents are more solid than our original sample which was a nice bonus, though having it motorised or a little smoother to use would still be appreciated.

On a design level the Switch 810 also scores well. It looks great in white, black and now gun metal and on a functional level it is very flexible. We can install 3x120, 3x140 and 90mm radiators, up to 10 fans, 7 hard drives, water-cooling top and bottom, the fastest graphics card available, 19cm CPU coolers, E and XL ATX cases... really anything that an enthusiast would want to do can be done with this even has a card reader which is ideal for camera junkies. That said there is an area we would have changed, twisting the drive cages round to a more natural install angle. They are easy to access from the right panel but this also risks disturbing our wiring. That said little touches such as the pop out filters and back of case lighting more than cancel out these issues and the ability to pop off the front panel easily to access the fans is another nice improvement on the original design

Moving on to performance we have a case which excels in both noise and airflow. The fans used by NZXT really do move a lot of air and this assists our coolers in maintaining low temperatures. In fact we had the case sitting on the floor during the writing of this review and the cold air blasting out the back was actually uncomfortable on our legs, in jeans. The added inclusion of USB 3.0 also means we have plenty of speed available for our connected devices.

In terms of value the Switch 810 has an RRP of around $179.99 with a 2-year warranty and given the flexibility this seems fair... certainly a case which will last through a few builds.

  • The NZXT Switch 810 Chassis goes for 169.99 Euro at & for 149 GBP at Overclockers UK. US Readers will have to fork over 169 USD + taxes.
  • Light in the back to help you find the right plug in a dark environment
  • Extremely well engineered interior layout
  • Plenty of fans right out of the box
  • Cool little PCB to connect fans to
  • Removable HDD cages
  • Multiple locations for radiators
  • Extremely good, white paint job
  • More than enough space for the longest graphics cards, largest CPU coolers or biggest PSUs
  • Hot-swap bay in front, with real PCB to connect to
  • SDHC Card Reader included
  • Dust filter on all intake areas
  • Screwless locks for 5.25" bays
  • XL-ATX ready
  • 2x USB 3.0 & 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Available in Black & White
  • A lot of plastic - no real metal mesh parts to reinforce the outer shell
  • Top air vent flimsy
  • No HPTX support
  • Front hot-swap bay requires you to screw in a HDD into the metal bay
  • Screwless locks for ODDs do not hold that well.

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