NZXT PC cases have always had an iconic, minimalist look. You know it when you see it – the clean lines, matte finishes, tempered glass panels – it’s an elegant and classic look that has a certain appeal. While a word like “classic” might indicate protection or adherence to some archaic, bygone way, NZXT listened to feedback and evolved.
Just a few months ago, we got our hands on the NZXT H7 Elite – the next evolution in NZXT’s full-size, mid-tower line. This same spirit of customization has found its way into the company’s compact mid-tower range with the H5 Flow and H5 Elite.
We got our hands on the H5 Elite to see exactly what NZXT has changed and how it upholds the NZXT design tradition.
- MSRP: $139.99 USD (H5 Flow available for $94.99)
- Tower Class: Medium Tower
- Motherboard Support: ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX,
- Front Panel I/O: 1x USB 3.2 Type-C, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 1x Headphone Jack
- Mounting Support:
- Case Top: 2x 120mm fans, supports up to 240mm radiator
- Back case: 1x 120mm
- Front: support or up to 280mm radiator, up to 2x 140mm
- Fans Included: 2x F-Series 140mm RGB fans (front mounted), 1x F120Q
- Back cable Velcro straps
- Equipped NZXT RGB Controller
- Dimensions: Width: 227mm, Height: 462mm, Depth: 446mm
- Available Colors: Matte White, Matte Black
- PCIe 4.0 Vertical GPU Mounting kit available for $89.99
Over the past few releases, NZXT has offered different versions of its cases to cater to the needs of the consumer. In the summer of 2019, we were introduced to a computer case that prioritized airflow: the H510 Current. With its positive reception, this iteration carried over into the new H5 line. The classic flat-front chassis, on the other hand, didn’t make the cut.
Following in the footsteps of the H7 series, the H5 is a redesigned case that continues to provide those classic, NZXT clean lines we talked about in the introduction, with a slightly increased footprint. The H5 chassis has increased height, depth and width by a few millimeters, allowing more space in the back of the case and supports up to two top-mounted 120mm fans instead of one.
The H5 series can support up to two 140mm fans or a 280mm radiator in the front of the case, two 120mm fans or a 240mm radiator at the top of the case, as well as a single 120mm fan at the top of the case and one in the case back . It is worth noting that the H510 series offered space for a 140mm fan at the top of the case. In my experience, this is not a bad thing; I found that 140mm fans were a tight fit on top of H510 cases – especially if the motherboard you were using had a hefty heatsink on the power section.
Since we’re talking about fan mounting options, we have to talk about the addition of a diagonal fan at the bottom of the case. This new feature aims to bring air from the bottom front of the computer case and push it up through the components, cooling from a different angle. NZXT’s commitment to prioritizing thermal management doesn’t end there; the H5 series, like the H7 series, adds a perforated top panel and a dust filter for better airflow. This is great news for those concerned about cooling!
Speaking of mounting changes, the H5 Flow and H5 Elite change the hard drive mounting options. The two-red bracket is now gone to make room for the lower case fan. Drives can still be mounted vertically in the back of the case. When it comes to motherboard mounting, NZXT’s new H5 cases fit most mid-sized motherboards with the exception of EATX. We will talk more about this point a little later.
The front I/O remains the same as the H510 line, giving users access to one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A connection, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C connection, and a headphone jack. On the rear side of the case, the PCI access has been redesigned to accommodate NZXT’s Vertical GPU Mounting Tool.
Now, let’s talk about the Elite.
Much like the H7 Elite, the H5 Elite includes upgraded fans, a tempered glass front panel, and an RGB controller module. The front panel fans are the same 140mm NZXT F-series RGB fans that were used in the H7 Elite and the rear mounted fan is NZXT’s 120mm F120Q (or Quiet Airflow) fan. The controller module, however, is quite different. Rather than acting as a fan and RGB controller, the module inside the H5 Elite only controls three NZXT RGB-enabled devices.
The H5 Elite is available for $139.99 USD in either Matte White or Matte Black finishes. Like the H7 series, tempered glass panels will match the color theme. Black cases will have tinted glass for darker buildings while the white cases have transparent glass for lighter ones.
Building in the NZXT H5 ELITE
Every time I build an H5 series case, it feels like the Goldielocks of case sizes – not too big, not too small… “just-enough” for most modern builds, especially when you start adding the Elite features from the past. . It’s one of the things I loved about NZXT’s H510 Elite!
While we’re on the subject of construction, I’ll share a thing or two about my experience as a person with larger hands, so your mileage may vary.
We started removing the side panels and tempered glass to open everything up and inventory everything we were going to work with. As with other NZXT cases, the tool-free access to the main compartments allows builders like myself to dive right into the part we all love: building.
Since the NZXT’s Kraken Z63 has a 280mm radiator and the front mounted fans were already 140mm, I decided to use the installed F140 RGB fans along with it. The H5’s removable fan bracket made the process incredibly simple after detaching the fan and RGB wires from their well-anchored positions in the back of the case. Unfortunately, with the top and rear fan mounts only supporting 120mm fans, I had to leave those spots open for the time being.
With the CPU cooler awaiting its final seats and front fans attached to the radiator and bracket, I moved on to seating the motherboard. Much like its other cases, NZXT placed a stand to center the motherboard inside the chassis. Every time I see this, I’m reminded how these little touches make the experience so much easier.
With the Gigabyte X570S AIR G on site, I began to consider cable placement. Since I intended to use the NZXT PCIe 4.0 Vertical GPU mount with the H5 Elite, I needed to make sure everything was in the right place before seating our GPU. And this is one place where I started to notice some significant changes to the interior of the H5, starting with the central system cable guide.
Unlike the previous H500 and H510 line, the cable retention tray that typically ran through the center of the case has been removed in favor of some wide lips within the structure of the case, paired with velcro connections. While the physical space that is provided within this new system is greater, the connections are certainly not. NZXT opted for velcro straps screwed to the inside instead of creating loops for the straps to show through. While they are secure, the point that the straps are screwed down could serve as a failure point if the right amount of tension is placed on the straps. Even with my light build, I saw small tears starting in the straps.
Moving to the back of the case, I installed a power supply and ran cables to the motherboard, CPU and internal peripherals. While running the CPU cable, I noticed that there are significantly fewer anchor points inside the H5 than the H510. The case pretty much forces users to use the existing velcro straps instead of being able to clip cables into place. The routes are good, but removing the flexibility for the end user is a bit unfortunate. What was good, however, was the space allocated for access to top connections such as CPU power and fan plugs. Even with my flesh myths, I could work easily in space.
Since I was in the neighborhood, I started wiring fans and running cables to the RGB Controller module. I found myself a bit disappointed with the decision to change the controller module inside this Elite case. Since this unit only controls RGB, I couldn’t run the case’s fan cables into one module like I could with the H7 Elite and H510 Elite cases. Fortunately, the Kraken Z63 had enough fan connections to run the included fans together. If that wasn’t the situation, I’d need to get a split cable – and that would just be for the stock fans in the case.
With fans and RGB wired, I removed the rear PCI slot shield to install NZXT’s PCIe 4.0 Vertical GPU Mounting Kit. It slid into place easily and once secure, we installed the ASUS KO GeForce RTX 3060 Ti OC Edition bracket And, then, I discovered another change in the case: because of the bottom fan, the slot that NZXT usually leaves open for GPU power cables is gone. With some creative cable routing, we have everything located within the build.
NZXT’s H5 Flow and H5 Elite bring a significant amount of change to NZXT’s 5 series. Redesigned to favor airflow, the new H5 gives system builders more options for mounting fans, including an interestingly mounted bottom fan. While the diagonal design takes up significant space at the bottom of the case, it certainly adds an option to expel air, helping thermals stay down.
It’s worth noting that we’re seeing an increase in the size of higher-end components, such as the RTX 4090 and some of the higher-end Ryzen 7000 series and 13th Generation Intel motherboards moving to an EATX format. If you hope to use any of these components, check the measurements; the H5 Flow or H5 Elite may not be a case for those types of builds.
Since my review model was the H5 Elite, I have to share some of my criticisms with the case. I’m conflicted if the right changes were made to keep it up to date or if I just love the H510 Elite too much. I never thought I would be writing these words about an NZXT Elite case, but it seems that with each Elite version, the cases become less “elite” with each iteration. The H7 removed the extra light strip and the H5 Elite downgraded the controller module to only control RGB. That said, the H5 Elite is only $45 more than the H5 Flow — and it’s easy to see where that money gets you: RGB lighting, controls, and a tempered glass front panel.
All things considered, the H5 update is a welcome step forward for NZXT in many areas, but with a few awkward missteps along the way. Are they enough to warrant a break? I think not. The priority placed on airflow and the redesigned look make this one of the cleanest looking cases NZXT has to offer in the smaller mid-tower range.
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for review.