ProsFantastic fit and finish given the price; compact and elegant design makes for a PC worth showing off
ConsA few too many design choices clearly favored form over function
Here at TBG, we’ve been in and out of a lot of cases, from hulking towers to the smallest of ITX cases, and everything in between. One of our favorites was the now-discontinued Cooler Master Elite 360, which to this day is the smallest ATX-compatible case every released. Unfortunately, it had some nasty traits, such as the inability to fit anything larger than a 9” video card or a 140mm-long power supply. Other compact ATX cases have come and gone without making much of an impact, but with its new S340, NZXT has gone all out to create something entirely different (and worth buying). Rather than shrink the case by cutting space for larger components, NZXT has simply cut certain components out altogether. Specifically, there’s nowhere to mount any external drives in the S340, and there are only four internal drive bays in total, two for 3.5” drives and two for 2.5” drives.
So right off the bat, we know the S340 isn’t going to work for everyone. But it will definitely work for someone, and we aimed to find out exactly how well NZXT cut down the standard ATX layout in its quest to produce the smallest, sleekest ATX case out there.
Description and Features
At 8” wide, 18.1” tall, and a very compact 17.1” deep, this is indeed a fairly small case by ATX standards. Note that NZXT has published specs that aren’t exactly correct in regard to height – we took out the tape measure to check, and indeed, NZXT somehow forgot to include the S340’s unusually big feet in its measurement. Funny how that works. Luckily, those feet actually provide a serious benefit: they raise the case off the floor enough for the power supply to take in cooling air from below, which is the only way the power supply can get any air in this case. With other cases, these bottom-mounted vents are of little use once you place a system on carpet, as the case sinks in and the vent ends up being blocked. Not a problem with this case, but seriously, NZXT, you can’t include a feature and then subtract it from the specs whenever it suits your needs….
OK, off our high horse, the next thing you can’t miss about the S340 is that it just looks so darn good. We picked up the case in the glossy white, and rest assured – this is a top-notch paint job. It looks way, way better than what you’d find in just about any case within the S340’s price range, and tops many pricier cases as well. From the front (as shown at right), it looks just a bit like a refrigerator, but at least it's a good-looking refrigerator!
The components we used for our test build were as follows:
- Motherboard: ASRock Z97 Extreme4 (thanks to ASRock and Newegg for providing this review sample)
- CPU: Intel Core i7-4770K
- Video Cards: EVGA GeForce GTX 980 FTW 4GB and Sapphire Radeon R9 290 Tri-X 4GB (installed separately)
- SSDs: Samsung 850 Evo 500GB and Crucial MX100 512GB
- RAM: 2x G.Skill TridentX 2x4GB DDR3-2400 Kits (16GB total)
- Cooler: Noctua NH-U12S
- Power Supply: EVGA Supernova PS 1000W
- OS: Windows 8.1
Below you can see a shot of our system fully built up inside the S340. Based solely on its looks, we just can't get over the fact that this case retails for $70. When it comes to cases, however, the user experience is critical as well. On the next page, we'll go into some detail on what it’s like to build a system in the S340, as that’s where it really stands out from other cases, both for better and for worse. We'll also touch upon some performance issues related to noise and cooling.