Today we will be reviewing yet another price-conscious case offering from NZXT – the mid-tower Source 220. NZXT has long been known for their sleek, yet budget-friendly products; the Source 220 continues that trend. The Source 220 is billed as having a “classic” design. It is similar in design to the previously released Tempest 210, except for the front panel and a few other small details.
Features and Specifications
|Front Panel Material||Steel/ Aluminum-like finish|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||195 x 450 x 495.5 mm|
|VGA Clearance Maximum||230mm w/ hard drive, 330mm w/o hard drive|
|CPU Heatsink Support||160 mm|
|Wiring Space||20 mm|
|Cooling System||Front, 2 X 120 mm
Rear, 1 X 120 mm @ 1200 RPM (included)
Top, 2 X 120/140 mm (1x 140 mm included)
Bottom, 1 x 120 mm
|Drive Bays||3 Tool-less External 5.25″ Drive Bays
8 Tool-less Internal 3.5″ HDD Drives
|Material(s)||Steel with painted interior|
|Motherboard Support||ATX, Micro-ATX|
|External Connections||1 x Standard Audio/Mic, 1 x USB 3.0,1 x USB 2.0|
The Company Line
“The Source 220 delivers the basics while containing the essentials for performance. As a stepping stone, it continues the series known for its affordability and simplicity. This mid tower case is an upgrade for those seeking improved airflow. Witness the major difference with its integrated steel mesh that allows more airflow and option to mount up to 7 fans. The Source 220 delivers the best cooling for its price. Gamers on a tight budget will no longer have to sacrifice performance with this midtower chassis. The Source 220 is a win for enthusiasts by joining the best of both worlds – low price and optimal performance!”
Packaging and Accessories
You won’t find a glossy finish with high tech art designs on this box; black ink on a cardboard box is the name of the game here!
The front of the box has a large sketch of the case with the Source 220 branding. Both of the box sides are identical and list the features and specifications. The back of the box makes the most of the available real estate by listing the features in a multilingual format.
The first peek inside the carton shows the Source 220 case securely housed by the use of two Styrofoam blocks and wrapped in a plastic bag. Pretty standard fare for most cases in this class, in terms of packaging.
All of the accessories and the users manual are enclosed in a large plastic bag with several smaller bags inside. Included in the accessory package are the various screws you will need for assembly, two rubber grommets for the water cooling punch-out holes at the back of the case, motherboard standoffs, and just two wire ties.
You won’t need the rubber grommets, unless you punch out the tubing holes; and you’ll want to have more cable ties on hand because two probably won’t be enough!
Beginning with the front panel, we’ll have a look at the external features of the NZXT Source 220. The top right area of the front panel is home to a headphone jack, MIC Jack, USB 2.0, and USB 3.0 connections. One problem I noticed with the USB connections is that they are fairly close to each other, which could inhibit the use of two USB thumb drives at the same time. If you have narrow-bodied thumb drives, this won’t be a problem; however, some wider-bodied ones, such as the Corsair Voyager series, will not fit side by side. I also noticed the USB 3.0 connector sits a tad crooked in its socket. Lastly, the middle-right portion of the front panel is where the power and reset buttons are located.
Made up of entirely plastic mesh and an offset design at the top, the front panel is unique in its appearance; which, of course, is subjective to one’s individual taste. If nothing else, it will allow for great airflow; but, sadly there is no filtering system for the front panel. Also missing from the front of the case is an option for an external 3.5″ bay, and there is not a 5.25″ to 3.5″ drive bay cover included in the accessories. While this might not be a big deal for some; personally, I like having a 3.5″ external drive bay for such things as a card reader or other case accessories.
The two sides of the Source 220 are pretty basic in design, but the left side panel does include an option to install a 120 mm or 140 mm fan if desired. Both side panels are held in place with two black thumb screws. I found these side panels to be surprisingly rigid for a case in this price range. The panels are painted with a black matte finish, which helps to keep fingerprints and smudges to a minimum.
Looking at the back of the Source 220 chassis, we see that the design allows for a bottom-mount power supply; this is quickly becoming the norm for most cases now days. Above the PSU opening are the seven ventilated expansion slot covers, an additional mesh area for added air flow, and two round punch-out holes for a water cooling system’s tubes to pass through. At the top of the rear area is the included 120 mm (1200 RPM) exhaust fan and the opening for the motherboard’s I/O shield. The rear fan area can also accept a 92 mm fan if needed.
The top panel features an included 140 mm fan and a provision for another. Additionally, both fan mount areas are drilled to accept 120mm fans, if that configuration is desired. The four feet on the bottom of the Source 220 are hard plastic with no rubber inserts. I much prefer rubber feet, or at least a rubber insert, to aid in anti-vibration qualities and protect the surface the case is sitting on. The bottom area has two vented areas: one for mounting a 120 mm fan, and the other to allow an air passage for the power supply’s intake fan.
The front panel was removed for the initial interior inspection. This is easily accomplished by grabbing it at the bottom and giving it a firm tug outward. Once removed, two 120 mm optional fan locations can be seen; but again, no filter option is available. Looking at the internal side of the front panel, the wiring is attached to the I/O circuit board using small Molex connectors. The power and reset switches use a crimp style connector with hot glue applied for added support.
With the side panels removed, we can see the black matte finish applied to the interior and get our first look at the cable management opportunities the Source 220 provides. There are two vertical slots cut in the motherboard tray on the right side, and another horizontal hole cut into the bottom right area. The motherboard tray also features a very large cut out for accessing a CPU cooler’s retention mechanism, which is a huge time saver; preventing the user from having to remove the motherboard to replace a CPU cooler or water block.
The Source 220 will allow a CPU cooler height of up to 160 mm (roughly 6.25″) to be installed. As far as video card length goes, it depends on where you install the 3.5″ hard drives. If you have a HDD in the path of the video card, you will be limited to a length of 230 mm (just over 9″). If you are able to keep a HDD out of the way, a full length video card up to 330 mm (13″) can be installed.
From the right side view, you can see there are ample places to tuck wires away; and no less than twenty wire-tie supports to secure the wires to the back side of the motherboard tray. It is hard to see in the picture, but the top right area has two places to feed a four or eight pin CPU power lead through. Unfortunately, the 140 mm fan gets in the way of feeding the wire through either of the two holes. You will have to remove the fan if you plan to use those holes.
Something I really like about this case is the abundant room between the motherboard tray and the right side panel. The specifications say 20 mm (just over 3/4 inch) and there are a few places I could confirm that measurement. But, by and large, you can expect anywhere from 1/2″ to 5/8″ usable room. Even with the smaller measurements I came up with, there is still plenty of room for the main 24-Pin ATX cable.
Worth noting is the slight discoloration down each side of the front panel. No, it’s not the lights playing tricks on us, there are indeed areas that are faded looking compared to the rest. The discoloration may not be present on all the Source 220′s out there, but I thought It would be worth looking out for.
As mentioned earlier, the bottom area of the Source 220 has a vented area towards the rear to accommodate air flow to the PSU fan. The forward most vented area is for installing an optional 120mm fan. You are probably getting tired of me saying this by now, but again, no filter options are available here. There is also an absence of rubber supports for the PSU to rest on.
From the inside you get a better look at the vented PCI slot covers and the 120 mm (1200 RPM) exhaust fan. I could not find any published information on either of the fans included with the Source 220, except for the RPM rating of the rear fan as provided by NZXT. Both fans are NZXT branded for what that’s worth.
Moving upwards and to the underside of the top panel, we see the second of the two included fans; this one being of the 140 mm variety. Just forward of that is a provision to add another fan, either a 120 mm or 140 mm.
Moving around to the front drive bay area you can see the three external 5.25″ bays and the eight internal 3.5″ drive bays. The locking latch for the 5.25″ drives are hinged on one end and snap into the alignment holes on the other end. To relieve these latches, you push slightly upward and out. The latches will only grab the front two holes of a 5.25″ device, so you will probably want to add additional screws for a more secure mount. The 3.5″ locking latches have a dial design that secures the latch to the drive and the case at the same time. To remove the latches, turn the dial to a vertical position and simply pull it away from the drive bay. The problem I have with the implementation of these latches is that they never fully lock down. Even after a device is installed and the dial turned back to a horizontal position, the dial never locks in; you can continually turn the dial in a circle. You will definitely want to use additional screws to secure any 3.5″ drives in place.
While nowhere in the features or specifications list does NZXT claim support for 2.5″ SSD’s, I did notice the term “2.5 HDD” stamped into the bottom of the case at the drive bay area. However, in its current design state, it is completely unusable for a 2.5″ drive for a couple of reasons. First, the mounting holes do not match any of the 2.5″ drives I have around here; they are spread too far apart. I also tried to lay a standard 3.5″ HDD in there and those holes do not line up either. In addition to the holes not lining up, there is a design flaw as far as the rivets that hold the 3.5″ cage to the bottom of the case. These rivets come up through the bottom and enter the case right next to the drive mounting holes. They actually stick up higher than the mounting holes making it impossible to get a drive to lie flat. I’m not sure what the intent was with this design, but from what I can tell, it just didn’t pan out. So, obviously if a 2.5″ drive is going to be used, having a 3.5″ to 2.5″ adapter handy would be wise.
Finishing up the interior tour of the Source 220, let’s have a look at the case’s motherboard connections. All the usual suspects are present and accounted for, such as the HDD LED, power LED, power switch, and reset switch. The inclusion of a USB 3.0 motherboard cable is a nice feature, as most up-to-date motherboards are including this. You will also find the front panel audio cable pre-wired for both HD audio and AC97 audio – another nice touch. The power leads for both fans have a 3-pin motherboard connector and a pass-through 4-pin Molex connector all combined on one harness. This is a pretty odd design in my opinion, especially when something as easy as a 3-pin to 4-pin Molex adapter could be used, or even supplied in the accessories. If you wanted to hook these fans up to a motherboard header, you could run into additional cable management problems, depending on where the headers are located on the motherboard.
Putting It All Together
I used the following components for this build, all of which were the largest I had at my disposal, but still within the Source 220′s specification limits.
- Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5 ATX Form Factor
- Intel i7 920 CPU
- Corsair Dominator Memory 3X2 GB
- OCZ Mod Stream 500 Watt Modular PSU
- Thermalright HR-01 Plus CPU Cooler w/Thermaltake fan
- Western Digital Black SATA 640 GB HDD
- EVGA GTX 260 SC
- LG DVD Optical Drive
The build went off without a hitch and the cable management holes were in the perfect spot for this build. You may notice that no cable is plugged into the 8-Pin CPU power socket; that particular cable on the OCZ PSU I used fell a couple of inches short of reaching its target. The only 8-pin extension cable I had was being used in another system, but I did make sure the head of the cable fit through the two holes at the very top of the motherboard tray. While they did fit, I had to remove the top 140 mm fan in order to get the cable head through either of the two holes, as I alluded to earlier. The multitude of wire-tie holders behind the motherboard tray came in very handy as I tried to keep everything tidy inside the main compartment.
The EVGA GTX 260 SC video card I used is 10.5″ long. As you can see, it easily fits with plenty of room to spare. As mentioned earlier in the review, if you keep your HDD out of the way, a video card up to 13″ in length will fit. Testing the limits of the CPU cooler height limitation of 160 mm, the HR-01 Plus cooler I used is 159.5 mm in height, which leaves very little room to spare. As you can see by the pictures below, the left side panel cleared the HR-01 Plus cooler, and was easily secured in place. I had my doubts if the right side panel would go back on given the bird’s nest I managed to accumulate behind the motherboard tray, but no problem encountered there either. The amount of space behind the motherboard tray is fantastic and much better than I have seen on cases costing four times what the Source 220 does.
While the Source 220 is not without a few annoyances, such as no dust filters, a 3.5″ locking latch that never really locks, and some faded areas on the side of the front panel; at a price of just $59.99, those things are easy to look past. Most of the issues I pointed out during the review are easy enough to work around and shouldn’t deter anyone from buying the case. They are just what I said – annoyances, not deal breakers.
On the plus side, the wire management features are awesome for a case in this price range making assembly of a clean looking system a breeze. With eight available HDD bays, you certainly won’t lack storage capabilities. Although, using longer video cards will dictate which bays you can install HDD’s in. The black matte finish applied to both the internal and external of the Source 220 is a welcome sight. The glossy finish applied to some cases just does not appeal to me and is a bear to keep clean.
Given the features this case offers at the price point it hits, I can easily recommend this case for use as a budget gaming system, or even for a workstation in an office environment. Either way, you will find the Source 220 to be versatile enough to handle the situation.
- Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote)