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NZXT Rogue Case Review

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Nov 29, 2002
May post pics later...

I keep putting my Codegen S180 case back into service in one form or another even though I try not to. This time I was using it as the case for my File Server and its just too darn big for my needs, so I needed to downsize, but retain the ability to hold an optical drive and 4 HDDs.

After looking for quite a while, I decided upon the NZXT Rogue case because it met my requirements.

Holds my Micro ATX motherboard? Check!
Small enough to fit in my entertainment system rack? Check!
Holds my optical drive and 4 HDDs? Check!
Roomy enough to work in without cutting myself to shreds? Check!
LEDs bright enough to set off NORAD's early ICBM Launch Warning System? Check!
Holds 120mm fans for quiet operation as a HTPC? Check! (x5!!!)

Specs on the NZXT are as follows:

Model Rogue
Brand NZXT (www.nzxt.com)

Type MicroATX Mid Tower
Color Black
Case Material Aluminum
With Power Supply No
Power Supply No
Motherboard Compatibility MicroATX

With Side Panel Window Yes (actually on top)

External 5.25" Drive Bays 2
External 3.5" Drive Bays 1
Internal 3.5" Drive Bays 4
Expansion Slots 4
Front Ports
Front Ports USB, Audio. e-SATA
Cooling System
80mm Fans No
120mm Fans 1 x 120mm LED Rear Fan
2 x 120mm Side Fans
Physical Spec
Dimensions 16.6" x 10.9" x 14.5"
Weight 20.3 lbs.

Features 3mm Outer Aluminum Frame protects and guards your internals from damage during LAN parties and transportation
Support for high end large video expansion cards
Open top window allows view of your system
Carrying Strap for LAN Go-ers and moving the PC
Locking Door Mechanism for security at LAN events
Weight reduction through aluminum chassis
Removable Motherboard Tray

Specifications supplied via Newegg.

I assigned bonus points for:

It's aluminum, but it weighs over 20 lbs EMPTY.
It's advertised as being able to hold top end video cards if I want to add one later
It comes with a removable motherboard tray

I ordered it an eagerly awaited its delivery. I tore down my Codegen case and removed all the parts Thursday night in anticipation of a fast and easy build process Friday evening. It arrived last Friday afternoon so I set to work...

Initial impressions:

Upon opening the box, I noticed that the case was shipped very well protected. It had large foam pads holding it in place so that it wouldn't take damage during shipping.

I removed the case from the box, and got to work removing the top and side covers in order to move my parts over to the new case...

The first thing I noticed upon unpacking it was that there was no manual with the case. The manual is something I refer to only in case of emergency, but it "is" nice to have one just in case. It's most likely inside the case with the motherboard screws and other parts. I tried to open the front door and found it was loked. Not a big deal since most cases with a locking front door have the key inside the case or on a ring attached to the back, along with the manual and motherboard screws and other parts inside.

I removed the thumbscrew from the back and removed the top cover of the case. I was met with 2 very small phillips head screws holding each side cover to the frame. A standard #2 Phillips head did not fit so I had to go to a smaller, pointier one to unscrew them.

Once I removed the side covers, I saw that I was missing the fans on both sides. (There's supposed to be a fan on each side and one on the back.) Then when I looked closer, I saw there were no fans on either side. Only the back, clear 120mm fan was present. When I looked at the screw holes on the side covers, used to mount the fans, I saw that the size was not the same as a standard fan screw. Did I mention that there were no filters either?


Now I not only had to buy fans and filters, I had to go to Radio Shack and search through screws to find ones that fit and were long enough.

So I go to the local mom & pop computer store and pick up three Antec 3, three-speed fans and swing by the Radio Shack on the way home to find screws. It only took 40 minutes to find screws that fit and were long enough so I considered myself lucky that there were even some avaiable and headed home to continue the build process.

I suppose I should have contacted Newegg and gotten an RMA as soon as I encountered this problem, shipped the case back, waited on my credit card to be refunded the cost of the case, and then ordered a different case. I didn't, because this is my file server and DVR, and all its guts are laying on a shelf awaiting installation into the new case that I needed to be back up ASAP.

With the fan problem resolved I removed the motherboard tray to continue the assembly process.

First thing I noticed was that there was no case key. You know...those stupid little keys used to lock the case that you never, ever use...yeah that's the key that's missing. I go to my computer toolbox and grab my keyring that's chock-full of those keys...none of the 20+ keys fit. None.

At this point, I remember my days in the Navy and let loose a stream of expletives that would make Richard Pryor blush.

Before I do one more thing, it's time to examine the case "really" closely.

I already know that I'm:

Missing two of the three 120mm fans
Missing the carrying case
Missing Owner's manual
Missing the case key

I note that, without either of the side covers on and the top over removed, the frame itself seems a bit flimsy, displaying a pretty moderate amount of flex. Enough flex that I was worried I'd snap something if I tried any harder to put that HDD into the FDD bay.(getting ahead of myself...read on) It should be mentioned, however, that with all the covers in place, it's "built like a tank" solid, and could probably take a round or two of small arms fire and laugh it off.

Now that I'm looking closely, I see some extra wires jumbled up inside the case and, when I examined them closer, it turns out that the wires are for the headphone and mic for the front panel. It seems the connector had been pulled off the end leaving the bare wires exposed...

I also note at this point that to remove the 5.25" drive bay cover, I need to remove the front of the case from the frame so I can unscrew the screws holding the cover in place. I remove the 4 screws holding the front to the frame, then remove the drive bay cover. At this point I also solve the locked front panel by grabbing a pair of metal shears and cutting the locking arm off. I then re-attach the front of the case to the frame. Now I have access to the front panel where the power and reset switches are.

I install the DVD+-RW in the lower of the two 5.25" drive bays, and proceed to install the first of four 500GB Hard Drives in the 3.5" bay directly underneath it. It won't fit. It's not just a tight fit; It just plain old will not fit. It gets about 1/4 of the way into the bay and then you can feel metal grinding on metal. No matter how hard I try, it just won't fit in there. It should. It's during this process I nearly folded the damn frame in half...that's how flexible it is when the side covers are off...

I pry the HDD loose and shine a light into the 3.5" bay to see if there is an obstruction that I can clear. There isn't. It just doesn't fit that bay. I move the drive to each of the other 4 HDD bays and it fits nicely in each of those so, it would seem it must be set up to accept only a floppy drive.

I went to my parts bin and located a spare 3.5" to 5.25" drive adapter I had left over from a Thermaltake Armor case. I moved the DVD+-RW to the top 5.25" bay and mounted the HDD in the lower 5.25" bay. I removed the bay cover for the top bay and re-installed the bottom bay's cover.

Now that I've gotten the boot drive and optical drive installed, I need to mount the other data drives. I placed the two PATA 500GB Drives in the 3.5" cage-type brackets on the right side and a 500GB SATA on the left side, for a total of 2TB of storage, give or take 25GB for OS and programs.

Once the drives are installed the way I want them, I got to work installing the motherboard. It mounted up easily enough, considering the fact I'm used scavenged screws to mount it. (since none shipped with the case)

I installed the only card I had earmarked for this system, a Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-1600 1101WB NSTC/ATSC/QAM/FM Tuner card. It seated well so I start to push in the motherboard tray to re-secure it with the thumbscrews, and I discover it will not fit. The Hauppauge WinTV card is too tall by about 16th of an inch.

Ya know...There are times when I like nothing more than to grab a Dremel Multi-tool or a drill or a saw and go to work on a case. There's something very satisfying about taking a generic, vanilla case and putting those personalized touches on it that make it unique to me and me alone. This ain't one of those times.

I swear it seems as if this case is fighting me tooth and nail every step of the way. It's doing its best to get me to hit it with a sledge hammer and it's getting dangerously close to succeeding.

I refrain from crushing it and selling the aluminum only because I know I'll get less for it at the recycling center than if I RMA'd it, so I broke out the dremel multi-tool and proceeded to grind a bit of the case to make clearance room for the card.

Now that the card fits, barely, I slide the motherboard tray back into place and secure it with the thumb screws.

I start to install the power supply and notice that the way the mount is designed, the PSU is going to go in upside down, with the fan pointing upwards. It's a reversable mount so I decided that if I added a stand-alone video card later on I'd just swap the mount around so it pulls air up from the motherboard area. In any case, I'm so tired from fighting this case at every step of the way that I can live with the power supply in the position that it's currently in, so I just installed it as is.

NOTE: It seems to me, though I have no evidence, that the reason the power supply is designed by default to mount upside down is to keep the wire bundle away from the windowed portion of the case so it looks like a "cleaner" install. The power supply is visable through the top window so it may be an form (asthetic) issue, rather than a function issue.

Drives - Installed
Motherboard & CPU - Installed
PSU - installed
Fans, Grills, Filters - Installed

I connected up all the wiring, consisting of 2 Flat Ribbon IDE cables and a SATA cable, 24pin power connector and 4 pin power connector, various power connectors to the drives and fans and LEDs and the PWR/RST/HDD LED and I closed it all up, and I plugged in the peripherals and power and powered it up.

With the three Antec 3 fans set to low, its very quiet! Temps are pretty good too. The only change I would consider is maybe adding a high definition audio card.

The system as a whole takes up less than half the space and is no louder than before, even though it now has 3 case fans instead of 1.

It weighs less than the Codegen case, but considering you could put 3 or 4 NZXT Rogue cases inside a Codegen S180 that's to be expected.

My thoughts on the case are as follows:

It would have been a far more enjoyable experience building this system if it had shipped with the parts that it was advertised as shipping with. There is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for 90% of the "accessories" to be missing. Every problem I had with this case was due to the fact that someone was either asleep or out sick on the day this case passed through Quality Assurance before it shipped.

This case has a lot of potential, and I "want" to like it. But, in the end, I can't recommend it to anyone. Not when it's a crap shoot whether or not you'll get all the parts you paid for, and certainly not when it displays the amount of fles that it does when the side covers are removed.