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Review: NZXT Switch 810

by Parm Mann on 24 January 2012, 09:30 4.0

Tags: NZXT

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Introduction

NZXT might be a relative newcomer in the chassis space, but since its arrival on the scene in 2004, the manufacturer has gone on to produce a series of enclosures that have been well worthy of consideration.

The recently-reviewed Tempest 410 Elite and Phantom 410 are testament to that, and if we had to sum up many of the company's efforts thus far, we'd say that NZXT tends to offer a lot of chassis for your money.

Not a bad formula in these cash-strapped times, and it's a trend that's set to continue with the manufacturer's latest introduction; the Switch 810.

 

Available in the US priced at $169.99 and heading to the UK with an estimated street price of £149 inc. VAT, the Switch 810 isn't one of NZXT's most affordable solutions, but it does claim to be - in no uncertain terms - "the most versatile and highly adaptable full tower chassis to date."

The chassis isn't short on ambition, then, and it isn't afraid to strut its stuff, either. Standing tall at 595mm x 235mm x 585mm in size, this full-tower behemoth is hard to miss and the white-on-black colour scheme is hardly subtle. It's also available in standard black, but with a side panel that's more window than steel, this is a chassis for those who want their components to be seen.

That isn't to say it's obviously attractive, though. The sheer size of the thing makes it an awkward fit in most desk environments, and glossy plastic panelling across the top and front makes the Switch 810 look and feel less luxurious than it might have done. It isn't the classiest chassis you'll ever see, but if the looks aren't winning you over, perhaps the feature list will.

 

Rattling through the specification, the Switch 810's front panel includes two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, an integrated SD card reader, audio and microphone jacks, and, like a premium Alienware rig, an LED toggle switch that illuminates the rear I/O panel.

Nifty, and the extra touches don't stop there. One of the 5.25in drive bays comes equipped with a front bezel for an optical drive - so you needn't spoil the chassis' aesthetics - and the bottommost cover pulls off to reveal a hot-swappable storage bay. A good selection of features, and we appreciate the integration, but some of the aforementioned doesn't feel as refined as we'd have liked. The flip-up cover for the I/O panel requires an awkward push to open, and the hot-swappable hard-disk bay - while useful - requires a couple of internal thumb screws to be undone before it can be removed.

 

Continuing the versatile approach, the Switch 810's top panel is adorned with slits that open or close by pushing or pulling a lever near the back of the chassis. The idea, in theory, is that the user can open the slits for maximum airflow, or close them to reduce noise. The power button is neatly tucked into the top-front edge, and the power LED is a stylish, curved band that hugs the angled plastic.

A pair of pull-out dust filters can be found on the underside of the chassis, along with four rubber strips that act as nonslip, noise-absorbing feet. Around the back, the rear 140mm exhaust is attached to a lengthy mount that allows the fan to be moved up or down to the user's preference, and there are four watercooling cutouts alongside nine expansion slots and a bottom-mounted PSU mount.

Each side panel is in held in place with three thumb screws, and in general, the entire product feels tidily knitted together. A total weight of just 9.1kg suggests that NZXT's using relatively-thin steel and a fair amount of plastic, but there are no major squeaks or rattles.

 

What you do have, though, is a lot of cooling potential. NZXT's marketing the Switch 810 as a hybrid solution that can be configured to meet three different usage scenarios; silence, liquid cooling or airflow. We're dubious about the first configuration - any chassis with four fans is going to make some noise - but there's a lot of promise on the other fronts. In terms of airflow, the chassis ships with a 140mm fan up front, a second 140mm on the inside of the hard-disk cage, a 140mm rear exhaust and a 140mm top exhaust.

That's four 140mm fans as standard, and, if you're kicking out some serious heat, there's room to add another fan up front, another fan to the hard-disk cage, two more two exhausts and a pair of bottom intakes as well.

Of course, if you prefer to take the liquid route, there's ample scope for that, too. By rearranging the internal storage options (you can remove the top optical bay and the bottom hard-disk cage), the Switch 810 offers support for a massive 420mm radiator up top - with push and pull fans - and a 240mm radiator at the base of the chassis.

Roughly £149 for a full-tower Goliath with an abundance of frills? Sounds rather good, but what's it like to work with, and how does it perform? Read on for all the answers.