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Tuesday, 13 March 2012 17:10

NZXT Switch 810 Full Tower Chassis reviewed - Conclusion

Written by Sanjin Rados

thumbrecommended08 75

Review: Big and beautiful



Switch 810 is high-tower computer case with enough room for large motherboards (XL-ATX, E-ATX, SSI CEB and SSI EEB), liquid cooling (with a 420mm radiator), Quad SLI or CrossFireX. Still, even though you can find other cases with these features, the overall build that we've seen on Switch 810 is what really impressed us bigtime.

switch-810-black-and-white

The case is priced at €170, which puts in the high end segment. However, if you stay with us until the end, you'll see that the case is worth investing in. If you're skeptical, then it's probably even better.


We like the look of the box – it includes nice and descriptive images.

switch-box2

switch-box1

switch-in-the-box

The user manual is descriptive and packs plenty of pictures. Switch 810 comes with all the screws you'll need.

switch-box3

Thumb screws were not in plastic bags but rather screwed into the drive cage, which is fine since we at least know where they are. In fact, that's how Alienware did it on some cases five or more years ago, and we really liked the fact that NZXT did the same.

drive-bay


Switch 810 measures 595mm x 235mm x 585mm. This is a high tower computer case and it weighs in at 9.1 kg. The white color scheme looks pretty appealing. Furthermore, NZXT used quality glossy plastics, so it's quite hard to tell what's made of plastic and what's made of metal, especially at a glance. We checked of course and the front and top panels are made of plastic.

switch-810-front-1

Glossy plastic panelling across the top and the front is stylish but very sensitive to scratches. Thankfully, NZXT opted on black rubber finish around its top and front panels which not only makes it look good but saves the edges as well.

In general the Switch 810’s front panel is quality made with a lot of features. Like with all better cases, there’s no need to take the entire panel off just to mount a DVD drive – all you need to do is remove the bay covers and you’re good to go. Out of the box, Switch 810 will take three 5.25” optical drives, whereas the fourth 5.25'' serves as a hot-swap unit for 3.5''/2.5'' drives. Naturally, you can take the hot-swap unit out and use the bay for any 5.25'' device. At a glance, Switch 810 looks like it has 5 bays on the front panel, but the top one is actually the I/O panel.

I/O is hidden behind the flip-up cover. Here we have two USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, an SD memory card reader, one audio and one mic jack, reset switch and LED toggle switch for turning on and off two LEDs that illuminates the rear I/O panel. The LEDs on the rear panel are an unusual feature, but they sure came in handy in the dark.

switch-front-panel

NZXT could've come up with a better flip-up cover. The picture below shows that you literally have to lift the cover with your fingers, which is not easy. In fact, you'll have to first push the top part inside quite deep before you can grab the cover. In comparison, the flip-up on Corsair's Obsidian 800D is very similar but is opened downwards, making it much easier to open it.

flip-up-cover

Removing the filter on the front panel couldn't have been simpler - a slight push on the top will do - you'll hear a click and the filter can be removed.

switch-2

The front panel has been designed to fit into the glossy look. Only after checking out the case from the sides will you see that there are air inlets between the black rubber-coated edges and filter masks.

switch-1

One 140mm fan is standard on the front panel (it serves as intake fan) while the second fan is optional.

switch-810-front-panel-3

The picture below shows the mechanism that's used for air filters (one on the front, one on top and two bottom filters). The mechanisms are made of plastic so it would've been a nice touch if NZXT offered a spare one.

push-mehanizam

On the bottom of the case are two filters and they can be easily removed. A slight push inwards will release the mechanism and the filter will slide out enough for you to grab it and take it out.

air-filter1

The On/Off button is on the top panel (picture below). Next to it is the HDD LED and Power LED.

power-button

The top panel has a mechanism that allows you to close the air ventilation ports when the computer isn’t on and keep the dust out. The idea is for users to choose between maximum airflow and silence.

switch-810-top-3

The air ventilation ports can be opened or closed via the lever on the back of the top panel. 

air-ventilation-ports1


The left side has a large transparent acrylic panel that's mounted on inside latches, so everything is nice and flush.

left-side-1

Note that the panel was protected with nylon covers on both sides.

left-side-2

right-panel-1

You'll notice the mesh grills on the bottom of the case, and they reminded us of spoilers on cars. In this case, it helps the case draw fresh air from the bottom.

right-panel-2

Perhaps the most interesting part as far as side panels go is the third screw. Two screws are enough to keep the panels in place, but we all usually leave only one just to keep it from opening. This is where the "third screw" comes in - it allows users to open panels quickly and without using tools.

The following photos show NZXT's mechanism for locking side panels. The screw is inside a mechanism that allows for vertical movement. A spring in the mechanism pushes the screw back up after you push it down. All you need to do is pull the screw to the hole and then remove side panels. This is a very practical and useful feature, but still only one of many that make Switch 810 a great case.

left-right

The side panels are mounted easily and there is no sliding mechanism, which tends to be problematic. The panel is simply placed into the chassis and fastened with two screws on the other end, or just by the aforementioned third screw if you intend to remove it again soon. The panel edges are thicker to prevent it from warping.

left-side-3


It's quite useful that the rear panel fan (14cm) can be moved up and down and adjusted to the CPU cooler's position. Nine expansion slots and four water-cooling holes will give enthusiasts some serious freedom for their high end components.

back-panel

back-panel-2

The LEDs on the rear panel are very useful and can be turned off in case you don't need them or simply turned on whenever you need them.

back-panel-3

There are two white LEDs on the panel, one above the motherboard's I/O panel and the other above the expansion slots.

back-led

There are two large filters that can be removed easily. In the last few reviews, we complained about having to lift cases in order to remove bottom filters but Switch 810 is different. All you need to do is press at the center of the filter (picture below) and the mechanism will release the filter far enough for you to grab and take out.

psu-2

Switch 810 is very stable thanks to its rubber-coated feet. Since the case almost touches the floor, the only way to provide air on the bottom is use mesh grills. We actually liked this as it will prevent dust from collecting beneath the case.


NZXT’s experience in making computer cases is evident on every single inch of the case. The interior is laid out great.

The case will take graphics cards up to 35cm without having to remove the HDD cage or 37cm long graphics card (without the internal fan). Furthermore, Switch 810 supports CPU coolers up to 195mm tall, and will take as much as three water-cooling radiators - a large 360/420mm on top, 140/240mm on bottom and a single fan radiator on the rear panel. No matter the motherboard you opt for (XL-ATX is supported), there will still be plenty of room for tucking away cables and throwing in other components.

switch-810-front-inside-1

Switch 810 supports ATX / micro-ATX / mini-ATX / FLEX ATX / SSI CEB / SSI EEB motherboards.

motherboard-support

Stand-off screws does not come pre-installed, but it is easy to screw them with a help of the small thumb screw, which was made especially for easy stand-off screwing in or removing.

screw-thumb

Tripe or quad GPU configuration is an option here, as we have 9 expansion slots on our disposal. The slots have small exhausts for better ventilation. The cards are held in place by large thumbscrews.

expansion-slots

The motherboard tray has a big CPU backplate cutout, but it wasn’t compatible with all of our motherboards. The following picture shows MSI's DKA790GX motherboard. Intel's new Socket 2011 doesn't care much for access to CPU backplate cutouts, since it comes with a fixed backplate that will support all newer CPU coolers.

cooler-plate

You can maximize Switch 810’s cooling by adding more fans, as the case supports up to 10. However, we’re happy with the fact that Switch 810 comes with four preinstalled 14cm fans.

switch-810-fan

fan-top-and-rear

The fan on the rear panel can be moved up or down in order to maximize cooling efficiency of CPU coolers.

test-switch-810-fan-back

The top panel holds a single fan but packs enough room for another two 14cm fans.

top-panel-radiator-1

The fans can be mounted on top of the top panel in order to make room for a 360/420mm water cooling system.

switch-0

top-panel-fan3

Prior to mounting a 420mm radiator, you'll need to make some slight modifications, i.e. take out the top 5.25'' bay. Thankfully, Switch 810's modular design makes this task a piece of cake.

top-panel-gol

The top 5.25” drive bay can be taken out by unscrewing the screws highlighted on the picture below.

removable-bay0

The front I/O panel hangs on the outside of the case (picture below) so as not to block long radiators.

removable-bay1

The strange parts that look like periscopes on top of the case are actually an HDD LED and Power LED, while the box-like part is the On/Off key. 

top-LED


Switch 810 has four 5.25’’ bays. Bottommost 5.25“ bay  is an HDD docking bay that acts as a hot-swap unit. Unfortunately, we cannot show you this since our test sample lacks a hot-swap connector and it seems as if someone simply forgot to include it in the package.

Again unfortunately, this is not the only thing that's missing on our Switch 810. Namely, the topmost bay should come with a bezel that covers the optical drive. The first picture below shows how the optical drive bezel looks on the reference Switch 810 case. The picture after that one shows that our Switch 810 only comes with standard covers on 5.25'' bays. The cover over the HDD docking bay comes with air inlets.

switch810-optical-drive-bezel

front-bay-cover

There’s no need to take the entire panel off just to mount a DVD drive – all you need to do is remove the bay covers and you’re good to go. The front panel 5.25”  drive bay covers can be removed by grabbing them from the sides, pushing inwards and pulling. The plastic is tough but bends just enough to ensure easy handling.

switch-inside-2

removable-bay2

Installing 5.25” devices is easy. The toolles mechanism works well. You'll find spare thumb screws screwed into the HDD cage, which is something we saw in Alienware's cases some five or six years ago. We're glad that NZXT left spare screws here because they'll always be within reach and you won't lose them. There are some cables hanging from the I/O panel, but there is enough room for them not to get in the way of mounting drives in topmost 5.25'' bay.

drive-bay

There are two removable HDD cages, each with three bays for 3.5” or 2.5” drives. HDD cage on the front comes with a cage handle for easier removal. Note that you'll first need to unscrew four screws that hold the cage.

hdd-cage-1

Once the lower HDD cage is removed, there is room for 140 or 240mm radiators on the bottom panel.

hdd-cage-2

The drives are mounted in the HDD cage from the back.

hdd-cage-3

You’ll find anti-vibration grommets in every bay. While the plastic brackets are quite tough, I personally didn't like the mounting system since the grommets move and are hard to set in the right position. Still, they performed their main task well, which is preventing vibration.

hdd-cage-4

The HDD cage has a pivot fan that can be angled to blow air onto graphics cards and CPU coolers. This is definitely a nice way to improve airflow inside the case.

fan-hdd

We had some problems while angling this fan since it is set a bit too low and leans on the bottom HDD cage. The picture below shows that the fan stretches outside of its frame on the HDD cage. NZTX said that the sample we received is a pre-production one and that this will not be the case with retail versions.

fan-hdd-1

hdd-cage-fan

All cables that come from the I/O panel, as well as fan cables, are sleeved for better looks and easier cable management. Switch 810 comes with internal USB 3.0 connectors. We liked the fact that the e-SATA connector on the front I/O panel uses SATA power rather than Molex.

esata-power

We have about 17mm free space to work with in the back. There are ten wide holes for cable management. You'll find plenty of clips and notches on the back of the motherboard tray for tying cables.

back-side

Internal fan extension PCB (power hub) will come in handy when installing additional fans, but it would be nice to see some fan controllers here as well. The power hub is on the picture below and, as you can see, it's mounted on the back of the motherboard.

power-hub

Just like the other three fans in Switch 810, the fan on the front panel uses a standard three-pin fan power connector. The power hub enables for powering the fans via a single peripheral Molex power connector from the PSU. The power hub will take a total of seven fans.

The PSU is on the bottom of the case. It has six stands for shorter and longer PSUs. The stands come with quality rubber grommets that don't seem to come off lightly, which wasn't the case in some other cases we tested, like Gelid's Dark Force for instance.

psu-1

The PSU filter can be taken off from the back without opening the case. All the other intake spots also come with easily removable filters, that won't require you to open the case.

psu-2

psu-3

LEDs are cheap to install and tend to be quite a nice feature, especially when putting them in the right place, which is exactly what NZXT did. The LEDs on the rear panel can be turned off but come in quite handy when you need to connect devices to the rear USB ports in a dark room.

test-switch-810-led-back

We were pleased with Switch 810's cooling. Perhaps the only flaw we found would be the fan noise. Closing the air slits on the top panel will knock a few dBs but we couldn't make them inaudible. If you want maximum silence, you'll need a fan regulator.

We tried to angle the pivot-fan to blow towards the graphics and CPU cooler, which resulted in 1.5°C less on the CPU and 1°C less on the graphics card. Although it doesn't seem that impressive, we often have to buy better thermal paste or even new CPU coolers in order to get such results. This time around, it only took a bit of angling.


Switch 810 is a computer case that NZXT claims will cater to more demanding gamers and enthusiasts. We would agree with this as the case really left a positive impression, both with its looks and performance. This is despite the fact that our sample suffered from lack of parts. Namely, we didn't  get the hot-swap connector in the hot-swap unit; the optical drive bay bezel was missing and the pivot-fan couldn’t be rotated easily since fan brackets weren't the final, retail versions. Still, we think that Switch 810 is one of the best cases on the market. The case is available in black and white with side window.

Design quality and nice finishing touches are evident both inside and outside the case.

One of the best things about the case is the available room. Switch 810 will take CPU coolers up to 195mm tall, motherboards up to the XL-ATX standard, top panel radiators up to 42cm, etc. Both HDD cages can be taken out and replaced with a 24cm radiator (vertically or horizontally). Gamers usually make sure that a case has enough room for graphics and that it packs good cooling. Thankfully, Switch 810 has enough room to fit 35cm long graphics card (with the interior pivot fan), but if you need more, you can remove the HDD cage, which leaves about 49cm of room.

Switch 810 comes with four stock fans that are quite loud, but other than that their performance is quite good.

We've grown fond of Switch 810 due to its few simple but useful features. The first feature that sets Switch 810 apart from the competition are pivot fans for directing airflow to the VGA and CPU (one stock pivot fan comes on the top HDD cage and helped us in decreasing temperatures on our CPU and GPU). The LED on the rear panel for illuminating the I/O in the dark is great idea. If you tend to change parts often, there's a third screw that will hold the panel in place but still provide simple, easy and quick access. On top of the case you'll find adjustable Hybrid Fins that noticeably reduce noise when closed, or provide maximum airflow when open. We'd advise you to keep the Hybrid Fins closed when the computer is off, in order to keep dust out.

Switch 810 costs €170, which may seem a bit steep at a glance. However, we're talking about NZXT here and it goes without saying that the company's expertise shows. Furthermore, this is a price that we'd gladly pay for excellent and well thought out design and a bunch of options for adding hardware and water cooling. In conclusion, hardcore PC enthusiasts will surely love NZXT's Switch 810, because it simply has everything a gamer might set his mind on.

fudz recommended ny

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Last modified on Tuesday, 13 March 2012 17:17
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