Mini ITX is a segment of the PC case market that is not for the faint-hearted. Indeed, the mITX form factor favors compactness and minimal design over everything else. NZXT is a company known for its reliable performance and gorgeous design. But until the NZXT H1, the company did not really have an ultra-compact case. Oh, there was the H210/i, incredible budget dynamite on its own. But, it had the DNA of a bigger case shrunk down to its ITX size.
The NZXT H1 is finally a ground-up design for small form factor PCs by NZXT. And it looks breathtakingly minimal. But wait, the listed price is $350? What gives? The thing is that H1 is not just a case, but a bundle of a compact case, a gold-rated PSU, a riser cable and a 140mm AIO. This unique pre-installed setup has some pros and cons of its own. Subtracting the approximate price of components ($130 for PSU, $90 for AIO, and $30 for riser cable) leaves the chassis itself somewhere around the $100 price point.
So, the big question is: Did NZXT pull compact design off? Read on to find out if the H1 is worth buying.
- Type: Compact/Small form factor
- Compatible motherboards: mITX
- PSU: 650W SFX-L 80Plus Gold Fully Modular PSU
- Weight: 6.53kg
- Dimensions: 388 x 187 x 187 mm
- Drive bays: 2 x 2.5″
- Expansion slots: 2
- PCIe 16x Gen3 High-Speed Riser Card
- Front I/O: 1 x USB 3.1 G2 Type-C, 1 x USB 3.1 G1 Type-A, 1 x Audio Jack
- Cooling: 1 x Pre-installed AIO 140mm
Design and Build
Design and styling are where the H1 shines. It has a small square footprint but is quite tall. The front panel is classic NZXT tinted glass. RGB lighting from the inside will be visible but presents a minor issue we’ll address in a bit. The I/O panel is located at the top in a solid metal frame.
All the other three sides are open mesh panels with dust filters inside. The side panels and the top of the chassis is a single piece, all in white. The motherboard and GPU are both mounted vertically. Both of their I/O panels are accessible from the bottom. There is a bit of space since the AC-in cable is also present here.
The front and back panels pop off without the use of any tools. The U-shaped white piece (top+sides) also comes off through side rails. Then, you reach inside the case. This is where the toolless design ends, however. You’ll need a screwdriver to open up the AIO, which has a hinge to allow access to internals. The pre-installed water cooler looks similar to the Kraken M22. We named that one best in class in our 120 mm AIO roundup. So, we can expect good things from the included 140 mm unit as well. Only, the sleek design of the pump will not be actually visible.
After you’ve opened up the AIO, there is space for the motherboard. A PCIe 3.0 Riser cable leads to the other side of the case. That is where a GPU can be vertically mounted. For such a compact case, it is impressive that even most bigger GPUs will fit. The cabling is pre-routed for everything and will be a tight fit. At the top of the front are the PSU and the drive cage for the two SSDs. There’s not much room or need for further customization inside.
The Complete Package
The NZXT H1 is unique because it is more of a kit, not just a case. The case, riser card, and AIO have a 3-year warranty. The PSU has a 10-year one. This puts your mind at ease when shelling out your hard-earned bucks for a single product.
Inside the packaging, several accessories are present. The AIO is pre-fitted for Intel 115x sockets. But, brackets for mounting in-use AMD sockets are also provided. What’s more, a headphone/mic splitter is also thrown in. It’s to help make the singular audio I/O of the top panel usable. Otherwise, you’d have to bring your wires from the bottom of the case.
On many parts inside the case, paper stickers are present. While these are intended to be a sort of user’s guide, we find it unattractive. Vinyl stickers might have been a better alternative if NZXT had to have stickers. Even after removing these white stickers, they don’t come off cleanly. You will need some adhesive remover.
The single fan on the bundled AIO is a standard AER P 140mm. This is a static pressure fan, meant to push air through the meshed walls. The PSU is a gold-rated Seasonic piece at 650 W. The PSU is not readily removable. But, most users should not find the need to do so anyway. The power supply should easily be enough for most builds. The included riser cable is PCIe 3.0, not PCIe 4.0. This is not that big of a deal since no graphics card on the market can use 4.0. But, we still would have liked ultra-future proofing on such a premium device.
Benchmarks and Usability
Usability is as essential for a case as its looks. NZXT does not disappoint here as well. Although, their approach is quite different from most other cases praised for utility.
The H1 is more a plug-and-go offering. You could set a speedrun build in this thing since a lot of stuff is pre-installed. Just pop in your mobo, RAM, GPU, and join the cables. Entry-level users or those not up for a hassle will have a pleasurable build experience.
The GPU clearance is praiseworthy for such a small form factor. However, the RAM memory clearance is limited to 45 mm. So, if you already have some RAM sticks, they may not fit, especially larger RGB ones. On the topic of RGB, if you’re heavily into lighting, then the H1 may disappoint you as well. The front glass panel only shows off the top of the GPU. If you’re like to have lights everywhere and in sync, most of them might be covered by the mesh panels. It would also have been nice to see an option for forgoing the tempered glass entirely. The case is minimal anyhow, and performance could have seen some tiny improvements.
Having said that, the H1 is a reliable performer. Take a look at benchmarks from techpowerup comparing the H1 to others in its class.
The case is cool and quiet in idle states. But even under load, it performs very well, as shown by the CPU and GPU temps. The noise isn’t very loud, either. Although, we would still have preferred an exhaust fan mount if possible. Just to give users the possibility of trading off the noise for thermals.
So, we arrive at a conclusion. Is the NZXT H1 worth a buy? For a large segment of PC builders, we think the answer is yes.
When should you not buy the H1? If you want a portable ITX case, look elsewhere, really. This is meant to be a compact and minimal desk box. If you are a fan of RGB on all of your parts, the design might not be to your liking. And your lighting will be obstructed heavily. If you are a modding enthusiast or already have a PSU, AIO, riser cables and such, look elsewhere.
If you don’t fall into those groups, we think the NZXT H1 is a solid buy for its quality. While $350 might look a lot for a case, this product is good value-for-money, actually. The AIO and PSU are both reliable units. The quick and easy build and the excellent performance in the ITX form factor seal the deal for us.