NZXT Lexa case review
When the Lexa arrived at my door the first thing I did was to examine the condition of the shipping package. The box the case is shipped in was your typical heavy cardboard container. One nice touch was the plastic handle on the top. The box itself had a nice photo of the case and some basic info printed on it. Inside the box the case was protected by two thick pieces of Styrofoam on the top and bottom. The case had a fairly heavy plastic bag on it with plastic covering on the case window, door handle, and LED display. Upon opening the case I found inside a nice surprise, there was a nice carrying case with a large pocket on one side. Also inside the case were a very well-written instruction manual, a box of plastic drive rails, and a baggie with case keys and various standoffs and screws.
The appearance of the case is such that it would fit in an office setting. It is elegant and somewhat futuristic in design. The faux brushed metal finish on the front of the case is done very well. I’m not very fond of shiny finishes but I must say that I do like the finish on this case. It is apparent that NZXT has gone the extra mile to assure a quality finish. The black paint on the body of the case is flawless. It is so glossy that I had quite a bit of trouble photographing it because of the reflections. You can literally see your reflection in the paint. The fit of the case is another strong point. The doors are nice and tight when closed and feel solid. This is not an easy accomplishment with an all-aluminum case.
Although you can buy this case with a 500 watt PSU my test case did not include one. It has been my experience that most PSUs that come with a case are not worth installing. I strongly suggest buying an aftermarket PSU. I used the components from my wife’s name brand computer to build the Lexa for two reasons; her case was butt ugly and she never complains when I come home with more computer stuff! Before we get into the build take a look at the Lexa’s specs as provided by the manufacturer.
- Screwless installation
- Ultra Light Aluminum Chassis (5.8KG)
- Stealthed clear side panel ( Optional )
- Three temperature display meter
- Reflective Metallic Painted Front Panel
- Glossy Piano Black Finish
- Low noise 1100 RPM Fans
- Removable Dust Filters for Dust Prevention
- Included Carrying Strap
- Cable Organization via Rear Cage
- Ext. Ports: 2 x USB 2.0, Mic, Firewire 1394 and Headphone Jack
- Model: Lexa series
- Case type: mid-tower aluminum
- Front panel material: plastic
- Dimension (w x h x d) : 220mm X 522mm X 569mm
- Cooling system
- Front, 1 X 120 mm (included)
- Rear, 1 X 120 mm Blue LED Fan (included)
- Side panel, 1 X 120mm Blue LED (included)
- Top, 1 X 80mm Fan (included)
- Drive bays
- 11 drive bays
- 4 external 5.25" drive bays
- 2 external 3.5" drive bays
- 5 internal 3.5" drive bays
- Screwless Rail Design
- Material: Aluminum Construction
- Expansion slots: 7
- PSU: 500 WATT PS2 ATX 12V 2.0 (optional)
- Weight 5.8kg (without power supply)
- Motherboard support: ATX, MICRO-ATX, BABY AT
Installing the motherboard in this case was easy thanks to the markings included on the mounting wall. This case can take several sizes of mother boards but I would be hesitant to go with a full size board. Space is at a premium in a mid tower case and a full size mother board would fill this case completely and cooling becomes a major issue. This may not be an issue if you are not running high end graphics cards etc. But if you intend to run higher end parts you will seriously want to consider water cooling. Although the installation of the main board was easy enough, I was disappointed that there was no removable mother board tray. For a case that has a price of around $180 retail this is a disappointment.
The system used to hold the optical drives and hard drives is pretty much the standard plastic rail system. These are attached to the drives by a set of pins that snap into the screw holes on the drives. You then insert the drives into the bays until the rails lock into place. I must admit that I used to dislike this system, but my last three builds have used this method and if you constantly tinker with your system not having to remove screws to pull a drive is convenient. The only problem I can see with the hard drive set up is the fact that they are placed at 90 degrees to the front of the case. This will only affect people who use the ConnectX PSU due to the stiffness of the cables.
The case fans are a nice feature. There are three 120mm fans and one 80mm fan. Two of the 120mm fans are equipped with blue LEDs that really light the case up. The front intake fan is 120mm but has no LED. The 80mm in the top of the case is nice for pulling the heat out. We all know that heat rises and a fan in the top of a case really make a difference. The front and rear fans have filters. There is an opening in the floor of the case for another 80mm fan and it too has a filter but no fan. The placement of the front USB, speaker, and FireWire ports are a bit inconvenient. They are mounted on the lower right side of the case facing. It’s not a big deal but if your computer is sitting to your right or on the floor they might be unusable.
After completing the installation of the main board and the optical drives and PSU I proceeded to attach the graphics card and the wireless card. This is where I found a rather annoying design flaw. On the back of the case is a plastic piece that is purely for decoration. It is clear that the designers wanted to carry the lines of the case to the back to not disturb the appearance. While I think it does make the case look better, you are required to remove it to open the case door as the screws that attach the door run through this piece. To get the antenna mounted on the wireless card I had to remove the decorative piece, install the antenna, and reinstall the decorative back piece. This could easily be solved by using a different mounting system for this piece.
After firing up the system and turning down the lights the Lexa becomes a very beautiful machine. The fan sounds are minimal and the LEDs really light up nicely. The temp readout on the top of the front of the case is very easy to read and looks good. There is a blue light that runs in the center of the front door vertically and really is a nice touch. Overall my experience with this case is a positive one. Although it is not a case that would serve my purposes due to the cooling and space requirements of my system it is perfect for my wife’s mid range computer.
Overall the Lexa is a great mid tower case. The appearance and finish is beautiful and the lighting really sets it off. I think it has a few minor flaws that should be reworked for a case that costs this much. My complaints really come down to the fact that there is no removable mother board tray and that really annoying back piece. Other than that I think that NZXT is really putting out a great product. While I wholeheartedly recommend this case to anyone who wants a classy look for their computer, power users will want to look elsewhere.
Added: January 18th 2006
Product reviewed: NZXT Lexa case
Reviewer: David Johnston