NZXT Guardian 921 Case - Thoughts, Impressions and Installation

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NZXT Guardian 921 Case
Thoughts, Impressions and Installation
 

Thoughts & Impressions:

The case came nicely packaged within a bag and squeaky Styrofoam (i like the "plastic" Styrofoam better ;) ). The box clearly presents itself as a chassis for gamers, it has "Power for Gamers" written in at least 4 different places on the box. It seems to me like they're trying to get a point across.

 921 Front
921 Front
921 Side Profile
921 Side Profile
 921 Back
921 Back

 

The Guardian 921 features a standard design on the outside, most of the newer Antec cases have the power supply on the bottom of the case, but this one features it on the top in a simple design of uncreativity. However, the thing that catches my eye is the front panel, the side panel design is pretty but the front has all the attention. Its design is almost that of an "X" with three lines in the middle that light up with blue LED. It is so shiny that I could see my reflection and take a picture of myself. You can see me if you look closely in the picture above.

It is a door that is held shut by two magnets which attract two screws behind the door, but have little pads over top of them to make sure the screws don't scratch the steel. the door swings open to reveal 3 - 5.25" drive bays and 2 - 3.5" drive bays. Why the case actually accommodates floppy drive bays is beyond me, as far as I know those things are ancient relics.

The accessories get the job done; everything is provided that a person will need to setup a new computer. This is pretty much the bare minimum; I've seen cases with screws up the wazoo. But I guess due to the screwless design it needs a bit less.

The IO panel is on the glass side of the case which I believe is a trademark on NZXT cases. At times this could be a bad thing when cases are stuck in little cubby holes, however the crowd that NZXT appeals to generally have their cases in the open.

 921 Inside
921 Inside

 

Inside this beast is 3 120mm fans, two of them are plain old black color but the fan on the case side is clear white and lights up with blue led which makes some extra eye candy. The 5.25" drive bay actually has 5 bays but only the 3 that are visible from the outside have NZXT's special loading mechanism. Also the hard drive bays toward the side panel rather than into the case which is very nice in some situations.

The card expansion slots also have an easy loading mechanism, there are plastic covers that lift up and clamp down rather than having the traditional screws to fiddle with.

 

Installation:

The first thing that I missed about my old ultra m998 case is the roominess that it provides, it isn't that the guardian 921 is small - it's standard size but I definitely prefer the larger chassis. Also the removable motherboard tray is pretty nice but the Guardian 921 doesn't have it. Other than that installation went pretty smoothly, 3 hard drive bays is plenty for most people but the 2 floppy bays can double as HDD bays for those with massive amounts of storage.

Most enthusiasts will tell you that a case is not only defined by looks but by functionality and airflow. And this case certainly lacks cable cleanup options, most of the time when building a system the cables get tucked in beside the 5.25" drive bays but in this case it is completely sealed off. The two bays above the visible ones are available for this reason but they certainly don't hide cables as well as the traditional way.

 921 Installation
921 Installation

 

The temperature sensors are a cool feature of this case and so I stuck the CPU one in between two fins on the cooler, the HDD was taped onto the HDD, and the system one I stuck into the video card.

The drive locking mechanisms were a bit tricky, in order for them to lock completely the drives need to be exactly flush with the outside of the front of the case. Then the locking pieces will be able to lock it down. The hard drives had drive rails to mount to the slots, I really like this screw-less touch simply because it is less work to do, and easier on the drives and case so there isn't screw marks all over the HDD cage.

 

Testing:

Really there isn't a whole lot of testing that is done with a case, however I decided that I wanted to take some temperatures of the system in general and several key computer components. I used "hardware monitor" made by "CPUID" for my testing, for the most part the temperatures matched what my case sensors displayed, with a degree or two difference. First the temps of the old case to compare and then the Guardian 921 temps.

 Old Case Temp
Old Case Temp
 921 Case Temps
921 Case Temps

 

So what you see will tell you that there is not much of a difference between a 110$ case and a 200$ case in terms of cooling, what really hits this case is the features that i miss a lot in the ultra m998.

 

Conclusion:

The Guardian 921 is an excellent case, with awesome eye candy and a pretty good cooling system, this case comes highly recommended. The screwless design makes it easy to work on the system and update it, however in some areas, the features are a bit lacking. Such as the top is not removable, it does not have a removable motherboard tray and cable management is lacking. For the price however this case is an excellent buy, gamer and enthusiast alike will be satisfied.

 

Pros:

  • Colored lights
  • Nice eye candy
  • Good cooling
  • Screwless design
  • Temperature sensors


Cons:

  • Some features left out
  • Hard to clean up cables

 

 

BCCRating

 

We'd like to thank NZXT for sending the Guardian 921 case over for us to review.  If you have any questions or comments, please post them in the forum at the "Comments" link below.