PC Cases / Accessories

NZXT Guardian 921 Computer Case

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A Closer Look

  Taking the Guardian 921 our of the box and looking closer at it you will see that it is build around a fairly common tool less chassis. This chassis is used by several previous case designs put out like the Quarterback that we reviewed here as well as some newer cases in NZXT’s crafted series like the Apollo, and the Nemisis.

It’s a decent no frills budget gaming case that allows for plenty of room for the bare necessities. It doesn’t have a removable motherboard tray or a whole lot of room behind the mobo like some higher end chassis but it does have many great features included like tool less drive bays, holes for water cooling tubing with rubber grommets built in to the chassis, and quick release motherboard expansion card slots.   Also included in this particular case are 3 -120mm fans. One located at the front, one at the back, and one on the side window.

 

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The included case wiring is a bit of a mess, but can be easily be routed and cleaned up. Most of it is long enough but some like the power/reset cable and also the front USB port cable are a tad too short for routing to out of the way locations. The included case fans can run off a 4 pin 12v or a 3-pin fan tail so you have the option. Also included are the side ports for the case. They are placed nicely near the Motherboard access door on the right side of the case.  The ports available include 2 USB, Audio in and out, and also a e-SATA port. A really great feature that I’m seeing becoming more and more popular as external storage devices are switching to this format.

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Moving from the chassis to the exterior of the case we see that the case is painted with a matte black finish. The sides and top are this painted steel while the front faceplate and door are a black plastic material. The access door to the motherboard has a unique window design that allows you to view areas of the motherboard. I think this is a toned down design from the earlier guardian but it still going to be subjective as to if you think it is attractive or not. Normally I don’t like weird designs in the side windows of my cases because as a modder I like to have the option to do my own designs. This isn’t that big of an issue with this window design as it is proportionate and I would be able to easily cut and make it a solid square shape.

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If you do decide to leave the window as it is you will have to deal with a large fan right in front of your viewing area.  I really never understood the rationale of putting in a window and then blocking the view.  The placement of it is fairly logical and is generally going to be right over your system RAM. The system is basically set up for a cross flow design and generally works well for most systems. I think if you were running a OC’d quad with a large cooler and a videa card setup that is either Xfire or SLI you would be pushing the cooling capabilities of the case. Your most likely going to have to add some additional cooling if you want some high heat devices installed. There are several simple options if you wish to go this route that are fairly easy to create and install.   Like a bay cooler or create a blow hole in the top of the case. That is if you stay on air. If instead you are interested in going with water cooling you should be fine. You just need to figure out where to put everything, which leads me to the next feature of the case.

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One of the key selling features of the Guardian 921 is the three temperature probes and LCD readout that is on the front of the case. This is an appealing feature to some who like to keep constant tabs on the system temperatures but the way it’s implemented is a but hokey. Again this is a bit subjective and some may find the large triangle shaped “Temperature tower” a neat design element but I find it gaudy and a waste of space.

This temperature monitoring apparatus takes up two of your bays from the outside (only the top from the inside) and also extends up over the top of the case by nearly and inch! To make matters worse this and the whole front faceplate is made from a shiny plastic material that although looks very nice when clean, attracts dust like crazy! I can’t keep this thing from literally looking covered in dust 5 minutes after I have sprayed it with some window cleaner.

 

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It was a nice try, but I think the idea was generated more out of a futuristic design look and less from what is practical on a case. Another thing to point out is that these days temperature probes aren’t too commonly seen anymore.  A lot of people now use software programs to measure the system temperatures.   These programs arent’ perfect but they are close enough to get an really good idea of where your systems temps are running. Free programs like Speedfan, Real temp and Rivatuner take up very little system resources and can be added to they system tray in windows. Taking up two whole bays for this feature is really unnecessary. This valuable room could be used for a water reservoir or a 120mm fan bay cooler. With only 3 bays available you are really limiting yourself to what can be used here.

 

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Above you can see that the top two bays taken by the temperature probe readout. Below you see that it extents above the top of the case.

 

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An inside view allows you to see how much wasted room you have. The Readout could really have taken one slot and also have been movable. Being able to place it in any bay you wished would have been a nice feature. You do still have the slot below for storage or a bay reservoir. Although access to it would be difficult.

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