There’s something to be said about simplicity. The NZXT Source 210 Elite mid-sized chassis prides itself on being a simple, basic computer case designed for the first-time computer builder. There are no silly curves, strange angles, awkward features, LEDs, nothing. This is a very ordinary-looking case, and that’s the point. It isn’t part of the “Classic” series of cases for the sake of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually like the look of this case. It’s a much more professional looking case than your typical gaming chassis, sticking with a very basic theme throughout the entirety of the case. The front panel is smooth, with a paint job designed to give the look of an aluminum case despite the obviously plastic feel. There are three slots available for 5.25″ drive bays at the top for a bit of expandability, and internally eight 3.5″ drive bays are available to give quite a bit of storage if needed. Multiple vents are located about the case, complete with room for adding additional fans. The 210 Elite comes with two fans already installed (one 140mm in the top and one 120mm in the rear), which gives some room for your own fans should you wish to install them. These two included fans are also replaceable as well.
There is one thing to be aware of when getting this case, and that is it is extremely limited in its I/O features. There are two USB ports, one 2.0 and one 3.0, and the standard headphone and microphone jacks. That’s it. While I don’t expect cases to come loaded with I/O features, I do expect to not have to reach the back of my computer to plug in a USB device. For someone like myself that’s using multiple devices all at once (I’m talking flash drives, external hard drives, controllers, etc.), this is a bit of an issue to me. Honestly though, most people aren’t going to have six-plus devices plugged in all at once and swapping things in and out frequently and for those people the limited I/O is fine. It’s also nice that the case comes with a USB 3.0 port, but I think it would have been better to stick with the two USB 2.0 ports of the original 210 as well as an additional USB 3.0 port to give it more of an “elite” feel, but that’s just me. Yes, this is a budget case, but I can’t imagine swapping one USB 2.0 port with one 3.0 port really warrants the extra $15-20 as that appears to be the only real difference between the two cases.
Moving on, we come to actually using the case to build a PC. The 210 Elite is quite roomy for a mid-sized case, capable of fitting reasonably sized heatsinks and GPUs. Remember, this is a mid-sized case. Don’t try fitting some monster of a heatsink in here. As there are only two fans, two USB ports, the standard audio ports, and power/reset buttons there are not a slew of cables getting in your way. This is further improved with the addition of cable routing holes, which keeps your case looking neat and organized when finished. There are also slots in the back to allow for a water cooling system, though quite honestly I doubt anyone would be building that crazy of a system with this case. Nice touch though.
Adding drives is relatively easy, although when removing one of the drive plates in the front of the tower you may feel as though the front panel is coming loose. My advice is to be careful when removing the plate from the front panel. A reasonable amount of force is needed to get the plate off, so just press against of the front panel when doing it to avoid any potential breaks. The upper three drives can be removed by pushing a small button then lifting the clip upwards. Insert the drive from the front until the mount holes are lined up, then push the clip back in place. These drives feel rather secure, despite being held in with a very small amount of metal and plastic.
The lower eight mounts are a different story. Installing a drive is easy enough in them, but the problem is they feel loose after installing. The plastic twist lock holds it in place, but you will notice some wobble when plugging its cables in. At the very least, the drives are in fact secure so there is no need to worry.
If there is one major complaint I have with the 210 Elite (aside from the I/O thing) its the screws in the case. The case screws, which shouldn’t require any tools to remove, seem to have been placed on a little to tightly. It took me a set of pliers to get them loose. The motherboard mount screws also had some problems, and seemed as though they weren’t threaded properly. Some of the mount screws just didn’t fit properly while others would go in smoothly, yet loosely. After going through a good number of the supplied screws (there are 32 meant just for securing the motherboard and disk drives), I managed to get a board securely in place. This is really the only disappointing thing about this case, and considering the price it isn’t exactly a deal breaker. The board and drives got in, it just took a little longer than expected.
Despite a handful of issues, the 210 Elite is a great mid-sized case for the price. It looks nice and does a great job of keeping your parts secure without wires all over the place. Don’t try securing anything larger than a medium-sized heatsink, but considering this is a mid-sized case odds are you aren’t looking for a large heatsink anyway. There is definitely room for multiple GPUs and additional case fans, even after fitting in all the other necessary parts. There’s enough ventilation to allow for a pretty solid gaming rig to be built from this case as well. Quite frankly, you won’t even remember this is a budget case after you’re done building.