After several years of using a full size tower I’ve recently decided to switch to a smaller, more compact micro ATX motherboard with the hope of taking up less space and increasing efficiency. NZXT has put cable management, style, and efficiency at the forefront of their thoughts while designing the Vulcan M-ATX case, so I decided to make the switch when they sent me one to test. While there were a few frustrating moments during installation, overall it is a great little case with lots of thoughtful design features.
Upon opening the box, you’ll notice that the packaging is minimalist and simplistic while still providing everything you would expect. This parallels the case itself, which shows a streamlined thought process in the entire NZXT product. While you will still need a screw driver to secure your motherboard and PSU, much of the installation is tool-free. In addition to the necessary thumbscrews and optional carrying handle, the Vulcan comes equipped with two 120mm fans – one on the back top and one on the front bottom. These certainly help case airflow, but micro cases can potentially be easily cluttered if you’re trying to fit a lot in, thereby obstructing air.
Luckily, NZXT has done their best to keep things organized and clean. As the above picture shows, all the front cables are routed behind the motherboard. The same can be done for most cables, depending on what kind of cable management your power supply has (since there is limited space back there). Unlike many other cases, the power supply is located in the bottom of the case, but this works well with the provided filtered ventilation duct underneath. There is a cage for two hard drives located on the bottom next to the power supply, but this can be removed if you have a particularly large PSU or want more room for cable management.
Additionally, there is a hole in the mounting area for easy access to the back of the motherboard if you are using a non-traditional cooling system. This consideration for alternate cooling options extends to rubber grommet holes in the back of the case, allowing for water cooling to be more easily installed.
There are standard buttons and ports on the top of the case: Power/Reset buttons, two USB ports, microphone/headphone ports, and an E SATA port. With four possible card slots in the back of the case, there is definitely adequate room for expansion. There is also a button on the back of the case which allows you to turn on/off the orange LED’s that light up on the top and front of the case, which is a nice added feature.
Despite being a small case, there is still room for full two size video cards. Additionally, there is room for adding even more case fans beyond the two it comes with. In total, the Vulcan can support two top mounted 120mm fans, a front 120mm fan, and a side mounted 200mm fan. With the ability to hold all these fans, two full size video cards, and a large power supply, one might assume that the Vulcan can be crowded or awkward.
There is a small amount of truth to this, but this will be true for any M ATX case. The bottom line is that if you want a truly small but powerful rig that is capable of holding all this, the most important factor will be proper design for optimal airflow. Even given issues with the size of my cables from my power supply, I did observe a slight temperature drop after moving to the Vulcan. In this respect, the NZXT certainly excels given the inherent size limitations in designing an M ATX case.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this case to anyone seeking to build a powerful and portable rig without using a full size tower case. When paired with a proper power supply and carefully assembled, the Vulcan has a lot of potential and shows that you can still have a fast computer that runs cool without needing a full tower. Additionally, it just plain looks good. The orange LED’s are a perfect accent to an all black rig, and despite being small NZXT has still managed to keep it classy – something that even my old full size tower couldn’t claim. Needless to say, I’ll be sticking with the Vulcan.