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MSI Nighthawk Case/Chassis Review

Introduction

msi logo MSI Nighthawk Case/Chassis Review

Here at TechwareLabs, we’re much more used to seeing MSI‘s logo on parts inside the case than on the case itself. That said, they make whole PCs, so why not cases too? Today we’ll be looking at the Nighthawk, one of two cases MSI is launching its enclosure line with. Does this bird fly? Keep reading to find out!

Features

Feature Commentary
Advanced Thermal Airflow Design – The Nighthawk includes three high performance fans for top quality cooling, maximized ventilation, and silent operation. So far, so standard. The 200mm fan in the door is a bit out of the ordinary, but nothing we haven’t seen before.
Tool-less Drive Bays – Lock n’ load your drives and peripherals conveniently with the tool-less wing clip design. A nice idea in theory; we’ll see if they managed to execute on it properly with this case.
Angled Top Panel I/O Ports – Easy to access Power and Reset buttons

  • Headphone
  • Mic
  • USB 2.0 (x2)
  • USB 3.0 (x1) ports.
A fairly standard array of ports and buttons. Separating out the USB ports to accommodate oversized flash drives is a plus.
Front Panel USB 3.0 Port – SuperSpeed USB 3.0’s 5 GB/s offers 10 times the bandwidth compared to traditional USB 2.0 ports. Simply connect the USB 3.0 connector directly to the port on your motherboard and gain blazing fast file transfer speeds from the front of the case. All true, though why they only gave us one front USB 3.0 port is difficult to understand; they usually come in pairs.
Built-in Card Reader – Included free with your MSI case is a 12-in-1 card reader with an additional USB 2.0 port. (Uses USB 2.0 motherboard header)
Supports:

  • MS / MS Pro / MS Duo / MS Pro Duo
  • CF I / CF II / MD
  • SD / MMC / RC MMC
  • Extreme Digital
  • TF / Micro SD
  • M2
This right here is possibly the simplest and most useful feature of the whole case. Every lousy $300 budget piece-of-crud PC you see in Wal-Mart has one of these, and yet getting one for an after-market case is like pulling teeth. Kudos to MSI for letting me avoid digging out my camera’s USB cable for this review.
Water Cooling Ready – Includes pre-cut rubber holes for advanced hydration systems. If you’re looking to build a water-cooled rig, this case will let you run your loop out to an external pump and reservoir, provided you don’t use tubing any thicker than 3/4″.
Mid-Tower-ATX / Micro-ATX Compatibility – Supports both ATX and Micro-ATX Motherboards. Exactly what it says on the tin, here.
Full Size VGA Card Support – Gamers can be assured their high-end graphics card will fit, with support for cards up to 310mm. (ex. Radeon 6990 = 305mm, nVIDIA GTX590 = 280mm) While technically true, putting a full-length card in this case is quite the squeeze; forget using the slots near the card(s) for hard drives. If you’ve got one of those cards that is both long and has its power plugs on the end, you’re going to be out of luck.

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