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MSI Nighthawk Case/Chassis Review


A Closer Look

Nice 3/4 profile of the case with the lights on, though the picture is a bit small.
In an interesting approach to the usual feature list, MSI has decided to illustrate each bullet point with a close-up shot of the item in question.
Foam bookends, big plastic baggie, we’ve all seen this before.
As per normal, the accessory kit includes the manual and the usual assortment of standoffs and case screws. In addition, they’ve provided a set of four stick-down zip-ties for corralling cable clutter.
The front profile is aggressive, without being ridiculous. With the included memory card reader, this case’s external 3.5″ bay is relevant in a way such bays haven’t been since the death of the floppy drive.
Around back, we see a fairly standard profile. The blue expansion slot covers provide a nice splash of color. That plate next to the expansion slots is the tool-less retention bracket, and it’s the first sensible one we’ve seen in a while.
On the side, we can clearly see the included 200mm side intake fan through the metal mesh, as well as the optional mounts for two 120mm fans. All of the fan mount holes are mounted with grommets, which cuts down on vibration noise considerably.
As usual, this side is blank, though it has the same pull-off handle as the other side panel. Also noticeable here are the rubber feet, which raise the case an inch or so off of the ground; useful for keeping your power supply from gagging on carpet.
Most of the top area is given over to a mesh vent for exhaust; this allows natural convection to help with cooling the air inside.
The front panel is fairly sensible for the most part; ports are well spaced and laid out in a row. The reset button, seen here to the right of the silver power button, is fairly small, and recessed far enough that you’ll likely need a pen to push it.
The door, which attaches with simple latching prongs, takes some effort to get on and off. The included 200mm fan gets its power from a 4-pin MOLEX pass-through plug, with no speed control.
As expected for a compact mid-tower, space is tight inside. There are no grommets or holes for routing cables back behind the motherboard tray; any organizing you do is going to have to be in plain sight.
The motherboard tray cut-out is the right size, but it’s in the wrong spot; too far toward the back for modern AMD and Intel boards. I was unable to remove the backplate without dismounting the motherboard.
Accessing any of the 5.25″ slots below the top requires removing the bezel, which can be accomplished with a gentle tug on the bottom. The front intake fan is also right here, held in place by four Phillips-head screws.
As you can see here, the cables for the front I/O panel and card reader are simply left to dangle down into the body of the case. Stick-down zip ties are included, but I was hard-pressed to find a place for them that didn’t get in the way of something or other. The hard drive bay itself is a simple affair; the blue plastic tabs on either side come off with a twist of the knob in the center and re-attach just as easily.
The rear 120mm fan lacks the flash and blue LED lights of the front fan, but makes up for this with simple, quiet performance. It gets power from either a 3-pin fan header or a 4-pin MOLEX plug.

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