NOX Coolbay HX Case Review

Introduction

For the first case review at Verdis Reviews, we have a highly promising company that special in PC enclosures and power supplies – NOX-Xtreme. The case we will be looking at today is the Coolbay HX and it offers a massive potential for cooling with its four large system fans. Interesting visuals and innovative features all make for a great product so let’s see how it gets on…

Company Information – NOX

‘NOX was established by a young team of experienced professionals in the IT industry. Our goal is to deliver unique solutions that precisely meet and exceed customer expectations for features, performance, and quality. Therefore NOX products are specifically conceived to offer great performance, very attractive designs at unbeatable price levels.’

Features

  • 200mm Blue LED side fan
  • Transparent acrylic side window
  • Black interiors
  • Panel for cable mounting behind MB
  • Water Cooling ready
  • Anti-vibration rubber support for PSU
  • Anti vibration material in HD drives
  • Anti-slippery rubber feet
  • Air vent on top panel
  • Speed control for the rear fan

Specifications

Chassis Size TypeMid Tower
CMB Form FactorATX/Micro-ATX
Exposed Drive BaysUp to 9x 5.25”; 1x 3.5”
Hidden drive bays4 x 3.5″
Cooling SystemFront (intake): 1x 120mm Blue LEDSide (intake): 1x 200mm Blue LEDRear (exhaust): 1x 120mmTop (exhaust): 1x 200mmBottom: 1x 120/140mm (optional/non included)
Expansion Slots7
MaterialStructure: Japanese SECCFront panel: Plastics and metal meshSide Window: Acrylic
Expansion Slots7
Dimensions520 (H) x 205 (L) x 500 (D) mm545 (H) x 205 (L) x 500 (D) mm (with feet)
Colour OptionsBlack
Front Panel Ports1x e-SATA; 3x USB 2.0; 1x Mic; 1x Audio
Extra Features– 200mm Blue LED side fan- Transparent acrylic side window- Black interiors- Panel for cable mouting behind MB- Water Cooling ready- Anti-vibration rubber support for PSU- Anti vibration material in HD drives- Anti-slippery rubber feet- Air vent on top panel- Speed control for the rear fan

Contents & Packaging

The Coolbay HX, being a full-ATX case, understandably arrives in a pretty big box. The front entails a large image of the enclosure complete with all the blue LED fans lit up. Above this is a massive title with a few features in white writing nest to the image.

The rear of the box provides a rather cunning way of displaying all the specifications and features without the use of a standard table. Instead, another large image (this time with the internals visible) is dotted with a series of numbers. The numbers then relate to a short description of each feature around the outside.

Accompanying the main chassis is a whole load of accessories:

  • Speaker (for motherboard correction usage)
  • 3 x Large Zip Ties
  • Bag of screws
  • FDD Brackets
  • Manual

The zip ties will come in useful for cable management which is nice to see along with the speaker in case you accidently don’t install your system correctly into the chassis.

The Product – NOX Coolbay HX

Externals

Opening up the box, it is evident the product has been safely held within using the standard Styrofoam supports.

After taking off all the packaging, the Coolbay HX is certainly quite a bold enclosure with innovative side panels and design features.

Looking at the case from the sides, it is clear that one side panel is much more of a focus point. It has a large 200mm fan covered with a black grill. Surrounding the right hand side of a fan is a large acrylic panel that allows visibility of the internal circuit boards and components.

The panel itself is roughly in the shape of half an octagon with a cut out semi circle for the fan to slot in neatly beside it. It is held in place by a number of black screws around the edge of the panel.

Also, when the fan is lit due to the transparent nature of the panel, the blue LEDs shine through it creating some interesting visual effects.

In contrast, the other side is just plain black metal with a small indent in order to make it easier to remove it for installation purposes.

The front is effectively one large black mesh grill to aid airflow into the case but also allows the blue LED fan on the hard drive cage to shine through with a blue glow.

Moreover, as you can see the front is simply a series of 5.25” inch removable panels that can be taken out to install an ODD or other such device. Note that the top panel is converts to a 3.25” so that floppy disk drives and small multi-functional front panels can be installed into the chassis.

Finally, there is a small NOX logo in silver and that concludes the front.

The whole front panel can be removed for installing the 5.25” drives; to do this simply pull it using the hold at the bottom and it will pop out.

Instead of being located on the front, the ports for the Coolbay HX are mounted on the top in a moulded indent. The ports are:

  • Power button
  • Reset button
  • 1 x eSATA
  • 3 x 2.0 USB
  • Microphone Jack
  • Headphone Jack

Personally I like the ports on the top as it makes them very easily accessible as you don’t have to bend down and fiddle around trying to insert the USB cable or such like.

The top also comprises a vent below which a large 200mm fan resides. The vent is a series of diagonal plastic strips to allow airflow.

Finally, the back is pretty standard to most full-ATX cases except the PSU is bottom mounted. Of note there are two grommet-filled holes for water cooling purposes, a 120mm fan with a small switch above allowing the user to choose between three settings (low, medium and high) in order to determine a suitable level of cooling and noise for their own needs.

The usual motherboard plate slot, PCI slots (7 for this product) and a few vents are also in place.

Internals

To remove the side panels, there are two thumbscrews for each panel which after being undone allow the sides to just slide out.

The internal layout consists of one large main chamber and a column on the right. The column contains the hard drive cage as well as supporting all other drives that are installed. It’s a simple design but pretty effective as the drives can easily slide in and out.

The main chamber is just an open space but does have a few cut outs that allow cables to be passed through for better cable management. This is especially relevant to the ODDs which are mounted at the top and so the cables from the power supply need to reach up from the bottom. Thus, cable management could be an issue but these holes keep the cabling neat and tidy.

The hard drive cage is situated at the bottom of the column on the right. On the top of the cage there is an indented ‘UP’ written showing the correct orientation for installation. The fan at the front is semi-translucent blue and glows blue once powered up. This is visible through the front panel as there are small holes and the panel is not solid.

Removing the opposite side panel reveals a small space almost entirely dedicated for cable management. Holes in the partition allow the cables to pass between the two sides and the cable ties keep everything neat and tidy. Note that to remove the HDD cage there are screws that have to be undone this side too.

In terms of cooling, the Coolbay HX has four system fans (2 x 120mm & 2 x 200mm). The 200mm fans are top and side mounted with the 120mm fans located at the back and on the hard drive disk cage.

The PCI slots have little thumbscrews (which can also be done up with a screwdriver). Each slot has a little metal bracket that just lifts out after undoing the screw so as to allow graphics cards and other PCI cards to be installed.

Finally, the cables all come bundled up in an elastic band and contain all the usual suspects: front panel connectors, USB and front panel audio as well as a SATA cable from the eSATA port.

Installation

The Test Setup:

ProcessorIntel C2D E5550 Dual Core 2.33GHz
MotherboardGigabyte S-Series GA-73PVM-S2H
Graphics CardXFX 8600GT
MemoryCorsair XMS2 PC6400 (2x 1GB)
Hard DriveHitachi HDT7250 (250GB)
Power SupplyNOX Apex 700W Modular
OSWindows XP Pro 32bit

First up I chose to install the HDD. In order to do this you need to first remove all 8 screws and then the cage with slide out. The hard drive disk then just slots into a bay and is secured by a couple of screws. Not very inventive but it gets the job done.

The ODD is even easily: simply remove the front panel and then push and screw it in.

Finally, you need to get your main hardware in. Screw in the motherboard into the holes in the main chamber and finally slot in the graphics card and do up the screw to keep it in place.

All that’s left to do is connect everything up and that completes a very easy, painless installation. I must say it’s not the most innovative and certainly not tool-less but you can be sure it will work and you won’t encounter any hiccups along the way.

Testing

Methodology

Cases are interesting pieces of hardware to test as they simply contain all the hardware. Thus their main job is protecting all the components inside along with a little cooling of course.

Therefore, to test cases here at Verdis Reviews we test a wide range of factors to ensure they are fully put to the test. These include: strength, cooling, cable management, ease of installation, noise and cost.

The strength test consists of using all of my weight on top of the case to see if it buckles in any way as well as looking at the materials used to decide how well it can withstand pressure.

In order to collect the data I used Speedfan which uses the computer’s own diode and took values for both load and idle states. For idle, I simply left the computer for about half an hour without running any processes and then took the readings. However, for load I loaded two processes of CPU Burn-In to load the CPU to 100% again leaving it for 30 minutes before taking the readings.

In terms of noise, Verdis Reviews is not at the stage where it can afford expensive equipment, like any sort of noise measuring equipment, and so this aspect will be left to the trusty human ear.

Ambient temperature was 19 degrees and the CPU Cooler used was the Intel Stock (copper base version).

Unfortunately, this is Verdis Reviews’ first case review and so we don’t really have anything to compare the Coolbay HX to. Therefore, I will be testing the temperatures using the three fan speed settings available.

Results

Cooling

The graphs below all show how the different fan settings offer a step up in terms of cooling from Low to High. As you increase the speed, each setting reduces temperatures by generally 2 degrees each time.

Looking more specifically, the GPU temperature at load doesn’t really differ that much. However, the HDD temperatures vary much more from Low to High and this is probably down to the fact that the hard drive cage has its own fan and so each increase in fan speed is projected directly at the HD.

Overall the cooling seems very efficient though offering good back up to the other coolers in your system.

Unfortunately, there are not any dust filters though and so using the case for any period of time, even at low fan speeds causes it to get quite dusty. Perhaps, an inclusive of a few filters would have been a good move.

StrengthThe case is generally pretty robust being constructed of metal. However, there is a slight issue with the top; this part is built out of plastic strips which are quite bendy thus I decided not to apply any pressure to it in fear of breaking it. However, I’m sure that it wouldn’t take too much to damage it. Therefore, probably not the best contender for a LAN party but then again it should keep your system protected pretty well.

NoiseNoise is a big factor with this case due to having so many fans but at low settings it’s not too bad – there is a faint hum but nothing too loud. Unfortunately, at medium and especially high, the noise outputs are definitely audible and can prove quite frustrating. I would recommend the lower setting as it’s much quieter and still provides very impressive cooling potential.

Cable ManagementThis particular area of testing for the NOX Coolbay HX is very well done; the holes through the main chamber allow cables to be kept out the way and the provided cable ties allow any extra cables to be secured to other parts of the chassis so as not to cause any problems.

Ease of InstallationInstallation proved very straightforward with no problems or fuss. That said, the design is neither tool-less nor very innovative in its installation features in that there are no drive rails or tool-less PCI slots etc. Despite this, I don’t really have an issue with it not being tool-less as everything is very easy to do and you can’t really mess up using screws – not bad at all here.

CostThe final area of testing is cost and the Coolbay HX has an MRSP of 99 Euros. This is a very reasonable price for a construction of this calibre but due to the poor performance of the GBP against the Euro, it’s almost this figure in sterling and so at this moment in time not as attractive a price in the UK as it might be.

Conclusion

From such a new company, this case really instils confidence in their manufacturing abilities and is very impressive in a number of aspects – namely cooling and cable management.

I do have a few gripes but nothing major. Firstly, there are no dust filters and so due to the large amounts of cooling taking place the dust builds up quickly inside. Also, there are a lot of screws used in the installation and it would have been nice to see just a few tool-less bits to make it a bit easier.

But, take nothing away from this case and I would highly recommend it to enthusiasts looking for an attractive, great-cooling case at a reasonable price.

Pros

  • Looks good
  • Cable Management
  • Huge cooling
  • Good price point

Cons

  • No dust filters
  • Not tool-less

80

Thanks go to NOX for providing the case for review.

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