Its design is nothing new from NZXT, but it’s certainly very different from any case we’ve looked at recently. The curved front and back panels makes the whole box look like a rather fat and distorted letter H. This might seem like mere aesthetics, but there’s some practicality to the design. The upper extensions make for a very easy grab point, while the lower ones give the Blackline excellent clearance off the desktop. With an 80mm fan mounted in the case’s base, that clearance is a boon for airflow.
There’s another 80mm fan at the top of the case, and a 120mm fan on both the front and the back plates. It’s not a bad amount of airflow for a case at this price point, but we do feel the 80mm fans are not quite up to the job. On the flip side, the rear 120mm fan features a coloured LED, matched to the exclamation point shaped lighting on the case’s curved front door – which, by the way, is available in red or blue. A tacky feeling plastic side window shows off this light extravaganza, and also houses another lit up 120mm blower.
Still, even if those 80mm jobbies do fail to sufficiently aerate and cool your gear, you’ll know, as that’s the other sneaky thing the top bit of the case’s front plate hides. It just seems shiny black plastic like the rest of the case, but underneath is a small back-lit display that reads out the temperature via three probes in the case’s interior. It’s a nice touch that belies the otherwise ‘form over function’ feel of the case.
The internal build quality does seem a little slapdash, with a few rough and burred edges, but nothing that will see hordes of amputees at your next LAN day. Drives attach via included plastic rails, letting you slide hard drives and other bumpf easily in out of the ample amount of bays.
We have to say, the Blackline does seem a bit of a mixed bag, with blinged up 1337 gamer looks, but surprisingly enthusiast-geared cooling. It also features a steel frame, which adds a bit to the weight, but also makes the case nice and strong for those who like to lug their PC around. It might not look like a serious case, but it’s got some chops where it counts, and for the price, it definitely has us impressed.