At last, NZXT made a PC case as good as their discontinued ones
Go with the H5 Flow
Gather round, children, and I’ll tell you of something magical: the NZXT Source 340 compact mid-tower PC case with side window, product code CA-S340W-B1. Good gravy, did I love that case. Tightly proportioned without being too cramped for a full-size graphics card, maturely designed without looking dull, and hewn from some of most gorgeously textured matte steel I’ve seen on a piece of computing hardware. Don’t even get me started on the upgraded Source 340 Elite. It’s been years since these cases disappeared from sale and ascended to Component Heaven, and although it’s taken a few tries, there’s finally a new chassis that’s worthy of the legacy: the NZXT H5 Flow.
Now, I ain't saying NZXT fully lost their way. Cases like the H500 and H510 are fine mid-towers; I even requested the latter to house the main RPS testing rig. But even with comparable specs, no airflow downgrade worth mentioning, and the addition of tempered glass windows, they’re just not as nice, y’know? The metalwork, especially, is thinner and less tactile, something I’m always noticing whether I’m pressing the power button or swapping out the parts within.
The H5 Flow doesn’t strictly address this either, so it more closely resembles the H510 than it does a Source 340 Elite. However, it makes up for that with so many other thoughtful touches and outright upgrades that it feels like a far worthier successor. I’ve even rebuilt the RPS rig inside it, perhaps permanently.
As you can imagine, the H5 Flow has air cooling on the brain. There have been higher-airflow variants of previous NZXT cases, including the H510, and this model shares the same mesh pattern on the front panel. A twist on NZXT’s usual design language, but by no means an ugly one, say I. The H5 Flow then goes much further in its pursuit of a good draught, adding a curious diagonally-angled front intake fan that looks like it melted into the PSU shroud. It takes up the space that’s normally occupied by a hard drive cage, but now that SSDs are almost as cheap, that’s hard to consider a big loss, and having a second preinstalled fan at the front sounds better than having it in the roof. I prefer mounting AIO liquid cooler radiators at the front and letting their fans double as the main intakes, so in this layout, the GPU will get some fresh air that hasn’t already been dragged over a hot radiator.
Speaking of coolers, the H5 Flow’s slightly wider shape affords it room for AIO radiator-and-fan setups up top, as well as at the front. The H510 and even my beloved Source 340 didn’t have enough clearance from the motherboard for more than a single fan, but the H5 Flow gives you the flexibility to whack up to 240mm of radiator in the roof. That’s in addition to the 280mm maximum at the front, if that angled fan isn’t enough for ya.
The added 17mm of width also does more than you’d think for comfortable building. It’s mainly felt in the cable management department, with more space behind the right side panel to stuff and wrap loose cabling. Wire-wrangling remains a strength of NZXT chassis designs, and with deeper routing channels than the H510 combined with helpfully reusable Velcro straps, the H5 Flow continues the tradition. The extra space also means there’s room to vertically mount a 3.5in hard drive, if you really do insist on keeping mechanical storage around. There’s space for up to two 2.5in SSDs here as well, which together with an ideally M.2-form factor drive, is plenty enough for the average gaming PC.
My only wish is that NZXT made the H5 Flow a tad longer, as well as thicker. The main chassis is only a couple of millimetres longer than the H510’s, but because the front radiator mount sits slightly further back from the mesh front panel, the GPU clearance has shrunk slightly from 381mm to 365mm. That feels like the opposite direction is should be changing in, at a time when the lengths of Nvidia RTX cards in particular are getting out of control. Most GPUs will still fit, but beware if you’re considering a nice new RTX 4090 to go with your case upgrade.
Even so, the H5 Flow’s cooling cred makes it a good match for high-end components of a less titanic nature. Before swapping cases, I took some measurements on the test PC’s watercooled Intel Core i5-11600K processor and GeForce RTX 3070 to see how warm they got while running games: in the H510, the CPU hung around 46-49°c with peaks up to 50°c, while the GPU barely strayed from 77°c. In their new home, the H5 Flow, the CPU was usually within 43-46°c with a 46°c peak, and the GPU stuck to 73°c.
Single-digit differences don’t look like a lot, and they probably won’t in practice be for most setups - but if you’re overclocking, then they could be the difference between stability and overheating. Either way, the H5 Flow makes for a measurable cooling improvement on its predecessor, and despite the soundproofing drawbacks to punching hundreds of holes in the chassis, its fans sound quieter than the H510’s as well.
Even at a steep £110 / $95, and even without that lovely matte finish I miss so much, the H5 Flow earns its keep. The understated looks and easy building are worthy of the classic Source 340, and it’s colder, quieter, and more flexible than the H510. Will I speak of it with such reverence after it, too, is discontinued? You know what, children, I just might.