Thursday, December 3, 2015
Pros: Versatile with ample room for cooling, cabling, and layout options
Cons: Front panel, bottom filter removal, want more rubber grommets
The Versa H35 arrived in a no-frills brown cardboard box. I'm always a fan of this, as I find it rather silly to spend extra money on the packaging just to make me pay more for the item inside. It was packed in a plastic bag stuffed between two simple pieces of hard foam. This is par for the course in the budget case market, and I have no complaints as my case arrived completely undamaged. The Versa H35 comes in two versions: one with a clear side window, and one without. My version does have the window.
The case feels fairly rigid for a budget case. It flexes a little if you pick it up and twist it, but only while it's empty. Both side panels are removed easily with the included thumb screws, and the front panel pulls off by grasping the bottom and working it out. I'm always a little afraid of breaking the front plastic on cases like this, but it came off and went back on a couple times without issue. I think I'm just spoiled by my Antec 300, who's front bezel just kind of hinges out to the side and never leaves me wondering. The main thing to be mindful of in this case would be the circuit board at the top of the front. All the front panel connectors stick out the very top of the case, and the board is on the front. If you're not really careful pulling the front plastic off you're likely to bend things.
The very first thing I noticed after removing the Versa H35 from the box was the magnetic filter on top. Seriously, that thing looks awesome. It's a fine mesh that's flexible and has magnetic strips all around the bottom. It covers nearly the entire top of the case and will be super easy to clean. There is also a large filter across the bottom of the case, but this one is not magnetic. It's also not easy to remove like so many case-bottom filters. The bottom filter is just stuck across the bottom, and tucked under little metal flaps that hang out around the bottom of the case. You basically have to pick the case up and have someone else pull it out, or lay the case on it's side to remove the filter. This problem could have been avoided by simply leaving off either the front or the rear tab on the case, and extending a pull-tab of some sort on that side of the filter. Such a basic thing that's so disappointing. The bottom filter covers the power supply intake as well as an optional 120mm fan mount, but with that annoying filter I wouldn't particularly want a fan there.
The finish is a nice matte black, doesn't absorb fingerprints too much, and looks decent. The coating flows inside of the case, which is especially good in this version with the window. The crystal clear side window is large and offers a good view of the guts of your system. The front bezel is covered in small holes, and this includes the matching drive bay covers. Angled corners give some personality to the case, and a simple silver Thermaltake logo at the bottom finishes it off.
The front of the Versa H35 came preinstalled with a single 120mm fan, with room to mount a second one above it if you so desire. This space would also accommodate a dual-fan radiator for water cooling, but only if you remove the 3.5" drive bay. Instead of holes for the fan screws, the case contains long slots which make it possible to mount 120mm or 140mm fans in the front (or a 240 or 280mm radiator). You could probably mount a 360mm radiator with the 5.25" drive bays removed, but I don't think you'd get any screws in the top part. I really like this design as it leaves you a lot of options. The same goes for the top of the case under the magnetic filter; 120mm slots instead of holes. The top lacks the slots for 140mm, but the area is long enough to easily fit a 360mm radiator if you wish. There is a single 120mm exhaust fan in the rear to round out your options.
So the Versa case is versatile, who would have guessed? Aside from the fan and radiator mounting options, the inside of the case is pretty versatile in other ways. First of all, the 3.5" drive cage can be removed with two thumb screws from behind. It can be repositioned and takes very little time. You can optionally purchase a second cage, which will connect nicely to this one (the top of one and the bottom of the other side together, besides the thumb screws). Both of the 5.25" can also be removed easily, as they are held in with 4 thumb screws behind the front bezel. I am a giant fan of removing unnecessary pieces to improve both looks and airflow.
I picked up this case to throw some older parts in for an extra system. There were two reasons for this; to let my toddler have a computer to play on, and to house my shared media drive and Plex installation so I could get them off my main computer. To that end, the following parts went into this build:
AMD FX-8320 processor
ASUS M5A97 PLUS motherboard
16GB (4x4GB) G.Skill RipjawsX DDR3-1600 RAM
Samsung 850 PRO 512GB SSD
Seagate 4TB hard drive
Sapphire R9 270 2GB video card
Thermaltake SMART 600W power supply
Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO cooler
The first thing I noticed when I went to install my components was that there were lots of cutouts for cable management. Unfortunately only the bottom two by the power supply had rubber grommets, but at least there were cutouts at all I guess. There is also ample room behind the side panel to run cables, as well as multiple tie-down points for your cable ties. The motherboard standoffs came preinstalled for an ATX board, which was perfect for me but if you're using a different form factor you may have to move or remove a few.
There's a mounting point for a 2.5" drive on the back side of the motherboard tray, which I find beneficial. If I wasn't installing my media drive in this system, it would mean I could completely leave the 3.5" drive cage out for all that extra airflow. There's a second position for the 2.5" mounting point as well, so presumably you could order a second bracket and mount two of them back there. A very large CPU socket cutout rounds out the back of the tray.
The tool-free 3.5" mounting options are decent enough. Lightweight plastic boxes in your drive, pulls out easily and snaps back in easily. The 5.25" tool-free option looks a little less desirable however. It seems to only connect in the front on the right hand side, and the other three normal screw locations just sit there. I had no intention of installing anything in those bays for this build anyway, but if I did I would be screwing them in instead.
The front panel connectors consist of headphone and microphone jacks, two USB 3.0 ports, the power and reset switches and a couple of LEDs. I'm personally glad that there is no USB 2.0 in the front, as I always want USB 3.0 there and I really don't need 50 ports up there. If I need more than two, I'll be using the back or a USB hub anyway, and this way I don't have to look to make sure I plugged the flash drive into the faster port since they're all fast. (Though it should be noted, the motherboard I'm using in this particular build doesn't have USB 3.0 headers -- a downside under these circumstances, but one I knew in advance).
I'm a fan. So many features I almost forgot it was a sub $100 case. The couple places where the budget aspect pokes through are where the front panel connectors meet the bezel, the bottom fan filter being annoying to clean, and the rubber grommets that it lacks in the higher cable management holes. For these few qualms you get layout options, great options for cooling, and an otherwise well designed case. I would purchase this case again, and recommend you look at it as an option as well.