It Does EVERYTHING Right – Cooler Master NR200 ITX Case Review
The Cooler Master NR200 houses big features in a small size, and I feel like that’s an understatement. This case surprised me in so many ways, because Cooler Master in the past has been quite disappointing. However, with the NR200 and the NR200P I feel like nothing is really missing, and they have really nailed the design, the price point, and the feature set. With this new release they have created some serious competition for the Ncase M1 and the entire experience here has been almost flawless.
I installed my regular Mini-ITX machine in there with a Core i5-9600K, RTX 2060 Super, SFX power supply, and I’m using the new Lian Li Galahad 240mm all-in-one that I can mount on the side. The NR200 is not exactly compact for an ITX space, it comes in at 18 liters, which is bigger than my Corsair ONE. And it’s about a third of the size of a regular mid-tower.
If you have been looking for an ITX experience, but didn’t exactly want to gravitate towards something that is $200+ the NR200 is for you. The price points are absolutely terrific, you are looking at $79 USD for the NR200 and $99 USD for the NR200P. I will outline the differences later, but should this be your next ITX compact enclosure? Let’s find out!
First let’s dive into the build quality, and I’m happy that for $79 Cooler Master did not cut any corners. There is an entirely steel body, no aluminium here, but that would skyrocket the price anyway. I have the white model and the only colour accents are the feet, which are grey. They are removable and Cooler Master provides 3D printing templates, so you can 3D print your own and replace the stock feet. I find that really cool. We also have a plastic top panel, which is also grey in an effort to mix things up so it’s not a boring white enclosure.
The I/O is up top with the power and reset switches, two USB 3.0 ports, and a combo audio jack. All of the panels are tool-less, and they have this dual peg system where one of the sides on the side panel sits inside the frame and the side panels can actually just hang off the little ledge there while the opposite side has dual pegs making installation super easy.
The only thing they cheaped out on are all the dust filters, which are magnetic, and they basically covered the entire case top both sides and the bottom two, but they are generic and not the high density high performance mesh type. Now the interior is super interesting because we have a variety of configurations available. This case supports really long graphics cards, CPUs up to 155mm at 280mm radiator on the side or a 240mm at the bottom.
As for exact storage locations, we have two SSD mounts behind the front panel, then you can mount either an SSD or hard drive on top of the power supply cage. You can also mount a hard drive on the side radiator bracket, which by the way can support dual 120mm or 140mm fans or a 240mm or 280mm radiator. Finally, as expected, only SFX or SFX-L power supplies are supported.
The one odd thing that popped into my mind was that 155mm CPU tower clearance, because on their website you can clearly see they are using the Hyper 212 Evo, which is around 158mm. Therefore I decided to mount my own Hyper 212 on my motherboard and and yes it does fit, with no problems with the side panel closing. The tempered glass panel closes just fine as well. The only limitation here is that you cannot install the side fan radiator bracket if your CPU tower clearance is higher than 155mm. I think they should put a massive asterisk on the website to clarify what this 155mm clearance limitation is really about, and that you can actually mount up to 158-159mm CPU towers.
For GPUs we have triple horizontal PCIe slots, which is fantastic for massive oversized graphics cards that will just fit into that bottom chamber. However, we also have the dual vertical PCIe slots, which expands your configuration potential. That is really the only advantage of getting the NR200P, aside from the tempered glass side panel and the second 120mm top exhaust fan, because the regular NR200 just comes with a single top exhaust. And by the way, they both come with a 92mm fan that you can mount at the back in case you are not using the vertical PCIe slots.
However, vertical GPU mounting is really where the NR200P shines because we have a very short riser cable included that you can use when you go with a vertical GPU. The real advantage with the vertical GPU mount is the opening up of all that space at the bottom for a really thick radiator with fans. This also gives you an opportunity to hide all your cable mess, because the graphics card depending on its length will cover both the motherboard and the power supply, and the exiting cables from the power supply will not interfere or bump into GPU as it would if your graphics card was just mounted directly into the motherboard.
That brings us to the power supply mount and there are plenty of options. Not only do we have a little height adjustment for either SFX or SFX-L mount, but you can also reposition the entire power supply bracket to the front of the enclosure. This opens up a little bit more area beside the motherboard if you wish, but it does block the front of that side radiator mount. The one conflicting part about the NR200P is that the temper glass side panel doesn’t really compliment the vertical GPU mount. Not only will you choke the GPU, but you are also removing any potential for additional air flow because there is no point of installing the side radiator bracket if you have a tempered glass side panel. The most ideal configuration would be the NR200 without the P.
The one that really cool thing about the top panel and the included fan or fans, depending on which case you get, is that not only do they have a finger guard so no cables will be eaten by those blades, but the actual mount is also tool-less so you can simply push them into the rubber pegs and they stay securely in place. The full airflow potential here is actually a pretty decent with 2 fans up top, two on the side, two the bottom, and one for the rear. Just keep in mind that this is an ITX system after all, so if you are trying to max out all the fans slots get a fan controller or many, many splitters.
Now a few things to keep in mind, if you are in the SFX-L position for the power supply, it will block the top front fan from having clearance, because it does interfere with that power cable. While I appreciate the inclusion of these velcro straps all around the power supply cage, you do have to spend some time making sure to clean them up so they don’t exit and bump into your graphics card. This is why I had to raise my SFX power supply into the SFX-L position. Granted, I am using thicker braided cables, so when they do exit they cover quite a bit of it area.
Thankfully, routing everything else was super simple. I appreciate the bundled front I/O cables because they stay in their housing and you don’t have to plug them individually for power/reset/led, etc. Also the USB 3.0 cable is purple, which is neat Cooler Master-y touch. When the system was finally fully assembled I wasn’t frustrated dealing with all the cables, because the case is fairly large and you can get to all the places. This was helped by the fact that the radiator is on a bracket, so you can simply remove it, do all your cables, and put it back in place. Just make sure that no cables are touching the fan blades.
I’m really excited to use this for my future small-sized desktop PC that is not for gaming, but for work only. I was going to use the NZXT H1 because of its towering form factor and really good CPU temperature, but the cooling on the NR200 in incredible. In stock configuration, you can see both CPU and GPU are completely under control. If we remove all the side panels you can see that the barrier for air flow isn’t that significant, which is great. I am only using the one top exhaust fan, like you would find on the NR200, but removing it does increase our GPU temperature quite significantly. I then added the fan at the bottom as intake to help with GPU cooling, but that actually couldn’t do anything. And then putting it to exhaust was a big mistake, since as you can see the GPU temperature really just maxed out there. And the last thing I did was remove the side dust filter, where the radiator is exhausting air, and you can see our CPU temperature improved by 2°C and we dropped 1°C on the GPU. This means we have a lot of cooling potential inside this enclosure, which is fantastic.
Now when I compare the NR200 with the NZXT H1, which has a 140mm all-in-one cooler, the NZXT does run hotter on the CPU, which is understandable, but look at that crazy high GPU temperature. The side ventilation is just not enough. The ERA ITX from Fractal Design is an embarrassment, it’s just a hot hotbox in there. Performance wise the NR200 with the included 120mm fan at the top is absolutely enough, and you don’t need additional fans in there since so out of the box cooling is phenomenal. However, I would say this case is large enough and comfortable enough to do custom loops. Really the only thing that is kind of a concern for me when having this case on my desk is the airflow, because it’s exhausting everything from the side, which means that when it’s on my right side I can feel all that airflow. Maybe in winter when the system is under full load is going to be a nice little heater, but something to keep in mind still.
Cooler Master have absolutely redeemed themselves in the ITX space. We haven’t given out an award in a while, but the NR200 deserves the Hardware Canucks Dam Good and the Dam Good Value awards. If you are into the ITX form factor and you find this case, don’t hesitate to pick one up.
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