Review: The NZXT Lexa S case allows easy SSD installation

This mid-tower box makes it simple to convert a 3.5-inch bay to accept two 2.5-inch drives.

When you build a PC, one of the first challenges is finding a case that works the way you want it to. NZXT's new Lexa S is a $70 black mid-tower box (7.7 X 18.9 X 20.8 inches) with a stylized, angled front door that adds architectural appeal. But what's most significant about the Lexa S is that, along with the usual plethora of 3.5-inch drive bays, it also includes a dual-disk 2.5-inch (laptop-size) drive tray that slides into one of those 3.5-inch bays.

The fact that that NZXT is supporting the smaller drive form factor is quite a big step forward. SSDs are currently offered largely for notebooks because of their 2.5-inch shock-proof storage and super-fast boot times. As someone who frequently needs to test computer components, I wanted a computer I could comfortably move around to my various testing stations (or even toss into a car) and not worry about jarring its disk(s) into extinction. In that case, native support for SSDs was a major plus.

NZXT's Lexa S
NZXT's Lexa S

And then there's weight. When a computer is meant to be at least somewhat mobile, 2.5-inch drives -- either SSDs or hard drives -- can lessen the load significantly. For example, I installed a 640GB Western Digital Scorpio Blue 2.5-inch hard drive, which tips the scales at a paltry 4.2 oz. (In comparison, its 3.5-inch counterpart, the 640GB Caviar Blue, is a portly 1.39 lbs.) I then added a Patriot Warp 128GB SSD, which weighs 3.2 oz.

The result? The two drives added a combined weight of only about half a pound to the 15 lb. case instead of the nearly 3 lbs. that a pair of ordinary 3.5-inch drives would have added.

Converting to 2.5-inch drive bays

The Lexa S's plastic adapter tray is a simple arrangement that's built with two levels. One of the 2.5-inch drives sits on the bottom of the tray and is secured in place with screws from below the tray. The second drive sits on a pair of ledges at the sides of the tray and is held there by screws from the sides.

It took me less than 5 minutes to install both of the 2.5-inch drives. Two rails are pressed in place into holes in the tray, one on each side, so the tray can quickly and easily slide and lock into one of the case's 3.5-inch bays.

If you need to, you can buy third-party adapters that will allow you to install 2.5-inch drives into most computers' 3.5-inch bays. However, these adapters tend to be metal instead of plastic, they're clunky, and when you're done, it looks like you own an Erector set reject. NZXT's adoption of a specific tray for its case is slick and useful.

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