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.

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Installing the rest of the components was a pretty standard process. I put in an Asus P5N-EM HDMI motherboard with an Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 processor. The motherboard comes with 2GB RAM installed and provides basic video via an NVIDIA GeForce 7100 chipset; it includes VGA, DVI and HDMI.

Because my computers tend to stay powered on around-the-clock, I passed on a stock fan in favor of a somewhat beefier (1.2 lbs) Thermaltake Silent 775 CPU heatsink/fan. I've had this one for a while (circa 2005); the closest currently selling fan is the Thermaltake Silent 775D.

A fan fandango

About the only problem I had with the 775 was that it nearly clashed with one of the case's fans. The Lexa S includes three 120mm case fans in the back, front and side panels, and one 140mm fan mounted inside the top panel. The blades of that top fan came perilously close to the shroud on the 775's fan.

NZXT's Lexa S
The case includes five external bays and four internal 3.5-inch bays.

However, there was a solution: NZXT has built mounting accommodations for two fans on the top panel, one towards the rear and the other towards the front. The existing fan was at the rear, so I just had to transplant it to the forward mounting position. At worst it took two minutes.

I also installed a 5-lb. Antec NeoPower 480 power supply (you can't buy a new one anymore but there are other NeoPower power supplies available in a variety of power ratings) and a Pioneer DVR-118L DVD burner (1.5 lbs.). Both of these were installed into the Lexa S using the supplied thumb screws. In fact, thanks to NZXT's use of thumb screws, everything (except the motherboard) in this computer can be removed or swapped with another part in a matter of minutes without resorting to a screwdriver.

The case also includes five external bays (three 5.25-inch and two 3.5-inch) and four internal 3.5-inch bays. The motherboard adds two PCI slots, an x8 PCI Express slot and an x1 PCI Express slot; it supports six USB ports spread out between the rear panel and the side of the case as well as a side-mounted eSATA port.


What I have now is a desktop PC that I can carry around without much effort, test any card or drive I might need to when I get there and, thanks to the use of an SSD, will boot Windows 7 in 41 seconds and turn off in less than 11 seconds.

I'm sure there will be cases that accept 2.5-inch form factor drives appearing in increasing numbers. However, NZXT's support for them now -- while not compromising on card and drive expansion possibilities -- is a major plus both for a PC used as a test bed and, inevitably, as we grow our computers from their first build to their final form.

Bill O'Brien has written a half-dozen books on computers and technology. He has also written articles on topics ranging from Apple computers to PCs to Linux to commentary on IT hardware decisions.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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