MSI Nighthawk Case Review
By Gabriel Torres on January 25, 2012


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Silver Award

MSI is a tier one motherboard manufacturer, and they decided to enter the PC case market, initially with two mid-tower models. Let’s see if the Nighthawk is a good product.

MSI Nighthawk case
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Figure 1: MSI Nighthawk case

MSI Nighthawk case
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Figure 2: MSI Nighthawk case

The left panel of the MSI Nighthawk is meshed, coming with one 200 mm fan. Unfortunately, the manufacturer doesn’t publish the specifications for this fan, which can be replaced with two 120 mm models. It uses a standard peripheral power plug, so you can’t install it on your motherboard nor monitor its speed. There is no air filter on the left panel; however, the mesh uses small holes which will act as a filter.

MSI Nighthawk case
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Figure 3: Left panel

The Front Panel

The MSI Nighthawk has four external 5.25” bays, with meshed covers and air filters, and an external 3.5” bay, which comes with a memory card reader installed.

MSI Nighthawk case
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Figure 4: Front panel

At the bottom part of the front panel, the MSI Nighthawk has a 120 mm fan. This fan has an air filter in front of it; however, it can’t be easily removed. Unfortunately, the manufacturer doesn’t publish the specifications for this fan, which uses a standard peripheral power connector, so it needs to be connected directly to the power supply. This fan glows blue when turned on.

MSI Nighthawk case
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Figure 5: Front panel

The case comes with one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, and the traditional audio jacks on the top part of the front panel. The USB 3.0 port uses an internal connector, so make sure you install a motherboard with an internal USB 3.0 header. We couldn’t understand why this case didn’t come with two USB 3.0 ports, since the internal USB 3.0 header supports two ports.

MSI Nighthawk case
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Figure 6: Buttons and connectors

One of the highlights of the MSI Nighthawk is the presence of a 12-in-1 memory card reader, supporting the MS, MS Pro, MS Duo, MS Pro Duo, CF I, CF II, MD, SD, microSD, MMC, RC MMC, Extreme Digital, TF, and M2 standards. It also has another USB 2.0 port.

MSI Nighthawk case
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Figure 7: Memory card reader

The Top, Bottom, and Rear Panels

The MSI Nighthawk has a big mesh on its top panel, supporting two 120 mm fans. There is an air filter on this mesh.

MSI Nighthawk case
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Figure 8: Top panel

The bottom panel has an air filter for the power supply fan and an air filter for the optional bottom fan.

MSI Nighthawk case
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Figure 9: Bottom panel

The rear panel and the interior of the MSI Nighthawk are painted black.

On the MSI Nighthawk, the power supply is installed at the bottom of the case.

The case comes with a 120 mm fan installed on its rear panel, but again, no specifications for this fan are provided. This fan has a standard three-pin fan power connector and also a standard peripheral power connector.

This case has seven expansion slots with vented covers.

The MSI Nighthawk has two holes protected with rubber covers for hoses of liquid cooling solutions. These holes are 0.6” (16 mm) in diameter.

MSI Nighthawk case
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Figure 10: Rear panel

Let’s now take a look inside the MSI Nighthawk.

Inside the MSI Nighthawk

Both panels are attached to the chassis using black thumbscrews. The motherboard tray has a huge hole for you to access the backplate of the CPU coolers without having to remove the motherboard from the case. However, it doesn’t allow you to route cables behind the motherboard tray, as there is not enough space between the motherboard tray and the right panel.

MSI Nighthawk case
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Figure 11: Overall look

MSI Nighthawk case
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Figure 12: A view behind the motherboard tray

In Figure 13, we get another overall look inside the case. The optional top fans are installed using tool-less mechanisms. Expansion cards are fastened using a single metallic plate that is located on the rear panel and attached to the case using regular screws. The MSI Nighthawk supports video cards up to 12.2” (310 mm) long.

MSI Nighthawk case
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Figure 13: Overall look

The power supply is installed at the bottom of the case. It can be installed with either its bottom fan facing up or facing down, so you can decide if you want the fan of your power supply pulling air from inside the case or from outside of it. As already discussed, the case comes with an air filter for the power supply fan.

The case allows the installation of an optional 120 mm fan on the bottom panel, and if this fan is installed, you can install power supplies up to 6.3” (160 mm) deep. The case comes with an air filter for this optional fan.

MSI Nighthawk case
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Figure 14: Power supply compartment

The Disk Drive Bays

The MSI Nighthawk has four external 5.25” bays, one external 3.5” bay that comes with a memory card reader installed, five internal 3.5” bays and one internal 2.5” bay. The 5.25” bays and the internal 3.5” bays use simple tool-less installation mechanisms.

MSI Nighthawk case
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Figure 15: Disk drive bays

MSI Nighthawk case
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Figure 16: The 2.5” bay

Main Specifications

The main specifications for the MSI Nighthawk include:

Conclusions

Even though the first cases released by MSI are budget products targeted to system integrators and bundled packages, the company says it will release enthusiast-level cases within the next few months. The Nighthawk faces serious competition from the In Win Mana 136 (USD 70) and several cases from NZXT. If you like the memory card reader and the 200 mm fan on the left panel, this case can be an option, but if you don’t care about these features, we think you will be getting a better deal by picking one of its competitors.

Strong Points

Weak Points

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/MSI-Nighthawk-Case-Review/1476


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