New side panel and window design
The windowed sidepanel breaks away from seemingly bland shapes and offers a bit more support to the robot theme. It’s actually a nice creative touch and should be worthy of a glance or two when properly illuminated.
One bonus feature is that the 120mm blue LED cooling fan is mounted with a decent filter on the side panel, keeping dust at bay. One side effect of having a grilled side window is that the light is limited to illuminating the inside more than the outside. Depending on where you are sitting, that’s a good thing as it should keep you from seeing blue lights all day after sitting next to it for a couple hours. If you’re at a LAN party, your neighbour will thank you.
Backside of the Guardian 921
A couple of features worth noting are the tooless PCI slots which should save you some time during installation. NZXT also added a couple of holes with black grommets in the event you want to install a custom water cooling system. They also seem well placed since graphics cards can close off the upper areas of the chassis.
Overall, the design is quite basic with the power supply up top and an additional internal 120mm cooling fan just below. This fan does not light up unfortunately so if you want that extra special touch, you’ll have to swap it out for another Blue LED fan at your own expense.
Inspecting the Internal Perimeter
After removing a couple good quality black thumb screws, the panel easily slides off. You can then see the 120mm LED fan a attached to it a little more closely. Both, the window and 120mm fan are mounted quite securely which cuts down on that “budget” sound during operation. You know, that special vibrating, tin can kind of whirring noise when you’re gaming, often found on cheap cases.
The internal chassis layout is basically simple. The main features again include tooless PCI mounting, tooless 5.25″ drive bay, tooless 3.5″ hard drive bay, and two lower 3.5″ hard drive bay with sliding tooless rails. The two top 5.25″ slots are left clipless except for the top slot where a black tray sits for external drive use and is only fastened by black thumb screws.
The inside offers a better of view of the tool-less PCI mounting slots and power supply framing. It should easily support standard ATX power supplies. The extra little shelf tab is a necessity these days given the 5+ pound average weight of most good PSUs. A controllable 120mm cooling fan would have been a nice touch. Perhaps, we’ll see it as an NZXT standard feature next time around.
One feature that wasn’t expected was the lower removable hard drive tray. In a case this size, it’s not a common feature since there are only a few slots available. However, water cooling components need a little extra room. The vacant spot could now be occupied by a reservoir or pump if needed. A little scalability has its benefits as this means that the case can grow with your needs.
While the inside of the chassis isn’t polished or painted black, it is at least machined well. There was no evidence of weak molds or questionable rivets. It was all pretty darn clean around all the edges which is right on for a tool-less chassis. The last thing you want to do is offer a tool-less chassis and not get rid of the razor like edges inside.