NZXT H500 vs H500i: Which PC case should you buy?

Choosing between the H500 and H500i comes down to how large your budget is, as well as whether you need (or want) to install RGB lighting and connect compatible fans for CAM software to control everything. There's also the fact the H500i has vertical GPU mount support.

NZXT H500 vs H500i specifications

Both the NZXT H500 and H500i are nearly identical on paper, sporting the same dimensions, ports, build quality, tempered glass window side, and more. NZXT bundles two Aer F120mm fans with the H500 and H500i, which can be installed when putting together your build.

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Header Cell - Column 0 NZXT H500NZXT H500i
FansFront: 2x 120/140mmTop: 1x 120/140mmRear: 1x 120mmFront: 2x 120/140mmTop: 1x 120/140mmRear: 1x 120mm
RadiatorsFront: up to 280mmRear: 1x 120mmFront: up to 280mmRear: 1x 120mm
MaterialSECC SteelTempered GlassSECC SteelTempered Glass
I/O2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A1x Headset audio jack1x microphone jack2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A1x Headset audio jack1x microphone jack
HDD bays2.5-inch: 2+13.5-inch: 2+12.5-inch: 2+13.5-inch: 2+1
FiltersAll intakesAll intakes
RGB lighting-
Vertical GPU-
Dimensions210 x 460 x 428mm210 x 460 x 428mm

NZXT H500 vs H500i colorful differences

The H500 and H500i are mostly the same with both chassis coming with similar color options and internal layouts. While the "intelligent" model includes some RGB lighting strips and Smart Device, there's also the inclusion of a vertical GPU mount. This kit allows you to mount your GPU vertically, showing off the fans and overall design of the GPU while also providing better clearance between it and the motherboard.

The RGB strips are part of the latest HUE family of NZXT products, providing illumination for the entire case. The money required for these additional features actually works out to be a better value compared to buying the H500 and necessary NZXT RGB kit thereafter. There is a slight drawback to having an RGB kit included with the case, but that's only if you want to use a third-party lighting solution.

While the Smart Device is a great addition to make the H500i price easier to digest, it would have been good to see the vertical mount support implemented into the baseline H500. You'd need to put up with colorful lighting effects or remove the kit altogether, which would make the additional cost harder to justify.

When you only want a decent case

If all you care about is grabbing a PC case that looks good and works well as a base for some killer builds, look no further than the H500. If RGB lighting isn't quite your thing, this version of the H500i will save you money and weight.

Go with the H500i to create a light show

When the standard H500 is a little too boring for those who want to go all out with lighting and other case mods, the H500i is a solid upgrade for the price. The additional cost bags you the Smart Device, which can hook up to the included RGB strips and any compatible fans, as well as vertical GPU mounting support.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.