From the front, the Tempest looks very much like the Thermaltake M9, with its modder's mesh front bay covers and angled bezel. To most, it would look exactly like the M9, but as I've been looking at an M9 daily on my desktop for a couple of months, I can attest to the fact that the similarities end there. There are nine removable sections, each is made of steel modder's mesh and backed with foam. It gives the front a very clean look, and provides some serious ventilation. On either side of the panels, the bezel comes out at an angle, to add some shape to the front of the case. Each side contains a thin accent lighting strip that lights blue, and the left one has a section that lights green for HDD activity.
At 22" x 8.3" x 20.5", the Tempest is an oversized midtower' the ATX midtower standard being around 17 x 8 x 19.5”. I think that the extra length will eventually become standard to accommodate the ever-growing length of upper-end video cards.
The Tempest comes in black only. Both the painted and plastic surfaces have a nice satin finish. The NZXT logo is molded into the bezel, the only hint throughout the case as to who built it.
The control panel is on a raised section of the top of the case. The Tempest is definitely intended to be on the floor. The raised section of the top gives the case a totally different look from the basic flat piece of metal that most case tops are, and makes the case about 1” taller than the standard midtower. Look closely and you will see why - a pair of blowhole fans. Beside the audio jacks and power/reset buttons, there is a pair of USB ports, and an eSATA port.
The Tempest sports a rather small and very cool trapezoidal-shaped window. I like smaller windows, and the last several cases I've had contained large to very large windows. Smaller windows still show your rig's innards, but hide the usually ugly drive bays. In the window is a 120mm fan, covered with tight mesh.
Looking at the rear of the case gives us the first real indication that this isn't your standard midtower; this case places the power supply at the bottom. There is nice wide-open mesh covering the rear fan, and a very open vent in the PCI area. We also see openings for liquid cooling hoses, complete with rubber grommets.
Just to add, the feet look like standard, well made feet, but they are very non-skid, and it is pretty hard to slide the Tempest around on any surface.