Review: NZXT Phantom


While the NZXT Phantom case has been available for almost a year now, it’s still a formidable foe in the PC enthusiast realm. For starters, no one can argue that its full-size design offers up plenty of options for modders. Add to that a killer style and you’ve got the beginning recipe for success. Hop inside as GS takes the Phantom for a spin…

Appearance

Physical style when it comes to PC cases is a highly subjective one. What makes one person tick doesn’t exactly do so for another. We find ourselves pretty open to ideas and easy to please. With that said, we like the Phantom’s design and overall case materials plastic and all. The various panels and pieces transform this case from boring box to visual delicacy that begs to be used. On the flip side, the bias towards copious amounts of plastic panels isn’t everyone’s favorite.

At first we weren’t sure how we’d like the front door that swings open and closed as it’s our first real encounter with such a design. Though despite our reservations we’re happy to report that the door rarely gets in our way for the sole fact that we pretty much never open it — we can count on one finger how many times we needed access to the NZXT add-on fan controller and/or DVD drive in the couple of weeks we’ve tested this case. For people who use the drive bays more frequently, the door may become more of a nuisance. At any rate, we suppose one could just as easily remove the door and be done with it entirely at the expense of the Phantom’s sleek styling.

Building & Space


Being a full tower comes with the notion that space will be ample, build frustrations will be low, and getting around inside the case will be easy. Nothing could be more true with the Phantom. NZXT’s design team made sure the Phantom had plenty of space for wires and 3rd party hardware.

We personally like to hide as many wires as possible and instead show off the actual hardware. We’re pleased to say that NZXT gives you a fairly generous stow away spot behind the motherboard. Though if we’re being entirely honest, we did find it a bit narrow for a full tower. The recently reviewed NZXT H2 Classic had many millimeters more space behind its motherboard. Still, with a GTX 580, additional fan controller, Corsair H70 with two push/pull fans, and 5 hard drives, we were able to hide away a solid 90% of our wires.

Features & Integrated Fan Controller


While we did include a separate NZXT Mesh 5-fan controller in our build, we didn’t by-pass the stock controller built into the Phantom. We just ran out of room. With that said, the Phantom will manage up to 5 separate fans with the integrated fan controller located on the bottom right of the top panel. The blue (in our particular Phantom) LEDs on each of the slider switches for fan speed were a perfect accent to the white color of the case.

We’ll note that the included NZXT fans are whisper quiet. Seriously. Even at full blast with 7 case fans running at their max RPM (700 RPM for the 220mm fans and 1200 RPM for the 120mm fans) the case was extremely quiet — far more quiet than a similar set up in our mid-tower CoolerMaster Storm Scout.

While the case is incredibly quiet, it does have one drawback — heat. The fans themselves aren’t the greatest in cooling ability. We had to keep our Phantom’s fan controller at the 100% position for all fans 24/7. Granted, our ambient room temp was a bit higher at 77 F. Coupled with a healthy 4.5 GHz overclock on our Core i7 2600k processor means there is some serious heat to be dissipated. Still, our mid-tower CoolerMaster case managed to keep the processor idling around 35 F (69 F load) where as the Phantom could only muster 38-40 F (70-75 F load). For those that routinely stress over heat, it’s something you may want to think about. At the very least, perhaps pick up some more potent fans.

While we’re on the topic of heat, we’ll note that users interested in watercooling loops will be able to easily slip a 240mm rad within the Phantom’s confines and a 360mm rad with some minor modding.

Conclusion

We really can’t complain with the Phantom. It features killer styling and ample room for even the most space-demanding builds. We only wish it were a bit more efficient at whisking away heat with the included fans and provided more space for custom water cooling loops — something any full tower should easily excel at.

Gadgetsteria Rating: 8/10


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