The computer case market is thriving with creativity again, one of the lead companies to emerge in the market is NZXT, lately the company has been on a roll as they combine contemporary style with gamer aesthetics. The result in this case is the mighty Phantom line, packing high airflow, incredible space and sleek design that can appeal to new builders and veteran builders looking for something not as extreme as a plexiglass case.
Opening the box up, it became clear this wasn’t just a looker but it was there for function as well. The stock unit contains sufficient cooling from the start and a box full of goodies for mounting and stealth cabling. I’ll go ahead and include the spec sheet below to give the full impressions.
|CASE TYPE||Full Tower Steel|
|FRONT PANEL MATERIAL||Plastic/Steel|
|DIMENSIONS (W x H x D)||222 x 540 X 623 mm|
|VGA Clearance Maximum
|COOLING SYSTEM||FRONT, 1 X 140mm
REAR, 1 X 120mm (included)
SIDE, 2 x 120mm, 1 x 200/230 (2 x 120mm included)
TOP, 2 X 200mm (1 x LED 200mm included)
|DRIVE BAYS||5 EXTERNAL 5.25″ DRIVE BAYS
7 INTERNAL 3.5″/2.5″ Slots
Screwless Rail Design
|MATERIAL(S)||Steel with black finish|
|MOTHERBOARD SUPPORT||E-ATX, ATX, MICRO-ATX, BABY AT|
Sample build used:
AMD Phenom 9750 AM2+
Jetway 790GX (HA08)
Crucial 4GB DDR2 PC6400
Sapphire HD 4850 512
Creative X-Fi Xtrememusic
Hitachi Deskstar 1TB HDD
Maxtor 320GB HDD
Before jumping into the fray, I had to test a few areas first. The current configuration works fine if you have a high flow fan on the side and coming from the front, the case pressure goes pretty much positive at that point. If you lack that, you may want to consider flipping the top 200mm fan and throw air in. Often systems will tend to choke to some degree when the box is simply dumping air and pulling little if any fresh air in.
Fortunately the top panel removes easily, place your hand under the front panel grip and tug out, the clips will release and reveal another hand hold for the top panel. Unscrew the 200mm fan and reverse mount it to generate some positive pressure in the case. I lacked a 140mm fan to place in the front so I mounted a 250mm fan to the side panel from an Antec Skeleton. Odd enough, with a bit of boring out the fan mounts without much issue and generates essential airflow for the GPU and CPU zones.
Moving into installation there isn’t much trouble, the Phantom is for the most part tool-less where it counts, the PCI brackets use thumb screws instead of regular mounts to save on tools. Unfortunately you still need a screwdriver to break the initial torque after being mounted. Installation of components went down in roughly 20 minutes, cabling took a bit longer just for the sake of being stealth about it, the Phantom offers room for most mountings and even my aging Cooler Master Real Power Pro was able to reach high enough for the 8-pin power connector by the CPU. After years of building systems I can say this was most likely the most painless installation yet, also it left me cut free thanks to rolled edges on the case.
For window fans, there is a lot to miss with the mesh on the side of the case, honestly, the white finish is one of the cleanest and most pure colors I’ve seen in quite a while. With a blueish glow it reflects color perfectly inside. Not being able to see it does hurt, if you are insistent, you could always mount your own panel and remove the mesh, or just pop open the front door on the case and watch from there. It really is worth the show, the Tri-Color light show from the Antec really made it an amazing sight to see. For the hardcore modder that wants a little more, cutting the case and custom mounting acrylic would be really rewarding.
Functionally, the Phantom is up there with the best of them, the fans all connect to a single fan bus that gets controlled on top of the case, the inputs and power buttons are also on the top in sleek form. There’s an aspect of this design which takes me back to the era of Tron, super sleek but hard lines everywhere, a blue glow from the stock fans, power sources and fan bus that snares anyone who watches. It’s sleek but deadly and awesome as a centerpiece. Going from the Antec Skeleton to this is a huge jump, even comparing it to the Antec P193 has me still leaning in favor to the excessive attention to detail that NZXT took with this model.
To start closing this up, I have this to say about the NZXT Phantom.
- Simple installation
- Room for cable stealthing
- Tons of air-flow
- Integrated fan bus controller
- Extra parts to last a lifetime
- Sleek design, ultra contemporary feel
- Low case noise, even with all fans running it remains tolerable
- Excellent cooling on system
- Plenty of room for larger video cards (6900 series, etc)
- Tool-less design for drive mounting works, needs a little extra force to pop pins back in
|Low Speed||High Speed|
Things I might change are few really, this is a gaming case and if I wanted true silence I would opt for the H2, we don’t have that case to review so… just try to look around and get some other impressions if you’re not sure. The sound insulation and other features seem to be well worth the price.
Closing up, the Phantom is probably the easiest case I’ve been able to work with, because I’m extra paranoid I actually decided to also wax the finish for extra scratch protection because this is a busy desk.
Kudos to NZXT for bringing home a heavy hitter like the Phantom, for those interested, it comes in a few variants and honestly that pure black model looks quite awesome. For gamers it’s a new piece of kit to mod out, for older builders it still has some show with a Tron inspired design but not too much to make it feel like you’re pounding Redline and skipping out on studying for your finals all over again.