The NZXT Phantom Full Tower Enthusiast Case
WOW! With all of the NZXT products I have reviewed recently you would think I would be tired of looking at their stuff, or at least own stock in the company. Well... you're wrong. As a matter of fact, they just came out with a new product that has everyone wanting to get a closer look. I know I have been jumping up and down for months. So what is this mystery product? Of course, I am talking about the NZXT Phantom! If you don't know what the Phantom is, just stop reading now. You are obviously not 1337 enough to read this article. Go on get out of here.
With all of the press and attention the NZXT Phantom has been receiving it is no surprise that there is a huge buzz that surrounds the Phantom. When it was first unveiled at Computex this year the masses fell in love. Almost every enthusiast site had pictures of the Phantom up in mere minutes. When I first saw the pics I was blown away. I had never seen a case that just had so much character.
The NZXT Phantom case is the next in line of their awesome looking and well known "Crafted Series" cases. But the Phantom takes the Crafted label one step further with killer lines, three attractive colors (Black, Red, and White) and more room inside than you will ever need. They have put together what I consider to be the Batmobile of computer cases. Just sitting on my desk it looks fast. Hell, it looked fast before I even put a computer inside of it. And you can have all of this goodness for the very reasonable price of $139.99. This price includes a two year parts and labor warranty.
I think with the knowledge left over from the last couple of NZXT reviews we can go ahead and skip the history lesson. If you need the history lesson, may I suggest making Nate happy and going back to read some of my older articles? There are a couple that give you the extravaganza that is "About NZXT". May I suggest the following:
Trust me, I could sit here and gush and gush about this case, but this article isn't about one man's love for an inanimate object... or is it? During the course of this review I laughed, I cried, and most of all I found a best friend. OK, not really. But I did have a really good time taking a look at the NZXT Phantom, and I had a much better time during the actual build. There is nothing better than when the planets align and a build goes smoothly and with a look that is as clean as you had always wanted it to be.
So before I give way too much away before the review even starts, let's take a look at what makes the NZXT phantom tick:
NZXT Phantom Full Tower Enthusiast Case
- MODEL: Phantom Series
- CASE TYPE: Full Tower Steel
- FRONT PANEL MATERIAL: Plastic/Steel
- DIMENSIONS (W x H x D): 222 x 540 X 623 mm
- COOLING SYSTEM: FRONT, 1 X 140mm
- DRIVE BAYS: 5 EXTERNAL 5.25" DRIVE BAYS
- Screwless Rail Design
- MATERIAL(S): Steel with black finish
- EXPANSION SLOTS: 7
- POWER SUPPLY: 500 WATT PS2 ATX 12V 2.0 ( OPTIONAL )
- WEIGHT: 11 KGS (W/O Power)
- MOTHERBOARD SUPPORT: E-ATX, ATX, MICRO-ATX, BABY AT
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)
7 INTERNAL 3.5"/2.5" Slots
To say that this case has a lot of room is a vast understatement. You could house a family of four inside this thing. This case was made and marketed directly at the "Enthusiast" crowd, so much so that they even added it to the name of the case. Do you see it? It says NZXT Phantom Full Tower Enthusiast Case. So this isn't just your run of the mill full tower case. And if you aren't an enthusiast don't even look at the case; you aren't allowed to. It was made for folks like you and me and, for us, nothing says, "hey I'm a geek" like a giant Batmobile-looking PC case sitting on your desk. Am I right, or am I right?
NZXT Phantom Full Tower Packaging
I truly felt sorry for the delivery guy that had to lug this package up to my door. I wondered why he was holding his back as he ran away crying. This is one big box. As we can see here the box that the Phantom comes in is adorned with a picture of the white version of the case on a mostly black background and the back of the box contains more pictures and text regarding the features of the case.
As is the case with almost all packaging for PC cases this one is too covered in a plastic bag and neatly placed between two protective foam end pieces. NZXT employed the use of a thin sticky protective film to help protect the high gloss plastic parts from scratches and dulling.
I am happy to announce that our NZXT Phantom arrived unharmed and in great condition. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the delivery guy.
When it comes to the hardware bundle that NZXT provides for the Phantom, they seem to have thought of everything. There are screws for just about every application from mounting the motherboard to installing fans. They have even gone as far as including radiator mounting clips for water cooling systems. I mean come on, who else does that? And, as is the custom, the NZXT Phantom also comes with a full set of installation instructions that shows you where and what to use the vast array of screws and mounts on. A special touch that I would like to point out is that the majority of the included hardware is coated black so that it matches the rest of the case and doesn't stand out.
NZXT Phantom Full Tower External Impressions
When I first saw pictures of the NZXT Phantom I thought to myself that this is one kick ass looking case, but until you see it in person you have no idea what this case looks like. Pictures do not do it justice. As I mentioned before, the Phantom is like the Batmobile of the PC case world. It is sleek and very stylish looking, not to mention very shiny and it has a whole host of hidden gadgets up its sleeve. As much as I wish there were rocket launchers and machine guns mounted on the sides of it... there are none.
Although the NZXT Phantom looks like it is made out of nothing but plastic this is not the case. The front and top are two separate pieces of molded plastic that are attached to a sturdy metal chassis. One thing that I thought was very funny was that if you remove the two plastic cowlings from the case it is roughly the same size as most mid tower cases, which makes it easy to work on. All you need to do is remove the top and front and you no longer have to worry about scratching up the shiny plastic pieces.
The front of the NZXT Phantom sports a very shiny and very angular plastic front bezel that includes a door that is roughly about half the height of the case and behind it are the five external 5.25 optical drive bays. As another testament of its high airflow design are the mesh bay covers that cover unused bays. The look of the front of the case is that of a very menacing and extremely fast vehicle. At least that's what I see when I look at it. The door is easily opened by just pulling on it.
The top of the NZXT Phantom is much like the front. It is made of plastic and it has various angles to it that give it that super fast sports car look. Taking a closer look at the top we can see that NZXT has not just included the usual I/O ports but they have also added a full five channel adjustable fan controller which is quite a handy feature since the Phantom can house quite a few fans. This great feature allows you to customize and regulate the airflow throughout your computer. The aforementioned I/O ports include two USB, one E-SATA and 1/8" speaker/headphone and microphone jacks. A good majority of the top is also made from mesh. This is to allow for the venting of hot air out the top of the case via the included 200mm fan, or you can add another 200 mm fan and have both vent out the top.
Moving to the left side of the case we can see that there is a mesh covered area on the side panel for another optional 200 mm fan, and that there are two installed 120 mm fans down near the hard drive bays.
Moving to the right side of the case it looks very much like the left side with the exception of it not having any spots to mount fans, but it does have the same mesh as the left side to allow airflow into the back side of the case.
Turning the case around we are now able to view the rear of the NZXT Phantom. Here we can see the 120 mm rear exhaust fan that is mounted near the top of the case. We can also see that this case is designed to house a bottom mounted power supply. In between all of this are holes with grommets to allow for the many different types of water cooling mounting and the seven rear adapter card bays.
On most cases the bottom of the case contains absolutely no features. Well, that won't do over at NZXT as the phantom; instead of having four round rubber feet it has two rails that run down each side of the case and both of these rails are covered with an anti slip rubber that keeps the case right where you put it. In between the two rails are three grill type cut outs that are, yep, you guessed it, for air flow. One thing that NZXT has done with the Phantom that I have not seen in many PC cases is that they have raised the bottom of the case to a height where the air can actually get in and out without taking all of the dust under the case with it. The feet of most cases raise it up about a quarter inch of the top of the desk. The Phantom actually sits about an inch off of the desk. Imagine the dust bunny you can grow under there now.
The look and style of the NZXT Phantom are unmatched in my opinion. It is a very unique looking case that does not have to look over done or just plain silly to get attention. The very aerodynamic type lines and curves of the phantom give it a very modern and artistic feel that would make it a great centerpiece to any home office or family room. I wouldn't be surprised to see it used as a home media server, and not one that you hide in the back room. Oh no, this one will need to be proudly displayed for all to see. No matter where you are or what you are doing, if you have an NZXT Phantom with you heads are going to turn. But there is no need to get all worked up about people staring at it. Just get used to it; it's that awesome.
NZXT Phantom Full Tower Internal Impressions
If you thought the outside of the Phantom was a sight to behold, just wait till we get going on the inside. As with the rest of the case the inside is painted black. A quick run of my hands over all of the surfaces reveals that there are no sharp edges to cut myself on in the next section where we actually install a computer into the NZXT phantom. But we will get to that later. I don't know if I have mentioned at all how much room there is inside the NZXT Phantom, and if I have... too bad. From firsthand experience I can tell you that you won't be having many problems fitting your new gear into this thing with the ability to hold video cards as large as 350mm and CPU coolers as high as 180mm without the side fan installed. And once you install those, there will probably be room for you and your luggage as well.
There are five 5.25 drive bays that come with NZXT's innovative screwless design mounting clips for your optical drives. But to say that the mounts are screwless is a matter of opinion, because yes, you can install your optical drives with just these mounts holding them in, but they are going to move around a lot. In order to avoid this you need to install two of the provided screws into the opposite side of the bay and your drives will be secure. To install your drives just simply pull back on the mount, slide your drive in, install the two screws I mentioned before and you are done.
Below the five 5.25" bays are the 3.5" drive bays; there are five of these as well. Each bay has its own screwless drive rails for easy installation. While you won't need any tools to install the rails for the 3.5" drives, you will need to install 4 screws if you are going to mount 2.5" solid state drives into your system. Right to the left of the 5 3.5" drive bays are two more 3.5" drive bays for a total of 7 3.5" drive bays. So go ahead and make that massive RAID setup you have always wanted. All of the 3.5" drive bays are oriented so that the back of the drives you install face the back of the case, thereby making it really, really easy to hide the cables that run out of the back of your drives.
To the left of those two drive bays is where the power supply is mounted. As I mentioned, the NZXT Phantom has its power supply mounted at the bottom of the case. On the bottom of the case where the power supply is mounted there is a fan grill type cutout on the bottom of the case to allow for adequate airflow to the power supply.
As we move up a bit inside the case we now come to the motherboard tray. The motherboard tray in the Phantom has the ability to hold E-ATX, ATX, Micro-ATX, and baby AT motherboards. All of the motherboard mounts are clearly marked on the tray by letters that are stamped into the steel. Moving up from there we can see that the 120mm exhaust fan is installed at the top rear of the case and right above that is the 200mm exhaust fan that vents hot air out of the top of the case.
One of the many killer features of the inside of the NZXT Phantom is the wire routing cutouts that are cut out of the motherboard tray. There are four of them and they are easily identified by their oval shape and their rubber grommets. These cutouts are put there to help route your wiring in such a way that it is hidden out of sight. This, in turn, gives your case a much cleaner look and allows for maximum airflow throughout the case. Moving around to the bottom side of the motherboard tray we can see that there is ample room for hiding all of your wiring; there is roughly 1" of clearance between the bottom of the motherboard tray and the side panel. And it is back here that we see the trunk of wires that runs through the case feeding wiring to the fan controller, the I/O ports, and all of the lighting and switches that connect to your motherboard.
A quick look at the left side panel of the case shows us that there are two 120mm fans installed on the inside of the panel. When the panel is installed in place these fans are situated over the 3.5" drive bays. This will help keep that massive RAID setup you were talking about building nice and cool all year long.
Well, that's about enough of looking around on the inside of the NZXT Phantom. Let's go ahead and start installing some parts inside this sucker.
NZXT Phantom Full Tower Build Out
Now we come to what has to be the shining moment of this whole article. Building out a PC inside the NZXT Phantom is next to effortless. The interior design of the Phantom is so well thought out and laid out that it seems everything just falls into place. You will find that there is more than enough room inside to accommodate just about any configuration you can throw at it. If you have read any of the other articles I have written you will know that being able to have a clean and near wire free case is an obsession for me. The NZXT Phantom allows me to take that obsession to a whole other level. Not only is there ample room behind the motherboard tray to hide any and all spare wiring, there are also a whole slew of cut outs and grommets so that the wiring can be routed and hidden so that just the bare minimum of your wiring is visible inside the case. Not only does this allow for awesome airflow, it also allows you to have a very clean looking, organized computer.
Installing the optical drives is a breeze and although the Phantom is not a completely tool less case, drive installations are still really easy and only require the use of two screws to secure the drives if you don't want the flopping around inside the bays. You can install them without the screws but they will easily push in on the side without anything to hold them in place.
The same rings true for the hard drive bays. 3.5" drives do not require any screws to attach them to the slide in drive brackets, but if you are going to be using 2.5" drives or solid state drives you will need to attach those via screws to the drive mounts. As with most drive mounts in cases these days the mounts slip right into the drive bay and with a simple click they are secured into place.
As mentioned before, the power supply mounts to the bottom of the case and is the same as all other cases in that it is secured by four screws that are provided with the case. On the subject of the power supply, NZXT has conveniently placed a cutout near where the wires protrude from the power supply casing so that you can run your whole bundle of wires behind the motherboard tray. I found this to be a great idea as it minimizes the amount of the power supply wiring you see if you don't happen to have a modular power supply.
In order to show the versatility of the NZXT Phantom I first installed the system with a Spire Thermax Pro CPU cooler, I then removed the heat-sink and fan and installed a Corsair H50 liquid cooling solution. There was plenty of room for either solution and I was actually able to install the radiator for the H50 vertically as well as horizontally at the back of the case. The one thing that did have to be changed in order to fit the radiator into place was I had to change the location of the 200 mm fan at the top of the case to the front position. With the fan installed in the factory default location it clipped the edge of the radiator slightly and made an annoying clicking noise.
NZXT Phantom Full Tower Final Thoughts
The NZXT Phantom is hands down one of the finest computer cases I have ever had the pleasure of reviewing. With its sleek aerodynamic look and slew of features, I have a feeling it will be make people take notice for years to come. With a price tag of $139.99 and a two year warranty, it is clearly priced to compete with and dominate the other full tower cases in its class such as the Corsair Obsidian (shown below) which has all of the same features except for being made of aluminum, but is priced $120 higher. With enough drive space to hold seven 3.5" or 2.5" drives and five 5.25" bays the possibilities for your storage needs are numerous. And keeping all of your components cool won't be a problem, either, with three fans included with the Phantom and the option to add more. Not only will the NZXT Phantom hold most configurations of a liquid cooling system, they went ahead and included the brackets to mount your radiator.
The easily removable front and top panels on the Phantom make it really easy to break the case down to the chassis level and work on your computer without scratching up the high gloss of the plastic; this also goes for the side panels that hold quite a high gloss themselves. The nice sturdy chassis is quite large and probably means you won't want to lug this thing to a LAN party any time soon. But with the way the phantom looks it will easily fit into any room in your house and have your friends and family asking where you got the "cool looking UFO". Yes, someone really said that to me.
At first glance you might think to yourself "That case is really big, do I need something that big?" But once you break it open and start building your system, you will soon realize that working inside of the NZXT Phantom is a pleasure, and because of this large interior it makes installing even the largest of video cards or CPU coolers worry free.
The Legit Bottom Line: I took a good long look at the NZXT Phantom Case and it's not very often that a case comes along that has all the right things, and everyone's head seems to turn towards it in unison. The NZXT Phantom is a one of a kind case that deserves a spot in the PC Case Hall of Fame if there were one.