NZXT's Phantom is an enthusiast's dream case. It has a plethora of easy installation features that made building a machine in this case a breeze. It's cooling options were also superb, keeping my newly built machine cool and quiet. It had everything I wanted, including some stuff I didn't even know I wanted until I saw it.
First things are of course first, so let us first take a look at the specs of the NZXT Phantom.
|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||350 mm|
FRONT, 1 X 140mm
5 EXTERNAL 5.25" DRIVE BAYS
7 INTERNAL 3.5"/2.5" Slots
Screwless Rail Design
|Materials||Steel with black finish|
|Motherboard Support||E-ATX, ATX, MICRO-ATX, BABY AT|
The Phantom is a an incredibly large case with ease of expansion clearly on the mind of the designer. In fact, it is so large that the height and depth of the case seem almost ridiculous at first glance. Only once I started building a system in it did the size suddenly make sense. I particularly appreciated the extra width, which allows oversized heatsinks, like the Scythe Yaysa or the Akasa Venom, to easily fit inside the case without interfering with any fans. The extra height and depth allow the Phantom to house a large number of 3.5"/2.5" internal bays and 5.25" external drive bays, in addition to a great deal of cable management features. All of the bays are made with screwless rails which make installation and replacement fairly quick and easy. The hard drive bays use a rubber bracket that helps to dampen any vibrations, which keeps your case quiet.
As can be seen in both the above and below pictures, the Phantom has a large compartment underneath the motherboard mount that is great for routing cables. The hard drive bays face sideways so that they cables naturally go into this separate area. The external drive bays unfortunately cannot be turned sideways but the Phantom provides for that issue. The Phantom has extra slots into the cable area near the back of the drives. After routing your cables, you simply slip them through the the provided slots that come out right next to your motherboard. This of course is also true with the Phantom's bottom mounted power supply. I was worried that the Phantom's large size would mean that my power supply's cables might not be long enough, but luckily all of my power cables were able to reach where they were needed. The only one that was a bit short was my four pin cable to my motherboard. It was not long enough to take advantage of the cable management area, but it was long enough when routed directly over the motherboard.
The cooling capabilities of the NZXT Phantom are pretty impressive. It comes with four fans, three 120mm and one 200mm, with room for two more 200mm and one 140 mm. The case comes with five fan controllers that allow you to change each fan's speed via a slider on the front/top of the case (see below). In addition to all of the air cooling, the Phantom has a couple of features for liquid cooling as well. NZXT included dual radiator support and gave the back of the case four watercooling cutouts that allow you to route your water easily.
I ran a few tests with only the included fans in addition to the Akasa Venom. With my fans running at around 80% speed, chosen to keep the case whisper quiet, my cpu ranged from around 36C idle to a stable 43C under load. Increasing the speed of the various fans helped keep the CPU closer to a stable 40C, but I felt the extra noise wasn't worth it. To be fair to NZXT though, the noisiest fan by far was the heatsink fan. The fans that NZXT provided with the case, particularly the 200 mm fan, remained extremely quiet even at full speed. I imagine that with a water cooling system, you could get some serious overclocking done in this case.
The NZXT Phantom did everything that is was designed to do very well, but I definitely would not recommend this case to everyone. If you are just looking for something to throw some parts into, then you should probably look at something a bit cheaper. If on the other hand you want to build something that will look and perform well, then the Phantom might be for you. In addition to all of the performance/installation convenience that the rest of the article covered, I think the case itself is simply beautiful. The sleek shape and finish on the Phantom looks great. The Phantom also doesn't have a huge clear window into the computer which a lot of higher end cases seem to sport. Personally, I find those windows to be unattractive so the lack of one on the Phantom is a big plus for me. When compared to other cases in a similar price range, NZXT's Phantom would certainly be one of my top choices.