In and Around the NZXT Phantom 410

Historically our readers haven't been very big fans of particularly garish enclosure designs; the stuff from Fractal Design and Antec (among others) have generally been more your speed. I largely tend to be in the same boat, but for some odd reason there's just something to be said for how delightfully off-kilter and gaudy the NZXT Phantom and its newer, smaller sibling, the NZXT Phantom 410 are. The odd angles and curves make the computer look like what everyone expected computers in the year 2011 to look like...in the seventies.

I'll come out and say it now: I don't think anybody is going to buy the NZXT Phantom 410 for practicality's sake. The bulging angles and corners aren't about using space efficiently, they're about style. Yet that said, NZXT does make a few allowances for ease of use. The door in front of the external drive bays pops open and closed easily but securely, allowing the case to maintain its aesthetic for the majority of the time, and the drive bay shields inside have small levers on them that allow them to pop out easily while remaining secure for unoccupied bays.

NZXT smartly keeps all the indicator lights, switches, and ports on the top of the enclosure, a modern design cue I wholeheartedly approve of. When the system is powered, a large stripe around the top left corner of the enclosure glows blue as a tertiary color. Thankfully NZXT also includes a pair of USB 3.0 ports that use an internal header; their Tempest 410 Elite made the poor decision of using three USB 2.0 ports and a single USB 3.0 port off an internal header, effectively wasting one USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0 port.

When we move to the back of the Phantom 410, we get our first clue that the inside may be a little more cramped than we're used to seeing: pay attention to the amount of space the I/O cluster, seven expansion slots, and power supply take up. You can tell there's a healthy amount of clearance behind the motherboard tray, but above it things are a little bit cramped.

The side panel sports a window over where the CPU heatsink/fan unit typically rests, and then beneath it a grate with a 120mm/140mm fan mount that can blow cool air directly on the video card or video cards, which will be particularly useful for multi-GPU configurations. Both side panels are secured with two thumbscrews that were a little fussy in my review unit, but not much trouble with a proper screwdriver. When you do pop them off, though, you'll see that the inside of the Phantom 410 really is a bit on the cramped side.

You can buy yourself some real estate by removing the drive cage, but in the process you're reduced to just two internal 3.5"/2.5" drive bays. That said, the drive cage also includes an internal fan mount that you can pivot to aim air directly at the processor, but in the process you'll take up space your video card might have otherwise occupied. It's a nice idea, but in practice the Phantom 410 just feels a bit too small to really get any mileage out of it. Also pay attention to clearance above the motherboard tray: the exhaust fan still clears the tray itself, but it's a pretty tight squeeze.

Ultimately, aesthetically the NZXT Phantom 410 is going to be a matter of taste. I have friends that love garish designs, sometimes ironically and other times earnestly. Personally I like the style, and again I fall somewhere in the middle of that continuum. As you'll see when we get to assembly, though, this is definitely going to be style over practicality, so plan accordingly.

Introducing the NZXT Phantom 410 Assembling the NZXT Phantom 410
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  • Tigashark - Sunday, December 04, 2011 - link

    I tend to agree here... I just built a system in an Antec 300 illusion.. thats only a ~$70 case , comes with 4 variable speed fans.. AND had the standoffs fitted in the more common locations for a full size ATX board..

    Its just a nice touch for the manufacturer to at least have the more common standoffs pre-fitted its not make or break but it IS a nice touch...
    Reply
  • Belard - Tuesday, December 06, 2011 - link

    Also... with some motherboards - you'd only end up taking OFF some of the stand-offs if there isn't a mounting hole in the motherboard.

    This is a non issue. Out of the hundreds of computers I've built - only a few times do I have to deal with screw up loose stand-offs, usually caused by someone else not tightening them up correctly.
    Reply
  • buzznut - Sunday, December 04, 2011 - link

    Hello,
    As a phantom owner and enthusiast (yes that means I am voiding my warranty like crazy) I have found the phantom to be everything I wanted in a case--almost. It seems the wise folks at NZXT have listened to their fans and really updated the chassis.
    The window has been requested so much that the full tower Phantom has a side panel that owners can now purchase at NZXT.com to add their own. The newer phantoms being sold now have USB 3.0 available.

    The one thing I find lacking is they have no considerations for folks that have 3 1/2 inch bay devices. Of course I don't mean a floppy drive, but things like card readers. One can certainly buy a bay converter but it likely won't match the color or quality of the rest of the case. Cheap plastic being what I am primarily able to find, unless I want to pay $20.

    I think NZXT has a winner here that could potentially outsell the original. Most folks don't want or need a full tower, and the mid tower is extremely popular.
    Reply
  • HStanford1 - Wednesday, December 07, 2011 - link

    Why don't you want a cheap plastic 3 1/2 bay converter?
    Half of your case is made of it.
    Reply
  • atragorn - Monday, November 26, 2012 - link

    I just bought this case (Good deal at Microcenter the only place to shop ) and I agree with some of what you said about this case but the standoffs ? Yes they do not come pre-installed, you also failed to mention they include a tool to make installing them easier(Not everyone has the proper nut drivers laying around) which I for one appreciated since I misplaced my nut driver a while ago.

    There are lots of tie down spots on the back, yes the wires for the fans are a bit of a pain but I just moved them to the side till I was done everything else then I hooked them up to the fans and I like to be able to turn all my fans down when I am just doing web stuff (So not wearing headphones) or watching a movie,

    Nothing useful is completely painless in my experience.
    Most people looking for a midsize case are going to be fine with this case, I have two ssds, 3 hdd , a xfx 6850 1gb card, asus m5a97 LE R2.0 (don't buy it no usb 3 internal headers!) and a FX6100 running off a Thermaltake tr2 rx 850 (modular 80+ cant go wrong).
    No trouble building it up,

    It definitely gets noticed when people come over though :/
    Reply

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