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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  • geniekid - Friday, December 02, 2011 - link

    "resembling the kind of case an Imperial Stormtrooper might choose if they were planning on learning how to at least hit the broad side of a barn in their off-duty hours"

    ZING!!!
    Reply
  • LintMan - Friday, December 02, 2011 - link

    "While I've gotten used to other enclosures in this market getting bigger or adding new features,NZXT plays the Phantom 410 fairly close to the vest. Internal clearance is actually at a little bit of a premium, ..."

    That phrase - I do not think that means what you think it means.

    Plying something close to the vest means being secretive about it, as in at a poker game holding your cards tightly to your chest (vest) so no one else can see them.
    Reply
  • ckryan - Friday, December 02, 2011 - link

    I'm going to hold my discontent over another off-hand Star Wars reference close to the vest.

    I didn't see the word "dire" anywhere in the text either.
    Reply
  • LintMan - Friday, December 02, 2011 - link

    I'm not one for gaudy/flashy cases normally (I just bought a P280), but I kinda like the style of the Phantom 410. It reminds me of a retro 1950's kitchen appliance. As the review says, it's fun.

    Also, 2 USB 3.0 ports! Why is that so hard to find? I scratched a lot of nice cases off my list because of that lack. Are the 3.0 conectors that much more expensive?

    Anyway, seems like a nice case, but given the size problems, I don't think I'd trade my P280 for it, though.

    Lastly, the review mentions that part of the case lights up when powered on... why not post a picture of that in the gallery?
    Reply
  • The0ne - Saturday, December 03, 2011 - link

    For me I rather the ease and usability of the case than the looks. I think everyone can remember a time when working with a not so friendly case was more frustration than worthwhile. This is a hobby, for me at least, so I want to have fun building/testing the system rather than fuss around it.

    As for USB 3.0, I wish there were more but you be hard press to find more than 2 physical ones on a MB with the rest requiring front panel connectors or additional connectors. I'm not entirely sure why 3.0 hasn't become more widely popular as it is backward compatible with 2.0 and 1.x.

    This case is too small for my taste. Just looking at the internals is making me cringe :)
    Reply
  • Pit2k - Friday, December 02, 2011 - link

    The more plastic, the higher the chances of things rattling. Reply
  • Subyman - Saturday, December 03, 2011 - link

    He certainly wasn't kidding when he said internal clearance is at a premium. That motherboard is wedged in there! Reply
  • EmoshBZ - Saturday, December 03, 2011 - link

    I want one:) Reply
  • gurboura - Sunday, December 04, 2011 - link

    "First, I'm always disappointed when motherboard standoffs don't come preinstalled from the factory in a modern case. They're a nice convenience and having to screw them in is both tedious and sometimes even a little bit frustrating (for example, having to remove the motherboard and realizing you didn't secure one or two of the standoffs as well as you thought you did)."

    You're going to complain because stand offs didn't come pre-installed? Would it be nice? Yeah. Is it something that trivial to even mention? Doubt it. You're also talking about a $100 case.

    Tedious? It takes a whole two minutes if you're taking your time to get stand offs installed. The only way I could see it being tedious is if you used your fingers to install them. Even then, how often are you going to be taking your motherboard out, taking the stand offs off, and re-installing them? It's not a daily occurrence for the average consumer.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Sunday, December 04, 2011 - link

    You're right, I AM talking about a $100 case. The Corsair Carbide 400R has 'em, and it's a $100 case. The fact is, they can be a little tedious, and if manufacturers are going to look for as many ways as they can to make the assembly process easier, that's a good place to start.

    It seems like a minor nuisance, but honestly I build and dismantle enough of these things that it starts to grate after a while.
    Reply

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