Assembling the NZXT Phantom 410

Remember how I said the NZXT Phantom 410 is more style than substance? This is where things start to fall apart. While it's nowhere near the most difficult enclosure I've ever assembled, I can't help but feel like it's just a little too cramped. Maybe this design just wasn't meant to shrink down this much, or maybe NZXT could've allowed for an extra inch or two in the dimensions somewhere, but this one took a little elbow grease.

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). Getting the motherboard in also proved just how tight a fit things were going to be down the road, with the clearance between the top of the board and the top exhaust fan being a bit narrower than I'd've liked.

NZXT does thankfully provide for tool-less drive installation, but they do it a little oddly. While snapping in the optical drive required applying a bit of force, eventually it did go in securely. Where things are strange are the drive trays: they slide in behind the motherboard panel instead of above, meaning you have to remove the back panel to install them. The trays themselves are tool-less and snap into 3.5" drives without much struggle, and the ports on the drives do face back to keep cabling tidy, but I can't help but feel like this is a little bit backwards. Worse still, the trays are on the flimsy side and easy to push too far in, beyond where they were supposed to stop and secure. This isn't much of a problem when the girth of a 3.5" drive helps provide friction against the inside of the drive cage, but a 2.5" drive is so small and weightless that you actually have to be at least a little bit careful popping the tray into place.

I didn't have much trouble getting our NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 test card into the Phantom 410, but it bears mentioning that the clearance between it and the pivoting internal fan mount is pretty slight; you're definitely not going to be able to mount a fan there if you have a 10.5" card, and the entire drive cage will have to come out if you plan on putting in a GTX 590 or AMD Radeon HD 6990 (or any other oversize card). Installing the power supply was also a fairly simple affair.

Honestly, where things went to hell was cabling. NZXT provides four additional leads for the fan controller, which is appreciated, though you'll have to cram them back behind the motherboard tray if you're not using them. That's a minor nuisance, but the real problem is that the holes in the motherboard tray specifically for cable routing are just too small and misplaced. When you take a look at the job I did wiring the Phantom 410, pay attention to the cables that would ordinarily get stashed behind the motherboard tray and aren't. Could I have routed them that way? With proper application of force and patience, probably, but it's light years behind Antec's P280 or any of Corsair's enclosures.

There are some really good ideas inside the NZXT Phantom 410, but it actually winds up just being too small to make them practical. NZXT does their best to make the Phantom 410 easy to work with within its existing dimensions, but those dimensions are a large part of the problem: this needed to be a bigger enclosure. This isn't the worst case I've ever had to assemble by a long shot, but there are much easier cases out there.

In and Around the NZXT Phantom 410 Testing Methodology
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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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