NZXT Phantom 630 Case Review: The Relentless Pursuit of Perfectionby Dustin Sklavos on January 20, 2013 12:01 AM EST
Assembling the NZXT Phantom 630
NZXT has made a lot of really smart decisions as far as overall design goes with the Phantom 630, but there are still a couple of places where they need work. Assembly went pretty smoothly (I can't stress enough how important hinged side panels are), but in the interest of progress I'm going to nitpick the hell out of this because it is the weakest part of the 630's design.
Installing the motherboard is about as easy as it gets; NZXT ships the 630 with standoffs for an ATX motherboard preinstalled, which is an appreciated convenience. The only thing they're missing that other manufacturers have employed is a center stud that can be used to line up and effectively hold the board in place. It's also worth mentioning Lian Li was successfully able to make motherboard installation "toolless" by including special thumbscrews for this part, but that's a convenience that's not strictly necessary.
Where NZXT seems to keep running into trouble is with the drive sleds. The 630 uses the same sleds the 820 used, and they're just too flimsy. When the 630 arrived, most of the sleds were out of alignment, and they pretty much *need* a full hard drive installed to even snap in properly. Note also that the drive sleds enter the cages from the rear of the motherboard tray. Corsair, Antec, and Fractal Design typically get this part of the assembly right, and I get the feeling this is one of the places where NZXT is still cutting corners, because these are still too flexible and they just don't really lock into the drive cages very firmly.
Thankfully the drive trays used for 2.5" SSDs behind the motherboard have a slightly simpler and much more secure design; these are held in place by a single thumbscrew, and the simple slot-down mounting is exactly firm enough. NZXT also includes incredibly secure, firm latches for the 5.25" bays, though I wish these latches were on both sides instead of just the side above the motherboard tray.
You can color me surprised that the expansion slots don't use thumbscrews, though. I'm not sure what the reason for this change is, and I'm not particularly peeved by it since most thumbscrews are installed so tightly that you need to use a screwdriver just to remove them without losing your fingerprints anyhow, but it's an odd omission. The power supply continues to use the same screws every other case does, but NZXT thankfully includes enough struts in the bottom of the case to support power supplies short and long.
NZXT did get the cabling mostly right, but there's another major gaffe here. While the space behind the motherboard tray is copious to begin with and only improved by the smart cabling channels, and I'm really happy to see a central fan control hub, it's almost impossible to route the AUX 12V line behind the motherboard tray. There's a hole above the tray that theoretically allows for it, but in practice the clips on the lead itself cause it to be too thick to fit. It's kind of bizarre to see this kind of flaw come through the design when so much of the rest of it is spot on, but there you have it. At least there are plenty of rungs for zip ties.
If I seem to be nitpicking, it's only because I'm by and large talking directly to the guys who designed the Phantom 630 and asking for these things to be addressed. They're so close to a ten-out-of-ten design here, and these little things can come together to compromise usability somewhat. In the grand scheme of things these issues are minor enough that most users can and should be fine, and they're definitely overshadowed by the other perks of the 630's design.
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sna1970 - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - linkI wonder why people cant design REAL good looking cases ...
if the Japanese can ...
hey Anand ... take a look at Abee PC cases for a change ...
awg1031 - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - linkwow, i hope anand can hold of abee's product..
even look at the i-phone case..nice~
meefer - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - linkThey look like clean designs but they aren't terribly interesting- all crisp but cold right angles. I'd like to find a nice balance between the old beige box look (like Abee Smart) and the ridiculous 1990s Mega Bass boombox look (like the CoolerMaster HAF).
It doesn't look like Abee have distributors in the US, too bad. Their phone and tablet cases look awesome.
3ogdy - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - linkThe right angle design and sharp edge design is back for some - they think that if they add a nice shiny painting they can pretend to be the latest craze and well, "simple, yet awesome design" -which they're not. Those look like those second hand PC cases people throw away for $30. But hey, I was against Alienware's case redesign (their cases were by far some of the best looking one on the market), yet they went on and came up with something that looks a lot worse than their previous design...it seems taking steps backwards is the new fashion now.
meefer - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - linkGood point. For what it's worth, I think the bland right-angle design works much better in the small form factor cases from Abee. Example:
3ogdy - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - linkI really don't get it:
Do you really mean those UGLY cases from the link you posted look better than the NZXT design?
I understand it's a matter of taste but hey, the Abee cases have absolutely no design at all - they're simply a bunch of unpolished Pentium 3-style cases.
So why did you use them as an example against the NZXT Phantom, which OBVIOUSLY and DEFINITELY looks a ton better. Even if the NZXT Phantom cost twice as much as those cases, I'd still get the Phantom. It looks better and it is functional-enough.
Bob Todd - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - linkI bet you thought the MSI GT660 looked better than a MacBook Pro too...
kyuu - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link30gdy is right. How exactly are *those* cases good-looking? They look like the towers from the P4 era and back. If you really loved your old beige-box, great. But I think most people agree those are far from aesthetically pleasing.
I'm not a huge fan of NZXT's aesthetic design either, but at least it *has* a design.
kyuu - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - linkTheir iPad/iPhone cases on the other hand, now *those* look nice.
JPForums - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link
These are most certainly not unpolished Pentium 3-style cases. Take a look at the list Ugly posted below for a valid point of comparison. The looks are definitely understated, but the combination of brushed aluminum exterior and what appears to be a well constructed and modern internal design (looking at the X3) counts as polish in my book. There is a market for designs such as these, especially in a business oriented setting.
That said, the understated look isn't for everyone. I'd expect cases like these to appeal more to fans of the classic Lian Li enclosures than fans of Coolermaster's HAF series or NZXT chassis in general. I probably wouldn't use one of these for my gaming build, but I could see myself building a workhorse for the office in one of these if the performance keeps up. I'd like to see Dustin review one of these if he gets the chance.