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Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cases
Written by David Ramsey   
Tuesday, 05 February 2013
Table of Contents: Page Index
NZXT Phantom 630 Computer Case
Closer Look: Exterior
Closer Look: Interior
Detailed Interior Features
Building a System
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Computer Case Final Thoughts

Some of the first reviews I wrote for publication on this site were of NZXT cases. At the time I was somewhat of a case snob, preferring expensive Lian Li and Cooler Master aluminum cases for my builds. I was struck by the quality and features NZXT managed to bring to their sub-$100 cases, and came to realize that design was just as important, if not more so, than just materials and build quality. Of course if a case has all three, that's great!

At an MSRP of $179.99, the NZXT Phantom 630 is facing off against some pretty heavy competition...cases such as Cooler Master's HAF-X and Storm Trooper, or Silverstone's Raven RV03. In the end, of course, it comes down to the features you want and the price you're willing to pay. NZXT includes a raft of convenience features in the Phantom 630: an integrated fan controller block, rear LEDs, an integrated SD card reader, configurable drive cages, and removable filters for all the air intakes, and these features really help this case stand out in an increasingly crowded market segment.

nzxt_phantom_630_left_side.jpg

And it does need to stand out. The (vast) majority of computer cases sold are in the sub-$100 market; once you go over the $150 MSRP mark, you're looking at pretty rarefied territory. Like expensive cars in a showroom, these are the cases that "carry the standard" for vendors, and users rightfully expect to get a lot for their money. With the Phantom 630, they do.

Still, it's not perfect. The flimsy drive sleds are an especially jarring note in this case, and I hope that NZXT fixes them in the next iteration. Actually, they're so bad that I'd suggest NZXT consider offering free replacements. Other than that, my only other significant complaint is the single channel fan controller. Some of the competition, like Cooler Master's Storm Trooper, offer multi channel fan controllers, but NZXT has the advantage of the integrated fan power block, which shows well next to the massive tangled bundle of fan and light wiring in the much more expensive Cooler Master Cosmos II case.

Overall, this is a handsome and feature-rich case you'd do well to consider.

Phantom 630 Conclusion

Computer cases are one of the few areas in which an enthusiast can "put their mark" on a system. There's a tsunami of innovation and refinement in case design these days, and just when you thought you'd seen everything it was possible to do with the "ATX tower case" template, something new comes along to show you that other people don't agree.

The NZXT Phantom 630 shares a distinct look with the other member's of NZXT's Phantom case line. It's handsome enough, albeit not particularly dramatic. The Phantom 630 is available in black and white as well as the gunmetal gray of our review sample if you want something with a little more visual zing.

The steel used in the case is very sturdy: I was able to easily pick up a fully loaded case by a top frame rail (with the plastic top panel removed) and didn't notice any flexing at all. With the exception of the plastic drive sleds, all the steel and plastic parts were well made and fit precisely, so the construction quality of the case is up to the high standards we've come to expect from NZXT.

Functionally, the case is more versatile than many of the competition's cases, and is certainly the most water-cooling friendly case I've seen at this price point. Actually, short of monsters like the Rosewill Blackhawk Ultra or super-expensive bespoke cases like Mountain Mods, it's the best case I've seen for water cooling.

As for value: well, there's no getting around the fact that there are a lot of nice cases to choose from at this price point. As of February 2013 the NZXT Phantom 630 sells for $179.99 (Newegg / Amazon). If you have a single video card, only a couple of 2.5"/3.5" devices, and don't particularly care about water cooling, this might not be the case for you. However, if setting up a multi-drive water-cooled tri-SLI or CrossFireX system is what you're planning to do, then this is one of the best options at this price point that you should consider.

This case - flimsy drive sleds aside - marks another design win for NZXT. I'll be interested to see what they come up with next.

Pros:Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award

+ Good industrial design
+ Integrated fan controller, SD card reader, and rear LEDs
+ Configurable drive bays
+ High quality filtering on all intake fans
+ Sturdy construction
+ Excellent cable management

Cons:

- Flimsy drive sleds
- Could use a top mounted carrying handle
- Takes up a lot of room on your desk
- Must remove front panel to clean its dust filter, which means removing any 5.25" devices first.

Ratings:

  • Presentation: 9.00
  • Appearance: 8.00
  • Construction: 9.25
  • Functionality: 9.50
  • Value: 9.00

Final Score: 8.95 out of 10.

Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.

COMMENT QUESTION: What do you like most about the NZXT Phantom 630?


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Comments 

 
# Been looking forward to this one...Tom Jaskulka 2013-02-05 19:48
Great to see this one David! Thanks for the review. I actually had a question that I haven't seen answered anywhere: does this case use custom NZXT 200mm fans? As in, do I need to make sure to purchase the NZXT branded fan if I wanted to add another 200mm to the top?
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# RE: Been looking forward to this one...David Ramsey 2013-02-05 20:46
It uses NZXT fans, but as far as I can tell they're "standard" in that they seem to use the normal set of 200mm mounting points.
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# RE: RE: Been looking forward to this one...Tom Jaskulka 2013-02-06 10:43
My Vulcan (and the original Phantoms from what I've heard) all used the "not quite" 200mm fans, so upgrading would have been a deal-breaker for me if this one was the same way. If you ever get a chance to confirm for sure or measure, I'd say thank you again ;) Certainly not a priority though, I appreciate the response!
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# RE: RE: RE: Been looking forward to this one...David Ramsey 2013-02-06 15:08
There's only one place you can add a 200mm fan (the top of the case), and the fans are $16.99 at Newegg, so it's not a big deal if it's non-standard...unless there are some non-NZXT 200mm fans you really like
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# RE: NZXT Phantom 630 Computer Casekzinti1 2013-03-14 02:16
It's high time these case manufacturers realized how easy it is to make room for all the cables behind the motherboard tray. I'd like to see the companies settle on 1.5 inches from the mobo tray to the inside of the back cover. These mobo power cables aren't going to get any smaller any time soon and a little excess space would be a Godsend.
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