|NZXT Phantom Full-Tower Case PHAN-001BK|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cases|
|Written by Mathew Williams|
|Friday, 13 August 2010|
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Detailed Interior Features
Now that we've had a peak at the interior of the NZXT Phantom, we'll examine some of the features in a bit more detail as we walk through the installation process. I completed a full installation and did some wire management to see just how user friendly the Phantom is. While many people will only spend a couple hours out of a case's life installing and removing components, a good design can make this process all the more gratifying and ultimately lead to higher satisfaction. That said, I did hit a few snags which I will discuss below, but for the most part, the installation went very well.
Besides the motherboard and processor, one of the first components you are likely to install is the power supply. As we've seen, the Phantom has a bottom mounting point for the PSU and in the photo above you can see the rubber standoffs it's supposed to rest on. Here's where I hit snag one: depending on your power supply, these standoffs may make contact with the fan grill. In my case, the two rear standoffs made contact with the PSU right on the edge of the fan housing where there were two dips in the metal casing. That caused the alignment to be slightly off when I went to secure the screws in the back of the PSU. It's not a major issue, and was easily corrected by shifting the PSU a bit, but it's something to keep in mind should you buy this case.
Next up are the Phantom's 3.5" drive bays. As you can see above, NZXT went with a tray design. The trays have prepositioned pins to allow for screwless installation of hard drives. I used a 2.5" SSD for this build, though, which required a couple extra steps--and screws. I first had to remove the pins on one side, which was easily done in a few seconds. Then the SSD could then be secured to the tray via four screws on the bottom. After that, it slid in just like a hard drive would have. While it didn't take much for NZXY to put a couple holes in the bottom of the tray, I'm glad they did as it made the SSD installation a bit quicker than having to deal with adapters.
What NZXT lacked in innovation with respect to the SSD installation, it certainly made up for in the 5.25" drive installation. In my opinion, this is one of the better tool-less 5.25" bays outs there. You simply slide the lock located on the latch, seen above, and pop it open. Then, slide the drive in, align the pins to the holes, and pop the latch and lock back into place. The pins hold the drive in place pretty well, but if you prefer a little extra security, screws (provided) can be used in tandem with the latch system.
Up to this point, I haven't talked much about the motherboard/CPU installation, mostly because the process was fairly straightforward--no gimmicks, no tricks, just motherboard standoffs and screws. The installation of the graphics card was straightforward as well. Their tool-less solution here was simply good old thumbscrews. I'm fairly skeptical of most tool-less expansion card systems, which is why I'm glad to see that NZXT went this route. I just can't see myself trusting a $300+ video card to a flimsy piece of plastic, particularly with how often I move my system around. Once tightened down, the thumbscrews hold everything securely in place. One of the other things you may have noticed in the photo above is how much room there is around the video card. The Phantom should easily be able to handle the larger videos cards on the market. The same goes for the heatsink.
Although I went with the stock heatsink with this build, it could easily be swapped out thanks to the heatsink cutout seen above. Also in this photo, you can see some of the wire management I did. This is where I hit snags 2 and 3. Routing the cables was fairly easy with all the built-in pathways and tie-down locations, but when it came to the rubber lined pass-throughs on the motherboard tray, things weren't so user friendly. The rubber isn't secured in anyway, so I every time I passed a larger cable through, it started coming off. At one point, one piece came off completely and it took a few minutes to get it back on. The other issue was with the cutout at the top of the motherboard tray, intended, I assume, for the 12v motherboard power cable. With the motherboard in place, there just wasn't enough clearance to get the connector through. After removing a couple motherboard screws, though I got the 1mm of clearance I needed. Needless to say, I recommend routing the cable before installing the motherboard. I should also mention that with the cables routed as shown in the photo above, the side panel didn't close as nicely as I would have liked. It took rearranging things a bit and passing some cables further into the other side of the case, to get everything closed up nicely. It's not really a con as far as the case is concerned, but worth mentioning for those of you who like to hide the bulk the excess cables behind the motherboard. There's actually a decent amount of space back there if you're diligent about it.