The original NZXT Phantom case was arguably the first truly successful white case on the market, and It has to be said, setting something of a trend in the process. It was also something of a statement piece from NZXT to the effect that the PC case market had changed and that they were not afraid to push the boundries. With the release of the Phantom 410 we saw all style of the original Phantom in a much smaller package. Not being a company to rest on their laurels NZXT have now released the 410 in a selection of special edition colours. In addition to a selection of contrasting duo colour combinations NZXT have released the rather striking "Gun Metal" edition that we have for review today.
|CASE TYPE||Mid Tower Steel|
|FRONT PANEL MATERIAL||Plastic|
|DIMENSIONS (W x H x D)||215 x 516 X 532 mm|
|VGA Clearance Maximum||305mm (w/o fan), 280mm (installed), 230mm (full pivot)|
FRONT, 2x120mm or 1 X 140mm (1x120mm included)
|DRIVE BAYS||3 EXTERNAL 5.25" DRIVE BAYS|
6 INTERNAL 3.5" Slots
Screwless Rail Design
|MOTHERBOARD SUPPORT||ATX, MICRO-ATX, MINI-ITX|
Up Close: Exterior
As you might imagine from the name, this special edition Phantom 410 is finished inside and out in a rather nice Gun Metal colour. The large areas of Gun Metal colour are counterpointed by detailed areas such as fan grills and trim being picked out in black.
The left hand side of the case is split into two halves. Uppermost is a clear window area angled slightly upwards towards the front of the case. Beneath this, and following the same lines is a circular holed mesh area able to accept both a 120mm and 140mm fan. This fan mount would typically be used to blow cool air over the GPU area of the case, and although there is a grill, there is no filter on this fan mount. The right hand side of the case is blank with no intakes or windows.
The front of the case is angular with the lower section being dominated by an angular black metal fan grill. This provides protection for the 120mm white bladed fan behind. This intake does have a mesh fan filter however it's not that easy to remove and clean. Above the fan intake is a well concealed door which gives access to the 3x5.25" bays. The bay cover plates are also finished in the same Gun Metal colour as the rest of the case and are very easily removed by means of a small clip towards the right of the plate. I had expected the door to be flimsy, but as it is made out of several moulded sections it actually has quite a degree of structural rigidity. The lower area of the door cover sports a subtle NZXT logo, which is not seen when the door is shut so as not to spoil the smooth lines of the case front.
The roof of the case is also home to a large fan grill. This time housing a 140mm White LED fan set on extract. Anterior to this lies the front I/O area, split into two halves down either side of the cases roof edges.
On the left as we look at the case are located the power and reset buttons, with a large slit white LED illuminating to show power and HDD activity. On the right are located a row of sockets allowing the usual mic and phono connections as well as 2xUSB2 and 2xUSB3 (via mobo header). Posterior to the USB sockets we have a 3 position 30W fan controller which is able by means of supplied internal wiring to control all fitted fans along with 4 additional units.
Round the back of the case we find the upper section has a 120mm fan on extract, to the left of this is the rear I/O area. Lower down the rear we find 7 vented expansion bay covers. finished in black to offsett the Gun Metal, which is a nice bit of attention to detail at the rear of the case it has to be said. To the right of these are a couple of grommeted water cooling tubing holes, with an additional vented section laying underneath. Right at the bottom we find the PSU bay.
The base of the case is supported by 6 slim inline rubber feet mounted on two longitudinal rails. The PSU intake has a large vented area with integral mesh filter. There is an additional mounting point for a 120mm fan anterior to the PSU area although no fan is supplied and no filter is present. to the front of this fan mount lies a blank area which is situated directly under the HDD rack. The additional set of holes in this area are spaced 85mm apart and 25mm from the 120mm fan holes.
Up Close: Interior
The interior of the Phantom 410 is laid out in the classic style with the drives stacked vertically at the front of the case with the motherboard area behind. A large CPU cut out makes for easy cooler changes, with 3 good sized grommeted holes providing a mechanism for cable management. The interior of the case is finished in the same Gun Metal colour as the exterior, with small areas such as the grommets, rear expansion port covers and the 5.25" drive bay securing brackets being picked out in black to add a degree of contrast.
The 3x5.25" bays are of the tool-less type, utilising a simple rubber spring type mechanism to secure the devices. knurled thumb screws are also provided should you decide you'd like a firmer mount.
Under the 5.25" bays we find the 3.5" bays. Six in total split between a removable 4 drive section immediately beneath the 5.25" section and a fixed 2 drive section at the base of the case. The removal of the 4 drive section allows and increase in max GPU length from 305mm up to 420mm.
The removable HDD caddy can also be fitted with a 120mm or 140mm fan by means of a retaining bracket towards the top of the caddy. This fan mount can be angle through approx 30 degrees and locked in position by means of a thumb screw. The addition of a fan in this area reduces the GPU length to 280mm or with the fan mount bracket and fan fully extented down to 230mm.
Moving to the floor of the case we can see that that there is a 120mm un filtered fan mount immediately behind the fixed 3.5" drive area. At the very rear of the case there is a large PSU mount area. Sound and vibration dampening is provided by means of 4 rubber pads, with additional support being given to the PSU by extensions of the motherboard plate, forming a sort of sprung clamp.
When we look upwards into the rear and roof section of the case we can see that NZXT have included 2l fans to aid in extraction of the warm air from the case. The first is a 120mm unit and is mounted on the rear of the case above the 7 expansion bay covers, and the second is a 140mmunit and is located in the roof at the rear. anterior to this roof fan is a mounting for a second fan of either 120mm or 140mm, but more of that when we come to look at the stripped down case and the build.
Around the rear of the case there's 25mm worth of cable management space which is plenty enough for a case this size. cable management is also made considerably easier with the inclusion of no less than 27 cable tie mounting points. Yes! 27. I had to count them several times to make sure I got them all (and i'm still not 100% convinced I have).
Up Close: Stripped down
The front and roof sections of the outer case are plastic and are secured by means of simple clips. They are both easily removed by pulling them firmly away from the case itself. They come away cleanly with no trailing wires to worry about as all electronics and I/O connections are mounted to the case itself. Taking the front off the case allows us to access the front fan area. NZXT have fitted the case with a single 120mm fan leaving space above for an additional 120mm unit. Alternatively a single 140mm fan can be fitted centrally.
Removing the top of the case allows us to access the front I/O area. Both sides of the I/O area are simple modular units that are either clipped or screwed to the body of the case. making removal easy should you wish to strip the case down for spraying (not that you'd want to with such a lovely paint job.
Finally we look at the rear and roof fan mount area fan mount area. Again we see NZXT have been generous and included a 120mm in the rear and a 140mm white LED in the roof, making that a total of 4 inclusive fans. This roof area is also able to accept an additional 140mm fan or a total of 2x120mm fans. For fans of all things wet you'll be delighted to know it's also possible to fit a slim 120.2 or 140.2 radiator up here as the inter-fan holes have the correct requisite spacings.
The Phantom 410 comes with the usual array of assorted screws required for mounting the various drives and devices. Black motherboard standoffs are included and must be fitted prior to the build as none are mounted on the back plate at point of delivery. NZXT have thoughtfully included a stand off adaptor spanner to make this task simpler. NZXT have also added in a good hand full of cable ties and some longer screws to enable the mounting of a radiator in the roof. A small leaflet giving info on other NZXT products can also be found in the accessories box
The multi language instructions themselves although clearly typed are not the most useful in the world as they are at best a bit vague and overarching at times. Not a disaster by any means, but a bit of head scratching did result on several occasions as I tried to work out how various items came apart and went back together.
Some people always put the motherboard in first, me, I tend to put the PSU in first. For this build I'm using the new NZXT Hale82 series 850W PSU. The Hale has a semi modular design with all the major cables being hard wired in and a veritable selection of additional cables to choose from.
Unlike it's big Brother, the Phantom 410 isn't a huge case by any means. With the cables coming from the PSU and the vipers nest of front I/O and fan cables arising from the top of the case I was initially quite fearful that a neat cable management job was going to be a bit of a non starter.
So with the PSU in and the cables fed through to the rear lets take a look at how things are round the back.
Mmm not quite so neat and tidy yet is it. Still, lots of work to do before we're done so on with the installation of the motherboard, GPU, HDDs etc. It's worth mentioning that the Grommets used do come away from the sides of the holes quite easily when larger cables are pushed through. Thery're easy enough to re attach, but it is a bit of a pain to have to keep doing it throughout the build.
There's not a lot of room at the bottom of the case for cable management, and with no grommeted holes near the Motherboard power and reset headers i'm going to have to use one of the un gormmeted holes. I also plan to bring the USB header cable through here along with the audio connection, which will then have to run along the top of the PSU as there's no where else further along to bring it out.
Things are also pretty snug at the top of the case, but this is par for the course with cases this size. Although there's no specific hole for the CPU power cable there is a small gap along side the Motherboard tray that it can be fed through. Getting it plugged in with a cooler in situ is another matter, but as I found out, it can be done. There's about 32mm clearance between the roof of the case and the edge of the Motherboard, which is fine for a 25mm thick fan, but tight if you're wanting to put a Radiator on the inside of the case. That said, at exactly 32mm thick, the XSPC RS240 just might fit. No worries if it doesn't though as the case is actually designed to have space for a radiator on the other side of the roof plate, under the top plastic cowling.
Mounting the HDDs is a simple enough affair, just prize open the try, drop it in, line up the holes and away you go, secure in a drawer of your choice.
With all the hardware in lets have a look at how things are shaping up. Firstly shown below with the NZXT Havik 120 CPU cooler in situ.
With the Havik removed we can see how tight things are up in the roof. Not a lot of room, but actually just enough, which after all is all that's needed. Likewise, at the bottom of the case as I suspected, I had to bring the power and reset cables through the non grommeted holes and route the other cables along from there also. To be honest i don't think it looks too bad, especially as this area falls below the level of the case window it won't be seen anyway.
A few last shots of the case before we have that final look around the back, this time with the monster triple fan Zero Infinity Free Flow+ CPU cooler in place. I've put this cooler in just to show that there is room inside the 410 to accommodate even some of the very largest coolers on the market.
What's that you say? I haven't showed you what it looks like round the back? Really? Well best I did then. I have to say that this was one of the most rewarding and satisfying cable management jobs i've done. Not perfect by any means, but then the build will be taken apart immediately after it is finished. That said, my aim was to show what can be done with the aid of some patience and of course, in no small part the space provided and the absolute abundance of cable tie mounts that are featured on this case. I've built into super tower cases that don't even have half of the mounts that this case has. Big Big Brownie points to NZXT for this feature.
The Phantom 410 has actually been around for a litle while now, and I guess is one of those "Marmite" cases you either do or don't like the looks of. Having not seen an example of the case in the flesh here at OC3D towers before the release of the special editions I really didn't know what to expect. To an extent, I was a little concerned that with the amount of plastic in use for the roof and front panel mouldings the case would feel cheap. I needen't have worried however as the plastic is good and thick and the quality of finish very high. The door in particular is worth a mention. It would have been very easy for NZXT to just have a single plastic moulding to make up the door. Instead the door is formed from several sections that screw together to give it a sense of depth and rigidity. it's exactly this sense of strength and rigidity that's carried through the rest of the mouldings.
Looks wise the only thing i'm not overly keen on is the use of a split window and vented section on the side panel. I'd have preferred to see a full size window or perhaps a continuation of the window down over the vented area. Still, nothing a Dremel won't sort out eh? So we've talked about looks and quality, but what about that colour? "Gun Metal". It really is deep and lusterous and quite unlike any case colour I've seen before. Rather annoyingly it is in fact the exact same colour I was looking for to paint a Chassis I modded a while back but was unable to find. I guess NZXT must've been reading my mind. Remember that although this is the Gun Metal colour there are 3 other colours in the special edition range, in the form of Gloss Black with Orange trim, White with Blue trim and Black with White trim. Of these I'm particularly drawn to the black and Orange theme, and if you've seen my mods you'll understand why.
Inside the case then and although there's not a great deal of room, there is actually enough. Remember this isn't a super tower case, it's just a Mid tower so you're not going to be able get in there with your hardware. It's big where it counts though (ahem). with plenty of GPU room with and without the removable HDD rack, and good CPU cooler headroom to boot.
The build process was a pleasurable one, made even more so by the generous provision of 27 cable tie mounts. Other case manufacturers should take a leaf out of NZXTs book here. Something so simple as cable tie mounts can make a job so much easier and the result so much nicer. The only real gripes I have about this case are very small ones, in particular the grommets which come away a bit too easily and never quite seem to sit right once they've been re attached, and the absence of any real fan filters
The inclusive cooling is also on the generous side, with 3x120mm fans and 1x140 fan. Room for an additional 120 in the front, the floor and side panel and an additional 140 in the roof, as well as options for water-cooling mean this case has it where it counts when it comes to cooling.
In use the case is very quiet even with the fans at their highest setting. Not the quietest i've heard, but by no means the loudest, and certainly not intrusively loud. Drop the fans to their lowest speeds via the integral 3 position fan controller and the noise footprint practically drops of the radar.
So what of the competition? Well there's nothing out there that really looks quite like the 410 apart from perhaps the Aerocool Sixth Element but that's not really in the same league quality and performance wise. I guess we have to compare to such cases as the Graphite 600T which does have slightly less vanilla looks than say the CM690II but at £140 is a good £30 more expensive than the 410. Shop around and you can find some full tower cases at around the £100-£120 mark, such as the Raven, the Colossus and indeed the full size Phantom, but if it's a mid tower you're after as you don't want something the size of a wardrobe sitting on the desk beside you then the 410 is is something you should give serious consideration to.
So is it getting a gold? No, but it's not off by much. With the release of the special edition colours NZXT have perhaps missed a bit of an opportunity in that they could perhaps have taken the time to rectify a few of the niggles raised when this case first came to market. We're not talking big issues here, but a trick has most definatley been missed. If the release of the new special edition colours had been combined with the addition of fan filters and a bit of an upgrade to those grommets then the Phantom 410 could have been the proud owner of a Gold award. As we're not into making an alloy of gold and silver awards here at OC3D then a Silver it has to be.
Thanks to NZXT for the case on review today, you discuss your thoughts in the OC3D forums.