Phanteks Enthoo Evolv MATX Case Review
Published: 5th June 2015 | Source: Phanteks | Price: £89.99 @OCUK |
We opened the introduction of this review by telling you how much the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv costs. A fairly unusual move. However, if you've read the whole review you'll understand just why we did it. If you haven't read the whole review, by now you'll have glanced at the price at the top of the screen and begun to wonder whether we think its excellent value for money or shockingly overpriced. You see, by skipping to the end you're missing out on sooooo much, but to put you out of your misery and to end the unnecessary suspense its best we tell you that we were really quite surprised by this case
For starters there's the battleship grade build quality. Although only measuring a petite 230x450x400mm (WxHxD), at 9Kg it's a hefty little bugger, indicating that although the Aluminium panels that are used for the entirety of the exterior might be doing their part to lighten the load, the steel chassis underneath must be so well engineered that you'd think Thomas Telford himself designed it right after he did the Bridge. This sturdiness is backed up by quite exceptional build quality and attention to detail. The powder coating is good and thick, with very little evidence of the dreaded orange peel effect, there was also a perfect colour match between panels with no signs of chipping. What's also quite remarkable is that Phanteks have achieved the cutting edge semi industrial look of the Enthoo Evolve without having to resort to moulded plastic sections for the roof and front. Not that there's actually anything wrong with plastic, it's just nice to see that a great aesthetic can be achieved without it. Along with the aesthetic, some real thought has been put into ensuring that the interior of the case has a decent airflow. OK so you can't beat a full mesh front for high airflow, but that's not what we're saying. In strategically positioning the front case panel and making aesthetic use of intentionally oversize shut lines Phanteks are able to ensure enough air can be pulled in via the front mounted 200mm fan. It's the same story up in the roof, with Phanteks subtly raising the roof panel while keeping it smooth and gently flattened so as to prevent hot spots building up.
Opening the hinged suicide doors and turning to the interior we find that the case accepts the smaller M-ATX and M-ITX boards and not full size ATX. A few years ago this would have been a limiting factor, but in this day and age with some excellent SFF performance boards being brought to market it's no longer the ball and chain round the ankle of a build it once was. Inside there's room for GPUs up to 318mm in length, CPU coolers up to a staggering 192mm in height, and PSUs up to 180mm, with this extending to 216mm with the removal of a small panel. All three 3.5" drives and five 2.5" drives are stealth mounted keeping them out of sight, but for some strange reason Phanteks have included a cut out in the full length PSU cable routing cover that enables the logo on the side of the PSU to be seen. Why is this a strange thing? Well we're not quite sure PSUs are sexy enough to warrant being shown off. Granted you may have a high end PSU with uber cool graphics and logos on it, but other than that do you really want to see the power rating tables of your unit every time you look into the window? The other issue we have with the cut out is that it's not exactly guaranteed that your logo will be centred within it, not a fault of the case as such, but by definition longer and shorter PSUs will have their graphics in different places.
Out of the box cooling is decent, with a 200mm fan at the front and a 140mm unit at the rear. The front of the case can be adapted to accept a pair of 120s, as can the roof which also offers the option of 2x140mm fans. From a water cooling standpoint there's room up top for a 240mm or 280mm rad up to 40mm thick when coupled with a pair of 25mm thick fans. The rad mounts are slotted and are also off-set away from the motherboard by 40mm which means given the right component selection you might be able to squeeze in something thicker than a 45mm rad provided there's nothing on your mobo taller than 40mm. The front of the case is also able to accept rads, but space here is a bit more limited. On the face of it there's a good 70mm to be had between the chassis interior and the edge of the motherboard, the problem being though that it's only 20mm until you hit the cable management grommets, which will obviously have the 24 pin and GPU power cable coming through them as well as countless others. Granted these could be rerouted, but the effect of having major cables emerging from obscure places would be messy at best.
The Evolv continues to impress even when we turn it round and look at the rear of motherboard area. With a minimum 25mm of space to be had there's plenty of room for cable management, which is made even easier by the inclusion of several rather classy Phanteks branded flat profile Hoop-N-Loop fastenings. It's back her that we also find a pair of 2.5" mounts, one of which has a Drop-N-Lock SSD bracket. The star of the show back here though is the PWM fan hub. Simply plug one of the connections into the appropriate motherboard header and the rest of your fans into the hub and you can control all your fans via the bios. If that seems a bit of a fag remember a good many motherboards have suites such as ASUS' AI suite that enables you to control fans from windows, or, if you're rig is networked from any other networked device. It’s also worth considering that if you hit the e-tailers and try to buy a PWM fan hub it’s going to set you back some £15, so how great it is that one of these is included in an £80 case
But we're still not finished. Open up the large accessory box and you're greeted with a nice glossy set of multi-language instructions. Lift these out of their perfect fit in the box and you discover a plastic click-shut tool box with ten internal compartments to separate out all the included screws and fittings. Beneath this lies a rubber isolated universal pump bracket and a bracket allowing a 5.25" bay to be added to the rear of the case. Dig deeper and you find a good quantity of cable ties, an additional Hoop-N-Loop device and a set of three LEDs which enable you, should you choose to, to swap out the white front of case light for either a Red, Blue or Green one.
So does the Evolv have any major faults? Not really, and to be honest we're struggling to find any minor ones. This case has impressed us, and we mean seriously impressed us. Put quite simply there's little else on the market that is able to offer what the Enthoo Evolv does in terms of build quality, performance and capability, and at just £80 if the “Price” graph went that high we’d be winding it up to 11.
We can't wait to get our hands on the rest of the range.