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Maximum PC Staff

Jan 10, 2011

NZXT Phantom

Imperial styling for Jawa prices

The NZXT Phantom’s glossy white coat and angular black mesh set it apart from the crowd.

The NZXT Phantom is gorgeous in a Dark Side kind of way—whether you opt for Darth Vader black, Imperial Guard red, or our favorite: Stormtrooper white. Though NZXT considers the Phantom a full-tower chassis, at 8.75 inches wide, 21.25 inches tall, and 24.5 inches deep (and with no EATX support), it’s no taller or wider (and barely deeper) than the other mid-tower chassis that make up the rest of this roundup. The Phantom packs seven toolless hard drive trays in a dual-bay configuration that (hooray!) leaves room for long cards like the Radeon HD 5970. We’re not crazy about front-panel doors like the one that covers the Phantom’s five (toolless) optical drive bays, but the Phantom’s door is at least nicely weighted and has a magnetic latch.

We’re glad NZXT spent as much time on the Phantom’s interior as it did on the exterior.

The Phantom’s motherboard tray packs the requisite CPU backplate cutout, four grommeted cable-routing holes, and plenty of tie-downs. The rear panel carries a 12cm exhaust fan, seven PCI expansion slots, grommeted holes for water-cooling, and a button that controls the Phantom’s top 20cm fan’s blue LEDs. In addition to the rear 12cm fan, the Phantom comes standard with two 12cm side-panel intake fans and a 20cm top exhaust fan. It also includes mounts for a 20cm (filtered) side intake fan, a 12cm or 14cm front intake fan, and—up top—room for an additional 20cm fan, a 24cm dual radiator, or both. This gives you the choice between two 20cm fans, two 20cm fans and a radiator, or two 12cm fans and a radiator. Every fan or potential fan in the case can be controlled using a gorgeous front-panel fan controller. The front-panel connectors are limited to audio, two USB 2.0, and eSATA. This is the only case in our roundup without front-panel USB 3.0.

The fan control panel is minimal, gorgeous, and initially confusing.

We expected the lack of a front fan to hurt the Phantom’s cooling performance, and it did. Though its CPU cooling score was second-worst in the pack, GPU and system temperatures ran as cool as the LanBoy Air—once again proving the merit of side intake fans. With the addition of a front intake fan, the Phantom could offer cooling performance to match its astounding looks. And given that the Phantom costs just $140, you’ll have plenty of cash left over for a fan or two.

Pop off the front bezel and install an intake fan. DO IT.

Benchmarks

NZXT Phantom
CPU Temp @ 100% burn (C)49
CPU Temp @ idle (C) 31.75
GPU Temp (C) 54
System Temp (C) 33

For our case testing, we use an EV GA 680SLI motherboard, stock-clocked Q6700 with a Thermaltake Contac29 cooler, an Nvidia 8800 GTX (with a Radeon 5970 for size testing), and a Corsair AX850 power supply. We use the case’s stock complement of fans on their highest settings.

THE VERDICT

NZXT Phantom

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