Phanteks Enthoo Primo Review: A big, monster case with a few little quirks
We appreciate it when a case manufacturer dares to go above and beyond the standard construction techniques we see time and time again. Enter the Phanteks Enthoo Primo case—a chassis that sounds more like a sneeze than a container for your expensive hardware, but one that comes with a few tricks hidden within its jet-black frame. However, a few peculiar quirks make us hesitant to give this $250 chassis a full-on recommendation.
Give up your gym membership; lifting this case up and down is all the workout you’ll ever need.
To begin with, we were annoyed with the Primo’s packaging. Not that the box it arrived in didn’t adequately protect the near-40-pound steel chassis with the help of a ton of foam, but rather that Phanteks covered the case with protective wrap that was stickier and gooier and more difficult to take off than what we’re used to dealing with. And there’s quite a lot of it, too.
Moving on to the case itself, the Primo’s five 5.25-inch bays are screwless and easy to access by popping off the grilled covers on its front. We just wish we could switch the case’s front-panel door from swinging open right-to-left to left-to-right—like on a refrigerator. The Primo’s six drive bays all use easy-to-install trays to hold your storage in place, and the case itself comes with two areas on the rear of the motherboard tray where you can double-stack SSDs (so, four total).
Slapping an ATX, eATX, or mATX motherboard into this case is pretty easy, given its pre-installed standoffs. Swapping an aftermarket cooler into a build is similarly simple, thanks to the huge, cut-out hole on the upper half of the motherboard tray.
Installing a standard video card into the Primo is a bit trickier since a large reservoir bracket covers the right half of the motherboard area. We didn’t have any room whatsoever to slap a 10.5-inch GTX 480 in the case as-is; we had to first remove the bracket’s cover and, even then, it was an extremely tight fit. Video cards measuring 11 inches or more need not apply. Yes, you can remove the bracket entirely, but it’s just one more somewhat annoying step in the installation process.
Phanteks goes to great lengths to help you conceal cables, but its water-cooling apparatuses get in the way a bit.
The reservoir bracket, when in place, severely hampers one’s ability to effectively manage cables within the case. But even with a standard ATX motherboard installed, two of the case’s seven rubberized cable mounting holes on the tray itself are ever-so-slightly covered up; it’s not a deal-breaker, but mildly annoying given the sheer size of the full-tower chassis.
The case’s connectivity is pretty standard: two USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports on top. The connectors themselves are covered by lovely rubber tabs, but these tabs aren’t themselves attached to the case in any fashion—making them neat to look at but super easy to lose. An additional button controls the case’s lovely lighting, a thin blue strip that runs over the front-right side and up onto the case’s top.
What we’d love to see on this case is a fan controller. A built-in circuit board allows you to connect up to 11 different fans to a single, 4-pin connector—presumably, you’d be able to control everything via your motherboard. We think a dial, switch, or some other means of changing up your fan speeds on-the-fly would be a lot easier.
The Primo is an odd hybrid. It comes with plenty of cooling, support for plenty of devices (including two PSUs, if you dare), and offers a lot on the liquid-cooling front. However, its ease-of-use is countered by a few nagging features that, for a case this costly, should have been eliminated at the drawing board. For this much scratch, you could almost snag a 10/Kick Ass–winning Corsair Obsidian 800D.