NZXT Phantom 530

A few more inches on the inside would make it Kick Ass

NZXT’s full-tower Phantom 530 case re­minds us of the title character in Beverly Hills Ninja. The case tries hard to be sleek, quiet, and perfect, but just a few tiny missteps (or a mountain of them, if you’re Chris Farley) keep this chassis from at­taining killer black-belt status.

For example, it’s a bit odd to find the case’s reset switch behind the sturdy front panel. We’re not sure why NXZT couldn’t just split the real estate used by the case’s larger power switch up top, for the sake of convenience. The case’s two USB 3.0 ports are much more ideally located on the case’s front-top, as is the case’s built-in, three-speed fan controller and internal LED-light toggle—a lovely touch that NZXT has brought along from other cases in its Phantom line.

The case’s three 5.25-inch bays can be easily accessed via the case’s front, snap-lock covers, and they use their own simple locking mechanisms to keep your parts in place sans screws (though you can still double-secure your parts with screws from the case’s right side). Three removable sets of drive bays, holding six drives total, sit below. We appreciate just how easy it is to remove unused drive bays as much as we enjoy the bays’ drive trays themselves—installing and removing hard drives is a five-minute task, if that.

While the Phantom 530 offers a large cut-out area on its motherboard tray for easy access to aftermarket coolers, the case’s shorter depth means that your standard ATX motherboard is going to run right up against the case’s four big rubberized cable-routing holes. Depend­ing on where you slot your video card(s), they’re going to cover up a few of these. And you definitely won’t have room to add a supplemental 12cm or 14cm pivot fan that’s attachable to the left side of the case’s drive bays. Were the case just a lit­tle bit bigger, all these tweaks would work much more harmoniously.

There’s plenty of room on the case’s ceiling to add a 12cm or 14 cm radiator set­up or, if liquid isn’t your thing, fans rang­ing from 12cm to 20cm in size. We like the case’s diversity as much as we appreciate its silence. With its default 14cm rear fan and 20cm front fan spinning away, you can barely hear anything, even after you set the Phantom 530’s fan controller to full- blast. The case also allows you to slot in extra fans on the bottom and on its side panel, if you want to create a miniature hurricane underneath your desk.

Our one sticking point? The grill that covers the case’s side panel fan mount doesn’t run a tight enough weave, which gives you a pretty clear view directly into the fan itself or, if you’re running bare, two of the case’s drive bays. The misstep detracts from the case’s aesthetically pleasing side window and is one that could have been corrected quite easily.

All in all, we appreciate a number of the Phantom 530’s design elements. A few extra tweaks—and maybe a wee bit more space on the inside—could really help this chassis land the killing blow against the rest of its full-tower compe­tition. We might not use it to house our most elite of systems, but it’s otherwise good enough—and inexpensive enough — to offer a compelling building experience. -DAVID MURPHY

NZXT Phantom 530

+ NINJA WARRIOR Built-in fan controller; super quiet; mostly tool-free; lovely LED/side-panel window combination.

— NINJA TURTLE RAP A bit small; poorly placed, ugly grilled mesh on side window.

$130, www.nzxt.com

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