In and Around the NZXT Phantom 630

I'm almost ashamed to admit the NZXT Phantom aesthetic is beginning to grow on me. Part of it is that the 820 I reviewed and now the 630 both employ a gunmetal and black two-tone that I'm partial to, but each successive Phantom has gone a long way towards streamlining the look. The 820 still looked a bit slapdash, but the 630 for the most part has it together. However you feel about the overall design is going to be a matter of taste, but it's at least the most focused Phantom chassis I've seen yet.

The front of the Phantom 630 is the same wedge shape we're used to seeing, with angular accents and a black mesh fan grill. A door held closed magnetically swings open to the right, and it hides four 5.25" drive bays (with easy-to-remove spring-latched shields) as well as the integrated SD card reader. The card reader is something I actually discussed with their designers at CES; every notebook and desktop sold comes with a card reader standard these days, but for some odd reason they're still largely absent in cases. Apparently a basic SD reader isn't particularly expensive to implement, so NZXT went for it, and I honestly appreciate the inclusion. There's a fan filter that slides out of the bottom as well, but when moving the 630 you'll want to try to avoid putting too much pressure on it.

Move to the top of the 630, and that's where NZXT put all of the I/O and controls. The original Phantom, way back in the way, had controls that were borderline indecipherable. The 630, on the other hand, is much clearer. There are two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports along with the audio jacks, and these are along the top left. The right side sports the three-step fan controller (with three white LEDs beneath it to indicate fan speed), the rear LED toggle (for turning the LEDs around the expansion slots and I/O in the back on and off), and then the power and reset buttons.

While the side panel behind the motherboard tray is flat, the one above it features a single window and then what appears to be a large vent. Actually, beneath the vent is still mostly solid covering with an opening for the substantial 200mm side intake fan. I thought the split window on the 820 was kind of goofy; I'd still like to see NZXT release either a Phantom with solid, closed off sides, but this is a step in the right direction.

When we get to the back, we can see the usual adjustable rear exhaust fan along with a healthy amount of ventilation above the expansion slots. What we don't see are portholes for external liquid cooling, which is an interesting exclusion on NZXT's part. Those holes come bog standard on almost every case produced these days but I've never actually seen them be relevant. Most modern liquid cooling systems, even on super high end builds, tend to be housed within the case itself.

Four thumbscrews hold the hinged side panels into place, and despite hewing to the same basic ATX case design principles, NZXT's design inside the Phantom 630 is incredibly modern and enthusiast friendly. The motherboard tray is recessed slightly and the routing holes on the right side angled to steer assembly towards neater cabling. My personal favorite feature is the trio of drive cages. Because of the way NZXT split up the drive trays between cages, you essentially only need to include as many cages as you need, allowing you to remove the excess ones and improve airflow from the front 200mm intake. The cages themselves are locked into place with thumbscrews behind the motherboard tray.

Move behind the drive tray and you find more genuinely useful features. The fan controller supports up to ten three-pin fans and prevents fan cabling from becoming too cluttered (there's also an extension cable for connecting the side intake without too much trouble). NZXT also included two trays for 2.5" drives behind the motherboard tray. These wind up sitting behind the motherboard's expansion slots and will receive minimal airflow, but for SSDs they're perfectly adequate and better still, allow you to use fewer drive trays/cages.

It's probably obvious at this point that I'm relatively enamored with the NZXT Phantom 630's design, but a lot of that stems from how useful a lot of their inclusions are. The biggest problem with ATX case design is getting cool air to hit the CPU. The bottom-front-to-top-rear airflow design is dire; SilverStone's best designs skirt it entirely by just placing a fan almost directly in front of the hottest components. By tweaking the drive cages the way they did, they're removing as many obstructions as possible from the massive 200mm intake fan, allowing a tremendous amount of cool air into the case. You'll see this pay dividends later on.

Introducing the NZXT Phantom 630 Assembling the NZXT Phantom 630
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  • gamezoid123 - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    well it depends. yeah the gun metal looks like crap but i think the white and black versions look much better., and will be more to the liking of every one else.
  • kilkennycat - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - link

    Yep, agreed. Also the controls and external connectors being on top of this large case is really stupid.. Presumably, there is an "aesthetic assumption" by NZXT that it will never occupy a place under a desk, but be put out in the open for all to admire.
  • Bonesdad - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

  • Rinaun - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    The look is hardly appealing to me. I just dislike the styling is all. The interior is very nice!
  • Skidmarks - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    I think it's a very nice case, far nicer than the Level 10 eyesore.
  • Willomz - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    The 630 doesn't support Mini-ITX as it says here.
  • bricks419 - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    All atx cases support mini itx. It just uses the four mounting points closest to the i/o area.
  • Willomz - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Not this one, the motherboard cutout is too large.

    Check the NZXT website.

    Or here @2:50
  • gamezoid123 - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    lol does it matter? if your going to put a mini itx motherboard in a case get something actually made for a mini itx case
  • Willomz - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    No not really, just be nice for the specifications table to be correct.

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