Introducing the NZXT Phantom 630

It wasn't that long ago that we reviewed NZXT's shiny new Phantom 820, a case that apart from its high price tag and slightly ostentatious design was pretty tough to beat. The Phantom 820 was providing some best-in-class thermal and acoustic performance, and it was a shot fired squarely across the bows of companies like Thermaltake and CoolerMaster, whose respective Level 10 GT and Cosmos II suddenly had a new, less expensive case to worry about competing with. Yet when I visited NZXT at CES 2013, they already had a descendant of the 820 on hand.

The Phantom 630 is just a little smaller, a little more conservative, and a lot cheaper. At $179 MSRP it's still on the expensive side and is clearly an enthusiast case, but unlike the 820, the 630 is using an entirely new chassis built from the ground up. The 820 scored a Bronze Editor's Choice award, but as it turns out, it may not have been a flash in the pan. Once you take a look at the 630, you'll start to understand why I'm beginning to think NZXT is entering a new era and the competition needs to be on their toes.

My meetings with NZXT at CES are often interesting just because of the unique approach they take to designing their cases. I would never, ever suggest that there's no art to engineering (quite the opposite actually), but the engineers at NZXT seem to have a more artisanal attitude towards their case designs than many of the other vendors. That attitude seems to have both intensified and been tempered by a stronger, clearer understanding of case engineering over the years, and an artist with a strong grasp of the technical can be formidable.

The results thus far have been some still fairly outlandish case designs, but the aesthetics have been reined in somewhat while more emphasis has been placed on useful functionality. Remember that it's not just about having features in general, it's about having useful features. In that respect, I think you'll see why I feel like in some ways, NZXT is pretty far ahead of the curve. This isn't the same company that produced my oft-maligned H2 two years ago.

NZXT Phantom 630 Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor Mini-ITX, Micro ATX, ATX, XL-ATX
Drive Bays External 4x 5.25”
Internal 6x 2.5"/3.5", 2x 2.5"
Cooling Front 1x 200mm intake fan (supports 2x 140mm or 2x 120mm)
Rear 1x 140mm exhaust fan (supports 1x 120mm)
Top 1x 200mm exhaust fan (supports 2x 200mm or 2x 140mm or 3x 120mm)
Side 1x 200mm intake fan
Bottom 2x 120mm/140mm fan mounts
Expansion Slots 9
I/O Port 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic
Power Supply Size Standard ATX
Clearances HSF 170mm / 200mm without side intake
PSU 220mm
GPU 325mm / 507mm without HDD cage
Dimensions 9.65" x 24.69" x 23.62"
245mm x 627mm x 600mm
Weight 27.12 lbs. / 12.3 kg
Special Features USB 3.0 connectivity via internal headers
Toolless 5.25" drive bays and 3.5" drive sleds
Support for 360mm/280mm radiator in top of enclosure, 240mm/280mm in bottom of enclosure, thickness up to 60mm
Integrated three-speed, 30W fan controller (supports up to 10 3-pin fans)
Toggleable rear I/O and expansion LED illumination
Integrated SD card reader
Three removable drive cages (3-drive, 2-drive, and 1-drive)
Price $179

The immediate comparison should be made to the Phantom 820, which remains more expensive than the 630 at $249. In terms of dimensions, the 630 is ever so slightly smaller, only about 25mm shorter in height and 12mm shorter in depth, while actually being 10mm wider. The increase in width isn't really a bad thing as it allows for potentially better cable management by improving space behind the motherboard tray. It's also three kilograms (five pounds) lighter.

We do lose the HUE lighting system (my apologies to the commenter who corrected me on the original post about the 630), and the four-channel fan control is replaced by one single channel which supports ten fans at three steps. What we gain, though, is probably the smartest modular drive cage design I've ever seen, two additional 2.5" sleds behind the motherboard tray, and a slightly more svelte enclosure overall. We also save $70, which can't be understated even at this high level of the market.

In and Around the NZXT Phantom 630
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  • sna1970 - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    I wonder why people cant design REAL good looking cases ...

    if the Japanese can ...

    hey Anand ... take a look at Abee PC cases for a change ...
  • awg1031 - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    wow, i hope anand can hold of abee's product..

    even look at the i-phone case..nice~
  • meefer - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    They look like clean designs but they aren't terribly interesting- all crisp but cold right angles. I'd like to find a nice balance between the old beige box look (like Abee Smart) and the ridiculous 1990s Mega Bass boombox look (like the CoolerMaster HAF).

    It doesn't look like Abee have distributors in the US, too bad. Their phone and tablet cases look awesome.
  • 3ogdy - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    The right angle design and sharp edge design is back for some - they think that if they add a nice shiny painting they can pretend to be the latest craze and well, "simple, yet awesome design" -which they're not. Those look like those second hand PC cases people throw away for $30. But hey, I was against Alienware's case redesign (their cases were by far some of the best looking one on the market), yet they went on and came up with something that looks a lot worse than their previous seems taking steps backwards is the new fashion now.
  • meefer - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Good point. For what it's worth, I think the bland right-angle design works much better in the small form factor cases from Abee. Example:
  • 3ogdy - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    I really don't get it:
    Do you really mean those UGLY cases from the link you posted look better than the NZXT design?
    I understand it's a matter of taste but hey, the Abee cases have absolutely no design at all - they're simply a bunch of unpolished Pentium 3-style cases.
    So why did you use them as an example against the NZXT Phantom, which OBVIOUSLY and DEFINITELY looks a ton better. Even if the NZXT Phantom cost twice as much as those cases, I'd still get the Phantom. It looks better and it is functional-enough.
  • Bob Todd - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    I bet you thought the MSI GT660 looked better than a MacBook Pro too...
  • kyuu - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    30gdy is right. How exactly are *those* cases good-looking? They look like the towers from the P4 era and back. If you really loved your old beige-box, great. But I think most people agree those are far from aesthetically pleasing.

    I'm not a huge fan of NZXT's aesthetic design either, but at least it *has* a design.
  • kyuu - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Their iPad/iPhone cases on the other hand, now *those* look nice.
  • JPForums - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    I understand it's a matter of taste but hey, the Abee cases have absolutely no design at all - they're simply a bunch of unpolished Pentium 3-style cases.

    These are most certainly not unpolished Pentium 3-style cases. Take a look at the list Ugly posted below for a valid point of comparison. The looks are definitely understated, but the combination of brushed aluminum exterior and what appears to be a well constructed and modern internal design (looking at the X3) counts as polish in my book. There is a market for designs such as these, especially in a business oriented setting.

    That said, the understated look isn't for everyone. I'd expect cases like these to appeal more to fans of the classic Lian Li enclosures than fans of Coolermaster's HAF series or NZXT chassis in general. I probably wouldn't use one of these for my gaming build, but I could see myself building a workhorse for the office in one of these if the performance keeps up. I'd like to see Dustin review one of these if he gets the chance.

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