NZXT first introduced the Phantom series of cases back in 2010, and they’re still at it three years later. Several months ago, I reviewed the Phantom 630 and came away impressed with its water cooling opportunities and many enthusiast features. Today, we have the latest addition to the Phantom family – the Phantom 530. This time around, we have a slightly smaller design than the Phantom 630, but the promise of lots of features and continued support for water cooling setups. Let’s get going here and find out if NZXT continues to impress with their latest Phantom iteration.
Specifications and Features
The below specifications were pulled from the NZXT website. As you can see, the Phantom 530 is available in white, black, or red. Today’s review sample is the black version. At first glance, it appears we have plenty of storage potential, lots of fan locations, support for long video cards, and a lot of room behind the motherboard tray for cable management.
|NZXT Phantom 530 Specifications|
|Model Number||CA-PH530-W1 White
|Drive Bays||External 5.25″ x 3
Internal 3.5″ /2.5″: 6
Internal 2.5″: 1 + 6
|Cooling System||Front 2x140mm/ 120mm or 1x200mm
(1 x 200mm included)
Rear 1x140mm (included) / 120mm
Top 2x200mm/ 140mm or 3x120mm
|Clearance||CPU Cooler 282mm (With Pivot Fan)
VGA Card 310mm (With Cage)/ 444mm (Without Cage)
Cable Management 26mm (Lowest Point)/ 34mm (Highest Point)
|Dimensions||235mm x 572mm x 543mm|
|Motherboard Support||ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX, EATX (322x272mm)|
|External Electronics||1 x Audio / Mic
2 x USB 3.0
|Product Weight||10.5 kg|
We’ll get a more in depth look at all the features the Phantom 530 offers as the review progresses, but for now here are a few of the high-level ones. The below images and descriptions are courtesy of NZXT.
- Single channel, 30W fan controller with integrated fan hub
- Up to three 200mm fans for maximum airflow
- Discrete SSD mount behind motherboard tray
- 34mm of cable management clearance
- Fully modular, interchangeable hard drive cages
- Signature rear I/O LEDs + Latest USB 3.0 connection
- Large acrylic window
- Extensive liquid cooling support includes Kraken X40/X60 all-in-one solutions and radiators of up to 360mm in size
- Durable steel constructed 5.25” optical drive latches
- Eight motherboard expansion slots offer comprehensive expandability
Things appear very promising so far, let’s check out the packaging and have our first look!
The glossy-finished box has a large picture of the white Phantom 530 on the front. The back of the box has several pictures depicting some of the high-level features and a multilingual description of a few of them as well. The box sides present the specifications, some additional pictures of the case, and a marketing blurb about the design concept.
Opening the box top reveals the Phantom 530 held securely with two Styrofoam blocks and wrapped in an anti-static bag. Once the anti-static bag is removed, you can see NZXT went to extreme measures to ensure the case arrives in tip-top condition by adding a layer of plastic film to the entire exterior of the case. The window has been further protected by adding more plastic film to the outside and inside of it. The user’s manual can be found sitting at the bottom of the box.
The box of accessories can be found sitting in one of the HDD trays and has more than enough hardware to get a system put together. You even get different length fan screws, which can be used to accommodate fans of different thicknesses. They could also come in handy when mounting fans to a radiator.
The painted areas of the exterior are done so with an extremely glossy finish. While the finish looks absolutely gorgeous when clean, you will find it to be a fingerprint magnet. I don’t really see that as being much of a problem because once the system is assembled, you can give it a good cleaning and set it in place. You shouldn’t have to handle it much after that. The left side of the case has a large triangular shaped window and a meshed area at the lower-right corner. An optional 140 mm fan can be installed behind the mesh area, if desired.
The right side panel is void of any distinguishing design patterns and is basically just a flat panel.
Taking a look at the front of the Phantom 530, we see it utilizes a front swing door approach to hiding the 5.25″ drive bays. The door feels very solid and is held shut by using two small round magnets. There are a total of three 5.25″ drive bays, which is adequate for any modern system build. Unfortunately, no provision has been made to use one of the bays to install a 3.5″ device. I normally like to see one of the drive bay covers with a removable center section, which can be used accommodate such things as a card reader. Each 5.25″ cover is easily taken off by simply sliding the small latch and releasing it. At the bottom area, we find a large mesh area to provide airflow to the included 200 mm intake fan. This mesh area, combined with the filter behind it, will provide good filtration as well.
At the top of the Phantom 530, we find the the I/O connections and another large mesh area to provide airflow to optional top mounted fans. Along the left side, the three position fan control switch and another switch to control the LEDs at the back of the case can be found. On the right side is where the power switch, two USB 3.0 ports, and the headphone/mic jacks are located. The reset button can be accessed behind the front door at the upper-right corner.
The back of the case features LED lighting that illuminates the I/O shield and expansion slot areas. You can control these lights with the switch mentioned above. A bottom mount PSU design has been implemented as is normally found on most cases these days. Eight ventilated expansion slot covers, two rubber protected holes, and two additional ventilation areas all populate the center section of the case’s back side. At the top of the case’s back side is where the motherboard’s I/O shield gets installed and is also home to the included 140 mm exhaust fan. In addition to having the ability to install a 120 mm fan in place of the included 140 mm fan, you can see that all the fan mounting holes are slotted. This allows you to position the fan higher or lower if you run into clearance problems when installing a radiator under the top deck. Nice touch there.
At the bottom of the Phantom 530, we can see that all four feet are outfitted with rubber pads. These pads go a long way towards protecting the surface the case resides on and for providing anti-vibration qualities. Two slide-out filters protect the generous amount of ventilation the bottom of the case offers. The larger of the two filters slides out towards the front and the smaller one towards the rear.
Now that we’ve had a look at the exterior, let’s get the panels off and have a look inside!
The Inside of the Phantom 530 is completely black except for the white blades on the two included fans. At the bottom are six rubber padded legs for the PSU to rest on and two places an optional 120 mm fan can be installed. The forwardmost 120 mm fan opening resides under the HDD cages.
Along the back, we get an inside view of the eight expansion slot covers that are held in place with thumb screws. Above these is the included 140 mm exhaust fan.
Under the top deck, there is plenty of room for installing radiators. I measured 1.75″ (44.5 mm) from under the top deck to the motherboard’s edge, but a radiator will be positioned above the motherboard enough to clear, even if it is thicker than that. You should be able to install 120 mm, 240 mm, 140 mm, 280 mm, and 360 mm radiators here. Above the top deck, there is support for up to two 200 mm, two 140 mm, or three 120 mm fans. All the fan mounting holes are slotted, just as we saw at the back of the case. There is a lot of room above the top deck for fans, and you can still fit the top panel back on with ease. The design of the top panel does not allow the meshed area to reach the forwardmost fan, so there might be some airflow blockage. Normally, this would be a major concern to me, but the panel sits far enough above the fans that any airflow blockage would be minimal.
Along the right side of the case’s interior, we first come to the 5.25″ drive bay area. Devices are held in place with an all metal latching mechanism. If desired, you can further secure a drive with screws at the opposite side.
The HDD cage area is one of the highlights of the Phantom 530 because of its modularity. With all the cages left installed, you can fit a graphics card up to 310 mm in length. Removing a HDD cage will allow 444 mm of room for the longest of video cards. The HDD cages can be installed in any order you wish as they are completely interchangeable with one another. Even the HDD cage support bracket at the very bottom can be removed to clear the way for a front mounted radiator. The largest HDD cage has a swivel fan mount attached to it that will accept either a 120 mm or 140 mm fan. This will allow you to direct airflow to a desirable location. The HDD trays are much sturdier than the ones I complained about on the Phantom 630, great update there. The trays slide in from the back side of the cages, which provide a more polished look once the system is assembled.
The front panel has a filter located behind the mesh area that is easily removable for cleaning purposes. Once the panel is off, we get a good look at the included 200 mm intake fan area. The fan can be removed in favor of installing two 120 mm or two 140 mm fans in its place. Installing radiators here should be doable, but a 280 mm radiator might be a tight fit because the uppermost mounting holes are very close to the bottom of the 5.25″ drive bay cage. Just as with the top panel design, we do have fan blockage issues with any fan installed in the upper location. However, we also have the same generous spacing between the front panel and the face of any fan installed there. If you remove the HDD cages to install a radiator, you could conceivably put both the radiator and fans behind the fan support frame. This would give you an extended distance between the fans and the front panel, and perhaps almost completely eliminate any air flow restriction.
Moving to the motherboard tray area, the first thing that hits you is the huge cutout to access the back of a CPU cooler’s mounting apparatus. NZXT designed this cutout just about as big as possible without intruding on the motherboard mounting pegs. There are four rubber protected cable pass through holes; three in a vertical position along the right side, and one along the bottom in a horizontal position. In addition to those four holes, there are several more located above and forward of the PSU mounting area. One of the gripes I had when I reviewed the Phantom 630 was the small size of the 8-pin CPU power cable pass through hole. I’m happy to report that this hole is much larger this time around and allows the cable to easily pass through.
Flipping the case around to inspect behind the motherboard tray, we find some very cool features. First of all, we have up to 34 mm of cable management room, which is more than adequate in most scenarios. Also located here is a centralized location to plug all your case fans in and control them with the three position fan control switch we showed you earlier. You can plug up to 10 fans into this control block, but keep in mind the 30 watt maximum the fan control switch can handle. Just next to the fan hub is a removable SSD mounting bracket. It’s nice to be able to hide the SSD behind the motherboard tray and to be able to remove the bracket for easy SSD installation. You’ll also find a generous amount of cable tie loops scattered about, which are a tremendous help when organizing the cables behind the motherboard tray.
The case wiring includes the standard fare you see on most modern systems. They do include two fan extension cables that are pre-installed on the fan control block.
All and all, a pretty darn good interior design I’d say. Let’s grab some parts, toss a system in the Phantom 530, and see what we can come up with.
Putting it all Together
|Motherboard||Gigabyte G1. Sniper A88X|
|Memory||G.Skill 2X4 GB DDR3-1866 RipjawZ|
|GPU||ASUS MARS 760|
|SSD||OCZ Vertex 2 240 GB 3.5″|
|HDD||Toshiba 500 GB 3.5″|
|Power Supply||Thermaltake 750 Smart M|
|CPU Cooler||Swiftech H220 AIO|
|DVD Rom||Lite-On DH-16A3L DVD Burner|
The HDD trays accept either 3.5″ or 2.5″ drives and feature a tool-less design when larger drives are used. I began the build by installing the HDDs and optical drive, which took all of about one minute. The tool-less designs make this part of the system build quick and painless.
Next up was installing the H220 AIO cooler. I went ahead and installed the entire unit under the top deck to give you a sense of the available room there. It easily fit in the forward position, but the rear position presented a clearance problem with the motherboard’s top I/O block. However, if the fans are mounted above the upper deck, it fits easily.
Installing the motherboard was next on the list. I also mounted the H220’s block/pump, memory, and the PSU at this time. It’s coming together nicely so far!
From here, it was just a matter of installing the GPU and the rest of the PSU cables to power everything. Once that was accomplished, I organized the cables behind the motherboard tray and was easily able to get the right side panel fitted.
In the end, we ended up with a pretty clean looking build. Because of the full tower size and generous room behind the motherboard tray, putting a system together in the Phantom 530 is an easy task.
…And a few light show pictures!
The Phantom 530 is currently available for $129.99 at Newegg, which puts it in a very competitive position for a full tower case. The water cooling support is a major plus with its ability to house up to four radiators of varying sizes. The modular HDD cages add a good amount of customizable options to accommodate the largest of video cards or front mounted water cooling setups. While the case only comes with two included fans, you do have the option to install up to 10 fans in multiple locations. Aesthetically speaking, the Phantom 530 has the right combination of “bling” and classic looks that should appeal to a lot of potential buyers. If you can keep it clean of fingerprints, it really is a sharp looking case. It was also nice to see NZXT address a couple of issues the Phantom 630 had, such as the flimsy HDD trays and the 8-pin CPU power cable hole being way too small. Both of those problems no longer exist.
I only have a couple of small gripes to report, but nothing I would consider a deal breaker. I’d really like to see one of the 5.25″ drive bay covers include a removable center section to accommodate a 3.5″ device. Often times, we see aesthetics interfere with good airflow, and to a limited extent, the Phantom 530 suffers from this as well. Both the top and front panel designs block a portion of the available fan options at their respective locations. However, NZXT designed both panels to sit far enough away from the fans to minimize any negative effects this might cause. So, even though it might not be designed for optimal air flow in these locations, I do think NZXT did a good job of balancing aesthetics with performance.
In the end, we have a very nice offering by NZXT in the Phantom 530. If you’ve been looking for an affordable full tower case that offers a good amount of enthusiast features, the NZXT Phantom 530 is definitely worth considering. It’s an easy call this time around… Approved!