During our recent visit to CES in Las Vegas, we stopped by to see the folks from NZXT. They were proudly displaying the next generation Phantom design, this time called the 630. The Phantom 630 falls within the Crafted series of chassis, which is where most of their higher end cases are grouped. Let’s find out how well NZXT did with the newly designed Phantom, and if it’s a worthy contender in the competitive full tower case market.
Specifications and Features
“High Performance Modular Ultra Tower” is the description NZXT has bestowed upon the Phantom 630 and by looking through the specifications and features, I’d call it a good descriptor.
Here is what NZXT has to say about the Phantom 630.
Enthusiast Steel Ultra Tower
“Allow us to introduce you to the future. Presenting the NZXT Phantom 630 – the beginning of a new era of chassis design.
The original Phantom was, in every aspect, undisputed in its design. Bold, striking and timeless. With the Phantom 820, NZXT broke new ground and raised the bar for an entire industry. Now, the design of the Phantom 630 achieves this again while fully satisfying the high demands of those who take computing seriously.
The new Phantom 630 brings support for cutting edge features such as simultaneous support for a 3×120 radiator, a 2×120 radiator and all hard drive bays, interchangeable fully-modular HDD cages, pivoting fan mount, and a single 30-watt controller with four high endurance fans included. Naturally, all other features you expect from a high performance NZXT chassis are in. The Phantom 630 breaks tradition and moves you forward in every way.”
The above is a little brazen in some parts, but overall it just shows how excited NZXT is over the Phantom 630. Let’s have a look at the features as provided by NZXT.
- Next generation Phantom design, both inside and out
- Fully modular internal drive bays allows you to customize the Phantom 630’s layout to suite your needs
- Split-level motherboard tray allowing increased rear cable management
- Dual SSD mounts behind the motherboard tray
- High-end water cooling support allows use of multiple radiators and multiple radiator sizes
- Integrated high-power 30-watt single-channel fan controller
- Rear-mounted fan hub for simple and clean fan control installation
- Easily removable dust filters protect your components
- Illuminates rear I/O ports internal components with a flick of a switch
- Full external peripheral support with multiple USB 3.0, 2.0 connections and an integrated SD card reader
That’s certainly an impressive list of features. I like modular drive bays, and the split-level motherboard tray sounds intriguing. Dust filters are always a good thing, and a built in fan controller is a major plus too. We’ll do some exploring to check all these features out as we move forward, but next up is a look at the specifications.
|NZXT Phantom 630 Specifications|
|Bays and Expansion|
Big, roomy, lots of bays, and lots of fans. Sounds extremely promising. Let’s get this thing out of the box and have a look!
The box is a very large affair; undoubtedly needed to house a case of this stature. On the front, we have a minimalistic design that shows the Phantom 630 sitting atop one of many blocks in the design. The NZXT logo is at the bottom; and the model and slogan at the top finish off the graphics here. Turning the box around to the back, we see extensive use of pictures to describe many of the features. Well done and informative. The two box sides are reserved for the specifications and a brief multilingual list of features.
The customary Styrofoam blocks hold things securely inside the box, and the Phantom 630 is nicely wrapped in a plastic bag. The window is also well protected from being scratched by the applied thin plastic film. With Styrofoam and plastic bag removed, we get our first sneak peek at at this full tower job.
The accessory pack is full of all the different screws needed to assemble a system into the Phantom 630. There is a Phillips head socket for installing motherboard mounting pegs, and a bag of zip ties are also included.
As you probably noticed from previous pictures, the color of our review sample is what NZXT calls Gunmetal. The case is also available in Matte Black or White. The left side panel has a window, but it’s not very large. First impressions tell me that you’ll only able to view the upper rear area of what’s inside. Just below the smallish window is an included 200 mm fan sitting behind a black mesh grill area. The right side panel is…well…a panel with no distinguishable markings or designs stamped into the metal.
The Phantom 630 has a swing door at the top portion that covers the four 5.25″ drive bays. Removing one of the drive bay covers is as easy as sliding the lever to the right and swinging it out and off. Just above these drive bays is a single slot SD card reader. Other than supporting the standard SD card format, the reader also supports SDHC and SDXC memory cards. Below the swing door, we find another 200 mm intake fan behind yet another black mesh grill. Aesthetics took a front seat to air flow here as almost half of the fan is covered by the front panel. There is a large air passageway under the case that can also provide air flow to the fan if needed, so I don’t see the design here being a huge issue.
The Phantom 630 utilizes a bottom mount PSU; very few do not nowadays. Above that, we have nine ventilated expansion slot covers with an additional ventilation area just to the right of that. The upper area has the opening for a motherboard’s I/O shield and a 140 mm exhaust fan. The fan can be adjusted by loosening the four screws a little and then sliding it up or down along the the slotted mounting holes. Great idea for using thick radiators under the top deck!
The top panel is an attractive design with controls on the right, I/O ports on the left, and a split mesh design area towards the rear. The I/O connections include two USB 2.0, two USB 3.0, and the headphone/MIC jacks. The controls on the right side include the power and reset buttons, the three speed fan control switch, and the on/off switch for controlling the rear I/O area LEDs. The LED bar located near the control switches are for power on and HDD activity. The three small LEDs next to the fan controller switch coincide with the speed you have it set to. At the very rear of the top panel is another 200 mm fan under the mesh area.
The four legs are outfitted with heavy rubber strips to keep from scratching things and provide some anti-vibration qualities. The feet are also a little taller than what you normally see, which provide a bit more airflow to any fans installed at the bottom. There are two filters located here; one slides out the front and the other from the rear. I’m not a big advocate of filters that slide out from the rear, especially on cases this large and heavy. Most people don’t have easy access to the back of their case, and moving this big fella around could be a chore. It would have been nice to see the front filter extended to cover the rear area as well, but I can understand that might be difficult to accomplish on a case this long.
With both filters removed, we can see the plentiful air flow designs built into the bottom of this case. Dual fan openings and a very wide open area for the PSU to breathe, nice! If you decide to mount a couple 140 mm fans here, you can take advantage of another set of those adjustable fan mounting slots.
All and all, the exterior is great looking, functional, and provides lots of cooling. Let’s open the doors and make our way inside.
With the left side panel off, we get our first glimpse at the inside of this full tower. The interior is painted the same color as the outside; Gunmetal in this instance. There are some black and white accents provided by the fans, 5.25″ bay latches, and the rubber grommets. Mounted to the inside of the left panel is a NZXT branded 200 mm fan.
The PSU mounting area has ample room for most any size unit and rubber topped legs for preventing vibration. Moving up the back side of the case, we see lots of ventilation incorporated into the expansion slot covers and the grill area next to them. No thumb screws for the expansion slot covers? Weird choice there. At the top of the case’s rear area is a 140 mm NZXT branded exhaust fan.
Under the top deck, you can see the plethora of fan mounting options. There is room allotted for an additional 200 mm fan, two 140 mm fans, or even three 120 mm fans if you want to stick with air cooling here. Water cooling options are also plentiful here. With room for fans above the mounting brackets, you have 63 mm (2-1/4″) worth of room for a radiator before it reaches the edge of the motherboard. You should be able to get a nice push/pull setup installed here, if desired.
Moving over to the four 5.25″ drive bays, we can see the drive locking mechanism NZXT uses. The locking latches are all metal, unlike the plastic jobs found on many other cases. The latches are easy enough to use by just releasing the forward most end, sliding your drive in, and pressing the latch back down. On the right side of the 5.25″ drive bays, you’ll find the option to add screws to further secure a drive if you prefer.
The 3.5″ drive cage area is completely modular and features single, double, and triple bay cages. The triple bay cage has a unique fan mount attached to the left side of it. You can attach a 120 mm or 140 mm fan to this bracket; and it has the ability to swivel, which allows you to somewhat point it at a component. Not only are the three cages removable, but so is the platform they sit on. You can use any of the three cages alone, or in any combination with the others. You can also set the cages side-by-side for even further customization, but only the single drive cage can be used on the left side.
With the cage platform removed, you can see additional air cooling and water cooling options present themselves. Provisions are available for 2X140 mm or 2X120 mm fans, radiators, or both. You can still use the HDD cages if the platform is removed because they are held in place by thumbscrews from the back side. If you remove the 200 mm front intake fan, you have the same fan/radiator options the bottom area affords. With the options the top deck, bottom, and front areas give you, installing a custom water cooling setup is only limited by your imagination.
The motherboard tray is what NZXT calls a “Smart Split Level Design”. This design is to afford better cable management and allows for mounting two SSDs at the back of the tray (more on this later). The cutout for accessing a CPU’s retention plate is one of the biggest I’ve seen. Each of the locations where a motherboard mounting peg gets installed is well marked with the corresponding form factor. There are four rubber protected cable pass through holes: three on the right side and one at the bottom. There are also five additional non-protected holes located at the bottom of the motherboard tray.
With the HDD cages installed, I measured right around 14″ of video card space. With the cages removed…don’t worry about it, there is no video card that long!
Both the front panel and top panels are easily removable by grasping and popping them off. The grasp hole for the front panel is at the bottom, and the one for the top panel is at the front.
Behind the front panel is the 200 mm intake fan, which has filtration via the removable filter attached to the front panel itself. Under the top panel, you can see two filters: one sits atop the included 200 mm fan, and the other is simply attached to the fan mounting bracket. I did notice the filter installed on top of the fan did not fit too well and bulged up between the mounting screws. I don’t like that these filters can only be used with 200 mm fans. If you remove the 200 mm fan in favor of installing 140 mm or 120 mm fans, you will need to come up with a different filtration plan.
The case wiring is standard fare found on most cases that offer USB 3.0 ports on the front panel. There is also a 4-pin Molex power connector to power the fan controller and a fan cable for attaching the side panel fan to. In a world where most people are using modular PSUs and SATA devices, it’s a bit annoying to have to use a 4-pin Molex power cable just for powering the fan controller, especially when SATA power is already close by. I’ve seen other case manufacturers move to SATA power connectors in situations like this; I think it’s time NZXT followed suit.
Behind the motherboard tray there is a lot going on. Looking at the back side of the HDD cages, we see the HDD trays slide out in this direction, and not out the the front side like most traditional cases. There are four pins with rubber grommets to secure a 3.5″ drive in the trays, but they are also drilled to accept 2.5″ SSDs. The trays are also designed so the “squeeze” tabs do not interfere with the drives power and data cables. On the down side, the hard drive trays are very flimsy and easily fall out of their respective rails with no drive installed in them. Sadly, things don’t get much better when a SSD is installed in these trays either; they still remain much too flimsy to have any confidence in. Thankfully, there are two metal 2.5″ drive brackets behind the motherboard tray that are the obvious choice for properly installing SSDs.
The fan block attached behind the motherboard tray allows you to connect 10 fans to it, but be careful not to exceed its 30 W maximum rating. Any fan you connect here will be controlled by the three speed switch on the top panel.
There is more than adequate room between the back of the motherboard tray and the right side panel. I measured just under 1-1/2″, which fits NZXT’s claim of 36.6 mm of clearance. There are also numerous loops for attaching wire ties located throughout the back of the motherboard tray. There’s little doubt that the Phantom 630 has some very nice cable management features, but I did come across a gross oversight in the design. There are four holes under the top deck that are intended to run cables to the motherboard, more specifically, the 8-pin ATX12V AUX cable. The problem is the hole is too small to fit an 8-pin connector through. If you have a 4+4 design cable, you should be able to get it through; but a solid 8-pin connector…forget it.
With the interior tour complete, it’s time to throw a system together. Let’s see what we can come up with.
Putting It All Together
- ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 Motherboard
- AMD A10-5800K CPU (Overclocker Approved)
- Western Digital 500 GB SATA HDD
- OCZ Vertex 4 SSD (Overclockers Approved)
- 2×4 GB Kingston HyperX Memory
- Thermaltake Smart-M 750 Watt PSU (Overclockers Approved)
- Sapphire HD 7770 Video Card (Overclockers Approved)
- HP CD/DVD SATA Rom Drive
- Swiftech H220 AIO CPU Cooler (Overclockers Approved)
I can’t imagine another case any easier to build a system in. It really was a breeze. I went ahead and mounted the entire Swiftech H220 below the top deck’s fan mounting bracket. This way you can see the room available if a push/pull design was installed and with the other set of fans above the fan mounting bracket. Plenty of room! I also left all the drive cages in to give you a perspective of what a fully loaded system would look like. There was a lot of room behind the motherboard tray, which made re-installing the right side panel a snap. Good thing, I had quite a mess back there!
Here a a few pictures of the completed system, enjoy!
The only lighting is by the power button and at the rear I/O area. Here is a look at the ambiance they provide.
The NZXT Phantom 630 is squarely aimed at the water cooling enthusiast; and to that end, I think they did a great job. With the ability to mount radiators in up to four locations (top, bottom, front, rear), you certainly have the basis to begin a nice water cooling project. The modular HDD cages allow you to customize your storage needs to coexist with your water cooling desires and video card length. Hopefully, NZXT will address the flimsiness of the HDD trays in future revisions; but because there are two SSD mounting brackets behind the motherboard tray, it’s not a huge issue. The trays do work fine if populated with a 3.5″ HDD.
The only knock against the otherwise stellar cable management is not being able to fit an 8-pin CPU AUX12V cable through the four holes under the top deck. You can separate a 4+4-pin cable and it will fit through there, but if your cable end is solid…won’t happen. I suppose you could grab a trusty Dremel and enlarge one of the holes if you find yourself in that predicament.
I think the centralized fan connection block behind the motherboard tray is a fantastic idea. It really helps with cable management, as well as provides the ability to control the speed of any fan connected to it, via the 3-speed switch at the top panel. Very nice feature there!
Currently, Newegg has the Phantom 630 listed at $179.99, which lands it in the mid-range area of full tower pricing. I think the price is more than fair for everything you get here; and to be honest, I thought it would be priced a bit higher than it is. If you’re a long time water cooling enthusiast looking for an upgrade, or someone looking to enter the water cooling world for the first time, the NZXT Phantom 630 is definitely worth taking a good hard look at.
– Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote)