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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  • 3ogdy - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Oh, look these cases look so much better than NZXT's Phantom:
    They're awesome
    http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~wayrich/computer-hist...
    http://www.vmaxcanada.com/products/case/q500.jpg
    http://museumvictoria.com.au/collections/itemimage...
    http://www.stsnetwork.com/imagesnojava/pc_case.gif
    http://assets.overclock.net.s3.amazonaws.com/3/3f/...

    With these modern and stylish cases, I still don't understnad how NZXT can make such ugly cases

    /irony
    Reply
  • lockdown571 - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Yeah I don't really get all the criticisms about styling. I find most cases are either too plane or horribly gaudy. I think this strikes a nice balance. I also HATE how most computer cases leave the optical drives exposed. That's actually one of the major reasons I bought the NZXT Phantom. To each their own though. Reply
  • Stan Zaske - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Very nice styling. Excellent functionality. Too expensive. Nice article. Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    That, padding, and you've got a great silent case. I do like the hd cage design where you decide if you want a lot of hd's or just the 1 SSD+ 1 HD config a lot of gamers will go for. Reply
  • Tech-Curious - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Excellent review, as usual.

    Have you reviewed any interesting cases with a top-mounted PSU lately, Dustin? Any of those cases in the pipeline? Just curious.
    Reply
  • pdjblum - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Do not get why you continue to refuse to list the materials in the specifications. Reply
  • londiste - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    only the single-bay drive cage was installed for the tests? how much would more drive cages affect the cooling performance?

    are the drive cages interchangeable, i.e. can you only use the 2-bay cage at the bottom of the case?
    Reply
  • beepboy - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    I wouldn't shell this much for a case that's not made out of all aluminum. 27 lbs for an empty case is a little too heavy for my taste. Reply
  • HardwareDufus - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    It's the least offensive of the current crop of robot/transformer like cases. Great function...not so hott form...but then again..I recognize there is an audience for a case with these looks. Reply
  • Magichands8 - Thursday, January 24, 2013 - link

    I know I'm a little late commenting on this so I probably wont' get any kind of response but I'm a little confused about the results for this case. I'm comparing this one with the Nanoxia DS 1. Looking at the results for the noise and thermals (CPU, overclocked) it appears that the Phantom 630 is doing a better job at cooling than the Nanoxia DS1 at the same noise levels. Then, in the review for the 630, Dustin says:

    "If noise is your utmost concern you're never going to really beat the Nanoxia Deep Silence 1..."

    How can this be the case (ahem!) if the results show the same noise readings at the same distance?

    Also, he states:

    "The windowed side panel looks better than its predecessor and obviously contributes to the case's killer performance..."

    How could a windowed side panel contribute to the cases performance? I would think that a solid steel side panel would be better at reducing noise and even slightly better for heat dissipation.
    Reply

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