In and Around the NZXT Phantom 530

Up until this point I'd been pretty bullish about new NZXT enclosures, and with good reason. NZXT's designs have displayed a new vitality since the Phantom 820; these cases have focused with almost laser precision upon being both extremely to use and build inside and rich with features that aren't just checkboxes but legitimately useful. The integrated fan hub/controller is practical, the LED lighting for the rear I/O is handy, and NZXT's shuffling of internal storage bays has been fairly innovative.

Yet despite all of this being carried over to the Phantom 530, I can't help but feel like they've gone to this well too many times. The Stormtrooper aesthetic continues to carry over with the 530; a white LED lighting strip is next to the door that sits in front of the 5.25" drive bays (where the reset button is also smartly hidden) while a black mesh shields the front intakes. The top of the case sports the power button, rear I/O lighting toggle, fan control, and USB and audio connectivity, and a black mesh extends to the back.

Users who appreciate the Phantom's traditional unusual side panel design will feel right at home here; there's an angled window and a vented fan mount, but the fan mount's placement is actually kind of unusual. It half-hangs over the drive bays, yet it doesn't seem to be high enough to adequately feed the graphics card(s). The side panels are thankfully hinged, and both are held in place with thumbscrews.

Remove them, and you find pretty robust clearance behind the motherboard tray, along with a slightly angled indentation around the tray for cable routing. NZXT is sticking with having the drive trays slide into the case from the rear of the tray, which does make sense for connecting hard drives. I'm also happy to again see a behind-the-motherboard 2.5" drive sled, and the fan controller/hub comes with two fans already connected, two extension cables, and then four additional empty connectors, all side-mounted.

Meanwhile, the interior proper of the Phantom 530 is very familiar to anyone who's already seen the 630. NZXT again employs their slick trio of modular drive cages: one holds three drives, one two, and one a single drive, allowing you to only use as many cages as you actually need with no wasted space. There's an internal 140mm fan mount to direct airflow, toolless clamps for the 5.25" drive bays, and the motherboard standoffs come preinstalled.

Undoubtedly I'm going to be too rough on NZXT for the Phantom 530; the design brings a lot of features and quality to the $129 price bracket, but nothing here feels new. After a slick refinement like the Phantom 630 and an outside-the-box take on silent chassis design with the H630, the Phantom 530 feels incredibly staid. When Corsair was filling out their product line, they still took each iteration to gradually advance their designs, but with the Phantom 530, NZXT is playing things safe. It's not a knock on the case itself, but an expression of disappointment in seeing NZXT take the conservative route and plumb this brand harder instead of trying to strike out with a new brand.

Introducing the NZXT Phantom 530 Assembling the NZXT Phantom 530
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  • Jumpman23 - Thursday, July 18, 2013 - link

    I had my eye on this case and seems to be everything the 630 is but shrunk. I really like the front door on the 530 over all the other Phantoms. It just doesn't look as flat. My only complaint is that the side fan mount just looks odd there especially without a fan.
  • crimson117 - Thursday, July 18, 2013 - link

    > the fan controller goes a long way towards making things easier. NZXT opts to use a 4-pin molex power connector for it to ensure enough power is available.

    I was more than a little peeved that I need to plug an entire molex cable into my modular power supply /just/ to power the fan controller.
  • crimson117 - Thursday, July 18, 2013 - link

    on my Phantom 630, that it.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, July 18, 2013 - link

    The problem as I understand it is that the SATA power lead isn't rated for as high a wattage as the molex is, so the molex becomes a necessary evil.
  • Death666Angel - Friday, July 19, 2013 - link

    The SATA power connector has 3 12V pins (and 3 5V and 3 3.3V ones). Each pin is able to deliver 1.5A as per the wikipedia entry and 2 other sites I found via google. That is 54W for the SATA power cable for the 12V rail only (22.5W and 14.85W for the 5V/3.3V rails). Numbers for the Molex/4-pin connector are bit hard to come by. The most common number is 13A maximum (rated by Molex for the connector) and 5A for PC use. So it is between 60W and 156W from the 12V rail (25W/55W for the 5V rail). So, just comparing the 12V rails (which will likely be the only ones used), you have a power delivery advantage of the 4-pin Molex connector of ~6W to 102W. Considering that even the 6 pin PCIe connector is only rated for 75W and that is with more ground and 12V connections, I doubt anything above 5A is save or reasonable. So the actual difference as far as I can tell, is fairly small, with some variation possible. However, apart from some Delta fans, I doubt anything plugged into that control uses more than 5W when fully powered (many fans even use less than 1W if they are 120mm or below). So you can safely run at least 10 average fans off a SATA cable. I'm sure they could have handled it with a SATA connector. Unless they give me a specific reason that would go against it or invalidate my quick calculations. :)
  • JDG1980 - Thursday, July 18, 2013 - link

    Any chance we'll see a Silverstone FT04 review sometime soon? Newegg already sold out of their first batch...
  • kwrzesien - Thursday, July 18, 2013 - link

    The silver is still in stock: $229
  • Giffs - Thursday, July 18, 2013 - link

    This case looks awesome, but so does the Nox Hummer Zero usb 3.0

    A review on the Nox would be great.
  • justaviking - Friday, July 19, 2013 - link

    Looks like a Star Wars stormtrooper.
  • xbaronjagerx - Sunday, November 24, 2013 - link

    Funny you say that... I actually own this case and guess what my computer name is... STORMTROOPER!!! Also, I would like to add something to the review. The reason I'm reading this article is because I just broke the front panel audio jack, due to it being mounted on the front, I went to reach behind the pc and broke it... Just want to throw out there that I'm not happy with the usb and audio in/out being on the top of the case... other than that, the case is fantastic.

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