Assembling the NZXT Phantom 630

NZXT has made a lot of really smart decisions as far as overall design goes with the Phantom 630, but there are still a couple of places where they need work. Assembly went pretty smoothly (I can't stress enough how important hinged side panels are), but in the interest of progress I'm going to nitpick the hell out of this because it is the weakest part of the 630's design.

Installing the motherboard is about as easy as it gets; NZXT ships the 630 with standoffs for an ATX motherboard preinstalled, which is an appreciated convenience. The only thing they're missing that other manufacturers have employed is a center stud that can be used to line up and effectively hold the board in place. It's also worth mentioning Lian Li was successfully able to make motherboard installation "toolless" by including special thumbscrews for this part, but that's a convenience that's not strictly necessary.

Where NZXT seems to keep running into trouble is with the drive sleds. The 630 uses the same sleds the 820 used, and they're just too flimsy. When the 630 arrived, most of the sleds were out of alignment, and they pretty much *need* a full hard drive installed to even snap in properly. Note also that the drive sleds enter the cages from the rear of the motherboard tray. Corsair, Antec, and Fractal Design typically get this part of the assembly right, and I get the feeling this is one of the places where NZXT is still cutting corners, because these are still too flexible and they just don't really lock into the drive cages very firmly.

Thankfully the drive trays used for 2.5" SSDs behind the motherboard have a slightly simpler and much more secure design; these are held in place by a single thumbscrew, and the simple slot-down mounting is exactly firm enough. NZXT also includes incredibly secure, firm latches for the 5.25" bays, though I wish these latches were on both sides instead of just the side above the motherboard tray.

You can color me surprised that the expansion slots don't use thumbscrews, though. I'm not sure what the reason for this change is, and I'm not particularly peeved by it since most thumbscrews are installed so tightly that you need to use a screwdriver just to remove them without losing your fingerprints anyhow, but it's an odd omission. The power supply continues to use the same screws every other case does, but NZXT thankfully includes enough struts in the bottom of the case to support power supplies short and long.

NZXT did get the cabling mostly right, but there's another major gaffe here. While the space behind the motherboard tray is copious to begin with and only improved by the smart cabling channels, and I'm really happy to see a central fan control hub, it's almost impossible to route the AUX 12V line behind the motherboard tray. There's a hole above the tray that theoretically allows for it, but in practice the clips on the lead itself cause it to be too thick to fit. It's kind of bizarre to see this kind of flaw come through the design when so much of the rest of it is spot on, but there you have it. At least there are plenty of rungs for zip ties.

If I seem to be nitpicking, it's only because I'm by and large talking directly to the guys who designed the Phantom 630 and asking for these things to be addressed. They're so close to a ten-out-of-ten design here, and these little things can come together to compromise usability somewhat. In the grand scheme of things these issues are minor enough that most users can and should be fine, and they're definitely overshadowed by the other perks of the 630's design.

In and Around the NZXT Phantom 630 Testing Methodology
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  • praeses - Friday, January 25, 2013 - link

    Like Dustin pointed out, it would be nice to see fewer 5.25" drive bays and shed the side panel fan but I would like to see it one step further yet. I would like to see all 5.25" bays removed and just fans at the front.

    I am sure there are many others that would agree that in their high performance system (gaming, workstation, etc) there isn't a need for either 5.25" or 3.5" drive bays, only a couple 2.5" ones that this conveniently already has. The optical drive is nicely served externally up on the desk near the monitor/keyboard/mouse. The front could then sport another large (200 or 140mm) quiet fan directly in line with the CPU.

    Also, a front fan filter and having the air redirected like the fractal design refine series (although their thermals aren't the best) would help muffle the sound.

    Aesthetics I'm not a fan of but it wouldn't prevent me from buying one, the rest of the design I am quite fond of.
  • Magichands8 - Sunday, January 27, 2013 - link

    What they should do is move the drives all up ABOVE the motherboard in a separate compartment a la Lian Li's Tyr PCX-2000 cases. You could pack them pretty tight too and still have room for nice amount of storage AND an optical drive. Then, you could place 2 200mm fans in the front, remove the top fan(s), remove the side fan and have a solid panel there instead. Thermals should be AT LEAST as good and the case would be much quieter to boot. Sure the case would be taller but I'd rather have something better designed from an engineering and performance standpoint than something that sucked but looked prettier. Besides, no one looking for a compact, small case should even be thinking about this one in the first place so I don't get all the talk about it being x millimeters taller or wider than the other case.

    I just don't get why so many companies these days stick to this silly and outdated approach of placing the drives directly in front of the motherboard. Cooling HDDs TOO well can actually reduce their life-span and it makes no sense to pre-warm the incoming air before sending it to the CPU. Why is it that we are starting to see all these removable and modular drive cages anyway? It's because people keep trying to find a way to get the damn drives away from the front of the case.
  • Targon - Monday, February 6, 2017 - link

    I personally have a need for the four 5.25 inch drive bays. I went with a Icy Dock Fatcage, converts 3 5.25 inch drive bays into 5 3.5 inch hot swap bays(useful for RAID 1 and 5). For the rest, others may not care about having external hot swap bays, so having the drive bays can come in handy for those who use a lot of drives.
  • LS& - Friday, November 22, 2013 - link

    I just want to say thank you for your case reviews with temps as a solid focus. I have not built a pc in 7 years and am now just starting to do my research to find the best parts. Overclocking is going to be a goal in this build and at least for me low noise and great thermal is the key. Does anyone else know of any other cases well under $200 I should be looking at for this mix of sound and performance?

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