Phanteks has been around for a little while producing CPU coolers, but the new Enthoo Primo is their first enclosure and it's clearly designed to get your attention. There's an almost amusing amount of restriction involved in trying to produce a case that adheres to the ATX standard, and a lot of the more original thinking in case design that's come out of the past few years has been essentially about circumventing the inherent weaknesses of the standard. Corsair's recent Carbide Air 540 is a good example, and the Enthoo Primo offers an alternative take.

What we're essentially dealing with is a standard ATX enclosure design that's been fragmented into semi-discrete chambers. Phanteks is still dealing in the black monolith motif (and this plastic, steel, and aluminum beast is heavy), but the interior of the case segregates the motherboard and primary components from the power supply and from the storage. There's a removable plate that even covers the routing holes to keep the interior looking as clean as possible, while the storage is entirely hidden. Phanteks also gets some mileage out of a bottom intake fan by raising the bottom of the Enthoo Primo and giving it enough clearance for air to enter even while the case is on carpet.

The separate chambers behind the motherboard tray tell you all you need to know. The power supply has been rotated ninety degrees, making the case taller but also cleaning up cable routing by offering a healthy amount of space to tuck cabling into. The two 3.5" drive cages are both removable, and above them are a set of five 5.25" drive bays and two trays that hold two 2.5" drives each. Pay close attention as well to the velcro cable wraps behind the motherboard tray, as well as the unique fan hub. We've seen fan hubs before and this one initially reminded me of the hubs NZXT employs, but the Phanteks offering is different: it connects to a single PWM header on the motherboard, and provided that header can provide enough power, it effectively allows the motherboard's PWM control to control all of the case fans.

Phanteks Enthoo Primo Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX, SSI EEB, E-ATX
Drive Bays External 5x 5.25"
Internal 6x 2.5"/3.5", 4x 2.5"
Cooling Front 2x 140mm intake fans (supports 120mm)
Rear 1x 140mm exhaust fan (supports 120mm)
Top 1x 140mm exhaust fan (supports 3x 140mm or 4x 120mm)
Side 2x 120mm/140mm fan mounts
Bottom 1x 140mm intake fan (supports 4x 120mm or 2x 140mm)
Expansion Slots 8
I/O Port 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic
Power Supply Size ATX (supports two)
Clearances HSF 207mm
PSU 240mm
GPU 257mm with bracket; 350mm without bracket
Dimensions 9.84" x 25.59" x 23.62"
250mm x 650mm x 600mm
Special Features Supports 420mm/480mm radiator in top
PWM-controlled fan hub
Toggleable blue LED lighting for trim and front fans
Price MSRP $249

As is the custom for modern cases, Phanteks keeps things pretty modular and there is a healthy amount of room for installing a custom liquid cooling loop. Of particular note is the aforementioned shield in the primary compartment, which is also intended as a place to mount a reservoir. Most of the fan mounts have removable filters (all but the rear exhaust mount), and the case is designed in such a way that if you can put a fan somewhere, you can put a radiator there too.

Building in the Phanteks Enthoo Primo
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  • Alan G - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    +1 on the mini-ITX request; I'm starting on my third build with this size board because that's what my friends want. I'm not prepared to spend over $200 for a case like this one as it's truly overkill IMO. Even though the from panel is closed off, what does anyone need with 5 5.25" drive bays? For my photographer friends I don't even put card readers in these days because USB 3.0 readers are cheap and if a pin ever gets bent (and this does happen) they get a new one for $30 and the case doesn't have to be opened and things pulled apart and installed.

    I think there are just too many good alternatives to this case for less money.
  • BillyONeal - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    There need to be more mini-ITX cases worth reviewing for that :)
  • Grok42 - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    The truth hurts. While there are some good mITX cases that haven't been reviewed, they aren't recent cases. I can understand not wanting to review a 2-year old design but I would still appreciate it.
  • zero2dash - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    "Full ATX accounts for less than 5% of the tech enthusiast community now."

    I'd love to see the proof to back up that statement.

    You can buy plenty of enthusiast mATX/ATX boards for nearly any price point; meanwhile, if you want an enthusiast ITX board, you're going to pay out the nose for it. You're also left with only a few decent cases that do a good enough job at cooling.

    ITX works if you have minimal requirements on storage and are only running a single GPU.
  • f0d - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    where is the proof of "Full ATX accounts for less than 5% of the tech enthusiast community now." i know that personally i have only built 1 mini-itx vs about 15 full atx pc's in the last 3 years for friends/family
    and that person is now getting me to build an ivy bridge-e full atx system when they come out
  • noeldillabough - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    Which board do you plan to use? I use a raid controller and a discrete sound card so features on board don't really matter to me but I want a stable board with good overclocking potential.
  • Grok42 - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    My last build was mITX and I can't see every building anything larger than mATX going forward. The mITX case I chose holds 10 drives. You would be amazed how much space is saved by not having any 5.25" bays.

    All that said, I'm too would be surprised that only 5% of the market is full ATX case purely based on the quantity of cases available. I guess if we're at an inflection point where everyone is moving away from full ATX it's possible that only 5% bought full ATX in the past month of YTD?
  • Barbarossa - Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - link

    George from Corsair here. Full towers sell in larger numbers than Mini ITX. Look at all the ~$150+ cases that are selling now: NZXT Phantoms, Cooler Master Storm Troopers/Strykers, etc. Full towers are more popular than ever.

    Mini ITX is growing in popularity but among the "enthusiast" crowd, full towers have increased dramatically in market share in the last couple of years.

    Mid Tower ATX is still 70-80% of the total market, with Mini ITX and Full Tower ATX growing and chipping away at the edges. The bell curve is flattening but it's still there.
  • f0d - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    too much plastic and not enough room
    i prefer my 900D - im so happy with that case i cant imagine ever needing another case again
  • HisDivineOrder - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    Then the 950D hits and you suddenly awaken one day with the very real ability to imagine it.

    Take the Obsidian 900D and then make it a huge cube instead. Ba-bam. You can name your new monolith, "The Borg" and add custom Borg cube sound effects when it starts.

    Resistance is futile.

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