NZXT has been in the chassis game for some time already, and while not all of their older designs were all on point, at least not as much as I would have liked, along the way they have come up with some great ideas. NZXT is also a company that realizes what else is out on the market, and has had a recent track record of being able to out play and out design most of their competition. Two major wins in their column along the way, in the time that I have been looking at cases, were products like the whole Phantom series of cases, and the development and release of the Switch 810 earlier this year. Without these two culminations of many hours at the design table, it is really tough to say where NZXT would be in the chassis game, but I doubt they would be near the top, as they are today.
The Phantom case series has been a huge hit since day one. The sleek, shiny, plastic outer skin was something that took case buyers by storm. No one had ever produced a chassis with so much use of plastic, which was just truly awesome in appearance. We also saw in the Phantom 630 what happens when you take an exterior design that everyone was already on board with, and gave the chassis a serious upgrade to the interior, making that chassis one of the most feature rich designs I have ever seen from NZXT. Where the Phantom 630 was a super-tower chassis, this new delivery is scaled down to a full-tower. Some of the interior has changed since the 630, as well as trying new things on the exterior to give this newest chassis its own identity, as well as its own chance to make its name.
The latest release from NZXT to arrive at my door is the Phantom 530. While certain things have been reduced in quantity to allow for the smaller form factor, don't write it off just yet. Even with a few little losses along the way of the new interior design, the exterior is yet another very tasteful take on what the Phantom is in the new times.
With every look at a new Phantom, over the years, they get better and better, and from what I have seen in my time with this chassis, the NZXT Phantom 520 is anything but a disappointment. This thing is just super cool and well worth the time to have a closer look over the next few pages.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
As with all cases in the Phantom series, we are dealing with a steel inner construction, with a liberal use of plastic on the outside of the chassis. The Phantom 530 still keeps the very shiny finish, a center line down the top and front panels, it offers a front door panel, and receives some fresh touches to keep everything feeling new. Pulling out the tape measure you will find a chassis that stands 543mm tall, sits at 235mm wide and is 572mm deep, and weighing in at 10.5 kilograms. This chassis can house an ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX, as well as an E-ATX motherboard. Drive bays are set up with three external 5.25" drives with tool-free lathes, and there is a six plus one arrangement of storage drives. There are six slide-out trays in three bay sections under the ODD section, as well as room for a single 2.5" drive behind the motherboard tray. This is also one of the only cases on the market that will show you up front that there is 26mm of room behind the motherboard tray at minimum, and up to 46mm in some of the deeper sections.
Cooling in the chassis is dealt with by two fans pre-installed into the chassis. There is a 200mm fan in the front of the chassis as the intake. The second fan in the chassis is the 120mm fan in the rear. This isn't to say that you are limited in cooling options, though. The front of the chassis can take on a pair of 120mm or 140mm fans, and of course the 200mm fan that is shipped there. Also keep in mind, with the removable storage drive rack, this could be water cooling territory. The rear of the chassis can use a 120mm or 140mm, so all single radiator AIOs are fair game as well. The bottom of the chassis will hold a pair of 120mm fans in front of the PSU, and again, with the bays removed, this can house a radiator, too. You can add a 140mm fan to the left side panel to go behind the mesh insert if you wish, and then there is the top. There you can house a pair of 200mm fans, a pair of 140mm fans, or up to three 120mm fans - think of all that cooling potential.
Getting to the more important aspect of all case purchases, it has to be available and be at a good price. With the NZXT Phantom 530, all I see currently are listings at Newegg, and I say listings because this chassis is available in three versions. There is black, red and a white version that we were sent to look at, but no matter the color choice, they all list at $129.99 at the time of writing. There is a bit of shipping to include, but the total out the door pricing is $139.98, and is yet another example of a feature rich example of a full-tower chassis that doesn't seem to be gouging our wallets, like some cases do.
It seems to me that over the years, we are finally starting to get more and more tech and development in our case choices, and along with the time, the prices seem to be going down as well. While being a huge win-win scenario for potential buyers, I say we get down to why the new Phantom 530 from NZXT should be in your "must have" list of potential candidates.
The packaging is kept rather simple looking, but still uses shiny covered cardboard to give it a little class. At the top you can read NZXT and the Phantom 530 naming above a large image of the white chassis. In the background, to break up the black, there are some blue Tron-like renderings applied.
Spinning the box to the left, the next panel we see covers the names at the top again, but this panel delivers customers the full specifications of what is inside.
The back is a little more involved. NZXT cover features like the fan hub, the 30W fan control switch, rear I/O LED lighting, talks about the top ventilation, shows AIO support, and the fully modular HDD assembly. In eight languages at the bottom of this panel, there is the text that describes what is seen in those images.
On this side of the packaging you will see that my box shows three versions of this chassis. Here is shown a white, black, and a charcoal grey version rather than the red. Maybe there are plans for a fourth? Below the images is reasoning from NZXT on why you should be using this chassis.
Completely out of the box and sitting on the table, my NZXT Phantom 520 in white clothing arrived in perfect condition. The Styrofoam caps, plastic liner and clingy plastic on the window did the job well.
NZXT Phantom 530 Full-Tower Chassis
The line down the middle of the front bezel is barely discernible, but you can see how well the black mesh at the bottom of the door, and the black accents on either side of the front door, really "pop" in this design.
As it should, the front door swings to the right and allows you access to the three removable bay covers, offers a reset button at the top, and has the NZXT and Phantom 530 name pressed right into the plastic. The door is supported with sturdy metal hinges, and it kept shut via magnets in the door.
The top of the chassis is one continuous and smooth swoop from the front up and over the top. At the back you find a large mesh panel to allow the multitude of fan options room to flow out of the chassis. Near the front you are offered a two position fan control switch and the button to turn on the rear I/O lighting.
On the right side of the top panel, very near the front of the chassis, you find the rest of the I/O panel. Here is a large power button, a pair of USB 3.0 ports, and some HD Audio 3.5mm jacks.
The left side of the chassis offers you a very large window that is angled like all the rest of the lines on the Phantom. Taking the same angle as it runs near that window, there is also a mesh panel near the HDD bays that allows the option to place in a 140mm fan.
Looking at the rear of the 530, you see the top is very tall and will allow for thick radiators to go under it. You then see the slotted fan mounting holes to let you customise the positioning of it. You also get eight expansion slots, the pair of water cooling holes, and the PSU goes in the bottom of this tower.
The right side of the chassis offers nothing real fancy, just a large expanse of steel that is painted to match the rest of the case. Since there is a minimum of 26mm inside of here, there is no real need for a bump in this panel.
On the underside of the Phantom, you will find four large round feet giving this large chassis sturdy footing. You will also see that the power supply gets its own dust filter that pulls out the back. Under the optional fan mounting locations in the floor, the dust filter pulls out the front.
Inside the Phantom 530
Unscrewing the panels, slightly pulling them to the rear of the case, and then opening them like a car door, is how these are removed. Out of the way, the interior shot looks impressive out of the box; there is a lot to cover in here.
The top of the bays drives is widened to allow for fans or a radiator above it, and offers room for three drives. The 5.25" devices then get held into place with the tool-free latches on this side, and can be backed up with screws on the other.
The hard drive rack is assembled with a three drive cage, a dual drive cage, and a single cage at the bottom. They are fully removable and customize their position to fit your needs, and the triple bay even offers an angled fan mount on it.
On the flip side of that coin, you could just get rid of all of them, along with the support plate at the bottom. This opens up both the front and the floor of the chassis to more cooling, and water cooling potential.
The top of the chassis has very little steel left with all the options. You can install a pair of 200mm fans, a pair of 140mm fans or three 120mm fans. There are plenty of options and plenty of room for water cooling in there, too.
Even the motherboard tray keeps with the angled theme with the oddly angular access hole. There are seven wire management holes, four of which have grommets in them. To tie up the wiring, this chassis offers over 20 places to do just that.
Under the PSU there are six feet to support it, four for the shorter units, and the two further out are for kilowatt or larger units. Between the feet the floor is louvered to allow cleaner air flow, and the dust filter is much appreciated.
The rear of the chassis has the 140mm white bladed fan to exhaust the chassis. I also like that the expansion slot covers are blacked out. This way they match the newer VGA brackets, and it breaks up the white just like the water cooling grommets to the left of them.
NZXT does offer some very basic management to keep the wiring from flopping around and getting damaged, but the sheer amount of space is impressive, not to mention the two cool features offered here.
Zooming in quite a bit, you can more easily see, what essentially is the Grid 10-port fan hub - just without the plastic covering included. Next to it you can find the +1 that was listed in the drive bays, and I will be using this for my SSD.
I like that NZXT took the effort to black out all of the cabling, and in it you will find what is shown here. There are the various connections for power and LEDs, Native USB 3.0, HD Audio, and a pair of extra fan power lead extensions for the fan hub.
Accessories and Documentation
There is quite a bit of hardware so pay attention to the manual, as it shows everything. That is except for the first bag, which I assume are 200mm fan screws, but are not covered in the manual correctly. The second bag contains 20 or so wire ties, and the third bag holds the stand-off socket. The bottom row then holds a bag if shorter fan screws, the power supply screws and the screws I used to mount an SSD.
You also get six other bags of screws, too. Across the top you have the motherboard screws, 3.5" hard drive and ODD screws. The bottom row offers the pair of extra stand-offs for E-ATX motherboards, 35.5mm 200mm fan screws, and the last bag contains what NZXT show as the SSD screws.
The manual and this product placement guide are found outside of the chassis. Mine was under the plastic liner, but folded over the top edge as most of it hung down the right side of the chassis.
Opening the manual offers you a fold out front page. Inside of it you are offered up an exploded diagram of the Phantom 530. The page to the right of it explains what each of the numbered points is showing.
Then things move into the front of the chassis and how to remove the bay covers. After that bit of information, you are then explained the front I/O sections and what you will find and how to use it.
As the manual continues you are offered up some very clear instructions for installing the components and getting things wired up correctly. Large images with red printing denoting what is being installed really helps as you read the section titles for guidance as to what is being done in each step.
The Build and Finished Product
Just so that you have a much better idea of what this chassis has to offer in the realm of cooling options, I went ahead and peeled all of the plastic components so we can see under and behind them. All of the I/O components stay with the chassis, and even without the bays in place, this chassis is very solid.
Since we know what the front of the chassis looks like, and even with the DVD drive installed, with the door closed, nothing changes at all in appearance. I figured I would move in much closer so you can better appreciate the reset button and the naming indented into the plastic when molded.
Look at all the room in this thing. Even with the ATX build in place, a fairly large air cooler, and what is by today's standards an average-sized video card, I still have more than enough for up to four radiators inside of this chassis, and with the +1 drive in the back, you really don't need any drive bays, at least I don't.
There are no surprises to be found in the back of the chassis. The exhaust fan wiring is pretty tight from the factory, and makes the dust shield installation take a look first, but the card and PSU fit in like a glove.
Behind the tray, you can see the SSD in next to the fan hub, and you can get really creative with the wiring. I would like to mention that the USB 3.0 and HD Audio cables are so long, they got wired across the top, down the right side, before they enter the main compartment to the right of the SSD.
Buttoned back up now, the Phantom 530 sits and awaits power. The window offers a good view of the interior, but the angle does cut off the view of the end of the video card. Other than that, I say we get some juice running through her and see what happens.
With power added, there isn't anything that jumps right out at you. Even with the fan controller maxed out, there is very little noise coming from the chassis, in the range of 33 dB. There is a dim light strip on the left side of the chassis, where you put your hand to open the front door. These LEDs are white, and did not show up in the image much at all. You have to be looking almost dead straight at it to even see it.
Shrinking the new Phantom layout from what was the Phantom 630 super-tower down to what we see in the Phantom 530 was a good move in my opinion. While not as roomy as the larger version, the Phantom 530 took every advantage it could with the layout and what is offered. At first, I had not checked the specs of this chassis, when I opened the box; it really was my first look at this design. It was then that I was constantly being impressed at almost every turn. Externally, well it is a Phantom, you either love it or hate it, and there is a defined line in the sand there. Internally, the chassis really stays true to what has made all of the latest submissions since the Switch 810 release, such a huge deal in the realm of any cases on the market.
There really is nothing dysfunctional, or anything about this chassis that I would change. If I were to complain about something, I would have liked a fan in the top, more to the point, I would have liked a 200mm one there. Looking at it from the perspective of NZXT, even if one were included, with all the AIO users, and the guys that are crazy for water cooling, it would likely spend its life in the box after its removal for your own ideas of the perfect cooling solution. I will say that the two fan arrangement works pretty well, but I also know that the open concept of the mesh side panel, the ventilation for the front, and the natural convective flow of air out the top of this chassis play into the cooling efficiency that it displays out of the box. On top of that, the choice of fans here are almost silent, where just a slight hum could be heard from a foot or two away from the chassis.
The layout and options given in this case are what really sold me. The hard drive bays, everyone is offering them not, but not the way NZXT does. You can completely re-arrange them, hang what you want, where you want, and you even get a place to mount another fan if you keep the triple bay section in the chassis. The wire management is top notch as well, and even with the SSD in the back, and all the wiring sans the two PCI power leads, the right panel is no issue to place back on. I mean it when I say that NZXT gave you their all in this design, solid construction, tons of options, great cable management, all in a chassis that looks this cool.
This chassis is very stiff competition to any chassis in the full-tower lineup, I don't care who made it. I know I just raved about how much I liked the S71, but all Phantom cases hit you in a different way aesthetically. You honestly do get your money's worth in this chassis, and the only thing missing in comparison to the S71 is the HDD dock, but in most other aspects, it beats the Thermaltake Urban chassis. With the sweet and gentle pricing of just less than $140 to get this chassis to your door, I only have one question at this point. Why are you not shopping for yours right now?