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NZXT Manta Mini-ITX Chassis Review

NZXT Manta Mini-ITX Chassis Review

NZXT's Manta Mini-ITX chassis ticks pretty much all the boxes for a very solid and impressive Mini-ITX case. Come and take a look.

@chad_sebring
Published Mon, Apr 18 2016 8:20 PM CDT   |   Updated Thu, Jul 30 2020 4:20 PM CDT
Rating: 96%Manufacturer: NZXT

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

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VIEW GALLERY - 37 IMAGES

We have known, that for quite a long time now, NZXT is all about bending the rules when it comes to chassis design. Whether we look back to the anything in the Phantom series, the Noctis, even the Guardians, we find that NZXT has been tired of square case designs, and has tried for many years to add a bit of a curvature to their chassis lineup. The best part about NZXT and their idea to change what is normal, they have been wildly successful with it and have cases that with one glance, you know exactly what it is because of this.

The one thing about most of the earlier rounded designs is that they left the Mini-ITX motherboard users out there, with selecting a chassis that is much too big for their needs. So, NZXT went to the drawing board and came up with something unique to them. We have never seen a design such as this before. We have seen rounded panels here and there, and we have seen other cases with what can be called curves, but never once have we seen such a spherical design before. It is almost as if they took a basic square chassis and somehow overinflated it to come up with the idea behind this new Mini-ITX tower chassis that they are offering up for us to look at today.

Of course, we are speaking of the NZXT Manta from their Concepts series of cases. Usually in this series, we do see NZXT playing around with new ideas that may not fall into their other groups, but this is indeed the best we have seen. Not just as far as concepts go, maybe even more than any other chassis they sell. While the Phantom was the chassis to have in its day, the Manta takes it to a whole other level. This is a chassis, much like the Prodigy did, that will make you want to run out and buy a Mini-ITX based system, so that you have a reason to grab this chassis for yourself.

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We chose the chart specific to the matte white version of the Manta we have, but there are three versions with a window in total. You can get this is matte black and matte black with red accents, or there is a fourth option that is black but offers no window. These are all Mini-ITX designs, which are 245mm wide, 426mm tall, 450mm deep, and weigh in at 7.2 kg. We are then offered clearances, where we see 160mm of CPU cooler will fit, the video card can be 363mm long, and power supplies can be 363mm long as well.

Cooling things inside of this steel and ABS plastic chassis is fairly easy considering what is compatible. The front of the chassis offers room for two 120mm or 140mm fans, and the Manta ships with a pair of 120mm fans there. The top of the chassis provides the same fans configuration as the front. The rear of the chassis offers room for just one 120mm fan and is also included in the Manta. Water cooling follows the fans, and both the front and top can house 240mm or 280mm radiators, and if you wish to add in another 120mm radiator, one can fit in the back.

At the bottom of the list, we find mentions of the drive bays. Here we see that there is room inside for a pair of 3.5" drives, and up to three 2.5" drives, with no room left for optical drives. This chassis comes with what is called "external electronics," which means this chassis has an LED switch at the back of the Manta. When turned on, it powers a light in the top panel, LEDs above the rear I/O panel, and at the same time, it illuminates the NZXT logo in the PSU cover. About the front I/O panel, we find the bare minimum, with a pair of 3.5mm jacks and two USB 3.0 ports. At the back of the Manta, there are two expansion slots, and any standard ATX power supply will fit.

If you like the white Manta that we are going to show you here today, you can save some money opting for this color choice. We found most listing for any color option; all fall in at $139.99. However, if you venture over to Amazon, this same white chassis can be had right now for just $119.99. We feel many will line up and had over their fists full of money to have what is the best take on rounded chassis design we have seen to date.

Chad's Chassis Test System Specifications

Packaging

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The sample of our Manta chassis had come before the retail packaging was ready to go, and this is the reason for the plain brown box treatment seen on out box.

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The only thing on the box denoting the make or model of the chassis happens to be this little white sticker. Here NZXT offered the CA-MANTW-W1 model number of the white version, and to drive that point home, there is a white and a black sticker addressing the color combination.

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Inside of the thick cardboard box, we find a rounded chassis wrapped in plastic, and both sides of the window have been protected as well. All of it is then stuffed inside of a pair of thick Styrofoam end caps that delivered out matte white Manta in pristine condition.

NZXT Manta Mini-ITX Chassis

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The front of the Manta helps explain the overinflated look of this chassis. The top bulges, the sides bulge, and even down the bezel, it bulges at you. It is hard to see, being offered in white paint on a white panel, the NZXT name is found near the bottom of the panel.

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The main bits of the front I/O panel are found at the top of the Manta, on the right side. Here is where you can connect to the pair of 3.5mm jacks for HD Audio support, or connect to the pair of USB 3.0 ports. All of them have icons as well but is hard to see when they are white too.

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The top of the chassis is solid just like the front of the Manta is, and they both use the sides of the panels to allow for ventilation. At the front of the panel is a wide LED strip that works off a button at the back, and in the nearest corner is a power button.

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Not only does NZXT expand all of the panels to give the case lines that way, but we can also see that below the large window, they also clip the sides a bit, as they angle up from the bottom near the front.

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The top of the chassis is tall, and allows the rear I/O and exhaust fan to ride high in the design, yet still leave room for cooling up top. The expansion slots are accessed from outside the chassis, and just below where the PSU installs, there is a handle for the removable dust filter. Also in the middle of the left side, you will notice the button for the LEDs.

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The right side of the chassis bulges out as we could see from the front of the Manta. This keeps a uniform design appeal, but at the same time, it adds a ton of space behind it for wiring.

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Under the chassis, we find large legs going from side to side. They are removable, but also have access through them to get to screws in the floor of the chassis. At the back, we can see the dust filter for the PSU, and at the front, the box of hardware has been slid into the leg from transit.

Inside the Manta

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Removing the front bezel makes it much easier to see the wide mesh sides that allow the Manta to breathe properly. In the front of the chassis, we can see the pair of 120mm fans supplied to us, and covering them is a latch in place dust cover.

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The inside of the chassis is divided into two major sections. The larger top section is wide open with a wiring cover extending down the center. The lower section offers a PSU cover with the NZXT name in it, and also affords the room at the front for additional cooling depth.

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Inside of the front bezel, we see the fans again, but at the top, all of the chassis wiring immediately moves to the back. We also see a pair of 2.5" drive trays that are mounted to the motherboard tray. Simply unscrew the thumbscrew, slide the tray left, and they will come out for drive installation.

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The top of the chassis pops off the steel frame as easily as the front does, and the front should be removed before the top is. We see that all of the wiring and switches stay on the frame and that the majority of this area is open to taking on fans or water cooling.

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The motherboard tray is compact, as it houses only Mini-ITX motherboards. There are four holes in the tray for wiring and the large opening in the white rail to the right. The CPU cooler access hole is huge, and we find lots of places to tie wiring to as well.

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The PSU cover is vented along the top, which allows a PSU to install in either direction if you have to run the PSU fan up for some reason. There is also a small square hole in front of the louvers, and this is to run wiring to the video card.

Inside the Manta Continued

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The back of the Manta shows us the third 120mm fan included with the chassis, and the end is prewired out and behind the motherboard tray. The expansion slots are ventilated with their covers, but again, access is had from outside.

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Behind the motherboard tray, we find that the wiring is all ran to the bottom, and sealed in a plastic bag to protect the paint inside the case. Two PCBs are found near the CPU cooler access hole, and the bottom of the Manta is wide open.

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Moving closer, we find the PCB on the left is a PWM fan controller boards. It is a powered board that uses a PWM signal from the motherboard to power up to seven fans. The PCB at the back edge of the case is for the LED light switch. The two leads run to the NZXT logo on the side, to the rear I/O lighting.

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If you want to use 3.5" drives, it is under the cover, at the front of the case, that they can be mounted via the grommets in the floor. This is also the third location for a 2.5" drive if the trays do not cover your needs.

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At the back, we then find room for the PSU. Since there is nothing in front of it, the length does not matter, unless you plan to install drives in front of it. The bottom of the case is opened well with the filter below it to clear the air of debris, and there are four rubber pads to isolate the PSU once it is installed.

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In the wiring bundle, we find a Molex plug and a couple of fan extension wires for the fan controller. There are front panel LED and switch wires, an HD Audio connection, and a native USB 3.0 connection to make to the motherboard.

Hardware & Documentation

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Inside of the hardware box, we found six smaller bags of hardware all clearly marked. There are HDD and motherboard screws, PSU screws, and 2.5" drive screws along the top. At the bottom, we are given a case badge to put on, four fan screws, and an extra standoff and socket to drive it.

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NZXT did manage to put in a product insert showing off what else they provide, but there was no manual included with our early sample. There is a version found online, and it is as thorough as it gets, and will leave no question unanswered. We are also sent roughly twenty zip ties for wiring, making sure you get all you need to get the build wired as clean as possible.

Case Build & Finished Product

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With no optical bays sticking out, or any mesh to allow a peek inside of the chassis, the front of the Manta is just as solid and round looking as it was when we first saw it. There is nothing bold or out of place to break up the look and design appeal of this chassis.

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We did fairly well with fitting in our standard testing gear. The motherboard fits well, and the SSD was easy to get into place, but we like the wiring cover that runs down the middle to clean up the look. We even fit the H80i GT in the back, but dies to the head unit; we could only install it with one fan. Even so, we still had plenty of room for the video card too.

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We did test fit a dust shield and had no issues with its fitment. The video card lines right up, and with a little messing around with the cover and screws, we got it into place and secure. The power supply also fits well, and the screw holes aligned as they should.

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It does take some time to wire if you want things done neatly, but we were given all the ties we needed to get all of the system wiring tied down. We had plenty of room to connect the modular cables at the bottom, and to be honest, we didn't have to wire things this tight, as there is a bunch of room in the panel that covers this.

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Neither of the side panels gave us even the slightest hint of grief, and through the large side window, we can see all of our hard work pay off in the view. Now all we need to do is power this thing up and get to testing.

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The system power LED is what illuminates the slit along the front of the chassis. We had to turn the lights down to see this lighting, which is good for those who don't like blindingly bright LEDs on their case.

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Pressing the button at the back of the chassis turns on the rear I/O lighting, but of course, the PC has to be on to do this. There is a pair of bright white LEDs here to make any connectivity simple, even if the room is completely dark.

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That same button also powers the NZXT logo in the PSU cover. So not only can we display the video card maker, and the AIO maker, when the room is black, you also get a bright NZXT name at the bottom to show everyone who makes this attractive chassis.

Final Thoughts

Of course, the Manta has its limitations, and we would like to see this chassis put on steroids, allowing for larger versions of it in the future. Of the four, we are having a hard time deciding if we like the white version seen here, or the matte black with the red trim option, as it will go along quite well with many build themes. In the end, though, it isn't so much the color option that won us over, it is the rounded appearance of the external design that gets all the praise in the Manta.

Of course, the solid build and feature set help, but we love cases that expand the boundaries, and bend the rules. While the NZXT name on the front and the icons on the front I/O are tough to make out, they are done that way on purpose, so that nothing takes away from the design, as that is its best feature.

Cooling offered from NZXT is sufficient for most users and does not need any help when it came to our testing, leaving everything inside cool and supplied with plenty of air flow. Things can get cramped if you decide to go all out water cooling inside of this chassis, but in the end, it is so worth the effort. When done correctly, the view through the window is near wireless, and with a bit of interior lighting along with that NZXT name on the PSU cover, the Manta looks great in a dark room as well.

Adding in the rear I/O lighting and the dim power LED at the front, you can have lighting where it is needed the most, and keep the room fairly dark for those that do not care for excess chassis illumination. Throughout the build process, we could find no issues to bring forward, and there was not one bit of the design that was not self-explanatory. Everything just works and works well.

While we cannot stop glowing about the Manta and what NZXT did with this design, the pricing may stop a few of you, but it is so worth the investment in our minds. Retooling a chassis is not cheap, and it is not like they skimped out on anything with this design either. We still would like to mention that you can get the matte white version the cheapest right now, but even if you opt for another color, or decide to go ahead and pay the standard $139.99, we do not feel you will be disappointed in any way. Considering this Mini-ITX chassis offers near everything a mid-tower offers in features, we feel that many will line right up with their money, excitedly asking for the NZXT Manta Mini-ITX chassis.

Chad's Chassis Test System Specifications

TweakTown award
Performance97%
Quality including Design and Build99%
General Features96%
Bundle and Packaging98%
Value for Money90%
Overall96%

The Bottom Line: It is costly, but anything worth having is! The NZXT Manta is unique, rounded, full of features, and is bound to be the next go-to case for many Mini-ITX users.

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

UKUnited Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk

AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au

CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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