Phanteks EVOLV MATX Micro-Tower Chassis Review

Phanteks EVOLV MATX Micro-Tower Chassis Review

Phanteks latest computer case is the impressive EVOLV MATX micro-tower chassis. You need to take a look at it.

@chad_sebring
Published Wed, Apr 19 2017 10:00 AM CDT   |   Updated Thu, Jul 30 2020 4:20 PM CDT
Rating: 100%Manufacturer: Phanteks

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

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VIEW GALLERY - 38 IMAGES

The chassis which brings us all here together is not something completely new to the market. In late 2014, Phanteks brought forth something called the Enthoo Evolv Micro-Tower, and looking back for reference we can see that we prized it highly. Then, about in the middle of 2015, we got our hands-on the Enthoo Evolv ITX chassis, and while compact, we still found much to love about the chassis. While we never did get our hands-on the Enthoo Evolv ATX chassis that released near the end of 2015, there is not one case in this lineup that we did not appreciate the layout, craftsmanship, style, and bang for the buck.

We mention all of the above cases for good reason, is it is the Evolve cases that have us back again. Notice we left out the Enthoo Series name this time because nowhere on the packaging or literature is Enthoo ever mentioned. However, there is no mistaking the bloodline, and since smaller more compact cases are all the rage right now, it is a perfect time to refresh what were already superior designs. While this may be another highly stylized Evolv chassis, Phanteks has done a lot to change what we were used to seeing in this series. Gobs of changes have been made. Some obvious, some not so much so, but what we do know, is that this new chassis is well worth the time it takes to check it out.

Phanteks has sent along the Evolv MATX Chassis. Aesthetically it may appear much like the Enthoo Evolv Micro-Tower chassis, but it does not take long to start to see what has gone on in the last couple of years. While Phanteks is still using thick aluminum covers on the outside of this chassis, they opted to move to tempered glass sides this time around. The I/O panel has been moved, and this time was hidden, Phanteks added RGB control and an option to add RGB LED strips. Much of the layout has stayed the same inside and out, but we can tell you that this is a chassis which adheres to the latest trends in case design, yet Phanteks is still able to outdo themselves, bringing forth a new angle of attack with the Evolve MATX.

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In the chart provided to us by Phanteks, things start off with the case specifications. It is here that we can see the 230mm width, the 453mm height, and the 400mm depth of this Micro-Tower chassis. The front, top, and the bottom of the chassis offer covers, and each is made from 3mm thick aluminum, which can be had in three colors. The color options are black, white, and anthracite gray, all of them using a textured finish to the panels. On both sides of the Evolv MATX, we are sent 3mm thick, chemically tempered glass panels. The Evolv MATX can house either a Micro-ATX motherboard or a Mini-ITX motherboard, and while hidden in the front bezel, offers excellent connectivity and RGB control.

Inside of the Evolv MATX, there are four expansion slots at the back of the case, a drive cage which holds a pair of 3.5" HDDs, and a pair of trays which can hold only 2.5" drives. Cooling is handled by a pair of premium 140mm fans, one in the front, shifted down to the bottom of the bezel, and another at the back. However, the Evolv MATX offers room for three 120mm or two 140mm fans on the front, while the top loses room for the third 120mm fan, but can house a pair of either 120mm or 140mm fans. The rear of the chassis comes with a 140mm fan in place, but it can also accept a 120mm fan as well. Water cooling is also entirely possible inside of this case. The front of the chassis can house up to a 360mm radiator or a 280mm radiator. The top of the chassis will take on a 240mm or 280mm radiator, and the back of the case is left to single 120mm or 140mm radiator options.

Phanteks also lists the restrictions found in this chassis. With just fans placed in the front of the chassis, the video cards can be up to 319mm in length, but as you add water cooling to the front of the chassis, this number decreases. CPU coolers can be 192mm tall, which encompasses most options on the market. As for the PSU, with the HDD cage inside of the chassis, space is limited to 216mm including the cables, but you can remove the HDD cage to gain room for longer PSUs, as well as then to use the extra space for a reservoir and pump using the multi-functional plate included in the hardware. The last things we see are that this chassis can be searched by the PH-ES314ETG model number to ensure you find the right chassis and that when empty, this case weighs in at nearly twenty pounds.

We are uncertain of what sort of availability will be out in the wild by the time you read this, but we would assume that stick should be available soon after the release. Phanteks has been good in the past for making certain their cases are ready to go when they release to the public. What we do know is that Phanteks sent over the MSRP along with other literature to be sure we had all of the information at out fingertips. We were told that the Evolv MATX Chassis is slated to cost only $129.99. Looking back to the original Enthoo Evolv Micro-tower, it released at $134 plus shipping. Even with upgrades this time around, Phanteks is still able to increase the bang for the buck as well.

Chad's Chassis Test System Specifications

Packaging

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Phanteks delivers the Evolv MATX is a clean package. As to the front panel of the packaging, all we see is the chassis name in white text across the top and an image of this new chassis front and center.

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Sticking with clean and simplistic packaging, this side panel delivers just the Phanteks name in white on a vast expanse of black cardboard.

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The back of the box has much more to offer. A brief statement on the makeup and options starts thing off, with notations of connectivity of this chassis to MSI Mystic Light Sync and ASUS Aura Sync motherboards. Below that, we find four images showing the Evolv MATX from various angles and states of disassembly. At the bottom, we locate fine print which covers the appearance, functionalities, and the cooling capabilities.

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As we make it around to the final panel on the exterior, the top offers the Phanteks name. The rest of the panel is used to display half of the front of the Evolve, with a full list of specifications to the right of it. At the bottom, we also found the sticker displaying the model number and a smaller stick next to it with the serial number.

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Each of the tempered glass side panels is shipped with plastic coating the outside of the glass, and then the entire chassis is surrounded in a clear plastic bag, working together to protect the glass as well as the aluminum finish. To take on the bumps and bruises associated with shipping, the Evolv MATX then uses thick Styrofoam end caps on the front and the back of the chassis. All of which worked together to allow this sample to arrive to us in a flawless condition.

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Phanteks also takes one more step in protecting the tempered glass side panels, and that is with the use of four silicone covers like the one seen here. Since the doors swing open and are magnetically latched, the front corners, at the top and bottom of both panels, have these in place to ensure the glass is not chipped or cracked if they happen to work themselves open in transit.

Phanteks EVOLV MATX Micro-Tower Chassis

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The front of the Evolv MATX resembles all other Enthoo Evolv cases from the past, with one minor difference. The dog bone shaped front panel is still there, and it is still made of aluminum. We happen to have the Anthracite Gray model, which can also be seen at the top and bottom of the bezel. The gaps on either side of the bezel are how this case takes in air, and the slit near the bottom is the HDD activity LED.

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The minor change on the front of the Evolve MATX is that the front I/O panel is now hidden behind a panel with a cover that flips up and out of the way for access. Found in the panel are a pair of USB 3.0 ports, a pair of 3.5mm HD Audio jacks, and a button to cycle through the LED color options. These color options will change the power button LED and a pair of optional LED strips and offer white, blue, purple, pink, red, orange, yellow, green, teal, and light blue as optional colors, without motherboard input.

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The top panel of the chassis is where the power button is located, very near the front of the case. The aluminum used here is mostly solid but does over steel mesh in slots located on the angled bits of the top panel.

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The left side of the Evolv MATX is nearly all a view of tempered glass. We do see a bit of the top panel as well as the feet at the bottom, but outside of the glass, we see the sticker denoting care be taken for this panel and the hardware at the back edge which supports the glass on hinges.

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The back of the chassis is topped with ventilation and a deep offset before we reach the rear I/O and exhaust fan location. There are four expansion slots which are flanked with passive ventilation, and the bottom is used to mount the PSU there.

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The right side of the Evolv MATX is nearly identical to the left side, but there are two significant changes. Rather than clear glass, this time the inside has been coated black to block the view behind it. However, there is a small rectangular area at the bottom-right of the window which allows the label on SSDs to show through.

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Under the chassis, we find aluminum legs supported with plastic frames, and four small rubber pads taped to the aluminum offer grip. There is a removable dust filter which slides out the back, covering the intake fan on the PSU. In the middle, we can see screws to remove the HDD cage, and the other two are near the front aluminum foot. The slots cut between them are to be used with the included pump and reservoir mounting plate once the HDD cage is removed.

Inside the EVOLV MATX

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The aluminum bezel is removed by pulling on it, to release the four pins holding it on at the corners. On the chassis, the entire face of it is covered with a plastic framed, mesh, dust filter which covers all of the intake, no matter the cooling setup.

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Since the tempered glass panels are on hinges, technically they do not need to be removed, as they will open past 180 degrees. For safety sake and ensuring no damage occurs to the glass, you can open the sides and then lift the glass off the hinges so that they can be set aside during the build or maintenance. Each panel has two magnets attached to the glass, and the frame of the chassis has foam to ensure the glass will not vibrate against the steel.

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The Evolv MATX offers a dual compartment design, where the top is open from front to back, while the PSU and HDDs can be mostly hidden under the PSU cover. We also see that the hardware is shipped in a cardboard box which has been wire tied to the top of the PSU cover.

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The front of the chassis ships with a single 140mm fan, but there are slots on the sides of the steel frame to accept another, as well as the option to use a pair of 120mm fans. The front I/O wiring is tucked away and run through the chassis well out of the way of the fans.

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Just under the fan, built into the PSU cover, is a removable panel. This will allow access for tubing to pass through, and also allows for fewer restrictions to the pump and reservoir combo which is meant to be placed under it.

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Removing a single thumbscrew from the back allows the top panel to slide back a bit and then be lifted off the chassis. This way, you have full access to mounting optional cooling in this location, which can be dual 120mm or dual 140mm based fans or water-cooling solutions.

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The motherboard tray offers a large CPU cooler access hole in it; the tray is clearly marked for standoffs, which are preinstalled for Micro-ATX motherboards. There are seven locations in which to pass wires through, four of them with grommets in place to keep the interior view clean and tidy. There are also four wire tie locations, but Phanteks supplies a way to group wires without the need for zip ties.

Inside the EVOLV MATX Continued

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The top side of the PSU cover is ventilated for dual GPU setups so that the cards do not starve and overheat. The side of the cover offers a Phanteks name plate on it, and at the back, there is a large section missing. The idea here is to show the PSU used, but still, block the view of wiring and HDDs.

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The back of the Evolv MATX is where the second fan is located, and both fans are powered via a 3-pin fan connection. The expansion slots are accessed internally and use thumbscrews to secure the covers and expansion cards.

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The front I/O wires are already tended to as they run through the hook and loop straps, which are also intended to hold onto the PSU wires. We also see the pair of removable trays just under the CPU cooler access hole, which is there for 2.5" drives, and can be seen through the panel that covers this side.

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At the front of the case, under the PSU cover, there are two HDD bays, which are also drilled to accept 2.5" drives. The steel cages on either side can be unscrewed at the top and bottom of them, and removed, delivering an area to support additional water cooling bits.

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The PSU is to be slid into the bottom of the case from this side, and it will rest of four rubber pads stuck to the floor of the chassis. Space here is somewhat limited, so if you plan to use a longer PSU, you may have to remove the HDD cage to do so.

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The chassis wires are all black in color, and there are a few to be found. The standards are there for the power button, the HDD activity, USB 3.0 and HD Audio, but there are a few more to discuss too. Since this chassis is RGB, there is a SATA power connection to power the LEDs, there is a 4-pin to connect the optional LED light strips to, and another 4-pin connection that will connect to the motherboard for color matching of the board to the chassis.

Hardware & Documentation

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In every chassis from Phanteks, that we can recall, we have been given a plastic parts sorter tray. This not only helps to separate the standoff, fan screws, motherboard, and 2.5" drive screws, pump plate screws, PSU screws, and HDD cage lock screws, it also keeps all of them handy of you should decide to make changes in the chassis later in its life.

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If the hook and loop straps are not enough for what you need in wire management, Phanteks does send along a set of six zip ties to be used wherever needed. We also found a brushed metal case badge sporting the Phanteks name, which can be placed on the chassis, or to whatever you see fit to stick it to.

The largest piece in this image is the pump and reservoir mounting plate. This is to be screwed in where the HDD cage is currently, and has rubber pads on the bottom of the legs. The top also has a thick rubber pad on it, and is drilled universally to fit nearly any mounting layout one might run across.

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Also found inside of the plain cardboard box is the manual and an insert for the RAM process. The manual covers everything from the hardware, to how to disassemble the chassis, on through to a step-by-step guide of component installation. They were even certain to cover all of the fan and water cooling compatibility by dimensions and images so that there are no misgivings on compatibility.

The RMA insert explains that if you have an issue, you should make contact with Phanteks, not the retailer. The insert also offers addresses and a phone number to gain access to them to sort out any issue you may have with the Evolv MATX Chassis.

Case Build & Finished Product

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We feel that the front of the chassis is unmistakable, and did not require the addition of the Phanteks case badge to break up the sleek appearance. With no optical bays and the fact that the front I/O panel is hidden behind a small door, we are left now with the same aesthetic appeal we saw fresh out of the box.

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In this image, we can see that there is a bunch of room above the motherboard for thick radiators and push/pull setups on thin ones. We found no issue mounting the motherboard, the AIO has room to hang from the back, and GPU sag is minimal even with a very long card in play. The PSU cover blocks the view of ugly things, yet at the same time allows users to display the make and model of the PSU chosen to go under it.

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Without the proper shield to use, we tried another and found it to pop right into place. We did find a need for a bit of force to align the screws that hold the video card in place, but when it came to mounting the PSU, it couldn't have been any easier.

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When it came to wire management, we found the straps to be sufficient. We could have also run the PSU wires through them, but we found that for our build requirements, all of the wires run naturally near the motherboard tray. We can tuck the wires in, and not cause issues with the magnetic closure of the tempered glass panel, which covers this.

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With the glass doors back on the Evolv MATX, all we have to do now is power things up and test it. We love that the left panel is made of clear glass, which allows for an excellent view of the components without the need for extra lighting.

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Once powered, the Evolv MATX emits 33 dB of noise from the back of the chassis from the pair of 140mm fans at full speed. As it stands, out of the box, without buying optional LED strips, there are only two LED zones. The ring of LED light around the power button as well as the flicker of the HDD activity light in the slit in the front cover will match whatever is set. Keep in mind that there are ten options for colors, and that is without a motherboard which supports RGB LED controls.

Final Thoughts

A couple of things stayed to same from previous models such as the Evolv MATX, but that is down to the overall look and design on the outside, and the fact that they are offered in black, anthracite gray, and white variations. On the same token, many things about this chassis are different from the similar named version of the past.

The front I/O panel has been moved to a more accessible location this time, and they have done away with the large and view blocking drive mounting plate that used to run down along the front of the chassis. While the fan hub has been removed, in exchange we are given RGB LED ability in the chassis, and capacity to connect it to certain motherboards which provide their various styles of LED controls.

The fan options and provided fans have changed, increasing the compatibility in the later design, and we find tempered glass panels on both sides of the case, which could not be easier to use and remove. Getting into finer detail, we are provided a second SSD tray this time, you can shut the chassis lighting off altogether by holding the button for five seconds, a removable HDD cage, and a support plate to house whatever pump and reservoir combination you want to. From every angle of this design, we feel the Evolv MATX is the better chassis.

The Evolv MATX is made of thick aluminum on the exterior, which upgrades the appearance and feel of the chassis, yet at the same time keep the unmistakable aesthetic of the Evolv Series. Cooling with the provided fans is sufficient, but with options to have removable bits to allow for water cooling, and room at both the front and the top of the chassis for 240mm or 280mm radiators will keep any system cooled, even if using a pair of cards and a high TDP processor inside.

We like that we can see the brand and model of the PSU rather than covering it over completely, and while most of the time the right side of the chassis will face a wall, we do like that Phanteks covers everything but the view of the SSD or SSDs used in the build. While we typically use this section of the conclusion to rant about faults in design or things that just do not work well, with the Phanteks Evolv MATX Chassis, we are not able to do this. The chassis is just that well build and laid out with enough options to keep even the most advanced builder satisfied.

What we like even more, and the point that will bring a lot of customers to Phanteks is that with all the additions and inclusions in the Evolv MATX, they can keep the price down. In fact, this chassis is $15 less in cost than the original released at. Considering the cost is less than the other similar option from Phanteks, and you also dive into the latest trends in the Evolv MATX with tempered glass and RGB lighting, we see no reason to even look at the predecessor any longer. Compared to other cases of this size, the feel of this chassis is superior, and the layout is one of the best we have seen to date. It is hard to go wrong with the Evolve MATX Micro-ATX chassis from Phanteks. If you like to save room, want the latest and greatest there is to be had, and like it when you do not have to open a line of credit to buy one, this chassis is most certainly one worth much attention for your next Micro-ATX or Mini-ITX based system.

Chad's Chassis Test System Specifications

TweakTown award
Performance99%
Quality100%
Features100%
Value99%
Overall100%

The Bottom Line: The EVOLV MATX is the culmination of the latest of trends and Phanteks listening to their customers! From every angle this chassis is stellar to look at, it is as solid as can be, and is ready for whatever water cooling you want. We cannot find any reason why the Evolv MATX should be passed over.

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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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