NZXT PHANTOM 530 Review
Even in the geek infested world of PC components brand identification is important, and in a world of black boxes, whether it be in Blood Red, Matte Black or the White seen above, the Phantom range is a brand that stands out. Anyone who's been a PC enthusiast for the last 2-3 years will have no trouble looking at the 530 and knowing its part of the Phantom range. Perhaps this strong brand recognition explains in some part the lack of wording or symbols of any sort on the exterior of the case and only the merest hint of an embossed name inside the front door. It's a Phantom, the shape of the case itself tell us that, they don't have to stick a big badge on it.
The problem with branding of course is that we associate all the attributes of one of the members to the whole of the brand. This can be a bad thing if you happen to experience the part of the line that stinks. The way round this potential trap is for a manufacturer to ensure that all the items in a range share the same common traits. If you're wondering where all this is going what we're trying to say is that having looked at all of the Phantom range we're pleased to say that the 530 continues with the same brand attributes laid down by the 820, the 630 and even the 410.
So what are these brand attributes? Well let’s start with build quality. The 530 is built to a very high standard. It's sturdy, the paint finish is excellent, the Rubber grommets are amongst the best we've ever seen, and the judicious use of screws as opposed to rivets in key locations enable the modder to largely dismantle the case. Why is this important, well if you're not a modder you won't understand, and if you are a modder, then you'll know the first rule of "Mod Club".
The feature count of the 530 is also high, with seemingly infinite combinations of HDD rack configuration, native watercooling support for 360s or 280s in the roof as well as mega thick rads in the front or base, 30W single channel fan controller hub with 10 outputs, rear mounted SSD drive, switchable rear I/O LED light, and not of course forgetting the big window. Did we mention that we like the big window? Did we mention that it's about bloody time? This is one area where we're pleased that NZXT have broken from the brand recipe and forged a new path.
Building into the 530 is a joy. Plenty of space up front enables CPU coolers of up to 183mm in height to be installed. HDD rack configuration dictates GPU length from 282mm with all the racks and pivot fan installed, all the way up to 444mm with the appropriate HDD racks removed, and as the racks are modular there's no need to lose the lot, just whip out the ones that are in the way of your monster GPU and Bob's you Uncle. Of course all this would be for nowt without the well distributed good sized rubber grommeted (mostly) cable management holes, a good 26mm of space behind the motherboard, and no less than 25 cable tie points.
In use the 530 is quiet to the point of almost being silent with the fans on their lowest settings. The middle settings sees the fans audible but not intrusive, with the highest setting being noisy and only likely to be used when gaming or other high temp (and likely high noise) applications demand.
We've already mentioned the 530's native water cooling support. It's unlikely the owner will be able to resist the urge to get "custom wet", with the case able to accept 360s and 280 up to 43mm thick in the roof, such as the XSPC RS, EX and AX series as well as the Alphacool NexXxos ST30 and Hardware labs Black ice GT Stealth. With the drive bays removed you can lob pretty much any thickness of rad you care to mention in the front (yes even the 86mm deep brick like Alphacool NexXxos "Monsta"). Accepting then that it's quite likely that the owner of this case is going to install a custom loop it's still worth mentioning that with the ever increasing move from conventional tower air coolers towards AIO solutions, the 530 is pretty much able to accept anything you throw into it, whether it be the Corsair H100i the H110 or NZXTs own mighty Kraken X40 or X60, you're not going to have to worry about whether it'll fit, because it will.
So what of the competition? Pricing the 530 as they have at £120 sees it fall into a price sector of the market that isn't exactly over saturated, and certainly not drenched with cases that offer this level of quality, feature count and usability, in fact you've got to climb up into the £150s until you meet the sort of case that can match it, and if you're going to spend that much then you really need to be considering the 530s big brother, the 630.
If you're a regular to OC3D you'll know that we've now reviewed the whole of the refreshed Phantom case range, from the entry point 410 through the 530s big brother, the 630, all the way up to the Daddy of them all, the Phantom 820. With the exception of the 410 which was just edged out into Silver they've all received a Gold award, and they've all deserved it. At the beginning of this conclusion we talked about the importance of Brand Recognition and Brand Attributes. We're pleased to say that the 530 continues with the strengths of the Phantom Brand and so deserves a well-earned Gold award.