Phanteks Enthoo Pro M Case Review
Published: 31st July 2015 | Source: Phanteks | Price: 59.99 @ OCUK |
When reviewing hardware such as cases, we here at OC3D towers are very often in the habit of deliberately avoiding knowledge of the price of the hardware until after we've done the photography and the build. The reason for this is that we can more easily decide how we feel about features when our minds are free of the cost. We can't though help but form an opinion on how much we'd expect to pay for the case as we look at it, and it's this expectance when we finally do look at the price that helps us decide whether an item is good value, overpriced, or just about right. In the case of the Enthoo Pro M we had it in our minds that the case was likely to be in the £80-£90 region, the reason for this being the sheer weight of features and innovative solutions we'd observed. How wrong we were, this little baby will set you back just a smidge under £60 and that’s cracking value in anyone’s book.
So what's impressed us so much? Well let's start with the basics shall we. At 480x235x500mm (HxWxD), the Pro M has a refreshingly small foot print for a case that's able to accept not just M-ITX, M-ATX and of course ATX boards, but also E-ATX boards up to 264mm wide. Inside there's room for GPUs up to 420mm long, and CPU tower coolers up to 198mm high. The front of the case is left clear of 3.5" drive cages, but there are a pair of 3.5" trays stealth mounted underneath the PSU cover as it extends across the full width of the base. If you want to add more storage you can, simply by purchasing any number of the accessory 3.5" cantilever trays that mount down the inner side wall of the case. On the face of it, it might seem a little stingy to have to buy additional storage racks, but let's be honest, with 3TB drives readily accessible, who really needs more than 6TB of storage for an average build? (Well Tom obviously, but his builds are far from average). So instead of loading the case, and the cost with things you probably aren't going to use Phanteks leave it you to decide and thus are able to keep the cost down. In case you're wondering about SSD accommodation, again Phanteks have got this well sorted with no less than three locations for their Drop-n-Lock 2.5" system. Two are located round the back and a third at the front on the side of the PSU cover. Unfortunately the location of the front Drop-n-Lock is not visible through the large, but not full width window, so any thoughts of a "show off" mount for your sexy SSD can be disregarded. As with the Enthoo Evolve, we were also very impressed with the cable management options offered with the Pro M. All the major management holes have rubber grommets, with only the very small accessory holes left rubber free. Round the back there's plenty of room for a decent job to be accomplished easily, with Phanteks even throwing in three of their branded Hoop-n-Loop cable fastenings.
It's when it comes to cooling though that the Pro M begins to shine even brighter. So you might be thinking how can they be impressed with the cooling when the case only ships with a single 140mm fan at the rear. The reason is simple. Phanteks understand that in this modern age the odds are that you're going to be putting an AIO in there to cool the CPU, or perhaps even a fully-fledged custom loop. In the case of the AIO it's probable that you're going to go with the fans that come supplied with AIO, in which case you'd ditch any supplied fans. In the case of the custom loop we're willing to bet that you'd have very strong ideas about which fans you want to use, and again would relegate any supplied Phanteks units to the parts box. So basically this is another way in which Phanteks aren't wasting your money on things you might need but probably won't. Worst case scenario, you want to air cool the case. We who hasn't got the odd fan knocking around the place?
Having whetted you appetite with talk of water cooling we'd best explain just many options you have. For starters it's possible to get a 360 or a 280 rad up in the roof. This is made all the more easy by the slide out rad tray. Clearance up there isn't really an issue as there's a good 70mm of room between the motherboard and the nearest vertical edge of any potential radiator. All of which means in theory at least that if you have nothing on the upper edges of your mobo higher than 70mm you can put in thick rads in push pull all the way down as far as the CPU socket, remembering of course to leave yourself room to fit the colt plate and plumb the lot in. At the front there's also room for a 360 or a 280, noting that if you've put a 360 in the roof you won't be able to get one in the front, it's either one or the other. You can however mix and match 360s and 280s provided of course you can live with the knowledge that your fan sizes don't match...We can't.
So are there any major issues with the Pro M, well none that we can think of. If we were being picky, we'd say that..actually, aside from the odd thing we've already mentioned, there's not a lot left to criticise. For a smidge under £60 the Enthoo Pro M is one beast of a case.
From a competition standpoint there are a few cases you may also want to look at before making your decision. The NZXT S340 did rather well with us and is a fiver cheaper or so. Granted it doesn't have the same prodigious water cooling capabilities, but it does perhaps beat the Pro M when it comes to the aesthetic. The main competition for the Pro M though comes in the form of the Fractal Design Define S. At just a few quid more and with a reputation already established there's little to choose between the two.
So where do we score the Pro M. Well it gets a well-deserved Gold, losing only a few points for performance and presentation, but that's about it. It also goes without saying that it scoops our coveted VFM award.