The biggest obstacle to building your system in the Phanteks Enthoo Primo is actually the sheer size of it. The case weighs in at 17.9 kilograms, or roughly 40 pounds, and you can easily get it to 50 or 60 pounds after installing a full system inside.

Phanteks uses hinged instead of notched side panels (much appreciated for a case this large), held in place with two thumbscrews each. Remove those panels, and there are standoffs preinstalled in the motherboard tray for an ATX board. I found the I/O shield and the motherboard went into place fairly easily, but you'll want to wire up the motherboard before you do anything else. This is where a modular power supply is handy; you can connect the leads before the power supply itself is even connected.

Installing drives is easy enough. The entire front panel of the Enthoo Primo snaps on and off easily but securely, but you only need to remove the bay shields for the 5.25" drives. Toolless clamps are on one side of the bays and they're reasonably secure. Phanteks includes a pair of trays that hold two 2.5" drives each; these use a similar mounting system to what Lian Li employs, with four grommeted screws that enter the bottom of the tray. Slide the tray to the right to lock it into place.

I've often felt there's been a lot of room for improvement as far as 3.5" drive sleds go, and the solution Phanteks employs is incredibly slick. Each tray has small pegs that enter the bottom screw mounts of the 3.5" drive and then winged pegs that snap into the sides. It's a smart and secure installation method. Of course, if you don't need six 3.5" drives (and end users rarely do), the drive cages are held into place by thumbscrews and can be removed.

Mounting a power supply to the bottom interior of the case is very easy, but where we run into trouble is in mounting video cards. Simply put, the reservoir plate just doesn't seem to be especially well thought out. Our GTX 580s aren't unusually long for the types of high end video cards you'd expect to find a home inside the Enthoo Primo, but you have to remove the top part of the reservoir plate just to get clearance for one card. Installing a second or third card necessitates removing the plate entirely, and it's obvious the notch in the plate for high end cards just isn't lined up where it needs to be. This is a missed opportunity.

Wiring up the Enthoo Primo is made a heck of a lot easier by the combination of velcro bands behind the motherboard tray, smart placement of routing holes throughout the enclosure, and the PWM-controlled fan hub. The cabling side of the case isn't attractive but it's not supposed to be, really; I appreciate that you can just stuff the cables inside this area and call it a day.

Apart from the quirks of the reservoir plate and the general largesse of the Phanteks Enthoo Primo, I felt like assembly was reasonably simple. You have to adjust to the way Phanteks has laid out the interior, but it's not especially absurd and most of it does make sense. I like cases like this one that deviate from the norm because even if they don't get it totally right the first time, they're most of the way there and one or two revisions away from perfection.

Introducing the Phanteks Enthoo Primo Testing Methodology
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  • f0d - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    pre order placed
  • Abot13 - Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - link

    meh, just go to caselabs, resistance there is futile for sure, untill you realise that that kind of beauty costs.... still cheaper then a girlfriend though ;) (and depreciates less quickly too)
  • Barbarossa - Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - link

    Haha, Obsidian 1080D.
  • JamesWoods - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    Frankly, this case is not at all worth the cost when you can get a case to house your PC and do just fine for $40. Fools and their money are soon parted.
  • zero2dash - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    Having owned several high dollar cases (including a LL PC-V1000BW Plus II and a SS FT02), it's all in what you prioritize.

    That being said - at this point, I'd rather stick with <$100 cases (ideally <$75) and spend the extra money on more RAM, a better GPU, or a bigger SSD, which is precisely what I've been doing the last few years.
  • noeldillabough - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    Buying an expensive case will last you a long time, compare that to say your sli videocards that are crap in a couple of years. The worst possible investment is computer hardware; doesn't stop me from wanting the latest!
  • Ilias78 - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    40$ with horrible cable management, acoustics, airflow and ergonomics.

    Sure bro, whatever you say.
  • JamesWoods - Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - link

    llias78 - Horrible? Apparently you haven't been shopping in awhile. There are $40 cases now that have fantastic cable management. Maybe you just suck at building PCs. Cable management isn't some big mystery. Personally, I prefer to spend the extra cash on quiet fans and still have some extra left over from what I save.

    noeldillabough - You don't sell your entire system...I find it's much better to do so. Remember the switch up from USB 2.0 to USB 3.0? It's easiest to just sell the entire system and build a new one than have to buy USB 3.0 PCI cards, or USB 3.0 connection boxes for your bay drives.
  • waldojim42 - Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - link

    While cheap cases do work, and I still own some that are 10+ years old, I actually don't like working with them the way I do my more expensive cases. The Antec 1200 for example, has enough room that I can move things wherever I need them. So when I am running 4 video cards, I can move all my hard drives to the top of the case, and open up the air flow down below them. Something a $40 case simply won't allow.

    Also worth consideration, is the filtering. I live in a dusty environment (Texas), and am constantly cleaning my filters. Better filters than dead/overheating components in the case!
  • rpg1966 - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    Surely you can plot the temperature and noise levels on a single chart (temp on X, noise on Y, for example), to make the numbers understandable at a glance?

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