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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  • Alan G - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    +1 on the mini-ITX request; I'm starting on my third build with this size board because that's what my friends want. I'm not prepared to spend over $200 for a case like this one as it's truly overkill IMO. Even though the from panel is closed off, what does anyone need with 5 5.25" drive bays? For my photographer friends I don't even put card readers in these days because USB 3.0 readers are cheap and if a pin ever gets bent (and this does happen) they get a new one for $30 and the case doesn't have to be opened and things pulled apart and installed.

    I think there are just too many good alternatives to this case for less money.
    Reply
  • BillyONeal - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    There need to be more mini-ITX cases worth reviewing for that :) Reply
  • Grok42 - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    The truth hurts. While there are some good mITX cases that haven't been reviewed, they aren't recent cases. I can understand not wanting to review a 2-year old design but I would still appreciate it. Reply
  • zero2dash - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    "Full ATX accounts for less than 5% of the tech enthusiast community now."

    I'd love to see the proof to back up that statement.

    You can buy plenty of enthusiast mATX/ATX boards for nearly any price point; meanwhile, if you want an enthusiast ITX board, you're going to pay out the nose for it. You're also left with only a few decent cases that do a good enough job at cooling.

    ITX works if you have minimal requirements on storage and are only running a single GPU.
    Reply
  • f0d - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    where is the proof of "Full ATX accounts for less than 5% of the tech enthusiast community now." i know that personally i have only built 1 mini-itx vs about 15 full atx pc's in the last 3 years for friends/family
    and that person is now getting me to build an ivy bridge-e full atx system when they come out
    Reply
  • noeldillabough - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    Which board do you plan to use? I use a raid controller and a discrete sound card so features on board don't really matter to me but I want a stable board with good overclocking potential. Reply
  • Grok42 - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    My last build was mITX and I can't see every building anything larger than mATX going forward. The mITX case I chose holds 10 drives. You would be amazed how much space is saved by not having any 5.25" bays.

    All that said, I'm too would be surprised that only 5% of the market is full ATX case purely based on the quantity of cases available. I guess if we're at an inflection point where everyone is moving away from full ATX it's possible that only 5% bought full ATX in the past month of YTD?
    Reply
  • Barbarossa - Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - link

    George from Corsair here. Full towers sell in larger numbers than Mini ITX. Look at all the ~$150+ cases that are selling now: NZXT Phantoms, Cooler Master Storm Troopers/Strykers, etc. Full towers are more popular than ever.

    Mini ITX is growing in popularity but among the "enthusiast" crowd, full towers have increased dramatically in market share in the last couple of years.

    Mid Tower ATX is still 70-80% of the total market, with Mini ITX and Full Tower ATX growing and chipping away at the edges. The bell curve is flattening but it's still there.
    Reply
  • f0d - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    too much plastic and not enough room
    i prefer my 900D - im so happy with that case i cant imagine ever needing another case again
    Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    Then the 950D hits and you suddenly awaken one day with the very real ability to imagine it.

    Take the Obsidian 900D and then make it a huge cube instead. Ba-bam. You can name your new monolith, "The Borg" and add custom Borg cube sound effects when it starts.

    Resistance is futile.
    Reply

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