Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV ATX Review. When Phanteks released the original EVOLV I can’t imagine they were prepared for the massive success and positivity it was met with. Fast forward to just a few months back when they released a trimmed down, cheaper and smaller ITX only version, they did it again and we loved! However since the initial release of the EVOLV, ATX users have been asking for a bigger version, and now finally it’s here.
The real question is of course, has it been worth the wait? Phanteks are known as a brand to interact with the community and reviewers a like, they take feedback seriously and because of this, Phanteks did not simply resize the original model (mATX) and push it to market. Small but notable changes were implemented in the most recent ITX version, and here again with the ATX version too.
Stack them all side by side, and rightfully they look nearly identical but internally the range has been be tweaked and enhanced each time. Could this be the perfect minimalist ATX case on the market? It’s worth noting that Phanteks have only been in the market for just a few years, yet they’ve released one award winning product after the other.
Pricing on the day of review is £139. Which does push it into a tough and limited segment but I have a strong feeling it will be worth every penny.
Is it? Let’s find out…
Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX- Features and Specifications
The EVOLV ATX, a premium all-aluminum mid-tower chassis based on the original EVOLV design. Like the Enthoo EVOLV, the EVOLV ATX has a minimalistic design with an all-aluminum exterior but without sacrificing on features. The EVOLV ATX features Phanteks’ quick release side panels, innovative top radiator bracket, and the new HDD mounting system. Unleash unlimited possibilities with the Enthoo EVOLV ATX.
Enthoo Evolv ATX includes 2 x 140mm fans in front and 1 x 140mm fan in the rear. Ability to upgrade to additional fans is possible. All fans included are Phanteks’ new redesigned and better performing SP series fans.
–Aluminum body (3mm thick)
Clean interior – Hidden PSU and HDD’s
Power LED – Changeable to 4 different colors
– Optimal airflow – Direct airflow to CPU / GPU
– Comes with 3 Phanteks premium fans
2x PH-F140SP in front (140mm)
1x PH-F140SP in rear (140mm)
-Phanteks’ PWM hub included
– 3 different installation areas for radiators
(120mm or 140mm form factor).
– Reservoir mounting locations
– Pump Bracket with vibration dampers
– 2x Drop-N-Lock SSD brackets included
– 3x Modular HDD Brackets
– Removable HDD cage for installation of long PSU’s (>180mm) / waterpump
– Equiped with removable dustfilters (1x front, 1x bottom, top integrated)
– Clean cable management using Phanteks’ preinstalled Hoop-N-Loop cable ties
– Quick release panels for easy acces to fans and dustfilters
– Toolless sidepanel with swing door
If that amount of information is too much to process, then feel free to watch the following video, courtesy of Phanteks
Packaging for the Evolve ATX, is a simple affair, with a simple black and white approach. A glimpse of the product on the front, exploded shot on the rear and detailed breakdown on the edges
With the exception of the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ITX, we looked at earlier this year, the majority of Phanteks cases come with exceptional premium bundles. The EVOLV ATX has a robust offering including a toolbox with many screws and bolts, additional LED’s, user manual, three hard drive plates and pump mount.
As we always do, we start our tour at the front… As I said earlier, from the exterior visually all the EVOLV cases are almost identical. However, as the range has “EVOLV”ed … See what I did there? Phanteks has made changes, the first being that they have adopted the I/O location of the more recent ITX version, but have gone a step further and added a small cover to give it a stealthier appearance. The original I/O on the mATX version was found on the lower right side panel. So we now have best of both, its more convenient but still hidden, good job Phanteks.
The front panel removes in the same manner as previous versions, underneath is the same dust filter system that we loved, but now due to the enlarger overall frame size the EVOLV ATX can take even more fans. By default the EVOLV ATX has 2x 140mm fans installed, and is set up like its predecessors to push into the dual chamber compartments inside.
The idea being, to deliver cool air to each… but it’s had a slight tweak here on the ATX version. Phanteks have used slits rather than fixed mounting holes for fans. So you can raise or lower than as you wish.
A returning feature from the original EVOLV, is the interchangeable light system, so you can tweak the front lights to suit your needs. White is installed be default but you can opt for blue, green or red
Looking now at the underside, there isn’t a great deal to cover. Rather than rubber feet the case is raised up with two unique plates and then lined with rubber pads to aid with grip. A filter is present at the rear, around the PSU area. The large slits on the opposite we’ll come back to later.
Likewise, nothing on the top of the case, other than single press button for power. Clean and sleek is the goal, and they’ve nailed that. On the panel edges low key ventilation points aid with air expelling for the case.
The door system has had a tweak too, favouring the original swing to open hinged system, rather than push pins only (ITX version) a nice addition here is that the doors swing all the way back past 180 degree mark, so they are well and truly out of your way for maintenance, but they can also be lifted up vertically and taken off for even better access. (No tools required)
The window design is the a direct copy to what we saw on the more recent ITX version, bit it’s been mirrored, so the slanted cut towards the bottom right now is focused on a SSD mount, rather than the PSU compartment on the left. The idea being to simply show off your SSD, instead of hiding them away around the back or in a traditional hard drive rack/cage.
While I like the window shape, and it adds a little character compared a plain rectangle offering from the original, I would have preferred just a simple rectangle window, as that would have also shown the PSU area too, especially since there is a cut out behind the window that does exactly that. Their fore is basically a waste…
Inside has had an overhaul, most notably is the relocation and extra cable routing holes. The main visible ones all having rubber grommets. However the smallest of the group, in the PSU shroud don’t have any. The motherboard tray just looks more sleek and subtle this time around
Lending from the ITX version, this panel is not entirely flat as it bevels towards the centre and frees up space behind the new and improved hard drive area. Out of the box it’s blank and the idea here is to use only what you need, and Phanteks include 3x “drop and lock” trays for hard drives, but you can purchase more should you need them with support for 5x.
In order to pass cables through into the rear of the case, Phanteks have added individual metal covers, rather than many cable grommets. It may seem odd but it produces a clean panel, and this area is also multipurpose so it’s the best approach
If you look closer, you’ll see several holes are drilled and this is where you can mount Reservoirs .I appreciate the approach they’ve taken, it’s more minimal and spacing saving, over a traditional cage or set of cages.
The maximum reservoir size will depend on your choice to remove the plate below these mounts or not, out of the box you can see the pump mount is the only limiting factor, but you can remove this should you want to use an even larger reservoir. The maximum would be 250mm. Earlier I made mention of the slits in the floor, this is the alternative mounting point for a pump. As is DDC pumps will fit, for other models the extra plate can be used. The trade-off in doing this, is losing the 2x 3.5″ hard drive cages however.
Another reason you’d want to do this, is with very thick radiators in a push-pull fan configuration. It may seem like your losing functionality but it’s a clever approach that offers choice, rather than forcing any restrictions on the case. Water coolers favour SSD’s anyway, so I would rather lose the 2x 3.5″ hard drive cages than other features, especially if it allows large tube reservoirs and chunky rads.
The slide out fan tray returns and I can’t stress enough just how beneficial this feature is. If you’re not familiar it does exactly what it appears to… a pull-out bracket that you attach your fans or radiators too (outside of the case) then slides back in. It’s locked down with a total of 5 screws. 2 at the front and 3 at the rear, each is silver so identifying them is easy.
Being able to install for example. An AIO sealed CPU cooler without the need to juggle the radiator in one hand, while trying to secure down a CPU block onto a backplate that won’t stay still, is a massive help! When it comes to maintenance too, simply pulling out the tray to clean the fans of any dust, without removing the entire product, again a real benefit.
The mounting system uses the common Phanteks slits rather than holes approach, it’s also offset towards the left side so the cooler or fans, actually sit away from the motherboard. This small but logical change grants more space around the DIMM and Mosfet area of your motherboard.
Glancing now behind the motherboard, this is perhaps the one area that’s not really changed. That’s not a negative though, as frankly it’s been perfect in the past revisions of the EVOLV. Maximum PSU length was never an issue even on the smaller EVOLV’s so here of course, you can fit literally anything in the basement cage. Supersized PSU’s like the CoolerMaster M2 we used to use in reviews would seem small here! That said, in some situations you may want to remove the two hard drive cages for bundling up the spare wires. (Optional)
A further 2x SSD’s can be installed behind the motherboard tray, but unlike the ITX version there are no alternative locations to add any more, ( In the rear) that’s not a problem of course, I don’t imagine you’d be using more than three anyway (2x rear 1x front)
Cable management is a breeze on the EVOLV ATX and keeping wires in check more so, thanks to the Velcro system and bevelled panel to the left. Of course the mass amount space in the PSU cage below, eats up spare cabling too!
Finishing up our exterior tour of the EVOVL ATX, at the back side of the case. Much like the rear side and roof nothing has really changed, but why change what already works right?
The 140mm fan can be raised or lowered via the slit mounts, 7x white PCIe slot covers are found, and are reusable of course. To the right is a very interesting feature I had not initially picked up on during the build. Nearly tucked into the meshed area for ventilation are more slits for reservoir mounting (inside). Ideal for smaller ( 150mm max) reservoirs that would sit just above the PSU cage.
The EVOLV ATX can now finally utilise the most common radiator amongst enthusiasts, the 360mm. In either the roof or directly in the front panel.
As I made mention of earlier, to use either a large tube reservoir, or a 360mm radiator here, you’ll need to lose the hard drive cages and default pump mount. Anything smaller, for example a 120,140,240 or 280mm will be fine, with no need to remove the plate
Utilising both spots at the same time poses a slight issue though, even with the pump plate and hard drive removed. As shown above a 360mm in the roof and 240mm in the front is the limit. Unless…
You install the second radiator onto the outside of the front, and fans inside. The problem with this workaround, is that the top most point of the front radiator will not have a fan inside pulling hot air way, as the other 360mm in the roof is in its way. It’s not really worth bothering with in my opinion. A 360mm in the roof and 240mm in the front is more than enough!
If you really want to push the limits of the EVOLV I would suggest 360m in the front (default manner with fans on the outside and in) 240mm in the roof (Centre) and even a 120/140mm in the rear. What at first seemed like a silly limit, isn’t at all a problem
As I’ve said before it’s naive to come into any review with expectations and hopes. We try to approach everything like a blank canvas, in order to be unbiased a fair. It was difficult not to be excitied though, I knew what I wanted from the case and it delivered everything, and then more on top
Coming back to what I stated at the beginning of the article. There are two important things to keep in mind here. First, the company has only been producing cases for a couple of years, and they’ve yet to make any errors, instead pushing one fantastic product after another. The second point of importance is with choice, if you glance over their entire range you’ll find more than one model for each line up. Not only colours though, instead Phanteks produce sub or specific models for their products and that’s a really smart move. They don’t just don’t a take a current product and play with the size however, they craft, cater it and make it unique. The Mini XL we looked at recently is proof of that, and here with the ATX they didn’t just make a bigger version…They took the chance to interact with the community and really understand what users wanted. Addressing small niggles from older models and adding new features.
There are a few sayings or expressions that could be relevant here, when it comes to the price point. The most common and fitting is “You get, what you pay for” because you’re paying for the quality and not just the vast array of features. Consider the materials used here on the EVOLV ATX, no doubt Phanteks *could* have taken the same approach they did, on the ITX version with cheaper materials and sacrificed some panels and features. I’m glad they’ve gone with the chunky 3mm Aluminum body though, not only is it built like a tank. The materials affect the visuals too, this choice plays a vital role and matches the cases looks, we looked at the black version today, but a Gun Metal model can be had too. Quality on the EVOLV is fantastic.
When relevant I do of course point out weaker areas, or sections that could be tweaked. There aren’t really any, other than the limit of a single 360mm either in the roof or front, but not both at the same time. As I covered you’re not really losing much and many alternatives exist if you really need a ton of rads. With water cooling and minimalistic visuals in mind, this is a near perfect case
Based on everything I’ve seen with the EVOLV ATX it’s not only worthy of “Gold”, but because of the genius design elements, I must compliment it further with our “Design award”
We would like to thank Phanteks and OverclockersUK for providing the sample, and we look forward to seeing more from them, in the near future!