Phanteks Enthoo Mini XL Review. Today we examine an interesting case from Phanteks, Who we’ve seen a fair few products from recently, with more on the way. Before we go any further, assuming you know something about the case already, you’re probably wondering just what’s going on with the name because…Mini and XL in the same sentence would be odd enough, but in the same product name more so.
The case only supports Mini ATX (mATX) motherboards, hence the “mini” but rather than conform to the usual method of creating a small and compact frame, to house systems, Phanteks have gone in the complete opposite direction and crafted a XL sized chassis! Your initial thought process is likely “why?” well try to push that to one side and ask yourself “why not?” My first thought was along the lines of “well actually, there are some really nice and able mATX boards on the market, water cooling friendly too, with lots of watercooling blocks available, why don’t we have a case that is built to show off these boards?”
I’m sure there are many other reasons for such as case but that’s pretty much the whole point of the Mini XL, to offer more than others do, a no compromise case I suppose. With that said let’s skim over the specifications and features, before taking a closer look
Phanteks Enthoo Mini XL Review- Features and Specifications
The MINI XL introduces a new form factor, super micro ATX. With its unique power supply location, the Mini XL case has been redesigned with optimal cooling in mind. Resembling the Enthoo Primo, it offers extensive water-cooling possibilities and supports the thickest radiators in the market (80mm). The case brings modularity to a new level. Almost every single panel or bracket can be removed or relocated to serve different purposes. For the ones who desire even more, the Mini XL leaves options for additional upgrades. perhaps the most interesting one is the possibility to transform the MINI XL into a dual motherboard system.
Enthoo Mini XL includes 2 x 140mm fan 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.
-Sandblasted aluminum faceplates with matte finish
-Multi-color LED light strips
-Stealth interior design
– Extreme cooling capacity
– Support for up to 14x 120mm / 8x 140mm
– Comes with 3 Phanteks premium fans
– PWM fan hub plus 2x y-splitters allow for 8 fan connections* (11 fans max with additional y-splitters sold seperately)
– Extensive water cooling support. Provides up to 5 different installation areas for slim and thick radiators varying from single to triple (120mm and 140mm form factors). Clearance for push-pull fan configurations.
– Dual removable harddrive cages
– 2x removable Drop-N-Lock SSD brackets
– Fully equipped with dustfilters (1x top, 1x front, 2x bottom)
– Removable top panel for easy fan installation and dust filter cleaning
– Compartment for fan installation in top panel
– Clean cable management using Phanteks’ preinstalled Hoop-N-Loop cable ties
– Mod friendly structure uses screws NOT rivets
– 10 color abient lighting controller
– 2x USB 3.0, microphone, 3.5mm audio jack
Packaging for the Mini XL, is step away from the traditional generic brown box, instead Phanteks house the case in subtle black box, with startling images of the product and keep all the key information for the box 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 Mini XL has a few unexpected extras too which we’ll explore in greater detail as we progress. Aside from the toolbox with ample screws,bolts,washers and more. The Mini XL also included a pump mount, reservoir bracket and an additional radiator mount
As we always do, we start our tour at the front.. If you’re familiar with other Phanteks products, particularly the Enthoo range, then you maybe feeling a sense of “de ja vu” and that’s not a bad thing at all. See the appearance is menial, sleek, and just works. The case has an interesting design, it’s almost like it’s sat on a pedestal that wraps up around the side of the frame. Phanteks have been able to do this without making it feel separate though, it blends seamlessly.
This portion of the case houses the RGB lighting system, a nice touch to complement your system theme. In between the side section and main case, a long strip is present to allow air in, also in the lower portion of the front is another larger section. Incorporated in an almost ninja like manner is the first removable dust filer. Simply push down to release it.
Turning out attention to the floor and even more ventilation points are found, utilizing the same push to release dust filter system.
The roof is sleek and clean, a large meshed panel covers the bulk of which. Towards the right side Phanteks include a similar approach for the I/O. With the buttons and inputs recessed and tucked in the body. They’ve gone the extra mile and even added covers for the USB connectors. Despite the hidden appearance, access is fine.
underneath this top panel, we begin to see the vast cooling options the mini XL has, which we’ll cover in more detail soon.
Finishing up our exterior tour of the Mini XL, at the back side of the case. We could not even fit in it all into a single shot! So we’ll start at the highest point and work down. A single thumbscrew is discretely hidden ( For removing the top panel) then we have mounts for up to dual 140mm fans, but notice the slit rail system they use. So you can lower or raise them as you need, this is crucial in some cases to keep radiators in the rear and roof apart, not really relevant in the Mini XL though as we’ll see soon.
Below that, 5 standard PCIe slot covers and to the right an area we’ll cover in the build process *Used for SFF Power supplies*
The side panel window is separated into two main viewing points, one for your main hardware and the other for storages (SSD’s) removing the panel reveals the accessory kit we showed earlier. The first thing you’ll notice is the mass amount of space between the motherboard area and the actual roof, a sight I’ve never seen before. In almost most cases reviews, I’m critical about the lack of which!
Glancing to the lower right first, a sleek black plate is destined for your storage drives, with the intention of them being shown off, rather than tucked away. Above it,is a standard three bay 5.25″ cage for drives. *optional and removable*
Looking in at the rear now, again the sheer amount of space is memorizing.
Phanteks have added several cable management points, with grommets. Something we’ve yet to cover is the PSU location, its actually around the back so crafting a clean system in the Mini XL ought to be an easy task with all these grommets.
Before we remove the panel, pay attention to the two ventilation points. The smaller of the two is for the PSU and other is a more versatile option, either for naturally letting air in , housing two fans or even to aid with cooling a radiator. (When extra bracket is installed)
The PSU sits on a shelved area in the top right of the case, and because of the many cable grommets, wiring up a system is hassle free, Phanteks ensure this even further with their clever velcro system too.
Two SSD’s can be installed behind the motherboard tray, with a simple drop to lock system with no tools needed.
Another returning Phanteks feature, is the fan controller system, for up to 6 fans and is powered from a SATA connection.
The hard drive system will take a maximum of 6 drives both 3.5″ or 2.5″, but is also modular and fully removable.
Watercooling Options & Expanding the Mini XL
The roof in the Mini XL can take up to a 360mm radiator, with no restrictions in thickness. Due to the mass amount of room between motherboard standoffs and roof.
That said, if you want more breathing room, or perhaps better access for the radiator inlets/outlets you have the choice to remove the SSD mount plate and 5.25 bay. (held in with screws)
With the case entirely stripped you could even go as far, as putting another 360mm rad in the floor
However, should you need the storage options for hard drives, then a 240mm is still doable in the floor
The front of the case could certainly take a 360mm radiator with ease but Phanteks instead limit this to 280mm/240mm
While that may appear an odd move, other parts such as the res mount depend on the 5.25″ being in place. So it’s a trade-off that makes sense, especially when you can put one in the roof or floor anyway
Removing the 140mm fan in the rear offers the chance to install up to a 280mm radiator here, 240mm installed for demo purposes.
The free pump mount could literally be installed anywhere but holes are present in the 5.25″ bay and in the floor. The plate has the correct holes for the most common pumps, both DDC and D5
With the entire drive cage system removed, literally any 240mm radiator on the market can be fitted to the extra bracket Phanteks provide. To draw cool air inside, the side panel has cutouts placed directly in line with the plate.
*Note* The drive cages can be used at the same time but a slim radiator is required to avoid clearance issues (30mm or less)
Aside from the many, many watercooling configurations you could experiment with, the case can be expanded further with the additional add-on kit. Priced at just over £20, the kit allows you add a mini-itx system inside the mini XL.
You may be asking “why would you?” I must confess I initially struggled to grasp the concept too.. After several lengthy discussions with friends and colleagues, we concluded the most likely target would be both gamers and streamers. Gamers that wanted a separate system dedicated to media streaming or a another desktop machine, to be used by other family members, without disturbing their game!
More likely to use the kit, though would be game streamers, where dual PC systems are becoming more common now. The simple reason being they can offload the encoding and uploading process to a second system, leaving the main to process the game. Balancing the tasks between the two to keep the stream running smoothly.
That said, I’m sure they are other reasons why you’d want to do this. The kit includes a mini ITX motherboard tray, separate I/O with power,reset and even USB. This sits neatly into the 5.25 bay. Finally a new back plate is offered in place of the stock version
converting takes only a few minutes and the approach is both logical and pleasing on the eye.
As referenced earlier, the secondary system role will vary depending on the user but with the vast cooling configurations here on the Mini XL, water cooling it, can be done…
The only thing I can’t show is how the system is powered, when using the add-on kit, the main system PSU is around the back. But to power a mini-itx system, the new back plate has a mount for SFF PSU, (at the lowest point) you need to be aware that it stands upright and eats into the floor cooling options too. oversized custom GPU’s would be a problem, for example some of the ASUS Strix cards are much wider than standard.
To sum up, without a doubt the easiest, most versatile and interesting cases I’ve ever built inside of!
We’ll start with what is the elephant in the room, perhaps…because it only really comes into play if you consider the add-on kit. I touched on a few reasons why you might want to use it, I’d imagine the main appeal of this product is space though. Users with flashy an interesting mATX motherboards that want a water-cooled system with no limits or restrictions in place. You can add a crazy amount of radiators and even tall reservoirs here in the mini XL.
That said, even with the add-on mini-ITX kit installed you don’t really loose much, sure you can’t squeeze a super thick radiator in the roof any more, but that’s about it… The only area for concern in the PSU for the secondary system. Credit to Phanteks’s R&D team though, because this option is welcome. You need to be mindful of surrounding components such your GPU as the two components will be in near proximity.
Looking at the case as the whole and not focusing on the addon kit, there are no areas for concerns or worries for compatibility and upgrades down the line. The mini XL is a future proof case that allows you to grow your system as you wish. As I said above the Mini XL will appeal to a few different user groups that want to use the case in different ways. The price point may be hard to swallow at first glance, but considering just how much the Mini XL has on offer, it’s worth every penny!
Another innovative, clever and practical case from Phanteks. With design elements, features and quality you don’t often see elsewhere!
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!