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Phanteks Enthoo Evolv X review: Not exactly towering above its competition

James Archer
2 Oct 2019
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
200
Inc VAT

This chassis often emanates quality, but it’s expensive and has potentially key features sold separately

Pros 
Quality design
Good cooling support
Cons 
Overly expensive
Features sold as accessories
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The Evolv X is a plush PC case in the extreme. There’s the hinged, tempered glass doors on each side, the reassuring sturdiness and heaviness of a chassis that hasn’t scrimped on materials, and the strips of addressable RGB lighting running down either edge of the front panel, as well as along the PSU shroud. There’s also the small matter of it costing £200 – about twice that of a decent ATX mid-tower.

This is clearly a bigger and bolder option, in fairness. It can hold larger EATX motherboards in addition to the usual ATX, microATX and Mini-ITX form factors, and the build quality is a step up from most cheaper cases. It’s not too tall or fat, however; at 520 x 240 x 520mm, it’s well within mid-tower range.

Happily, there’s still room for an abundance of cooling. There’s an agreeable fan configuration installed by default – two 140mm fans at the front, one at the back – but there’s room throughout both for additional fans and watercooling radiators. The front set of mounts is particularly welcoming, with space for up to three 120mm and 140mm fans apiece, including space for equivalent radiators, all the way up to 420mm.

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Up top, there are three 120mm slots and two 140mm slots, with space again for radiators up to 360mm long (if you’re using 140mm fans). With this much flexibility, it’s unlikely that you’d ever need to swap out the pre-installed 140mm exhaust, but this can also be fitted with a 140mm radiator or a 120mm fan/radiator combo. It’s all very good stuff – even where the fan mounts are covered by a solid metal panel, the latter are raised a few centimetres to allow air to move through the sides.

Phanteks Enthoo Evolv X review: Features

The Evolv X also takes an impressively modular approach to storage. You get four brackets, each able to hold a 3.5in or 2.5in drive, and can choose to place them either underneath the PSU shroud or in a rack formation within the main chamber. They can even be locked together in pairs, making it easier to slot in a set of two at a time.

We think it makes the most sense to have all four under the shroud, so as to keep the main chamber as clean-looking and unobstructed as possible, but if you want even more hard disks and SSDs, then you can buy additional brackets separately and install them in the spare slots, up to a total of 12.

When the chamber slots aren’t filled in this way, they’re filled by simple covers that hide the unsightly mounting holes as well as the I/O panel cables on the other side – another clever method of maintaining the Evolv X’s premium aesthetics.

On the subject of wiring, cable management is great too, with generously sized routing holes and adjustable Velcro straps. These are always preferable to simple zip ties, as you can quickly unfasten them to add or replace individual cables without scissors or any plastic wastage.

Phanteks hasn’t overlooked the little things, either. Front panel connectivity includes a rarely included USB Type-C port alongside the expected two USB3 ports, and if you’re not interested in (or don’t have the motherboard for) syncing the RGB lights with other hardware, you can simply cycle through colours and effects with a pair of integrated buttons. The dust filter covering the front fans is a nice bonus, too: magnetic latching means it can be cleaned, removed and replaced in no time.

However, many more of the Evolv X’s potential capabilities are dependent on making additional purchases. For example, you may have noticed there are no dedicated 2.5in brackets; there are in fact mounts for three of these behind the motherboard tray, but none is included in the box, only the bulkier 3.5in/2.5in combo brackets. If you’d prefer the space-saving 2.5in brackets, you’ll have to buy them separately at £5 a pop.

In a similar vein, you could use the bundled vertical GPU mount to install your graphics card in a more interesting orientation, but the riser cable required to connect to a PCI-E x16 slot isn’t included. Neither is the pump bracket for open-loop watercooling systems.

The biggest self-inflicted hobbling comes at the expense of dual-system functionality. All the Evolv X needs to contain two PCs in one is a Mini-ITX mounting bracket that allows for a second motherboard to be installed, but even this is sold separately for £15; what could have been this case’s most interesting feature is reduced to an optional extra.

Phanteks Enthoo Evolv X review: Verdict

The Evolv X is a good case on its own, but the manner in which features have been chopped off to be sold as accessories is stingy and cynical, especially as it already costs £200, a huge amount even for a well-built EATX chassis. If you want a larger case with strong cooling support and a sense of flair, both the Thermaltake View 37 and Cooler Master MasterCase H500P Mesh are much better value.

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