Never in a million years I ever thought I would purchase a decent PC case priced under $100, now there are budget price cases out there on the market that seemingly is a good buy for the buck, but most budget cases I've come across in the past fell short to my liking in terms design and features. The Phantek Entho Pro PC case I recently copped from Amazon was at the time just $84, and I must say, it's arguably one of the best PC cases I've purchased to date. Disclaimer alert, my critical opinion in this review is this based purely from a consumer perspective, Phanteks didn't ask me to review their case nor are they paying me.
First off before I give you my overall review on the Phantek Ethno Pro M, here's a little profile on the case. It measures 18-inches horizontal, 9 inches across and 19-inches vertically, the overall construct is sturdy made out of brush aluminum. There's the power button on top, reset button situated on the left side of the case along with the audio Jack's and USB 3.0 ports.
The drive light is also located on, yes, the left side of the case as well. Vents are located on the top,front and back of the case which by the way adds extra cooling within the interior. I gave you the gist of the cases profile, lets now go in depth in this review.
The Phanteks Enthoo Pro M, lets go....
Like with most PC cases you can always expect a well constructed Metalic exterior, the Phanteks Enthoo Pro M is no different. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the case sports a nicely brushed aluminum exterior, giving the case the appearance of being Teflon coated. The color scheme in my own description is space grey even though the manufacture have it listed as being charcoal black, maybe the eyes are going bad, but I digress. The overall shape of the case takes on a rectangular cuboid form, sporting nice straight lines with edges being slightly champered.
The Phanteks Enthoo Pro M acrylic glass covers the entire left side of the case. Which gives viewing access to every single working component inside your case, just imagine that motherboard or graphics card being lit up with RGB lighting. Glass panels are probably a favorite amongst builders mainly because it lends sleekness to a PC case, adding design sex appeal. The acrylic glass though looks appealing is not resistance to both scratches or smudges. Potential consumers must handle the glass panel with care when opening up the case.
If there's some issue I have with the Enthoo Pro M design, its with the front panel I/O audio jacks and reset button being awkwardly placed on the left side instead of right side, or preferably have it placed in front of the case for easy access. Often times I have to drape headphone cables over the case to plug into the audio jacks. Even while plugging devices into USB ports, I have to reach around the case which makes things rather uncomfortable for me.
Then we have the power button, though its nicely placed on the very top it is pressure sensitive to touch, there were times I would inadvertently touch the power button shutting down my entire system. The power button should have a tactile design so that there's no inadvertent power shut downs.
The Interior and Its Features
There's a trend taking place where we're seeing cases like the Phanteks and Fractal with limitless interior space, giving users the ability to better manage cables. Spacious interior within the Enthoo Pro M is attributed to the PSU (power supply unit) and hard drives being securely tucked away in the very bottom of the case, the PSU alone is encased in a semi shell.
Feature wise the case have in the plenty, starting with removable SSD bracket that's placed on the right side of the case where the cables intertwined, and yes the SSD itself is also well hidden. The Enthoo Pro M case also comes with a vast array of dust filters which is nicely situated on the bottom of the case, front and top. All of these filters are removable, especially the bottom filter which you can pull out like a draw tray.
Detach the left side panel there you'll find a stockpiled of cables of sorts, now instead of the tangle-lated formation, managing cables can now be made easy thanks in part to the Phanteks Velcro straps made specifically to secure your cables in place.
Though the case is design for users to better management cables, depending upon the length of the cables, shorter cables can be rather difficult to route through the case.
About That Cooling
There's no doubt the Phanteks Enthoo Pro M case is loaded with some pretty impressive features, and yes there's the design which falls a tad short of being top level. Most underrated is the unique cooling setup in terms of airflow circulation. Present within the case are two 140mm fans in total, one is placed in the front which draws in air into the case, one rear 140mm fan dispersing hot air outward. Then you have a high-airflow which circulates through the top of the vent. Airflow coming from three directions, front, back, top, making for a continued circulation of air. Even using a CPU air cooler which is the Thermaltake Contac Silent, the components core temperature remain stable at an constant while PC is under heavy workload.
While we're still on the topic of cooling, The Enthoo Pro M case is water cooling ready with offset radiator brackets that's easily accessible, the case also includes reservoir mounts and pump slots.The key factor here is the overall interior having more than enough room to accommodate any type water cooling setup. I myself don't have a water cooling setup, I can only go by images produced by the manufacturer, the pumps, radiators and reservoirs pose no conflict to the any installed components.
The Final Thoughts
I've been in the business of building computers for almost a decade and a half, and I've come across many different form factors, from ATX cases to mATX. None of those cases come close to the Phantek Enthoo Pro M, it displays a compact minimalist design, impeccable build quality, air flowing with ease throughout the case without any obstruction of cables, all due part of course to the cases expansive interior and many options of cable mangement. The one thing I forgot to mention in this written review is how quiet this case is, which more than likely is attributed to the Thermaltake CPU cooler and the after market Nvidia graphics card being stocked with some impressive cooling components. Even under heavy workloads, fans spin silently. The PC case doesn't even have the aid of any acoustical material to dampen the sound, making it all more impressive.
Yet there is the proverbial but factor as this case does have some nagging issues. One of them being the I/O audio ports, reset button and USB ports being placed awkwardly on the left side of the case, I just can't shake it out my head, cables crossing over the case, the whole reaching over to plug in my USB devices in an uncomfortable fashion, its rather difficult for us right handed folks. The desired placement should be in the front or right side of the case for easy access. Then we have the power button which Phanteks gets right by placing it on the very top-front of the case, but the sudden case of the oops will have you accidentally shutting down the PC as the power button is pressure sensitive.
All and all, nagging issues withstanding, the Phantek Enthoo Pro M in my opinion ranks up there with the likes Fractal PC cases, being one of the best in market. It most definitely meets my criteria as the ideal PC case.