Small form factor PC cases began gaining popularity a few years ago. Some users covet them for the smaller footprint and others enjoy the challenge of completing a specialized build in the cramped spaces provided. While the common ATX standard remains the most popular choice for gamers and enthusiasts, modern motherboard design and the rise of flash storage have opened the door for micro-ATX and mini-ITX form factor builds to be every bit as capable as their bigger brothers. Case manufacturers now offer a wide variety of smaller or specialized designs for mini-ITX motherboards, including crowdfunded options like the NCASE M1 or DAN A4-SFX. Popular PC case manufacturer Phanteks has released its new Evolv ITX Tempered Glass case and while it does not aspire to go as small as possible, it gives buyers the chance to use full-sized gear and maintain a smaller, cleaner presentation.
In early 2015, Phanteks shook up the gaming case world with the release of its Evolv ATX chassis. It featured a new HDD mounting system, SSD brackets behind the motherboard tray, a power supply shroud with cutouts for GPU power cables, an innovative top radiator/fan mounting slide, and full support for custom watercooling builds. It sported a big acrylic window that displayed all your handiwork and hid all the unsightly seams and cabling. Sporting an all-aluminum exterior, the Evolv ATX went on to win countless awards and praise from the tech press and gaming community for its build quality and design. Fans clamored for micro-ATX and mini-ITX variants and Phanteks delivered. With 2017 being the year of RGBs and tempered glass, the company has issued an ITX-sized Evolv chassis that features a gorgeous, smoked window and integrated RGB lighting.
Specs and Features
First, let’s do a quick rundown on the vitals. The case is 230mm wide, 375mm high, and 395mm deep. You can find a pair of USB 3.0 ports on the front next to the audio jacks and a dedicated RGB lighting button. Inside, you can fit up to 3 HDDs or SSDs, with two of the drives residing in a bracket under the PSU shroud. It can hold GPUs as long as 330m and CPU coolers as tall as 200mm. WIth the back panel attached, you have 28mm of space to manage cables and the rear side of the motherboard tray has multiple tie down points in addition to the included velcro straps for wrangling the big stuff like your 24-pin cable or fan cables.
For cooling, the front of the case can hold a pair of 120mm fans or 140mm fans. The top sled also hold either 2 120mm fans or 140mm fans. The rear exhaust mount support 120mm/140mm fans and comes with a Phanteks PH-F140SP 3-pin case fan pre-mounted. Builders electing to go with a full custom loop or AIO watercooling can fit up to a 240mm radiator up front or up to a 280mm radiator on the top sled. The inner chassis has pre-cut holes for mounting your reservoir and pumps if needed. The back panel attached with non-captive thumbscrews and the glass panel is attached with 4 thumbscrews at the corners. The mounting points feature rubber washers to protect the glass. The case comes in three colors: black, black with red interior, and white with black interior.
Building in the Evolv ITX TG
I elected to use the black variant of the case for the build out. The parts I chose were listed and detailed in the September PC Build guide last month. The case was shipped in its own box and was protected very well by styrofoam molds. The outside of the box was used as a kickboxing dummy by the courier, but the tempered glass arrived without a single scratch or mark. Inside the case you’ll find a small cardboard box containing a set of motherboard, fan, drive, and PSU screws, along with some black cable ties and the manual. Unlike its more expensive siblings, the Evolv ITX did not come with the nice plastic Phanteks hardware tackle box or thick, color manual, but for the price, you can’t complain.
Assembling the parts inside the case was a breeze. Despite the small form factor, building in the Evolv ITX felt a lot like working in a full-sized ATX mid tower. The whole thing feels like it was designed by folks who build in PCs regularly. I was being stupid and forgot to attach the CPU fan and case fan cables to the motherboard headers before I screwed the board onto the standoffs. Thankfully, the well-placed EPS cable cutout above the motherboard allowed me to slide some of my sausage fingers near the board’s edge to guide in the fan connectors, saving me the trouble of having to pull out the board and reseat it. The built-in rubber grommets on the tray cutouts are of a very high quality and are thicker than what I’ve used in other cases from Corsair and NZXT. I was able to position my sleeved 24-pin cable extension perfectly using the grip added by the rubber grommet.
The PSU shroud effortlessly held the non-modular PSU and the hot mess of cables attached. The undershroud area had plenty of room for the excess cabling and the sleeved extension excess I added to the mix. Running the power leads to the appropriate cutouts could not be any easier. The velcro tie-downs are excellent and made bundling and unbundling the mess a breeze. The drive sled in the shroud worked perfectly and I had my SSD mounted in no time. It offered enough space behind the drive that right-angled SATA signal and power cables are not needed to get the back panel on easily. Attaching front panel leads and USB/fan header cables is simple and looks clean thanks to the small cutouts on the PSU shroud near the bottom of the motherboard. The RGB LED strips went into the case in seconds using the magnets on the strip and the case had a channel all around the inside of the glass panel mount that felt like it was made to hold the strips.
The finished build looked incredible on the inside and out. Despite using only the included 140mm Phanteks exhaust fan, the airflow was adequate for keeping my CPU cool, even under prime95 load with a very low-profile heatsink. I have some fairly large hands and found working in and around the Evolv ITX to be effortless. Having previously built in a few ITX cases from Coolermaster and Corsair, I experienced many frustrations associated with trying to fit my mitts into tight spots. I had the opposite experience with the Phanteks and had the build up and running in less than 45 minutes from the time I started cutting open the boxes.
The finished product was light and easy to move. It fit perfectly on top of the desk (where the PC it replaced lived on the floor) and the included filters give peace of mind that the interior won’t be gunked up with dust and trash in the future. The glass window shows off the interior clearly and has none of the haze of common acrylic panels. It is impossible to have it in your view without staring at it every 10 minutes and has drawn a few compliments. For gamers who want something a bit smaller without compromising on part selection, give the Evolv ITX a try, you won’t be disappointed.
You can get the Evolv ITX at NewEgg now.