In my last review, I mentioned that we were taking a break from reviewing large and expensive cases in order to review samples that were smaller and more budget oriented. Well, it turns out that break may have been short lived, and while today’s sample most likely fails to meet most reader definitions of small, it at least features a price tag that won’t completely blow your budget. Standing tall at a grand 19.1” the Enthoo Evolv Shift is the smaller and more budget friendly of the two newest additions to Phanteks’ Enthoo Series of cases.
* Height With Feet
** Third 2.5" Drive Bracket Sold Separate
Like its larger counterpart, the tall, slim design of the Evolv Shift is easily mistaken as a tower speaker or some sort of abstract looking room fan at first glance. Phanteks’ goal for the Evolv Shift cases was to design something with a premium look and feel that would look good anywhere in a home or office environment. We think the company achieved that goal, and as an added bonus, it did so while keeping the price of both cases well south of $200.
Both the Evolv Shift and the larger Evolv Shift X feature the same anodized aluminum and tempered glass exterior, attached to a powder coated steel frame. However, the $110 Evolv Shift drops the extra 7” of height as well as the extra water cooling and storage capacity found in the $160 Evolv Shift X.
In order to preserve the clean look of the front panel, Phanteks chose to hide the front I/O ports, placing them at the rear of the case on the left side. Furthermore, given the distance to the front of the case, as well as the fact that it’s possible to use the case in either a horizontal or vertical orientation, Phanteks chose to omit the front audio ports, leaving the Evolv Shift with only a pair of USB 3.0 ports.
Continuing with the theme of non-traditionally placed front I/O interfaces, Phanteks tucked the power button away on the top of the case along with a smaller unmarked button. According to the manual, this mystery button controls the case’s RGB lighting system. By default, the only RGB lighting found on the Shift and Shift X is their power button, seen above as the small white bar in the center of the image. The built-in controller gives users the option of expanding the lighting with up to five meters of LED strips as well as any of the Glacier Series waterblocks from Phanteks. Finally, the controller also comes with a standard 4-pin motherboard connector for added control by capable boards.
With just a slight press the spring hinged top panel pops open to reveal the control box for the RGB lighting as well as a removable dust filter, and as you may have noticed, a hidden compartment.
This hidden compartment is home to what is traditionally the rear panel of most cases. Inside is a cutout for the rear I/O shield of a motherboard as well as an offset pair of expansion slots. We also find the captive thumbscrews that help secure the front, rear, and side panels to the case.
While there’s a sizable hole at the rear of this compartment for cables to pass through, we found that there may be an issue with the depth of the compartment with the top closed. During our testing, we found that the top cover was unable to close properly with a DVI cable connected to the graphics card due to the height of the connector. Users may run into issues if they have peripherals with large, inflexible connectors.
The rear panel is plain due to the relocation of most of the cutouts and slots to the compartment on top of the case. However, because the design of the case relocates the power supply mount like it relocates almost everything else, a plug remains at the bottom of the case for feeding power to the power supply’s new location.
The tempered glass side panels on the Shift and Shift X provide a very generous view inside of the case, and should help contain some of the noise generated by the case internals. Because the panels use the screws inside the top compartment to attach to the case, the thumbscrews on the outside of the panels are essentially decorative, unless you accidentally break a panel and need to move the mounts.
After removing the outer panels, we found ourselves with almost unrestricted access to the inside of the case for an almost effortless building experience. The front of the Shift features two 140mm or 120mm fan mounts and with a 140mm fan pre-installed in the top mount. Meanwhile, Phanteks leaves it to the user to fill the bottom mount with either a fan or a radiator. Finally, a pair of cutouts and permanently installed hook and loop cable ties provide cable management for the front panel.
The back of the case features more cable ties, an air intake cutout at the bottom for the power supply, and a mount up top for storage. By default, this mount accepts a 3.5” drive but may also be used with a 2.5” drive. However, in order to do so, users will either have to relocate one of the 2.5” drive sleds from inside the case or buy a third one from Phanteks.
There is another storage mount inside of the case, with two pre-installed sleds for 2.5” drives. Below the two drive sleds is a tray for managing cables, complete with a cable tie. The horizontal bar with Phanteks’ logo at the front of the tray also flips down giving users a bit more clearance when installing the motherboard.
Behind the motherboard tray sits a PCIe x16 riser and extension cable for mounting a graphics card. The default orientation of the riser faces the fan inward towards the motherboard. Even though this means the card now has to deal with a bit of warm air from the back of the board, it provides better airflow than the reverse orientation, which puts the cooling fan directly up against the side panel of the case. However, the bracket is reversible for users with liquid cooled cards who wish to have the waterblock visible through the side of the case.
The bottom panel of the case is removable, and underneath it resides a mount with dust filter for a 140mm or 120mm radiator or cooling fan, and a mount for an SFX form factor power supply. The wide feet on the bottom panel are removable, enabling the Shift to lay flat when placed horizontally.
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