Phanteks Eclipse P400 Review – The 'DLC Season Pass' Approach to Cases

By Published February 08, 2016 at 9:30 am
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It's been one case after another lately: The Corsair 400C, NZXT Manta, Revolt 2, and now the Phanteks Eclipse P400.

Phanteks' Eclipse P400 is immediately reminiscent of the NZXT S340 enclosure, which we've pinpointed as the origin of the industry's obsession with PSU shrouds and limited drive support. That's not to say there can't be multiple products in the category – it's good to see continual innovation atop well-founded concepts, and new competition drives development further.

The Phanteks Eclipse P400 ($70 to $90) first entered our lives at CES 2016, where we got hands-on with its significantly larger convention sibling, the Project 916. The Phanteks Eclipse P400 review benchmarks cooling performance, looks at thermal walls, ease-of-installation, cable management, and overall value of the case.

Phanteks Eclipse P400 Specs

  Phanteks Eclipse P400
Motherboard Support ATX
Cooling Included:

Front: 1x 120mm
Rear: 1x 120mm

Optional:

Front: Total 2x 120mm
Top: 2x 120/140mm
Radiator Support Top: 240/280mm
Front: Up to 360mm
Expansion & Bays 2x 3.5” HDD Under PSU Shroud
2x 2.5” SSD Rear of Tray
7x Expansion Slots
Front I/O 2x USB3.0
2x 3.5mm
1x RGB Color Cycle
1x 3-Speed Fan Controller
2x PWR/Reset
PSU Form Factor ATX
Clearances Unspecified
Dimensions (We measured this)

18” D x 18.25” H x 8.25” W
457.2 x 463.55 x 209.55mm
Price P400 Black & Gray - $70
P400 White - $80
P400S Black & Gray - $80
P400S White - $90

There are two primary models of the Eclipse – the P400 and P400S, or “silent.” Both enclosures include “soundproofing layers” (Phanteks seems to subscribe to the absorption approach), but the P400S sacks the side window in favor of additional foam padding. The P400 is priced base at $70, about the same as the S340 and just under the 400C, but goes to $80 for the white P400, or $80 for the P400S. The P400S with white is $90, and if you wanted to add more hard drive cages, that's an extra $7 per cage.

The whole model screams “DLC,” where every little thing costs extra – flashbacks to Horse Armor abound: “Back in my day, the extras were included with the case! And if we didn't want it, we didn't use it!”

phanteks-p400-review-4

But if Phanteks is trying to come into market at a lower cost than its competitors, there's not anything inherently wrong with parting-out the case to do so. Except for information conveyance among newer builders, but that's more of a marketing problem.

We reviewed the P400 enclosure, as we're more interested in thermals than noise. Our testing compares the P400 vs. the NZXT S340 (review), Corsair 400C (review), Rosewill Gungnir (announcement), and more.

Phanteks Eclipse P400 Layout Walkthrough

phanteks-p400-review-5

The Eclipse P400 and P400S share identical tooling, chassis, and external paneling (sans left side window in P400S). Externally, a plastic faceplate uses chamfered edges to create a pronounced effect, furthered by the inclusion of 10-color RGB underglow. The effect is vaguely similar to 'neons' on an import car – there's some inherent edginess with the front panel, but not too much, and a fixed color output under the front panel.

The same area with the lighting is where our intake lives. Because the panel is fully plastic and affords absolutely zero airflow to the system, a tiny cut-out on the underside of the front panel allows some limited air intake. This also explains why the only included intake fan is positioned toward the bottom of the front panel – despite how little sense this would normally make, since the act would generally restrict CPU intake access – as a top-mounted fan would have to fight harder for a supply of air. As you'll see in our testing, we decided to test the Phanteks P400 with and without its front panel, providing a better look at just how restrictive a solid front panel (with no side grilling, mind you) can be.

Under the top panel (front-side) rests a reset and LED cycle button, the latter of which switches between static light colors (10 available).

phanteks-p400-review-6

Removing the left side panel reveals the system internals. Similar to seemingly every other mid-tower launching this year, the P400 runs a PSU shroud bottom-side, a cut-out for larger front radiators, and no stock HDD or ODD support. The secret, as with the 400C, S340, and Gungnir, is that the HDDs are hosted under the PSU shroud (front-side), with SSD sleds hanging from the rear of the motherboard tray. Additional HDD cages can be added to the main compartment of the P400 for an extra cost. The removal of ODD bays is a move with which we strongly agree.

The PSU shroud dons a simple, steel shape with a somewhat “industrial” look; no back-lighting, no carved edges or logo emblems – just a functional, steel shroud. The top of the PSU shroud is riddled with holes which, aren't wholly useful (the PSU fan should face down) and are a little unsightly. This trend is continued with the prevalence of a few lone screws jutting-up from the right-side of the PSU shroud. They're used to hold the concealed HDD cages into place, but could have been done in a significantly cleaner fashion without looking like an attempt to get the thing out the door; rivets or a better mounting mechanism would eliminate the need for top-side screws and clean-up the P400's aesthetics measurably.

Phanteks also overlooks the usefulness of cable routing through the PSU shroud. We knocked Corsair's 600C for this very same oversight, and were pleased to find that the 400C had a more thoughtful management pathway. Without a cut-out in the shroud for cable routing, PCI-e cables have to be run through cut-outs elsewhere. Note also that top-mounted radiators will severely limit the clearance for 8-pin EPS 12V connectors in the top of the enclosure, and will force some compromises – like routing the cable under the VGA – in the event of a radiator or top-fan install. This varies slightly based upon motherboard. Low-profile memory should also be used when taking this approach.

But not all of the P400's design is shortsighted on cabling. Velcro ties on the rear-side of the case make for trivial, re-usable cable management, and stand as a feature we hope spreads to other enclosures. This is one of the P400's few unique features, along with its 10-color underglow, and helps control for cabling limitations elsewhere in the enclosure.

Cooling is channeled with 1x 120mm front intake and 1x 120mm rear exhaust fans, and optional radiator and fan mounts elsewhere (see specs table).

Test Methodology

We tested using our Ivy Bridge test bench, detailed in the table below. This particular configuration has been retired and brought back into service, following some changes to our hardware availability. We’ve moved from a one-bench-fits-all setup (which uses a Haswell config in an mATX board) to multiple benches, one for mATX and small towers and one for ATX / mid-towers. This bench is for the latter.

Conducting thermal tests requires careful measurement of temperatures in the surrounding environment. We control for ambient by constantly measuring temperatures with thermocouples and laser readers. We then produce charts using a Delta T(emperature) over Ambient value. This value subtracts the thermo-logged ambient value from the measured diode temperatures, producing a delta report of thermals. AIDA64 is used for logging thermals of silicon components, including the GPU diode.

All case fans are manually configured to their maximum throughput using BIOS. If a fan controller is present, we opt-in and test on multiple settings. This forces testing of case fan performance in addition to the case's air channeling and airstream design. This also ensures minimal variance when testing, as automatically controlled fan speeds can reduce reliability of benchmarking. The CPU fan is set to use a custom fan curve that was devised in-house after a series of testing; setting the CPU fan to its maximum speed can limit the disparity shown from case-to-case as the CPU cooler is extremely efficient, and will create a ceiling for thermal performance if bottlenecked.

  Component Courtesy Of Price
Video Card GTX 980 Reference
(PhysX) MSI GTX 980 Gaming
NVIDIA
CyberPower
$500
CPU Intel i5-3570K @ Stock GamersNexus -
CPU Cooler Thermaltake Frio Advance
(1x 120mm front)
Thermaltake $65
Motherboard MSI Z77-GD65 GamersNexus -
Memory HyperX 2x4GB 1866MHz Fury Kingston $45
SSD HyperX Predator PCI-e 480GB Kingston $400
PSU Enermax Platimax 1350W Enermax $200
Case This is what we're testing! - -

The video card is configured to run at 55% fan speed at all times. Stock clocks are used. We employ an NVIDIA GTX 980 reference for the case test bench.

Prior to load testing, we collect idle temperature results for ten minutes to determine the unloaded cooling performance of a case's fans and air channels. Thermal benchmarking is conducted for twenty minutes, a period we've determined sufficient for achieving equilibrium. The over-time data is aggregated and will occasionally be compiled into charts, if interesting or relevant. The equilibrium performance is averaged to create the below charts.

Load testing is conducted using Prime95 LFFTs and Kombustor “Titan Lake” stress testing simultaneously. Testing is completely automated using in-house scripting, and executes with perfect accuracy on every run.

Note: We retested the Corsair 600C ($150) following some configuration changes to our test environment. We've introduced additional measurement tools, so these results are not comparable to our previous benchmarks. The NZXT S340, Corsair 600C & 400C, Rosewill Gungnir, and Phanteks P400 were all freshly tested with our new instruments.

Continue to the next page for thermal benchmarking and optimal case fan placement.


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Last modified on September 25, 2016 at 9:30 am
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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