Completed Build, Performance, and Conclusion
The EVOLV ITX is easy to work in, and results in a tidy build.
The cables rout neatly out of the way, and we're left with a pretty open looking enclosure considering it's holding a complete gaming system. This enclosure feels a little closer to micro-ATX, but the added room makes installing everything a breeze. The one area where things do feel a little cramped is the GPU, but there was just enough space to allow the card to breath. My power supply's PCIe power cables fit neatly beneath the shroud on the right side, and out of view. This is a removable part, but it helps keep things looking clean.
Looking behind the system we see the generous amount of room for cable managment, but thanks to the Velcro straps securing the majority of the excess, there's not a lot of mess to manage. I really like this feature, and I'm glad Phanteks kept it even with their smallest (and least expensive) EVOLV enclosure.
Enclosure Performance: Temps
With the test system's Corsair H75 liquid cooler, the EVOLV ITX was near the back of the pack, though still offered good cooling for the i5-6600K even under stress. There's more room than usual for the system to breathe as this is a larger mini-ITX design, but the system also benefits from that 200 mm intake fan creating positive pressure. That aspect was more noticable with the DEEPCOOL Gabriel air cooler with the CPU under stress, where the EVOLV ITX managed to place second behind the Corsair Carbide 600Q (with high case fans).
The EVOLV ITX was warmer at idle and under a simulated load than the other (larger) enclosures tested here, but when under the highest stress the CPU results impressed. I wouldn't be surprised if the numbers with an air cooler improved if an exhaust fan was added to help with the airflow, but the intake fan did manage to expel quite a bit of air without one.
Next we'll look at GPU temps:
Here the limited breathing room for the installed R9 290X graphics card puts the EVOLV ITX in last place with both CPU cooler configurations. Load temps were between 4.2 and 5.1 degrees hotter than the next highest enclosure (Carbide 600Q, low fans), but still topped out at 62 °C delta. The GPU fans did have to spin faster in this enclosure to maintain even these higher temps, but only by about 10%.
Enclosure Performance: Noise
Here the EVOLV ITX performed extremely well, as it was surprisingly quiet for an enclosure without noise dampening. That 200 mm intake fan is not loud at default speeds, and with the exception of GPU noise the EVOLV ITX finished in a solid second place behind the very quiet Carbide 600Q.
GPU noise was just a little higher at load than both the Fractal Design Define S and Antec P380 (with low case fans), and while 0.1 dB seems like nothing the pitch of the fans was a bit more noticable in the EVOLV – the result of the enclosure's lack of sound dampening no doubt. Still, a very quiet enclosure overall.
If I was to build a mini-ITX system today, this would be at the top of my list for an affordable enclosure. It's not perfect, but it comes really close. The limited GPU cooler clearance can be an issue, but this design choice is understandable; Phanteks went with full size ATX power supply compatibility, rather than SFX, which leaves little room at the bottom of even a larger mITX design like this. My R9 290X fit without issue, and while it ran much warmer than I'm used to (and at higher fan speeds) it was still within thermal limits. My only other complaint was the inclusion of only one 2.5-inch tray, but when the price is factored in I couldn't really fault Phanteks for the choice.
For what youre getting at $64.99, the Enthoo EVOLV ITX is a bargain; but moreover it's an attractive, full-featured mini-ITX enclosure than can easily house a very powerful system. The unique red interior is icing on the cake with this new version (if you like that color scheme), and I really liked the look of the enclosure. It is well built, has thoughtful design touches, and overall feels like a premium case that would easily sell for quite a bit more.
- Very high build quality
- Roomy interior for mini-ITX allows easy build
- Supports full-size components
- Excellent cable management
- Excellent noise levels
- Low price
- Limited GPU clearance prevents use of thicker cards
- GPU temps/fan speeds higher with this enclosure due to clearance
Overall I'm very impressed with both the enclosure and the value proposition Phanteks offers consumers with the EVOLV ITX. At $64.99 this was a lot more than I was expecting. Well done!