Completed Build, Performance, and Conclusion
This is the definition of a clean build. I had zero complaints about the build process, and it was very easy to get a sharp-looking build – a must with a large side window like the Manta's.
Around back the cable management was easy, though the larger size of the Manta will require longer PSU cables than you might expect for mini-ITX (I used an extension for the ATX 12V cable, which I generally only need to do with ATX enclosures). There's a generous amount of room behind the motherboard tray, and I had no trouble organizing things to allow the back cover to slide on smoothly.
I'll cover lighting quickly here as well, as there is a switch on the back of the enclosure that enables the NZXT logo to light up beneath the motherboard, and optional lighting for rear I/O (which is a fantastic idea that I've only seen previously on the NZXT H440).
Beginning as usual with CPU temps, I tested the Manta using the same air and liquid coolers I've employed for the past several enclosure reviews; a DEEPCOOL Gabriel low-profile air cooler and Corsair H75 liquid cooler.
The results were mixed here, with good performance from the H75 liquid cooler, and then from the air cooler – until I reached max stress using Prime95. The result was still well under thermal limits for my i5-6600K processor, but with the space available inside the Manta I would recommend a larger air solution. (A tower cooler in particular would be a better fit for the airflow inside the case.)
Moving on to GPU temps the results were on a warm side, with my GPU hitting 80 – 81 C (62.1 – 63.3 C delta). I saw similar results from the recently reviewed Phanteks EVOLV ITX as you can see from the chart, and this style of enclosure – where the GPU sits very close to the shroud at the bottom of the case – doesn't lend itself especially well to aftermarket GPU cooler designs. A blower should have better results in these small cases.
Moving on to noise output, the Manta was a very quiet case at idle and air-cooler CPU loads, but didn't mask the sound from GPU/liquid cooler load fans to any great extent. The potential is certainly there for a very quiet build with the Manta, especially considering the onboard fan controller connects to a PWM fan header on your motherboard, which allows full user control over speeds.
I came away highly impressed by the Manta, and though it looks a bit unusual at first, I ended up liking the design quite a bit. Build quality is top-notch, and it was an easy build experience. Temps and noise weren't record-breaking, but performance was fine. The price and relative size certainly hamper the mainstream appeal of this enclosure, but if you're looking at a smaller build and don't want to sacrifice cooling options (and like a visually striking industrial design), the Manta is a very tempting option.
- Very high build quality
- Excellent cooling capacity for mini-ITX
- Integrated PWM fan controller
- Included fans are quiet
- Rear I/O lighting is a useful extra
- Large for a mini-ITX enclosure
- GPU temps/fans run high due to limited clearance
The Manta is another compelling mini-ITX option for a no-compromise smaller build. It's big for mini-ITX, but not so much as to completely defeat the purpose of a small form-factor build. There's a lot to like, and if you have the budget for it the Manta won't likely disappoint.