Last Computex, one of the most remarkable cases that we came across were the new Phanteks Evolv Shift models. We were looking forward to having these in our test lab. July 25th marked the official introduction of both models. We got started with the Phanteks Evolv Shift X, the more luxurious and bigger model of the two cases that were introduced. If you are looking for a case that you easily place in your living room, you should definitely keep reading.
ITX-cases can be found in roughly three classes: very tiny cases that only fit a motherboard, cube-like models with room for a twoslots graphics card and recently we are seeing more and more bigger cases that are more like Micro-ATX cases when it comes to their size, which results in them having (even) more internal space and primarily offering an easier installation. Of course there are always exceptions, where we cannot leave out the SilverStone models. This brand has been working on Mini-ITX with the Raven RVZ-models (and the numerous variants based on the same chassis). These are an interesting interpretation of a mini-desktop that can also be placed upright if so desired. A few years ago (2011) Silverstone also released a tower model, the Fortress FT03, in micro-ATX and mini-ITX variants, but this concept was not pursued further by the manufacturer. A shame in our opinion, because there are a lot of positives about a ‘standing’ pc with a small footprint that still has a lot of room for components and even supports water cooling.
Phanteks chose their own path – in our conversations about the earlier versions of the case that is the subject of this review, the Fortress FT03 was never even mentioned – but the same thought-process is followed: the brand does not introduce one, but two models that build on the vertical concept. The Evolv Shift and Shift X cannot only be used standing upright, but also lying down. Furthermore the brand tried to combine compactness with enough room for components and ease of use. This is a challenge, because as with ‘fast, good and cheap’ usually only a combination of two of the three can be achieved in an affordable Mini-ITX case.
In the comparison
If we compare the Phanteks Evolv Shift X in terms of volume based from the dimensions, we see that it is one of the bigger ITX-cases at a volume of about 30 liters, but it is still surpassed by for example the NXZT Manta and the Bitfenix Prodigy. Because of the slim width and height the Evolv Shift takes up a lot less space. The Micro-ATX FT03 of SilverStone, that we added to this graph for comparison, has a comparable but bigger footprint of 23.7x28.4 cm. We do have to note that, if you want to place your Shift X vertically, you may want to use the optional removable base – this brings the width from 17 to 20 cm, but obviously does not add to the volume. If the Evolv Shift X is too big for your liking, you should definitely take a look at the Evolv Shift, which is a lot shorter. In the graph it can be recognized by the green bar. This raises the question: what are the other differences? Below we will cover these in greater detail.
Evolv Shift vs Shift X
Aside from the differences in height (65 cm for the Evolv Shift X and 47 cm for the Evolv Shift) there are more differences. The bigger version has an aluminium grille at the top, whereas this grille is made of plastic on the smaller version. According to Phanteks the Shift is designed for 120 mm water cooling, it is even possible to mount two of these in order to cool both the cpu and gpu. There are some limitations regarding the thickness of the radiators – only so-called slimline models can be used – and the gpu cannot be thicker than a Founders Edition card: exactly two slots. For the power supply we recommend a modular SFX(L) format so you do not have to deal with unused cables.
Aside from the mentioned aluminium grille, the Evolv Shift X primarily offers more internal space, not only for components but also for bigger water coolers (including 280 mm radiators!) or even a custom loop. This case also allows you to mount a regular ATX power supply, but Phanteks also recommends an SFX(L) model here, again preferably modular. The cables have to be at least 40 cm long, something to bear in mind – but Phanteks also supplies an 8-pin extension cable, in case yours is slightly too short. If you do want to use an ATX power supply, for example because you do not want to invest in an SFX-model, you have to bear in mind this is at the expense of room for extra SSDs, a radiator and/or pump.
The last difference is the price: the Phanteks Evolv Shift has an MSRP of 109.90 euros which roughly translates to 128.78 dollars, while the Shift X has an MSRP of 159.90 euros which is about the same as 187.37 dollars. As far as the actual pricing goes, we do not know at the time of writing. Current prices can be found below, when the cases are available.