Page 2 - Physical Look - Outside
In words, it is quite hard to describe the NZXT Manta. It has pizzazz in terms of styling, and does not follow the standard fridge-like styling we often see. When my parents saw this case, they were reminded of an old tube TV, especially with the curves on the plastic window. While I do not think it looks like a TV, I will let them see what they see. Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Kwan, on the other hand, thought it looked like there was too much air inside, or a chubby bunny. Another one of my friends thought it looked like a marshmallow. Overall, I think the NZXT Manta is a bit of an acquired taste. I will say it does have a bit of puffiness to it, but I quite like where NZXT is going with it. During the press conference, NZXT boasted this was the first time anyone had ever done curved steel panels on a case, making for a unique look. I definitely commend them on their innovative design in the curved steel. Surprisingly, there are some functional benefits to having this as well, but I will get into those later.
While the NZXT Manta may not be sleek in your opinion, I think there is sleekness in the details. Some examples are the black border lines doubling as ventilation holes, or the hidden power button and LED indicator residing inconspicuously on the case. Even better is the hidden NZXT branding on the front panel, which may be hard to see in the photos. There are also some subtle indented lines at the top panel to add some more style. According to NZXT, the Manta is actually based off of the Ferrari 458 -- which I did not get to drive at the press event -- and you can kind of see some of the design points. The finish on the case is not a smooth finish, but has a bit of grit to it. The NZXT Manta we have today is in a matte white finish, which is somewhat of an uncharted territory. We have not seen many white chassis, let alone matte ones, as they can be easily marked up. I think the matte white looks great, but if matte white is not your thing, NZXT also has a pure matte black, and a matte black/red version. A large clear plastic window is shown on the left panel, and it is one of the largest window-to-body size ratios we have seen. If you are afraid of showing off your components, NZXT also has a windowless version, albeit only in matte black.
While the NZXT Manta is classified as a Mini-ITX case, there is nothing necessarily mini about it. It may be smaller in size compared to a mid-tower ATX chassis, but it is still pretty big. In fact, if I were to look at it based on size alone, I would think it looks more like a mATX case. At measurements of 426mm in height, 245mm in width, and 450mm in depth, this is actually wider than the Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV ATX, my main computer chassis. This is partly due to the curved nature of the case, which bulges out in the center more than the sides. With all this steel on the outside and the inside, the Manta is definitely a heavy fish at 7.2kg. I was actually surprised when I moved the Manta around at how heavy it was, despite carrying such a small motherboard.
Starting at the top, we have the standard affair of input and output. On the left side there is the circular power button, which produces a nice click when pressed. In the middle is a small black strip, which hides a white LED, used for power and hard drive activity indication. On the right we have two 3.5mm audio jacks, one for a microphone and a headset. There are small logos located to the right of the jacks in a slightly different texture. Finally, we have two USB 3.0 ports here. They are spaced out enough to allow for some larger USB peripherals, such as card readers. There is no reset button. Finally from the top you can see, more prominently, the two subtle lines resembling the front hood of a Ferrari.
Taking off the front panel, and we have some additional things to talk about. The front panel pops off easily, as it is held in by some plastic pegs. Underneath, we have a large protruding mesh filter, which is intended to stop dust from entering. Behind this are two included NXZT fans, pointed inward to pull air in. The front can house two 120mm or 140mm fans, or a radiator up to 280mm in length. Since the mesh filter protrudes out, it is theoretically possible to put fans on the other side of the mounting rails, which could be helpful. Due to the lack of demand for 5.25" drives in general, again we have a case with no optical drive capability, but this is completely understandable. On the other hand, this ends up improving airflow inside, but we will see more when we look inside.
From the back, the first thing I notice on the Manta is a 120mm exhaust fan, mounted on some rails. Unfortunately, a 140mm fan cannot be placed here, but this is understandable considering the size constraints. To the left of the fan is a large opening for the motherboard I/O shield. There is a small plastic protrusion on top, and this houses some white LEDs. Along with a button placed on the back, you can toggle it to illuminate the I/O shield and the inside NZXT logo, as you will see later on. I think this is a really helpful addition, as it reduces the chances of fumbling around the back of the computer when connecting and disconnecting your peripherals and other I/O. Next are the two black expansion port coverings, indicating this can hold most everyday expansion cards, such as GPUs. As mITX motherboards only have one PCIe expansion slot, I can see why there are only two brackets. Both of the brackets are tool-free with some thumbscrews. NZXT has tightened all of the screws first, so you may need to use a screwdriver the first time around when removing the brackets. At the bottom, we have an opening for a power supply. The NZXT Manta is capable of holding a full-sized ATX PSU, which is good to see.
From the bottom, you can see how the NZXT Manta stays upright. With two protruding legs at the front and the back, this ensures there is enough clearance for airflow, even on undesirable surfaces like carpet. Four rectangular rubber feet also are located at the bottom of the legs, and these are meant to reduce the vibration created between the floor and your case. Near the back is also a removable air filter, which is meant to filter dust from getting into the power supply. It would be nice if this filter was actually removable from the front, as we have seen in some other cases, but it is not a big deal either. With all of this out of the way, let us dive inside the Manta.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Outside
3. Physical Look - Inside
4. Installation and Conclusion