I was lucky enough to win an NZXT Manta Mini-ITX Case in a recent Hexus competition. Here is my accompanying review. Feel free to post any follow-up comments or questions.

I’ve owned an NZXT H440 ATX case for about 8 months now and loved the solid build quality, the features and the cooling potential (despite the cooling performance being it’s most common criticism). So I was delighted when I was given the opportunity to have a first-hand look at one of NZXT’s latest offerings, the Manta Mini-ITX Case.

I should point out at this stage that I don’t currently own a mini-itx compatible motherboard or components, so this review will focus purely on it’s build potential, the features and its comparison with my own H440 setup.

The Manta comes in a variety of colours and finishes, mine being the matt-black finish with a side window. Out of the box it’s clear this has some unusual dimensions that separate it from some of its competitors. Firstly, the size. This isn’t your usual proportionally-challenged itx case. For a mini-itx case it’s very generous - verging on the lower end of the ATX form factor and definitely at the larger end of the mini-itx scale. It feels reassuringly heavy, something I’ve always liked in a PC case. A fully laiden Manta is not going to be easy to topple over. Once the box is out of the way, the shape reveals itself. The first word that came to mind when trying to describe it was, rather unflatteringly…..”bulbous”. It looks curved across every surface apart from the back, even, unusually, the sides. They gradually arc out giving the case added “girth” around the middle. It’s a lot more flattering than I’m describing it, but it’s certainly unusual for a case - organic almost in its design. The finish on this one is a beautiful matt-black. No more oily fingerprint marks, or dulled finish that many gloss cases suffer from. This one looks totally utilitarian and understated, with the logos barely visible in their black-on-black lettering. The exterior panels themselves are all metal to touch, with air vents and mesh panels filling many of the gaps between them. The front panel, in keeping with the H440 has no external 5.25” bays - so no internal optical drives, or external fan controllers in this one I’m afraid. This was something that initially put me off the H440, almost to the point of not buying one, but having not had access to an internal optical drive for over 8 months I can safely say I’ve not missed it once. I simply bought a USB external optical drive, and it has been used less than a dozen times. Optical drives are history.

Back to the Manta. Looking at it, the airflow options look limited - until you look more closely. Those gaps between the front and side panels and the side and top panels hide some quite substantial mesh vents running top to bottom and front to back. There are no vents on the top or the front panels themselves, but the vents look like they’d do a decent job of keeping the air flowing. The top panel has a simple understated power button on the front left and 2 x USB 3.0 ports and headphone and mic ports on the front right. Front centre is a minimalistic LED “slash” that presumably lights to indicate power and HDD activity. The top panel can also be remove for easy installation of fans/radiators etc.

Peeling off the side panels is extremely easy. It has captive thumbscrews just like the H440 at the rear of each panel, making removal of them a simple few seconds. And again the side panels are sturdy, heavy things - particularly the right (non-windowed) side which along with the curves also hides a cutaway section built into it, meaning cable management on that side of the case should be a doddle. The flat-sided H440 isn’t so generous, so the space behind the panel in the Manta is certainly a welcome sight. One thing not carried over from the H440 though, it the noise suppression. No sound dampening foam on the inside of the panels may indicate that it will be slightly more noisy than it’s larger sibling. Once both side are off you’ve got more than enough room to work on; the larger size paying dividends during installation and modding no doubt. Inside the matt-black scheme continues and it’s reassuringly all metal in there. Pre-fitted into position are 2 x front 120mm and 1 x 120mm rear fans, so good out-of-the-box cooling is provided. In terms of air cooling you could replace the 2 front fans with 2 x 140mm, and add a further 2 x 120mm or 2 x 140mm to the top of the case should you wish. There’s also space for up to a 240mm or even a 280mm watercooling radiator and fans in both the front and the top - quite amazing for a mini-itx case! The front fans sit behind a full length mesh guard that is simply removed for cleaning, once you’ve prised of the front panel (gently from the bottom). Carried over from the H440 is the compartmentalised power supply section at the bottom of the case. This is something I love, as not only does it tidy up the aesthetics when peering through the side window, but also helps with heat dissipation and reduces the amount of heat rising into the motherboard area from the PSU. Again like the H440, an LED back-lit NZXT. logo is visible on the side of the PSU section. Storage is adequately catered for with space for 2 x 2.5” SSD and/or 2 x 3.5” HDD drives, with the SSD mounts being removable with thumbscrews. Graphics card options shouldn’t be limited to shorter sized cards either, there’s plenty of room for some of the larger cards in this case. On the reverse side of the motherboard tray is a PWM fan hub and connections to the built in LED lighting. A switch on the outside rear of the case toggles the LED lights in the NZXT. logo in the PSU section inside and also a clever little light mounted above the I/O plate so that you can see easily which port you are fumbling your USB cable into - even in the darkest of spaces. However, with all that black paint, I dare say it wouldn’t go amiss to fit some internal additional LED lighting of your own.

Overall, I have no doubt with all the features I’ve mentioned, that installation would be a very straight-forward affair and with all of the cooling options, you have the potential for a very nice little rig that could shame some of the ATX setups out there. It’s a solid, extremely capable case that creates a nice little niche for the “enthusiast itx build” where smaller cases would limit cooling or graphics options. If I had an ITX motherboard already, I would definitely consider one as my main gaming rig.

Plenty of internal space
Excellent cooling potential
Very solid
Unusual “bulbous” design

Big for an ITX case
Needs extra internal lighting