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Phobya Black Owl Preview - Internals and conclusion

When it comes to the interior of the Phobya Black Owl, it's good to see that the PSU mount is configurable, allowing you to have the PSU on one side or the other, or of course to use two, although with 1500W PSUs now fairly common, unless you're using Peltier cooling, it's unlikely you'll need to use the second bay.

Phobya Black Owl Preview Phobya Black Owl Preview - Internals and conclusionPhobya Black Owl Preview Phobya Black Owl Preview - Internals and conclusion
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Even so, you have the option of tucking the PSU away at the rear behind the radiator and having some flashy fans and a pump showing through the large side grille. As far as radiators are concerned, you'll probably be pretty happy with the Black Owl. The roof will house a full-height quad 120mm-fan radiator with fans and this shouldn't come near to interfering with the motherboard or drive bays.

Phobya Black Owl Preview Phobya Black Owl Preview - Internals and conclusion
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The base has a fixed mount for a triple 120mm/140mm-fan radiator, with the added advantage here of vents on either side meaning it can draw cool air in and blast it straight out the side. There's a rear 120mm fan mount plus an 80mm fan mount in the PSU blanking plate, which might be handy for mounting pumps or reservoirs or even cooling the pump if you don't intend to place it near the radiator's airflow mix. That said there are also pump mounting points in front of the radiator mount towards the front of the case too and room for adding several more in the cavernous base of the chassis.

Phobya Black Owl Preview Phobya Black Owl Preview - Internals and conclusionPhobya Black Owl Preview Phobya Black Owl Preview - Internals and conclusion
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For storage and drive bays, we're fairly well catered for here. There are three external 5.25in bays so the all-important dual bay reservoir and fan controller are definitely on the cards. Above these is a 3.5in drive caddie that can house up to three hard disks using a Lian Li-like rubber grommet and mounting pin-style method. You need to mount them after you install the hard disk, though, and getting the pins in from the front did prove tricky but there are several ways to improve the situation here - most of them are simple too.

Phobya Black Owl Preview Phobya Black Owl Preview - Internals and conclusion Phobya Black Owl Preview Phobya Black Owl Preview - Internals and conclusion
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SSDs are also welcome with four mounts in total - two beneath the 5.25in mount, one on top of the 3.5in caddie and one situated in the motherboard tray to show off your pride and joy. We're only talking about screw mounts here, which adds to the effort a little, but we'd rather this than the many supposedly clever screwless systems weve seen that don't work very well.

Cable routeing is sufficient, although all the extra space just begs for something a little more elaborate than just your average routeing holes around the motherboard. There's also no CPU area cut out at the moment, which is definitely something we'd like to see in the final production version.

Phobya Black Owl Preview Phobya Black Owl Preview - Internals and conclusionPhobya Black Owl Preview Phobya Black Owl Preview - Internals and conclusion
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Three graphics cards and a full-size motherboard look lost in the case, which is a good sign for extensive water-cooling systems as they should fill-out the space nicely and not look too cramped. There's enough space even on the lower slot here for our graphics card to get a good 10-15mm of clearance between it and the radiator stand so routeing tubes from a waterblock here shouldn't be an issue. Above you can see two of the SSD mounts and also the routeing holes for the hard disk cables (and yes, we installed the hard disk the wrong way round for our photos >_<).

Phobya Black Owl Preview Phobya Black Owl Preview - Internals and conclusionPhobya Black Owl Preview Phobya Black Owl Preview - Internals and conclusion
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There are clearly few limits as far as PSUs are concerned with even the largest we had to hand - a Corsair HX1000W looking rather small when mounted in its default position. Clearly you'd be more likely to have the radiator here, but some may prefer the radiator at the back (preferably one that doesn't have as much bare metal showing as ours does) with maybe the pump located here too.

As far as graphics card clearance goes, things are pretty much unlimited with plenty of room for even the longest models, without them interfering with any optical drives mounted in the adjacent 5.25in bays. Motherboards, though are limited to ATX at the moment and given the location of the cable routing holes it's unlikely we'll see support for anything bigger.

Phobya Black Owl Preview Phobya Black Owl Preview - Internals and conclusion
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Conclusion

It's great to see the Phobya Black Owl in the flesh after such a long wait, and we think you'll agree the wait was worth it. The price is steep, but we never expected to see something for less than £300 here, even if another design had been chosen. This is a case built for water cooling and made by a company taking its first steps into a very niche segment of the market.

Space for a a quad 120mm-fan radiator in the roof alongside up to a triple 140mm-fan radiator in the base is a pretty rare out-of-the-box feature set indeed, and in heat capacity terms, this is definitely on-par with Corsair's enormous Obsidian 900D. We'd argue that the Black Owl is better looking too and with the addition of those essential little extras such as USB ports and dust filters, we'd be happy to use the case as our main system.

We'd love to hear your comments, especially regarding any small improvements you'd ask Phobya to consider for the final version.

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