Manufacturer: Metallic Gear
Phanteks revealed its new Metallic Gear-branded cases earlier this year at Computex, and in the flesh they seemed impressive, so it's great to see them finally hit etailers' shelves. What's the difference, you might ask. Well, Phanteks continues to lean more towards the premium end of the spectrum as far as its aluminium cases are concerned, but Metallic Gear appears to be branching out with an aluminium and steel combination that hits super-low price points while still including that attention to detail Phanteks has become known for.
We think we're justified in the price point comment too; despite offering a vertical graphics card mount with a bundled PCIe riser cable, RGB lighting, aluminium exterior, and tempered glass front and side panels, the Neo-G Mini we're looking at here costs just £70. Other recent mini-ITX cases that have similar features include Raijintek's Ophion that we'll be taking a look at soon, which, while smaller, costs £60 more.
There are two versions of the Neo Mini, and the 'G' in our sample stands for the inclusion of the vertical graphics card mount and PCIe riser cable, while the standard Neo Mini has a more traditional horizontal mount and costs £10 less. The benefits of each we'll get to over the page, but there's clearly a decision to be made as to whether you want your graphics card's cooler or water block facing the glass side panel and paying a small price premium in the process. Externally the case is attractive with a patterned front glass section and a smattering of air vents down the sides at the front - these are the only way air is allowed in. The filters here require the front section to be popped off, as they're otherwise static.
While there are clearly some premium features included with the Neo-G Mini, there comes a limit as to what you can do for £70, so there's unsurprisingly no USB Type-C support on the front panel with just the usual USB 3.0 ports and audio mini-jacks instead plus a simple colour switch for the RGB lighting, which is compatible with Asus, MSI, and Gigabyte's RGB motherboard software.
The base dust filter is removable and slides out easily from the rear of the case, but there are no fan mounts here, and even the PSU won't be installed here. Given the mediocre front ventilation, there's perhaps reason to include a little more here to allow air into the case, but there is at least sufficient ventilation for air to be drawn in via negative air pressure, although the single intake fan means that positive pressure is more likely if the case is left as it comes.
The far side panel is made from steel but isn't devoid of details; a large perforated vent allows air from two side fan mounts to escape. The rear of the case reveals a fixed vertical GPU mount, so as well as the inclusion of the necessary hardware, the Neo-G Mini and Neo Mini differ here too.