Way back when the original Evolv Shift was released it caused quite the stir, with the case offering something quite unique into the ITX market. Now, years later we see the Phanteks Evolv Shift 2 Air, an evolved (sorry) take on that very case, with functional changes being made to enhance the performance for those that love this model.
Whether or not the changes are good, there are still questions over whether the Evolv Shift 2 Air makes any sense. The case has limitations, as do most in the ITX form factor but this feels a lot bigger than others in this category and when you weigh up all the pros and cons, there simply may just be better options for both performance and aesthetics.
Let’s take a closer look.
186 mm x 490 mm x 274 mm
1 x 140mm
Steel, Fabric, Aluminum
Maximum GPU length
Case Drive Bays
1 x 3.5″ Internal & 4 x 2.5″ Internal
Supports 120mm AIO
Two fabric-mesh side panels for optimal airflow
Dual SSD brackets for double the storage capacity
Not very convienant
- Vertical Design (Small Footprint)
- Can fit a full-sized GPU (2.9 slot)
- Supports SFX/ SFX-L PSU
- Two breathable mesh fabric side panels
- Supports 120mm AIO
The Phanteks Evolv Shift 2 Air is stunning from every angle and is one of the more interesting cases I’ve seen for quite some time. This line of case has been out for quite some time and the latest to the smaller form factor family is the air edition, offering more airflow and therefore more performance.
The front is a solid steel panel and features the same cutout design we see across most Phanteks cases at the top and bottom. From the front, the Shift 2 Air is very slender and measures 186mm across, making it look like the Corsair One’s bigger brother. The front panel can come off to assist with the building process by loosening the thumbscrews that are revealed under the top panel.
The only external I/O comes in the form of two USB 3.0 ports which are located right at the bottom.
The back shares a similarly shaped steel panel, only this time it is perforated. The back is where you can mount two 120mm/140mm fans or use the space at the bottom for a 120mm AIO cooler. The perforated design is really nice but if it wasn’t for the mesh sides, there would be a few airflow issues to raise.
We also see the port for your pass-through kettle plug located towards the bottom at the rear too, keeping the system conventional.
The side is where we see the biggest change to the Evolv Shift, with both side panels being fully comprised of mesh fabric. The mesh fabric is very breathable and you can see straight through it, which is great news for any RGB components you may want to throw in. The nylon material is durable and is quite a fine mesh, meaning it doubles up as a dust filter too that is easily cleaned.
The side panels are the obvious reason this has been named the Shift Air and there is no doubt the performance of the case has been enhanced. The mesh works wonders for cooling the GPU, however, the main issue with this isn’t airflow but rather how you can effectively cool a high TDP CPU, with such little radiator space or clearance (85mm max) for beefy air coolers.
Both slides, like the front and back release after loosening the thumbscrews located under the top panel, and both slide off effortlessly.
The top is where we see something as unique as the overall shape of the Evolv Shift 2 Air, its pop-open top panel. We will talk about the interior shortly but the top panel features a pop-mechanism that works well to conveniently reveal your motherboards I/O and the ports on your GPU.
The top panel is perforated to allow some airflow and features three buttons – your power switch, D-RGB Color switch, and D-RGB mode switch. One of the major drawbacks to this case is its poor quality buttons, they do not feel solid at all, which is highly unusual from Phanteks. There is a small cutout at the back for you to cable manage your mouse, keyboard, monitor, and other connections you may slot in the back.
The inside is more or less all one space but can be thought of as three chambers. One side allows you to mount your ITX motherboard and the other can fit a full-sized GPU (up to 2.9 slots).
The GPU is vertically mounted (obviously) and connects to the motherboard via the included PCIe riser. The bracket you fit the GPU onto can actually be removed entirely, which is definitely recommended when installing a beefy GPU as it can get a little tight otherwise. Another tip would be to install the GPU before connecting your power cables as they will cover up the thumbscrew needed to release the riser bracket.
Underneath, what would traditionally be called the “basement”, is room for your SFX/ SFX-L PSU. At the very bottom, we see space for a third and final 120mm/140mm fan. You can access this mounting spot by pulling the bottom panel off, which also features a dust filter to assist in keeping your system as clean as possible. I’d highly recommend installing a fan at the bottom as an intake to help with airflow and make sure you install it first as the power supply will get in the way.
Phanteks, without a doubt, have some of the best PC cases on the market across a variety of form factors but in their attempt to be innovative I feel they have lost the quality we are used to. It looks great and there is enough airflow but it is quite tall and the aesthetic pros are slightly outweighed by the odd placements inside and the lack of convenience.
Don’t get me wrong, you can create some extremely interesting builds in this but if you are after raw performance for high-end parts this just won’t do and if you plan on countering this with a custom loop then the tempered glass Shift 2 or Shift X seems to make more sense.
The Phanteks Evolv Shift 2 Air has seen functional changes being made to enhance the performance for those that love this model.
The case has limitations, as do most in the ITX form factor but this feels a lot bigger than others in this category and when you weigh up all the pros and cons, there may just simply be better options for both performance and aesthetics.