Case Mod: Phanteks 217E

front panel with USB-C & audio, GPU cooling and more...

So, I've been using this case for quite a well and am quite fond of it sleek exterior and modular design. Recently I had to tear it down and upgrade my GPU to AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT and decided to take the opportunity to modify it.

There are a few things bothering me about this case:

  • Only 2 USB-A ports on front panel
  • Poor cooling (for both chasis and GPU)
  • Only supports 2-slot GPUs (while my new 6800 XT is 2.5-slot)

All things considered, and here we go.

Front Panel

Its front panel is a standalone box mounted on the backplate - just like I said, modular design - so it's pretty easy to modify. And I found a pretty versatile front panel model from another vendor, with 1 USB-A, 1 USB-C, and audio ports. All we need is a 3D printed box to fit this model.

The space reserved for front panel on this case is quite small, so I had to make the box more like a cage to hold it. It took me 2 mornings and 3 revisions and there it is:

The painting was done by a TAMIYA spray can.

CAUTION: Please take protective measures and be careful when painting. A respirator capable of filtering oil particles is NEEDED.

You might need to adjust the design based on the front panel model you choose. If you want to buy a finished product, feel free to contact me.

Cooling

This case is enclosed by 2 large tempered glass panes and 2 aluminum panes, leaving only the bottom and 2 narrow gaps on the side for venting. The GPU is basically sucking air from a large piece of glass, which is absolutely no good if you are using anything better than a RX 5700.

I used to have all 3 fans sucking air into the case to provide good pressure for the centrifugal fan on my RX 5700 XT. However, the new RX 6800 XT uses 3 axial fans. And with the increased height on GPU, less space is left for the upper front fan. So I teared all of them down and made some changes to the layout of its cooling system.

The fans I had before were 3 Corsair ML120 Pros. They are pretty efficient and quiet with the magnetic bearings. (and may provide lighting effect to boost the performance to 200% according to some anonymous sources) I swapped them out for some new Noctua fans with better design. And one of the 25 mm fans was replaced by a 15 mm one.

The fans I came up with in the end were:

  • NF-S12A on bottom (facing out)
  • NF-S12A on lower front (facing out)
  • NF-A12x15 on upper front (facing out)

(of course I picked Chromax version)

And for GPU, I designed my new side panel. It's made of two piece of 2 mm thin acrylic panels glued together using double-sided tapes, with a layer of filter fixed by screws in the middle. I bought the extra screws from Phanteks' support in order to make it fit and match the original design perfectly.

GPU Bracket

The way it should be modified highly depends on the GPU you use. So there is not much to say here. Just don't be fooled into using a hand saw by your girlfriend like I was. Use a rotary tool.

Downloads

You can get the latest design files via my Open Resources page. Any pull requests would be appreciated.