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NZXT Phantom 820 Case Review: Conceptualized By Enthusiasts

NZXT Phantom 820 Case Review: Conceptualized By Enthusiasts
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NZXT is extending its portfolio of high-end PC cases with a full-size tower called the Phantom 820. After an extended evaluation, it's clear to us that power users played a big part in defining this enclosure's specs. But the story isn't quite so simple.

Surely you've run across this conundrum before: you know how much you're willing to spend on a new case, you have some idea of what you want it to look like, and you have a rough idea of the hardware you'll be putting inside. And yet, you still don't know which chassis to choose.

This is partly because there are so many PC cases for sale. It doesn't help that many of them are very similar, too. Oftentimes, all that distinguishes one from the next are a few small details and slightly modified aesthetics. That's why we like to approach chassis coverage in a round-up format, allowing us to to compare competing models side by side, making the differences as apparent as possible.

Overall, there aren't many actual case manufacturers, and most of them use the same factories in Asia for production. As a result, any time we see the announcement of a brand new, revolutionary enclosure, we're apprehensive, to say the least. Through no fault of its own, then, NZXT's Phantom 820 was received with a bit of skepticism. Nevertheless, we dusted off a pile of high-end hardware that'd make the chassis sweat and put it through its paces.

The Phantom 820 looks a lot like some of NZXT's other PC cases, leaving us to wonder whether the company extended a mid-tower design or re-worked the insides from the ground up. Whatever it did, for $250, we're expecting it to impress us.

We want to point out that this review went live on Tom's Hardware DE in time for NZXT's launch back in October. Because we received our sample in advance of that introduction, we were fairly sure it was a pre-production unit. Although we were unable to get confirmation in time for the German review, we did confirm with NZXT that, indeed, the Phantom 820 we originally reviewed was just slightly different from the shipping version.

As you read through this story, there are certain aspects of the case we mention because they're truly representative of the review sample we have in the lab. However, we're also updating with feedback from NZXT regarding the parts that were purportedly improved before the Phantom 820 became publicly available.

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  • 2 Hide
    ilysaml , December 19, 2012 4:31 AM
    I like most of the cases out there, but the only major drawback is it's side look, some really like a pure glass window and some other just don't.
  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , December 19, 2012 4:35 AM
    where is comparison(Temp Comparison) with other cases like antec df-85,silverstone raven & nzxt tempest etc
  • 2 Hide
    FormatC , December 19, 2012 5:41 AM
    It can not be directly compared because each hardware component may deliver different results in different cases. I had once a Silverstone Raven myself - VGA cards with DHE works nice, some other cards with axial fans worse. This can't be an objective comparison.
  • 4 Hide
    cobra5000 , December 19, 2012 5:59 AM
    Funny, I figured the people who write reviews for pc cases would know a little more about what is going on in the pc case world? The 820 is, CLEARLY, a blending of the NZXT Phantom and the Switch 810. The 810 was the first to pioneer the back panel led, not the 820 like the author notes. I was really, really liking this case on paper. It has the sharp looks of the Phantom and all of the great new features of the 810. The $250 price tag killed that! Also, this review makes it pretty clear that this case is really not on par with other cases in this price bracket. Disappointing, to say the least. At almost $100 less and a better fit and finish, get the 810. $150 less gets you a Phantom in any color of the rainbow. NZXT really got greedy on this one. $250 for sub-par fans and flimsy hard drive cages? I think not!
  • 9 Hide
    FormatC , December 19, 2012 6:12 AM
    @cobra5000:
    The intro (and some other content) of my German orginal is different and refers to the Switch 810 (and Phantom). This was my fault as I proofread the translation. Sorry.
  • -2 Hide
    JonnyDough , December 19, 2012 7:52 AM
    I'm sorry but when I can get THIS: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811139011 for quite a lot less and it has USB 3.0, cable management, an adult look to it, and serves my purpose just fine - I see little reason to spend over three times more on a case that does little more than what this one does.
  • 0 Hide
    army_ant7 , December 19, 2012 8:12 AM
    Hello again Igor! :) 

    Nice, thorough review, though I was interested in how you guys do your 100Kg tests! I would've also liked to see you (who I assume was referred to as the author) standing or whatever on the case as was mentioned. :lol: 

    BTW, I'm not much of a chassis buff, but when I saw the Corsair Obsidian 850D I was amazed at its features. It's been my dream case, but I feel a bit half-hearted about that since I am aware that there are as you said, so many cases out there. I'm not sure if you've ever had your hands on it, but if you have, mind sharing your insights and observations of it, and maybe personally compare it to this or other notable cases. Thanks! :D 
  • 4 Hide
    FormatC , December 19, 2012 8:23 AM
    At first:
    I'm waiting for the corsair Obsidian 900D. My own case is an Obsidian 800D and I've modified this case with USB 3.0 and a new SATA3 PCB. It will be interesting, what the new case can better (or not).

    About the test:
    Simply sit down (without the plastic crap on top) and try to sit on it one minute. After this I've used my water venture... I'm a typical 100 kg heavy-weight reviewer and this is really enough to destroy something (some cases were mess after this).
  • 2 Hide
    ckholt83 , December 19, 2012 8:34 AM
    I hate the stupid looking plastic foot at the front of the case, it looks like a tacked on afterthought.
  • 0 Hide
    army_ant7 , December 19, 2012 8:43 AM
    Quote:
    At first:
    I'm waiting for the corsair Obsidian 900D. My own case is an Obsidian 800D and I've modified this case with USB 3.0 and a new SATA3 PCB. It will be interesting, what the new case can better (or not).

    About the test:
    Simply sit down (without the plastic crap on top) and try to sit on it one minute. After this I've used my water venture... I'm a typical 100 kg heavy-weight reviewer and this is really enough to destroy something (some cases were mess after this).
    If that's the case, I'll be looking forward to a review of it (900D)! Also yeah, side notes by you on how it does compared to older models. :D 

    Oh, so the two tests are one and the same. Hehe... I see... I hope you haven't gotten into any accidents by doing that with any cases. Ripped up pieces of metal can be nasty...

    In your opinion, are Corsair Obsidians (or at least the one you have) the best you've seen? (I value your opinion because I bet you've gone through a lot of cases, or at least reviews of them.) :) 
  • 2 Hide
    FormatC , December 19, 2012 9:07 AM
    @army_ant7
    The answer is very difficult. If you look at a case in correlation with the price you get better offers. If you only see on quality or good ideas you get better offers. But if you are searching for a simple, stable and timeless case, the 800D is a very good one. ;) 
  • -9 Hide
    cib24 , December 19, 2012 9:26 AM
    Regarding the 100kg load test. Is that the author's weight? If so, dude stop eating so much and do some more cardio...unless you are 6'6'' or taller ;-)
  • 7 Hide
    pchisholm , December 19, 2012 9:35 AM
    OK, well since I actually own this case and have had it a few weeks now I'll share my experience with a completely different build. My rig spec is as follows:-

    CPU : Core i7-3930K (oc 4.7Ghz 24/7 but comfortably goes to 4.9Ghz for benching, etc)
    Motherboard : Asus Rampage IV Extreme
    RAM : 4 x GSkill Ripjaw 1833Mhz 4Gb DDR3
    Graphics : 2 x Nvidia GTX670 SLI
    Cooling : Custom water cooled loop, 360mm radiator in the top, 240mm radiator in the bottom. XSPC CPU block and dual XSPC Razer blocks for GTX670. Koolance dual bay, dual pump reservoir.
    SSD : Kingston Hyper 240Gb SSD
    HDD : WD 1Tb Black
    PSU : Antec Quattro 1000w

    Since this is a heavily watercooled setup I don't experience ANY of the issues of fan noise. The top fans are gone in favour of 3x Scythe Gentle Typhoons pulling air through the top rad and 2x in the bottom. The standard rear fan is in place and doesn't represent a significant noise problem for me but I may change it for something more asthetically pleasing in due course. The standard 200m fan in the front remains in place and I run with the side cover off since I put a lot of effort into the presentation of my build.

    Don't know if I missed it but the article doesn't seem to make much ANY mention of the integrated 5 channel digital fan controller - kinda surprised they replaced the rear fan and then put it onto the onboard fan headers .... wtf? It's kind of a major feature. There is sufficient current on each channel to power more than one fan and on some channels they are split two or three ways. There is a tonne of fan controlling capacity. If you were to go out and buy a seperate and comparible fan controller it would cost you 1/4 of the cost of the entire case, but they don't even mention this anywhere.

    I've gone for the white version which is a glossy finish and much more durable than the matt black - it doesn't scratch at all. My colour theme is white chassis with black and red components with a combination of red and white LED lighting - all red LED lighting can be too much. I use clear tubing on my loop and a Mayham red dye in the water - I also use Mayhems Red Tharsis when we really want to pose as it does look awesome but not really suitable for a 24/7 rig. The white interior really does show off the internals nicely.

    I haven't experienced the issue of the 3.5" drive pins touching the case on my retail purchased case, although the screws for the 2.5" mounts are too short and a complete joke that they didn't even get something so simple right - not a major issue finding the right size screws elsewhere but to be honest it is an irritation that you spend so much money on this thing and they're not the right length. But I don't experience ANY vibration from the HDD and it fits my WD 1TB 'black' perfectly. Taking into account the reviewers comments on HDD/SSD fitment, vibration, etc the ONLY niggle I've experienced is the screw lengths for 2.5" drives and that is all.

    I've had no issues with installing my PSU, it fits perfectly and no problems with any part of the chassis interfering with the PSU at all.

    I'm pretty sure my board only has the two USB 2.0 headers and also two USB 3.0 headers and so I'll follow the reviewers advise and get an adapter.

    So to conclude - I don't experience any of the issues of case finish, drive fitment and the fan noise is a moot point if you are water cooling. So really the only niggle I've had is the SSD drive screws, which means I'm utterly delighted with my Phantom 820.
  • 4 Hide
    FormatC , December 19, 2012 9:36 AM
    I'm 1.80 m and - ok - it is a little bit too much. But it isn't the result of cheap fast food or the american way of eat - I'm cooking in my spare time :D 

    https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/393658_479318858769450_566415740_n.jpg
  • 0 Hide
    army_ant7 , December 19, 2012 10:22 AM
    Igor, cib24's got a point. I don't mean to sound pushy or offensive but we wouldn't want someone like you to go "anywhere" anytime soon. According to the Body-Mass Index system, you're mildly obese. Here's a chart from Wikipedia. Again, not pushing anything on you, but it's info that I'd want you to know. :) 

    I'm deviating from the topic here, but hey if it means possibly still getting more chassis reviews from you way into the far, far future, I think it's relevant enough. Hehe...
  • 2 Hide
    FormatC , December 19, 2012 11:03 AM
    Don't worry, I have no problem with my weight and any comments about this. And a big advantage for me: I have no problems to use the public urban transport in the evening (if I drunk a little bit), typical nerd victims looks different. For my facebook friends is my weight not a secret but a logical result of my kitchen experiments. My profile looks like a cookbook.
    :D 

    Back to topic:
    It is difficult to translate all my reviews everytime to English, I'm writing mostly for our German site (in German) and we have approx. 15-20 longer case reviews every year. If you know my style, the text is not the shortest and the content hard to translate 1:1. I hope, we get a good solution for the future
  • 0 Hide
    army_ant7 , December 19, 2012 11:36 AM
    It seems like there's fun to be had there at the German site that can't be found here in the US site. :(  (We should get more US reviewers to fix that problem! Hehe... It would be nice if we had more frequent reviews though, seriously.) Well, I guess that should only follow, taking into account that Germany is Tom's motherland (I think).

    Translation programs aren't perfected yet (even by big companies like Microsoft I believe), so too bad. Using Google Translate or something does allow us English-speakers to at least make out some of the stuff in foreign language sites. :) 

    Igor, whatever chassis articles you guys do translate, I hope one of them would be about the Obsidian 900D. (That's one petition signature from me.) :D 
  • 2 Hide
    Non-Euclidean , December 19, 2012 11:44 AM
    Lighting on the back of the case? Genius!
  • 2 Hide
    groundrat , December 19, 2012 1:23 PM
    Like the Switch 210, this is a beautiful NZXT case that I will never buy.
    1. Too Pricey
    2. Fans from other companies don't fit
    3. For $250, it had better be perfect and it isn't.
  • 0 Hide
    itzdanielp , December 19, 2012 1:50 PM
    I have one minor concern about a part of what you wrote...

    You mentioned that the front of the case is held on by magnets, I am going to assume they are fairly strong magnets, to hold it on securely. Where exactly are the magnets? And how close are they to the 3.5" drive bays? It would be a bad day indeed if I boot up, only to find my HDD's been corrupted.
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