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NZXT Phantom 820 Case Review: Conceptualized By Enthusiasts

Temperature And Noise

Benchmark System for Temperature and Noise

What good is a case review if we don't test it the way it was meant to be used? We're packing the Phantom 820 with enthusiast-oriented hardware, just to see how it'll behave in a real-world environment.

Benchmark System
CPUIntel Core i7-3770K (Ivy Bridge), 22 nm, 4C/8T, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache, 77 W
MotherboardGigabyte G1.Sniper 3, Z77 Express Chipset
Memory4 x 4 GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1600
CPU CoolerCooler Master TPC-800 with Noiseblocker eLoop B12-PS (PWM)
SSDKingston V200+ 480 GB
Hard Drives1. Western Digital Caviar Blue 1 TB (7200 RPM)2. Hitachi Deskstar 1 GB (7200 RPM)
Power Supply Unit (PSU)SuperFlower SF500P, 500 W, 80 PLUS Platinum (Passive) or 600 W, 80 PLUS Gold
Graphics Cards (Actively Cooled)HIS HD 7970 X2 ("7990," Tahiti XT Dual-GPU)Gigabyte Radeon HD 7970 Super OverclockGigabyte GeForce GTX 680 OC
Graphics Cards (Passively Cooled)HIS HD 7750 iCooler (Passive)
Temperature22 °C Constant (Climate-Controlled)

Temperature

Cooling is one of the Phantom 820's strengths. Its interior is very spacious, and its fans generate good airflow. Unfortunately, those fans are not quiet enough to make us want to spend extra money or compromise on the performance of passively-cooled components. 

Our thermal benchmarks were run using the original set of factory fans. The only exception was when we removed the side fan for Gigabyte's Radeon HD 7970 Super Overclock, because the cooler tries to suck air in as the graphics card tries to push it out. We used LinX to tax our CPU and one instance of BitMiner (GPU-optimized) to apply a full system load.

Fan Speed Control (Minimum)Fan Speed Control (Maximum)
CPU63 °C58 °C
Gigabyte GeForce GTX 680 OC68 °C66 °C
Gigabyte Radeon HD 7970 Super Overclock79 °C75 °C
HIS HD 7970 X2 ("7990")82 °C79 °C

Our Core i7-3770K benefits most from the case’s airflow. On average, the processor fan maintains speeds under 1000 RPM.

The NZXT Phantom 820’s cooling performance is definitely somewhere between above average and very good. The caveat here is that the case is at least as loud as its cooling is good, which we’ll get to next.

Noise

We deliberately chose not to use any loud components for our noise benchmark. Thus, the figures below represent the Phantom 820’s noise level pretty well. 

In addition to testing the factory configuration, we also tested our modified version with its swapped-out rear fan, which did yield a quantifiable improvement. Our microphone was 50 cm from the top-left of the case for the purpose of recording. We believe this represents a fairly common real-world orientation for folks with tower cases on the floor next to them.

Fan Speed Control (Minimum)Fan Speed Control (Maximum)
Original Fans32 dB(A)40.8 db(A)
Back Fan Replaced With Noiseblocker B12-130.2 dB(A)38.9 dB(A)

The bottom line is that you get lots of cooling and lots of noise. There are steps you can take to make the acoustics more bearable, though. To begin, replace the back fan. You can also slow down the top fan if you're using a solid CPU cooler. Unless you're using a pair of high-end graphics cards, even the side-panel fan can go.

NZXT's built-in four-channel controller gives you the flexibility to dial in a sweet spot between cooling performance and noise. It works in steps, though, so rotational speeds can't be finely tuned. Sadly, we’ll probably never know why NZXT chose to include the same fans in its $250 Phantom 820 as it does in the $100 Phantom 410. If you end up thinking the Phantom 820 sounds cheap, chalk that up to its fans.

Vibration with Two Hard Drives

We shot a short video to illustrate the Phantom 820’s problem with hard drive vibration. If you read page eight, then you already know what’s coming.

Because the pins securing our mechanical disks come in contact with the cage, NZXT's attempt to dampen vibration doesn't work at all. Closing the front of the case exacerbates the problem by turning the entire chassis into a sound box resonating with the hard drive vibration. It's very unfortunate that closing the Phantom's drive door makes the problem worse, since you would expect the exact opposite to happen.

Our fingers are crossed that improvements NZXT says it made to the trays helps alleviate this to some degree.

We recorded the video’s audio track using a specialized sound box microphone.

  • ilysaml
    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.
    Reply
  • where is comparison(Temp Comparison) with other cases like antec df-85,silverstone raven & nzxt tempest etc
    Reply
  • FormatC
    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.
    Reply
  • cobra5000
    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!
    Reply
  • FormatC
    @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.
    Reply
  • JonnyDough
    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.
    Reply
  • army_ant7
    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
    Reply
  • FormatC
    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).
    Reply
  • ckholt83
    I hate the stupid looking plastic foot at the front of the case, it looks like a tacked on afterthought.
    Reply
  • army_ant7
    9539960 said:
    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.) :)
    Reply