NZXT Phantom 820: A Good Case With Some Small Problems
The Phantom 820 represents NZXT's attempt to play in the big leagues, and we'd call it a partial success. Really, this is a nice chassis, but there is a handful of issues that keep us from calling it perfect. And, at the end of the day, there are competing models that do some of what we found wrong with the Phantom better.
This case's good looks, roomy interior, and enthusiast-driven design cues are great. But we have to remember the troubled drive installation process for 2.5" SSDs and 3.5" disks. Fortunately, NZXT says it went back after our review went live in Germany and replaced its bundled M3x5 screws with longer M3x7s. Still, though, drive tray pins that touch the cage result in loud vibration you simply shouldn't have to hear. The company says that issue should be better now that it's using thicker plastic on the trays, but we have no way of knowing for certain. And with many motherboard only giving you two USB 2.0 headers, four USB 2.0 ports and a card reader up front are going to force you to make some decisions. All of that is before we get to the thin and easily-scratched finish, which discourages you from moving this chassis around much.
- Large tower with lots of space
- Sturdy, thanks to a robust steel frame (passed 100 kg bend test with flying colors)
- High-quality plastics
- Room for particularly long power supplies
- Strategically-placed openings for cable management (lots of them, positioned well, covered with grommets)
- Very good cooling performance with correspondingly-high air flow
- Dust filters in the right places
- Included four-channel fan controller
- Bundled LED lighting with color control
- Illuminated rear I/O panel (thanks to white LED)
- Well-written manual
- Power supply spacer sticks out too far, complicating installation of some PSUs
- Finish is thin and easy to scratch
- In our sample, problematic hard drive installation with vibration dampening that gets circumvented
- In our sample, SSD screws are too short (purportedly fixed in retail units), and position of installed SSD is inconvenient
- 3.5” drive brackets don’t sit securely in drive bays, and slide back easily
- Fans are too loud
- You may not have enough USB 2.0 headers on your motherboard, requiring the purchase of an extra adapter
- Side wall thumb screws are hard to turn
We're holding back on giving the Phantom 820 a recommendation. The storage issues and noise are just too much for us to overlook at this very high-end price point. NZXT's Phantom 820 is still a very solid case though, and it beats the original Phantom in many ways. Surely, there will be those enthusiasts who are very happy with the company's follow-up effort.
We're happy to hear that NZXT is listening very closely to feedback, and that a couple of the issues originally pointed out in our launch-day evaluation have already been acted on (to the benefit of NZXT's customers, we'd add). The design is sound, attractive, and we love the little extras that show enthusiasts were taken into account. It has the potential to be great. But a couple of less thought-out details and the finish are what let the Phantom 820 down.