Exterior Finish And Materials
At first glance, the Phantom 820 looks like the other cases in NZXT's successful Phantom series. The reason for its higher price starts to become clearer as you take a closer look. The plastic parts are beefier, and they have a matte appearance that matches the finish on the case's metal parts. We consider this a definite step up from the piano black finish found on less expensive Phantom cases (though it's worth noting that NZXT sells this model in matte black and white, too).
It'd be nice if the paint were a little more scratch-resistant, as we noticed that the side-panel thumb screws eat into the finish visibly the first time you tighten them down. The same goes for the quick-release mechanism on the 5.25” drive bays. For that matter, any part of the case's surface can be accidentally marred if you bump it up against a rough surface. Buy it, build it, and leave it in one place, we'd suggest.
The case is put together well, though. All of its parts fit snugly together and no large gaps are left. We're happy to report that, quality-wise, NZXT meets the standards we'd expect from a $250 case.
Our only critique is that the three thumb screws used to fasten the side panels are somewhat hard to turn, and probably could have been implemented better. Corsair does this particularly well with its cases.