Conclusion: NZXT Wants to Give You Everything

I think before the NZXT Phantom 820 was sent to me, that if you had told me NZXT was going to send me a first class enthusiast case that easily ranked among the best in performance, I would've been skeptical. They've had some hits (the Phantom 410 was actually a surprisingly adept little box), but performance has consistently been more middle-of-the-road.

That's changed completely with the Phantom 820.

NZXT has finally been able to marry features with performance in a very compelling way. Their latest offering is expensive, so if you're just looking for something to hold your hardware and perform reasonably well, this isn't going to be it. This is for the people who buy the big bling cases, the ones that are meant to guarantee superior thermal and acoustic performance, and it needs to be measured on those terms.

While I quibble with the mess of cables and the drive trays, I'm not convinced the side intake was necessary, I also have a hard time denying that the case does provide the end user with almost everything they could possibly ask for. The fan controller, configurable LED lighting, and integrated SD card reader are all great features that many users might have been forced to add on their own in another case. The fact that the fan controller has four independently configurable channels each capable of supporting up to three fans makes it a very robust solution that should produce satisfactory results for all but the most particular users.

Meanwhile, custom watercooling users should have a fairly happy time with enough space for either a 360mm or 280mm radiator in the top of the case along with a second 240mm or 280mm radiator in the bottom, and enterprising users can even add additional 140mm radiators to the back exhaust and the internal fan slot. That's a cumulative 920mm of radiator capacity, and that's ignoring the fact that there's actually z-height space for the radiators in the enclosure.

At $249 the NZXT Phantom 820 might still be a bit too expensive for a case that does use plastic in parts of the shell, but it goes a long way towards justifying itself with the mountain of features. I personally feel a price tag that high is starting to get too onerous for a case, but the performance and bonuses really are there. It's a great case with room to grow and if the price comes down it's going to be very hard to compete with. If you're looking for a big, powerful case, the Phantom 820 is tough to beat. It's only the price and few iffy design decisions that keep it from earning a better award, but I think a Bronze Editor's Choice is definitely appropriate for what NZXT has accomplished here. Well done.

Noise and Thermal Testing, Overclocked
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  • puppies - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

    I actually disagree with just about everything you said in your post.

    No 40 year old business professional is going to be seen dead with this case, it is a "gamer" case through and through.

    I wouldn't touch aluminium if that is what you class as a "premium" material. It serves no measurable benfit over steel in my eyes and is more easily damaged, i'm sure the case designers looked at various materials when they went through the R+D for this case and may take on board the comments made about the drive trays being too flimsy but simply calling plastic and steel "crap" is laughable.

    As for the price demanding a premium case, did you see the thermal and acoustic test results. It justifies itself there without a shadow of a doubt.
    Reply
  • glugglug - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

    You mentioned there is a control for the color of the LED accent lighting. Is it possible to rewire the case to have the different LED colors act as different drive activity lights? Reply
  • Twoboxer - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the fine case reviews. They are invaluable.

    In your article you mention the Thermaltake Level 10 GT, Corsair Obsidian 800D, and SilverStone FT02 as the "standards" for comparison, but you do not include performance data for them. I don't recall if they were done prior to establishing the current test bed, or if the results are available elsewhere on the web site.

    But in any case it would be beneficial to include their results in at least some of tables presented, even if it means repeating those tests using the current test bed.
    Reply
  • Astarael - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

    Agreed, and the Rosewill Thor v2 was also mentioned and would be nice to have in the comparison (given that it's so much cheaper, a useful cost/benefit analysis could be done). Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

    They were done using the previous testbed. I generally avoid keeping cases around any longer than I have to as they occupy a LOT of space. Reply
  • Sugarfoot - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

    I have been looking to replace my HAF-X for a year now.

    Switch 810 almost did it, but since I dont have plans for watercooling for the foreseeable future, I wanted the Switch but with a side intake, as air cooled setups really love that. Plus the front panel's corner mesh was not dust filtered and I am quite keen on keeping my system dust free. (I use demciflex on my HAF)

    I thought this case would be exactly it. Finally dethrone the HAF. Turns out not so. Not for me anyway, as ghastly as the HAF-X looks like, this one is even worse. Looks WAY too cheap and "gamer" to me.

    Oh well, maybe there will be a Fractal Define R4 XL?
    Reply
  • GeorgeH - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

    So, what's the conversion between ? and inches? Reply
  • glugglug - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

    235mm x 650mm x 612mm (W x H x D)

    http://www.hitechlegion.com/reviews/cases/31207-ph...
    Reply
  • superflex - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

    For $249, I'll take an all aluminum Lian Li. Reply
  • spamreader1 - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

    the cables can't be seen from the motherboard side. I noticed this after I saw the completed install. Reply

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