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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  • Sunrise089 - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the review. I was pleased to see the note about watercooling in the conclusion, since as soon as I saw "NZXT" I though "watercooling" from my association with the Switch 810 as a great watercooling case.

    I would however like to humbly request the author consider putting watercooling info in an earlier part of the case review, perhaps the "in and around" section when describing the interior arrangement of the case. It's very helpful for me at least to know how practical watercooling will be with a case even if I don't place to use it that way since it helps put some design decisions in perspective ("that case isn't bad, it's just designed around space for rads"). It would therefore be useful to me if that info was more consistently included in reviews and in a predictable place.

    Again though, I do appreciate the watercooling info making it in period, even if new info doesn't seem wholly appropriate in a conclusion. Thanks again for the review.
    Reply
  • vvv850 - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

    Why do you always show a build on anything rather than a full ATX or e-ATX motherboard? Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

    To keep the testbed standard. A full ATX or e-ATX motherboard isn't going to generate much more in the way of heat or really affect results in any way, but using a Micro-ATX board across cases allows for consistent, comparable results. Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

    Perhaps people just want to see how the board fits in the case to check clearances visually and see how their motherboard would match up. Using a smaller than ATX motherboard doesn't really help a lot in the visual comparison.

    It's just like you said. If the motherboard makes a minimal difference in heat, then I suggest you've given yourself a great reason not to always use the same small motherboard.

    I suspect if you used the micro-ATX mb and ATX mb in the same line by the same company, you'd have a minimal difference yet allow users to get a visual on how the larger mb's layout in the case.
    Reply
  • chowmanga - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

    Changing test hardware is never a good idea. If the audience just wants to see how a full sized motherboard fits, Dustin could take pictures with said motherboard in place but keep the testing hardware the same for thermal results. Reply
  • HaydenOscar - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

    Would have loved to see some temperature results with all the fans off! Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

    Would like to see the IO ports and fan controller. Reply
  • Earthmonger - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

    This is the sort of case you'd find under a 40 year-old business professional's desk. Not because they're PC-savvy, but rather because they aren't. It's the sort of run-of-the-mill case that a local PC shop would bundle together in a build when the customer didn't bother to specify a case preference. Certainly not premium, but not too cheap or gauche either.

    That's been Johnny's problem for quite awhile now. He knows how to design really good cases, but he settles on plastic and steel crap like this and says, "Oh well. The kid's will buy it." He doesn't take a design to it's potential, he just compromises and says, "Meh. Good enough." He doesn't take risks anymore, and he doesn't compete with the big dogs.

    At $249. the bracket demands a premium case. Or at the very least, premium materials. So I'd wager that you'll see this thing sub-$200 in no time. Probably closer to $175. It's another design in a long line lately that doesn't stand up for itself.
    Reply
  • crimson117 - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

    Where's the downvote button when you need one? Reply
  • ExarKun333 - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

    You would only see this case bundled 'by default' if a buyer gave a big price for a new build and said 'have at it' for the specifics.

    It is VERY doubtful many 40-something professionals would have this under their desk. Way off there.

    I agree on the premium price/premium materials comment though. Plastic and steel for $250 is asking a lot. Great WC options though...
    Reply

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