Assembling the NZXT Phantom 820

Apart from just how heavy the NZXT Phantom 820 is, assembly actually goes fairly smoothly. In keeping with that premium feel they're going for, building inside it is mostly geared towards ease of use, and the out of the box experience is a pleasant one. Of particular note is the box of screws that NZXT includes, which already has them all neatly organized. Lian Li includes a screw keeper with many of their high end cases, but it's not organized and the one for the PC-A76X wasn't actually big enough to hold all the screws that came with the case.

It's not worth boring you with the details; suffice to say installing the motherboard and optical drive went off basically without a hitch, same with the expansion card (expansion slot shields are ventilated and held in place with thumbscrews) and the power supply. Having all of the screws conveniently in one place and organized made things go that much more swimmingly.

Where NZXT went off the rails a bit is, ironically, with the 2.5"/3.5" drive sleds. NZXT's promotional material talks about how these have been radically redesigned, but the funny thing is that they're just too flimsy. I found it was particularly difficult to keep the sled with the 2.5" drive screwed to the bottom in place, as it was easy to push too far into the drive cage. I also think it's unusual that they have to be installed on the side behind the motherboard tray instead of in front of it, and there doesn't seem to be any real reason as to why the case was designed this way.

Routing power and data cables goes smoothly, and NZXT even includes an extension cable for the AUX 12V line, but what's amusing is how much of a mess all the cabling for the integrated peripherals of the Phantom 820 actually is. I don't think it can really be helped, but it's awfully hard to sort some of it out. NZXT does the best they can with a bad situation by at least labeling which channel each of the fan leads connects to and pre-connects the existing fans (outside of the side intake), but honestly it's just cable spaghetti and I'm not really sure how much more they could've done to mitigate it. Added features breed added complexity. It's worth noting that NZXT does give a healthy amount of lead for the side intake fan's power cable.

Ignoring the fact that I'm a tiny man and the Phantom 820 is a heavy case, assembling our testbed inside it was easy enough, a process made much easier by the sorted screw keeper. I do think the drive cages and trays need to be redesigned and brought a bit more in line with contemporary designs similar to what Antec and Corsair are doing; it seems like NZXT may have erred on the side of aesthetics when they should've gone for practicality. The aforementioned mess of cables can also be difficult to cope with but again, I don't really know if they could've done much more to mitigate it, and it's worth the added complexity for the robust fan controller.

In and Around the NZXT Phantom 820 Testing Methodology
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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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • GeorgeH - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

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

    235mm x 650mm x 612mm (W x H x D)
  • superflex - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

    For $249, I'll take an all aluminum Lian Li.
  • 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.

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