The new trend of filling cases with features any enthusiast would enjoy is a great one and NZXT pushed the feature boundaries with the Phantom 820. This case is big, really big, and solid with great fit and finish and nice visual details without getting to far off mainstream looks.
We loved the room inside the case and all the cable management options make it hard to have an ugly build in the Phantom 820. Including a 15-Watt / 4-Channel fan controller that did not require giving up a 5.25″ bay is simply awesome although it is a bit hard to read the white speed LEDs if you have the external case lighting on. Still for the majority of users this is more than what they need especially since NZXT included so many high flow, low speed, massive filtered 200mm fans in the Phantom 820. We are not sure adding the second 200mm fan at the top and another 140mm at the bottom would provide any additional benefit to the tornado inside this case. It is probably one of the best out of the box air coolers we have seen in a full tower. The LED bling factor is great if you like that type of thing and has an off switch which is great if it sits in your bedroom and you no longer need a nightlight. LED lights on the rear ports are so simple and a very welcome addition for those late night “OMG, did my mouse just come unplugged” gaming sessions. We also appreciated the center SSD mounts on the HDD trays. So many companies make them offset to one side and then your SSD is up against the HDD pins. NZXT was really thinking user ease when they included the ATX power single braided extension to make it up and over the motherboard on this massive case. Finally, all the internal water cooling options should be more than enough to cool even a quad SLI / XFire GPU setup with extreme overclocking.
In all this greatness there are a few minor rough edges. We were disappointed that they chose to use two different power connectors for the fan controller and the LED lights forcing us to run an extra cable from the PSU. This case has plenty of room to accommodate the extra run, but why clutter up the case, especially given how many wires are already dangling behind the mobo tray from the fan controller. The other item that bothered us is the right side of the case access to get to the hard drives. We realize you probably won’t mess with your hard drives on a daily basis but it is inconvenient to have to go around back to mess with them.
With a MSRP of $249.99, the NZXT Phantom 820 Full Tower case is a bit pricey for a steel and plastic case but they did load it with options. It is nice that you don’t have to burn 5.25″ bays for a fan controller or LED light switches. In addition, the amount of modding required to add all the RGB LED goodness even if you could even find a cheap multi-color setup helps justify this price point. If you can find a deal buster for the holidays like we found at FRY’s for $195.00 plus free shipping (White Only), you have found yourself a great deal. We are not sure there is anymore you could ask for in a full tower case which is why we are awarding the NZXT Phantom 820 our Editors Choice award.
Legit Bottom Line: If you are in the market for a full tower case, it would be hard to top the NZXT Phantom 820. NZXT really pulled out all the stops making this the most feature rich and well cooled case we have seen to date.