NZXT Phantom 820 Full Tower Case Overview
NZXT has been on a roll, releasing one innovative case after another. The NZXT Phantom 410 was an award winning case we reviewed here back in December of 2011. One year later NZXT sent us its big brother, the NZXT Phantom 820 Full Tower Case. Unlike the Phantom 410, the Phantom 820's angles are not as hash softening the "Stormtrooper" look. This is probably because the Phantom 820 is almost twice as big as the Phantom 410.
NZXT released the Phantom 820 in three colors, White, Black, and the sample they sent us in Gun Metal Gray. The gray is a nice departure from the all too common black and white that have been so popular lately but it is dark enough you might mistake it for black. This is a full tower case meaning it is simply massive, standing over 28 inches tall and 27 inches deep. All this size in steel comes with a price and that is the 32lb unloaded weight. Fill this case full of water cooling gear and six hard drives and you will not want to be trying to lug this case to your local LAN party. But that is not the point of this case, it was designed to hold everything you could want in a single box, cool it well and silently with copious 200mm slow 800 RPM fans, and do it all in a striking angled and accent lighted form factor. NZXT wanted this to be the pinnacle of the enthusiast full tower cases and loaded it with options. It has an integrated SD card reader, RGB LED accent lighting inside and out with a dial to change between 16 hues, LED utility lights on the rear ports, an integrated four channel 15W fan controller, and enough cable management to make your mother proud.
The Phantom 820 is the new flagship for NZXT and it carries a flagship suggested price of $249.99, but we found a holiday deal of $195.00 plus free shipping from FRY's Electronics good until December 31st (White only). Unless you find a deal buster like this, you can expect to pay closer to the $249.99 since the Phantom 820 has only been on the market a month or two. Either way, this is a premium price for a case especially one made of plastic and steel but NZXT did fill it with features. We will see if the features of the NZXT Phantom 820 justify the price on the next few pages.
Specifications of the NZXT Phantom 820 Full Tower Case:
- MODEL: Phantom 820 Series
- CASE TYPE: Full Tower Steel
- MATERIAL: Plastic/Steel
- DIMENSIONS (W x H x D): 12.1 (W) x 28.9 (H) x 27.1 (D) inches, 235mm (W) x 650mm (H) x 612mm (D)
- VIDEO CARD MAXIMUM LENGTH: 14 inches, 355mm
- INCLUDED COOLING SYSTEM:
- 1x200mm@800rpm Front
- 1x200mm@800rpm Top
- 1x200mm@800rpm Side
- 1x140mm@1100rpm Rear
- OPTIONAL COOLING:
- Top: 2x 200mm/2x 140mm/3x 120mm
- Front: 1x 200mm
- Bottom: 2x 140mm/2x 120mm
- Rear: 1x 140mm/1x 120mm
- Side: 1x 200mm
- Pivot: 1x 140mm/1x 120mm
- Radiator Capacity
- Top: 2x 140mm/3x 120mm
- Rear: 1x 140mm/1x 120mm
- Bottom: 2x 140mm/2x 120mmPivot: 1x 140mm/1x 120mm
- DRIVE BAYS:
- 4x 5.25" drive bays
- 6x 3.5" drve bays supporting HDD or SSD
- PCI SLOTS: 9
- WEIGHT: 32lb , 15 kg
- MOTHERBOARD SUPPORT:
Feature of the NZXT Phantom 820 Full Tower Case:
- Fully equipped with one 140mm and three 200mm fans for the high airflow and low noise
- Integrated HUE lighting for illuminating the exterior/interior of your enclosure with option to turn on/off and allow you to customize the colors at your heart’s content
- High-end water cooling solutions up to three fans for a push-pull configuration: 90mm of internal top space with top 280/360mm and bottom 240/280mm radiator support for unmatched liquid cooling
- State-of-the-art integrated 4 channel digital fan controller with 15 watts per channel and LED indicators that progressively gets brighter on high speeds and dimmer for low settings
- Easily removable filters located in the top, front, side, and bottom to prevent dust from entering your rig and simple maintenance
- Adjustable interior pivot 120/140mm fan slot for directional airflow
- Removable HDD cage and large storage capacity for 6 hard drives
- Dual USB 3.0, quad USB 2.0, microphone, and audio jack along with a SD media card reader for high-speed data transfer and quick access to multimedia
- Stylish acrylic window with a view to show off the interior of your rig
- Unrivalled Cooling Capacity to mount up to nine fans for a maximum airflow
- Rear I/O white light for visibility in dark environments with a toggle switch
- Extruded right side panel for an elegant look and achieves 36mm clearance for cable wire management
- Equipped with a stylish pedestal that lifts your enclosure off the ground for increased airflow.
Unboxing the NZXT Phantom 820 Full Tower CaseThe box arrived at our labs a little banged up but no worse for wear with a few corners crunched which is not surprising after the trip over from China.
Outside the NZXT Phantom 820 Full Tower Case
Inside the NZXT Phantom 820 Full Tower Case
On the left side the wires from the pre-wired front panel come out the top and this is the side you access all the hard drives from. It is a little inconvenient to have to open both sides of your case to work on it and we wish you could access the drive bays from the right side but it is not a show stopper. NZXT was nice enough to include the ATX power extender in the top right to help get power to the top of the motherboard in this massive case.
A closer view of the HDD cages with the trays inside. Another minor complaint is that the trays are very flimsy and tend to fall out of the slots if there is no drive mounted in them. Of course once a HDD is inserted it is not a problem.
Here is one of the trays from the NZXT Phantom 820 Full Tower Case showing off the rubber grommets for a traditional drive and the center mount pattern for a SSD. This common feature allows you to mount six drives or six SSD's.
Behind the motherboard tray there is 20mm of clearance to run wires. This space and all the ports with grommets should make cable management a piece of cake.
NZXT included a nice hard plastic case filled with screws, zip ties, and even long radiator screws to mount your fans. The large rubber piece can be used to cover the USB ports on top of the case to keep the dust out and streamline the look if you do not plan on using them.
NZXT Phantom 820 Full Tower Case Lighting and Fan Controller
NZXT tried to think of everything in the Phantom 820. Keeping with this theme, they included big bling LED case lighting that is beyond what even aftermarket companies offer.
From the outside of the NZXT Phantom 820 Full Tower case there is a light bar on the top right next to the fan controller and audio ports that continues down the front a few inches. On the left side is a second light bar tucked under the top and behind the front left edge of the 5.25" door. Finally there is a LED bar mounted in the top of the inside of the case to light the interrior and create a nice glow out the side window.
Taking another look at the control panel in the top of the 5.25" bay, behind the door, there are three LED specific controls around the SD card reader. The left switch labled "mode" cycles between case LEDs lit on the outside, the inside, both, or all off. The big wheel moves through the 16 possible hues for the RGB LEDs on and in the case. And the button on the right turns the I/O LEDs on and off in the back of the case.
On the right top of the case there is a plastic light bar that glows one of the many colors, but there are four little angled plastic pieces connected to the color light bar. These are actually little white LEDs that light up depending on which of the four channels the 15w / channel fan controller has selected. These white LEDs glow brighter as you turn the power up and dim as the fan power is turned down by the +/- silver rocker switch. The channel is selected with the button in the middle of the rocker. The black buttons are power and reset with the headphone and mic jack next to the power switch. A lot going on in a little space, but it keeps the rest of the top of the NZXT Phantom 820 nice an clean.
Here are the row of RGB LEDs in a reflective bar that does a nice job of lighting the case. This picture was taken with the photo lights on and the green still has a nice glow so you can imagine how well it would light a darkened room.
Red, green, pink, blue, let your mood drive your color. Thses are a few shots of several of the rainbow of colors you can dial in with a close up of the RGB LEDs glowing blue.
So simple, yet almost nobody does this! Bright white LED's that light up all the ports in back of the case toggled by that I/O on/off switch in front. Great for checking connections or plugging in that new ultra high DPI mouse you just got for the holidays! This is by far the most innovative included lighting scheme we have ever seen in an enthusiast case. Our only minor gripe is that they use a SATA power for the LEDs and Molex power for the fan controller requiring two cable runs from the PSU or the use of a converter.
Installing in the NZXT Phantom 820 Full Tower Case
The Phantom 820 is a full tower case so installing gear was very simple with plenty of room. The only time we had to touch a screwdriver was to install the screws holding our SSD to the tray.
All the ports with grommets in the NZXT Phantom 820 Full Tower case really made it easy to run cables from anywhere to anywhere. Our ASUS GTX 670 card is 10.7 inches long and this case makes it look simply tiny with a full 14 inches of room before the internal fan mount. Even our ATX motherboard looks tiny in this case showing just how much room you have to install water cooling, additional lighting (if you really need it) or any other accessories. Airflow from the front, top, and side included 800 RPM 200mm intake fans was superb and dead silent. Providing all that filtered intake with only a single 140mm exhaust makes this case pressure positive which should significantly minimize the dust inside.
We did not bother to tidy up our cables for our test install but suffice it to say there were enough cable tie bumps and pass through holes to do whatever we wanted. In the top right corner you can see we used that included ATX power extender, thank you NZXT. The only challenge we had was our PSUs cables were not very long forcing us to make a few routing decisions that were messy. This is the only down side to installing in a full tower case with the vast space. Nothing some cable extenders couldn't fix or a PSU with longer runs.
This marketing shot shows what is possible with water cooling a tri-SLI setup using a 360mm and 280mm radiator. The Phantom 820 still has a decent amount of room even with all that gear loaded.
Phantom 820 Final Thoughts & Conclusions
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.