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NZXT Phantom 820 Review

Author: Dimitry
Date: October 14, 2012
Product Name: Phantom 820
Part Number: CA-PH820-G1
Warranty: 1 Year
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When it comes to designing new products, NZXT doesn’t take half measures and there’s no better example of this than the new Phantom 820. After undergoing top secret development for the better part of two years this full tower case is supposed to be perfectly suited for enthusiast customers. You see, NZXT spent most of the Phantom 820’s development time sifting through feedback from their other case designs in order to perfect their formula this time around. As such the $250 820 will either be a defining moment for the company or yet another enclosure that gets lost amid the countless other competitors in a highly cut throat market.


These days, it’s nearly impossible to design a new case with features that have never been seen before. Everything from backplate cutouts to countless water cooling options to flashy LED technology, uniqueness is extremely hard to come by. The trick to designing the ultimate case is to refine in areas that need improvement while not messing up in areas that have been done to perfection in the past. The NZXT Phantom 820 aims to do exactly that.


From the outside, the Phantom 820 carries forward the same sleek lines and general dimensions as the previous Phantom but changes abound in every conceivable area. Not only has the exterior largely plastic finish (which is available in white, black and gunmetal) been faced with a dramatic improvement in quality but several discrete yet fully controllable LED strips were added for some flair. While the 820 and the original Phantom will be sold alongside one another, the 820 is obviously geared towards a higher end market segment.


The generally “stealth” design continues onto the case’s topmost quarter where we find all of the I/O connectors alongside controls for the case’s front mount fan controller and control buttons. Unfortunately, due to its status as a large full tower case, all of these items will be hard to access should the Phantom 820 be placed under a desk.


With angled lines and a few well-placed vent holes, the Phantom 820 looks great from the front but its back panel is both utilitarian and exceedingly well designed. There’s a movable fan, multiple holes for water cooling, a massive number of expansion slots and a bottom mounted power supply area. Nearly every one of these sections is illuminated by a unique LED setup which facilitates cable insertion and installation in this typically dark area.


While there have been changes aplenty on the exterior, NZXT has kicked things into high gear for the Phantom 820’s interior areas. Many parts bear a striking resemblance to another highly popular NZXT case; the Switch 810. However, several refinements have been made including upgraded hard drive caddies (which, as we explain in the review, don’t actually work all that well), a bevy of well integrated water cooling options and revisions to the fan placements for optimal airflow characteristics. There’s also an almost obscene amount of space to work with, particularly with the removable hard drive caddies taken out so installation should be a breeze.


Flipping the case around, we see there are a number of differences between this case and many of its competitors. NZXT has flipped the hard drive caddies so they can be accessed through the back while maintaining a clearly defined and separated airflow “duct” for the main intake fan. There’s also an included 8-pin power supply extension cable that ensures PSUs with shorter cables won’t have to make a beeline across the motherboard, ruining what would be an otherwise clean build. Meanwhile, cable routing options are everywhere with countless rubber grommets and plenty of cable tie-offs.

This concludes our quick written overview of the Phantom 820. Our FULL video review is above, if you haven’t viewed it already.
 
 

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