Our first interaction with NZXT's Phantom 820
happened during the Computex Taipei 2012 trade show
, inside a closed-door suite at the Grand Hyatt Taipei. We spoke with the engineers and designers of the prototype chassis, and they were certain they will be able to produce an ideal combination of three different prototypes that were on offer. The Phantom 820 case was designed to offer some industry firsts, even though we've seen quite a lot of innovation in the chassis space over the past decade or so.How your NZXT Phantom 820 case may look like, and there are plenty of more color combinations on offer
Almost five months after the meeting in Taipei, we received word that the case hit mass production and that it will arrive in time for 2012 Holiday (shopping) season. The case is at the very peak of price, with $249 required if you want to build a computer around this custom looking case, with the ability to change colors and many more.
At the same time, we were in the final stages of planning for our supercomputer, to be used by the video production studio. We were looking to replace our 15 system array with 20 multi-core processors with around 15.4 billion transistors offering us 12.5 TFLOPS of single precision compute power. Thus, this review will not be one of a typical kind, where couple of years old components end tossed in a case and then get awards without noticing obvious faults. This build uses the best money can buy today, and if NZXT performs well, you'll be sure to read it here.The Case
NZXT Phantom 820 case represents the highest-end product the company offers. The price asked for the part is an eye-watering $249, for which you will buy probably one of priciest steel chassis on the market - rivaling even all-aluminum designs from Lian-Li. However, aggressive design and offered customizations do have their fans. The Phantom 820 is available in fashionable white, gunmetal grey and black. As you can see from the pictures, we received the white version.Top of the case is very neatly designed and buttons are quite nice to touch...
The case arrived in a well-protected box, which had a few typical run-ins with the delivery service. Luckily, both the interior and exterior were flawless. Phantom 820 belongs to the Crafted Series, which is obvious from the amount of carvings in otherwise clean design - we particularly liked the top side of the case, which doesn't serve as a slave to functionality of two 200mm fans, but rather offers nicely designed openings for the second fan.
The top side of the case features dual USB 3.0 and quad USB 2.0 ports (on the left), all of which are covered by a rubber element. The right side has Power On, Reset, Headphone in/Mic and fan controls. The large door hide the controls for LED lighting which we believe to be the highlight of the case. NZXT made sure your case will stand in the crowd by implementing RGB LED lighting, which goes from basic Green, Blue and Red to Yellow, Orange, Purple and white. Regardless of what color combination your components feature, you can find complementary lighting. There are several color modes which range from discrete, all-white to "night at the disco", should you feel like it. However, that level of modification paid the price with cabling - the back side of the case hides a jungle of cables, and your patience will be tested to find the optimal level of cleanliness. The case has plenty of space and offers a lot of cooling performance... you can put two 200mm fans on top, or enjoy a 360 radiator, should you go with liquid cooling.
Internally, NZXT ships the Phantom 820 with two 200mm fans: one on top and one at the side panel. The top of the case also has an empty slot for another 200mm fan, should you deem it necessary. Furthermore, there's a 140mm intake fan at the front of the case, a 120mm exhaust fan next to the CPU socket (space supports 120mm and 140mm fans) and there's room for another 120mm fan at the bottom (not included).Nine expansion slots support even the largest boards (EVGA SR-2 and SR-X, for example), while openings for liquid cooling occupy otherwise empty space
From the looks of interior, there's no doubt that the case fits an XL-ATX sized board like the EVGA's SR-2 and SR-X, even though the cable management would be a bit "challenging". For regular single-CPU boards, this case offers plenty of space. Eight PCIe brackets and a decent clearance for bottom-mounted power supplies means Quad-GPU support is not an issue. The case supports a maximum of eight GPUs (quad Radeon HD 6990, GeForce GTX 690, Tesla K10…), or even sixteen GPUs, once Nvidia finally releases its dual-slot, Quad-GPU VGX board. Truth to be told, given that the VGX project was sent back to the drawing board - don't expect VGX with much fanfare for at least three or four quarters …Not all is great… but not by much
Getting back on track, NZXT took a lot of pride in new and retooled 2.5"/3.5" drive cages with the new flexible brackets. To us, this is also the weakest spot of the case - the associated screws from the brilliantly designed screwbox were too short to fit any of our Solid State Drives (Kingston HyperX, Samsung 830 Series, OCZ Vertex 4, Seagate Pulsar.2 SLC) or 2.5" hard drives (Seagate Constellation ES.2). The only real flaw with the case - no way you can mount a 2.5" hard drive without issues...
Furthermore, the feeling of getting the brackets back into the bays was a bit awkward. We believe this is something NZXT should fix in the next generation. This is also the single complaint we have on the case. We'd also suggest that NZXT enable you to remove both the lower and upper 3.5" drive cage, to enable maximum airflow to the case interior (upper 3.5" case sits just behind of the front 140mm fan).
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