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Phantom 820

Good looks, solid installation, a few eyebrow-raising quirks IF YOU'RE BIG on case lighting you Cylon fan, you you're going to absolutely tove NZXT's latest Phantom chassis. It's rare to see such attention to detail paid to simple illumination, as with the three separate strands of lighting found on the exterior, interior, and rear of NZXT's Phantom 820. Cooler still, you can man - ually cycle through a variety of colors for the lights, so as to find the one that matches whatever mood you're in at any given moment. Of course, a case is more than just its looks striking as the sharp angles might be on the various windows and grills adorning this jet-black chassis. Installation-wise, stuffing parts into the Phantom 820 is a pretty pain-free process that leaves plenty of room for advanced customizations by skilled system-builders. We're going to as - sume that describes you, since your average DIY computer crafter isn't likely to buy a $250 ticket to this case's light show. Regardless of its redeeming qualities, it's a wee bit expensive. The Phantom 820 comes with four 5.25-inch bays, which all lock your op - tical drives (or reservoirs) into place using handy little plastic mechanisms instead of the screws we oh-so-hate. And we're giving special mention to the Phantom 820's drive covers, which lock onto the sides of the chassis using a spring-loaded, front-facing switch instead of those often-finicky plastic tabs you knowwhat we're talking about. The case's six hard drive bays use trays to secure your storage in place. They all pull out on the right side of the chassis, but with a caveat: Two of them can also be accessed by first pull - ing out a compartment on the chassis's left side. We don't mind it much that you have to pop off the nonstandard side of the case to access the drive bays, but it would have been nice to be able to ac - cess all the drive bays from the case's left side, as well. While we love the case's built-in cable management, including its jaw - dropping 10 rubberized holes for keep - ing cables organized and tidy, we're a little displeased by how NXZT neglects to tell users what all of the case's sup - plemental cables are actually for. For example, a built-in fan control - ler on the top of the case (across from its two USB 3.0 ports and four USB 2.0 ports) allegedly controls fans you plug into certain connectors. We couldn't get it to work with any combination of fans we hooked up, nor does it appear to work with the default case fans already wired on the Phantom 820. And don't just assume that the manual's instruc - tion of "plug in the Molex connector" is all you need to do to get the case's full light setup working: You have to con - nect your front-panel headers and a supplementary SATA connector for the full, controllable effect. NZXT's Phantom 820 is a strong contender for your attention and wallet, especially if you prefer looks over functionality. At this price, how - ever, you should be looking for a case that nails both categories flawlessly: The Phantom 820 is close, but not tip - top. -DAVID MURPHY + NUMBER SIX Gorgeous Chas - sis with eye-catching, cus - tomizable lighting across three separate zones. - NUMBER FIVE Wiring and instructions a bit tricky to figure out; finicky fan controller.


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