Test System Configuration
|Motherboard||ASUS Sabertooth Z77|
|CPU||Intel Core i5-3570K @ 4.4GHz|
|CPU Cooler||Arctic Cooling Freezer 13|
|Memory||G.Skill Ripjaws-X 8GB (F3-12800CL7D-8GBXH)|
|Memory Speed and Timings||1,600MHz, 7-8-7-24-2N|
|Graphics Cards||2x Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OC in CrossFireX|
|Storage||120GB SanDisk Extreme SSD|
|Optical Drive||Pioneer DVR-S19LBK DVD Writer|
|Power Supply||Corsair HX1050W|
Our Z77 test platform consists of an ASUS Sabertooth motherboard, an Intel Core i5-3570K processor overclocked to a modest 4.4GHz, an Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 cooler, 8GB of high-performance G.Skill Ripjaws-X memory and two factory-overclocked Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OC graphics cards in a CrossFireX configuration.
To find out how well the chassis can cool this particular setup, we record the CPU temperature after a 15-minute stint of the intensive Prime95 stress test is applied to all cores. To get an idea of GPU cooling performance, we record GPU temperature after 15 minutes of running Aliens vs. Predator. Last but not least, we also record chassis noise by using a PCE-318 noise meter to take readings when idle and while running Aliens vs. Predator.
All chassis are tested only with the standard manufacturer-supplied fans (any/all of which are set to 'silent' in the ASUS BIOS or low-speed using a fan controller if present), and to take into account the fluctuating ambient temperature, our graphs depict both actual and delta temperature - the latter is the actual CPU/GPU temperature minus the ambient. For the record, room temperature while testing the NZXT Phantom 820 was recorded as a cool 19.6ºC.
Even though our Core i5 processor is overclocked to 4.4GHz, most high-end chassis have no problem in keeping it suitably cool. As expected, the Phantom 820 has more than enough airflow to keep core temperatures locked in below 70ºC under extreme load.
The large 200mm side intake is working well, too, with our dual graphics cards running well within the limits during a stint of Aliens vs. Predator. CPU and GPU cooling performance is good in the Phantom 820's default configuration, but of course this is a chassis that has all sorts of potential. Adding extra fans or two radiators would no doubt provide serious overclocking potential.
The Phantom 820's good cooling capability comes as no surprise, yet it's actually the chassis' acoustic performance that's more interesting. With the aid of the excellent integrated fan controller, it's easy to configure the NZXT chassis to suit your needs. With the system idling and the fans set to low speed, noise was measured at a nice-and-quiet 34.1dB. Playing Aliens vs. Predator with the fans turned up to maximum raised noise level to 42.9db, but even that isn't bad for a worst-case scenario.
The fan-speed flexibility is much appreciated, and, of course, if you want it to be even quieter, the fans can be disabled entirely by choosing the lowest setting on the integrated controller.