Bitfenix Pandora ATX Case Review
The BitFenix Pandora enclosure is one of those interesting attempts to bring new excitement into the case category. The original mATX Pandora had some interesting design choices inside and out and now BitFenix has released the larger ATX version. The Pandora ATX comes in at $150 with the external display and $130 without, putting it in line with other full towers.
The case features curved side panels that wrap around the front, creating unmistakable brand recognition for the Pandora line. The gab between the metal panel and the front plastic panel allows for air to enter, due to large intake ports on both sides of the glossy surface. The original Pandora used aluminium, which proved difficult for BitFenix to get right. Instead they’ve gone back to steel, and our reviewer found that and some other decisions made for less satisfying build quality overall.
The side panels are large and quite thin, creating lovely waveforms when you move them. Despite a small number of points of contact, they are quite difficult to attach back onto the case. The window is large enough to reveal all the goodies, but didn't stand up to our nail scratch test. You have to be careful when handling the side panels.
The I/O at the front includes power buttons, 4 USB ports and audio jacks. The entire top of the case is covered with a removable dust filter, and inside we find pretty deep clearance for triple 120 or 140mm fans and their respective radiators. The frame itself is a problem, though, and can make installing a radiator unnecessarily painful. It's also very thin and easily bendable, which is again not the build quality we expect at this price.
The airflow options for the front are satisfactory, with triple 120 or dual 140mm mounts. The panel removes with ease, although you have to be mindful of the cable for the illuminated logo.
The front dust filter, which is removed from the bottom, only covers the fan portion, leaving the 5.25” slot above open to incoming dust. Despite the rounded front panel having enough depth clearance for a set of fans outside the frame, the design of the dust filter means all of your fan mountings must be on the interior.
Inside, we have the increasingly common (and welcome) chamber separation between the PSU and the motherboard, and no dedicated hard drive cage to improve airflow.
On top of the PSU chamber we find two brackets, one for watercooling pumps and reservoirs and the other for a 2.5-inch of 3.5-inch drive. There are no cutouts beside the sata connectors, and the height of the drive interferes with the bottom two PCI slots and motherboard connectors, but at least it is easily removable. To the right of the motherboard there are two vertical SSD brackets, which actually stick out into the area where a front-mounted radiator would go. This is unfortunate and means that if you install a front radiator, you lose both SSD mounts.
Thankfully the case has two further SSD mounts on the back of the motherboard tray, plus two more 3.5-inch drive brackets on the floor in front of the power supply. We appreciate this modular approach for spreading storage around where needed, if only the interior SSD brackets weren’t compromised by a potential radiator.
The build itself looks fine, though our reviewer really disliked the rubber grommets that seem to fall out with a breath of air. Cable management is a strong point with the Pandora ATX given the included Velcro straps and an appropriate amount of cable ties all around to secure all of your mess at the back. The enclosed power supply chamber is a great time saver
The front logo is actually Bitfenix's ICON display. It connects to internal motherboard USB and can display PNG graphics, which is kind of cool to customize the face of the case. The issue is that the display isn't of the best quality so viewing angles are poor and it surprisingly lacks the ability to show any meaningful statistics or data such as temperature, fan speed, or even the time.
The Pandora ATX is in a bit of a strange spot. It looks great, with wrap-around side panels that set it apart from the pack. We like the two-chamber design, and there is certainly flexibility in storage and watercooling options. The build quality, however, leaves a lot to be desired. Between too-thin metal, clearance issues with the SSD brackets, and other issues, we can't recommend the Pandora ATX over its competition.
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