SoulTribunals BitFenix Review Thread
First glance that you receive of the Raider is the black print upon a simple monocolour cardboard box. In this modern etailer enviroment Bitfenix has forgone the flashy artwork we are used to seeing adorn our boxes and has in place adopted a more simplistic approach. If this helps them instead focus on adding value into the actual chassis, then I for one applaud the change. As it stands most people who would fall into the market for the Raider would have long since looked at online stats and pictures before making their choice.
Sometimes its okay for beauty to be skin Deep:
Packaged with a thick plastic shroud and embraced with styrofoam there is no doubt your case will survive its transit into your possession.
They say your first impression on anything is usually the most memorable one and when finally unwraping the protective coccon you are greeted with a sleek, stylish if someone minimalistic chassis.
The first suprise I was greeted with is the actual material that BitFenix calls "Softtouch". It is unlike anything I have ever encountered on a case to date, it gives the raised edges from front to back a very soft tactile feel. It also serves the double purpose of allowing good grip along the entire case, making you less like to slip moving and or lifting it. However, this does warrant some concern. I have in the past seen material like this (though not on computer cases) that has been exposed to the enviroment (household) for a while, and it tends to get a off-grey/white tinge to it over time. Hopefully Bitfenix considered its choice of materials well enough that this will be a non-issue. After all I would hate to think that over time the case would lose its visual appeal.
A peek under the hood:
Delving a little deeper inside the Raider is easily accomplished with the removal of two black thumbscrews, and this brings you to the first glance you have of its internal structure. What is nice is, unlike other chassis I have worked with, the cabling for the front panel and USB connectivity is neatly managed and not immediately in your way. This small step will make it easier on all whom start the install by helping them skip the step of hiding that usual tangle of cables.
HDD Cage Picture:
Tucked away and out of sight is a small plain cardboard box that holds all of the Raiders included accessories. The list is small but in this day and age not much is required.
You get Black standoff and matching screws, additional thumb screws in which to hold the PSU are also present. Beyond that are 4 Feet to attach to the bottom of the case (of which I suggest this is done before anything else to lessen the strain on the lower fan filters) and a handful of small black tie wraps.
My first qualm about the Raider is from the included feet. The Material the are made from is quality and they have a great ability to solidify the case as it stands. However Bitfenix's method of attaching them is where I find fault, instead of screws or some sort of fastener to keep them secure it is merely a peel off glue pad that will hold them in place. I suggest to anyone who installs these takes a little rubbing Alcohol and cleans the area where the feet recess into to help ensure a secure and long lasting fit.
Although every case must make some sacrifices to keep within a budget for its design, I could have done without the matching black screws and standoffs and instead had feet that were solidly attached.
Once installed however you can feel the added security and stability they provide.
On the underside as previously mentioned rests a pair of fan filters, which in this day and age are really a must considering the airflow potential cases are given. Without proper filtration or maintaince of a positive pressure enviroment the insides would become a mess in a hurry. Cleaning is simplified and this is a big plus for the Raider, as you can simply reach down and grab said airfilters for a quick rinse, without having to actually flip your case on its side. Small details like this help make the package as a whole more appealing. Might help save from the wear on the glued on 'feet' too.
Let me tell you a tale:
Floating around helpless and on its own is the beloved manual for the Raider, and although it is small the step by step instructions given for installation of various components and locations are invaluable. With clear concise pictures one would be hard pressed to fault the layout given. I have seen much lesser manuals (or even no manuals) on cases, and it can sometimes create confusion on how to do certain things within your chassis. Though note worthy also is some sort of instruction as to what all the hardware is for in the included accessories. Though most seasoned builders should be able to manage the few missing instructions.
Enough looking, lets get some hardware in her.
The devil is in the details, a phrase I like to coin. When building it isn't just how the chassis functions as a whole but how easy it is to manage every small aspect of installation and re-installation. I felt strongly enough about it to note that my I/O shield install was the easiest out of all cases I have worked with to date. And that is saying something. Most times with a few choice words I wouldn't let my mother hear I get that damn little shield put into place. The Raider is built cleanly enough that it was a quick snap in and it was done. A small thing, I know..but worth mentioning. Its the details afterall.
Two standoffs are already installed into position before you even get started and the guide for the remainder is clearly seen just above where the PSU would go, the guide is easy to follow and the Case will conform to ATX, Flex ATX and mATX boards. The board glided in without a hitch followed closely thereafter with the PSU.
This is where the first evidence of future trouble became clear. The PSU in question was a Corsair AX1200, which happens to be one long unit. I was left with very little room to guide and manuever my cabling with. There was going to be some choice words in my future afterall.
That being said although tight the rubber grommets that are on the bottom of the case balanced the mighty AX1200 perfectly allowing me to install the screws to hold it in place without any issues. Next up came HDD installation and using the included HDD caddys (6 in total) it too was flawless. Tooless installation has come a long way and Bitfenix has embraced this quite well. Unlike cases using more traditional Rails, the cages glide in smoothy and still allow you to fasten them with thumb screws (provided in the included accessories) should you want a real secure fit. A nice touch really, something not often considered by other manufacturers.
Upon installing my GTX580 though, I found that the Cage was just too close to my liking. I could have probably forced the issue and jammed it in but I erred on the side of caution with this one. Luckily for me however the Raider takes this possible scenerio into full consideration and allows the upper part of the HDD cage to be removed in order to provision for larger Videocards. The double benefit of this is freeing up a little more Airflow for said cards to get by removing the restriction once in the way.
And the cage is removed by simply taking out two thumbscrews that hold it in place. I have to admit, the inclusion of thumbscrews vs traditional ones really adds value and simplicity to the design. Installations and removals become faster and more convienant to the end user. Its in the details, and Bitfenix has been paying attention.
Next in line and standing at attention was the poor lone ODD. A solitary ASUS unit that has seen 4 builds now and I highly doubt will die before ODD's are finally suplemented with Flash Drives for OS installs.
The First and top blanking plate is removed but you do have to take both the top mesh plate and front panel off in order to pop it out. Not that that is complicated or time consuming. Rather it is on par with almost every other install I have ever done and I cannot find fault in having to do it that way.
A good word of caution though is to have the far side panel off as well and to remove the tie wrap that to this point has held in all your front panel connectivity. This is done so the ODD installation doesn't hit a snag on said cables and risk damaging one of them. You can then with the freed up cables tuck them onto the ODD drive and away from sight. Again, a slight snag but a small issue really.
PSU routing was next on my list of challanges to tackle and I won't deny I was loving the absolute Volume of room provided to route cables as well as all the hard points in which to use tie wraps to secure said cables in place. You might not be able to tell from the outside but the space provided is invaluable to the neat freak with cable. A big bravo for accomplishing this without comprimising a true loss in space anywhere else or increasing the footprint over other similar mid-towers. Most cases that space behind the motherboard tray is cramped and managing everything in a typical midtower can be a true challange.
Important to note too is the Molex Connector that is tied off and wired into all 3 of the fans and fan controller. Make sure you remember to route a Molex connector back there or you will do what I did and have the case fire up first time with Zero cooling.
Not a good idea when the 580 is already stuffed inside.
Given the cramped nature of the space between the HDD cage and PSU it took a lot of finesse to get every cable to co-operate though I did manage. Most of us who use standard depth PSU's will have absolutely zero issues in this regard and shouldn't really fault a case like this. After all I highly doubt most of us will stuff enough gear inside a mid-tower to justify a Power supply of that magnitude.
Push the button, I know you want to:
Nothing felt more rewarding at the end then to push the big button on the top and hear....Nothing. No, it booted up first time without issue but I was truely stunned by the absolute silence of the 3 provided cooling fans. Given that the controller was set on its highest setting it was a shock to even me they weren't louder. Most manufactuer claims about DBA is usually infated but in this case the Spectre fans provided did a good job at keeping noise to an absolute minumum. Though it should be interesting to see the temperature differences between this and my A90 given that the Spectre fans aren't nearly as capable in the CFM department.
Now I do have a concern with the button layout. I think it was designed in mind for those who store there cases on the ground beside them. Given that I do not do this, having the Power, reset, and HDD LED activity light on the far right corner at the top proved to be a flaw for me. Coupled with the lack of any close USB ports (all 4 are located on the top as well, although on the side closest to me). Perhaps it is a bit of nitpicking but I prefer to have lower mounting audio ports and USB ports. It historically speaking has been more user friendly for me having easier access given how I like to situate my cases. Your experience may vary and you may find this useful, so take this statement with a grain of salt.
Temperatures with stock cooling are what suffered although not nearly as bad as I had antipicated given the lack of high flow fans or any side panel fan. My only concern to be honest would be a GPU that exhausts its hot air into the case. Given the single medium speed fan to help move airflow outside of the case I can see internal temperatures going much higher than I am comfortable with. This can be easily solved with either a fan replacement to higher CFM models combined with populating the top 200mm Fan position (no 200mm fan included on the Bitfenix Raider).
I will not deny that I had some trepidation upon first glance inside, pondering how the install was going to go. However that was quickly removed once the process started. Everything just seemed to fit with little to no coaxing.. a true compliment to the fit and finish of the Raider. The mesh is well constructed, although the material feels 'light' and I would worry about putting too much pressure on it. The side panels however are solid and slide in with minimal effort.
On the other side of the coin I feel that some things were overlooked , because during the installation process what I predicted happened, I shifted the case loaded ever so slightly and one of the 4 feet detached itself and left my Raider Teetering.
Given its price point at $99 it is really at the sweet spot for those of us looking to replace existing or old cramped Mid-Towers. This also means it stacks up directly with many other competitors in the same catagory. Where does that leave us? Well lets tally it up and leave the ultimate decision to you.
- Lots of depth and tie wrap points behind motherboard tray for cable management and routing
- Silent Fans integrated with a good fan controller (though what wattage the controller can handle is an unknown)
- Durable well constructed materials make for a good fit and finish when installing all parts
- Ability to install addition 200mm Fan up top and 120mm fan in the bottom for more cooling.
- Ability to replace front 2 x 120mm fans with a much higher flow 200mm fan
- Lots of thumbscrews included , making installations painless
- Removable HDD cage to accomodate Large GPU's
- PSU Fan filter and bottom cage Fan Filter
- Stick on feet that use only glue
- Tight fit for PSU if you do happen to have one that is not standard Depth
- Lack of Side Panel Fan/Window could be a deal breaker for some
- Cooling (stock) is not nearly as good as it could be for similar cases on the market
- Connector placement and HDD activitly light are not ideal
I would like to thank BitFenix at this time for providing the Raider for my Personal Review.
Nice review Soul, can the feet and case be drilled to accept a bolt & nut?
If you look at this picture look at the bottom left, the small hole and circle below the fan filter. That is the mounting point for the Feet. Access to the far foot though is half under the MB Tray. Again It was a point off for a bad decision on how the feet worked with the case.
I was surprised to see that the side panels operate in the traditional manner. I did a build in a Merc Beta (their cheapest model I believe) and on that one, the side panels latch with something almost resembling a tongue and groove at the front. They come in at a 45 deg angle and then rotate around.
Your findings on the fans kinda surprised me, and got me looking at the stock fan I automatically removed from the Merc and replaced with 1350 YLs... (Knee jerk reaction to every case I run into.... ), but mine is branded as a "MERC" pn A1225L12S so I suspect it's not the same fan.
Great job on the review ST!
Nice case, no worries about the stock fans, I replace everything with AP-15's.
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