3.0 out of 5 stars
Nice ideas - not properly thought through..., 26 Feb 2013
I have put together my last three systems in Antec cases, which were very robust but was fed up with the weight, as I have to lug them around fairly often. This Bitfenix case is a fair bit lighter than my Antec P180 and it has a carriying handle folded into the top (!)
Things that are good:
The actual metal case, under the plastic facia panels, is fairly sturdy (withstood a drop by the delivery company with minimal internal distortion).
There are plenty of very accessible HDD trays - all pointing outwards. This is good for me as I am always moving HDDs around for video editing and archiving.
The case is deep, allowing easy access and placement of large components.
There is room at the front for either two 120mm fans on the inside of the case, or one 200mm fan on the outside of the case***. Both these options are possible without losing the use of any of the HDD trays.
The case can take ATX and MATX boards (and possibly mini ITX, but who would want to do that?)
The metal place holders for the PCIE slots are made of perforated steel. This allows for plenty of air flow without small objects being able to drop in the back of the system like on some place holders. This is a nice touch.
I was able to add a fairly inexpensive but very well made Bitfenix card reader to the legacy FDD drive bay. This connects to the spare USB 3.0 header on my mobo and as well as reading all my Flash cards, gives me a spare USB 3.0 socket at the front of the case. I haven't tested the speed of this reader but it works fine, is solidly built of metal and looks good in matching black.
Things that are not so good:
It looks very solid but the rounded shape is formed by 6 facia components that are not made of the strongest meterials. They have a rubbery coating that I like, but they are mainly made of thin and brittle polycarbonate plastic. My case had been dropped during shipping and one of the screw lugs holding one of the panels on at the back was was broken off. I think I will be waiting for some time for a replacement panel.
The next annoyance was the front panel. It is supposed to just unclip from the frame but this was impossible and I ended up unscrewing the awkwardly placed fasteners from the inside of the case. The front panel has a small LED fitted under the logo. This is a nice touch but the led has been glued into place so that the front panel comes away attached to two thin wires which run to the power supply. The wires are too short, so that when you try to lay down the front panel it puts a strain on them. When I did this, one of the wires promptly broke away at the point where it had been soldered to the LED. Great, so now I had a soldering job to do. I picked away at the glue holding the LED to the front panel and managed to remove it. I wanted to avoid breaking the other connection to the LED (it broke anyway, the next time I removed the front panel). I soldered the wire back to the logo LED and it now does not function at all. Now when I plug it in it disables the LED switch at the top of the case. Bugger! I emailed Bitfenix (in Taiwan) to see if they have a spare they can send me... Hmmm.
The next annoyance is the HDD trays that are screw-less. You are supposed to simply bend the plastic tray frame so that the little metal pins spring back into the screw holes on the HDD. This works at one end with two of the pins but the other end is too inflexible and you end up pushing the pins out of their tiny rubber washers which are very fiddly to get back on. It is very difficult to explain this without pictures...
The handle at the top is not comfortable to hold, as it is square with slightly sharp edges. If you have a lot of hardware in the case, it is uncomfortable to carry with the handle. Even if you have a minimal setup, you wouldn't want to carry it further than your car using the handle.
**Be sure that the Bitfenix Survivor Core is the model you want. It comes with only USB 2.0 ports at the front, no front fan, and no cable security utility (whatever that is). If you want these options, you have to order the Bitfenix Survivor (not Core!) Clever naming system...
***Do not order a Bitfenix Spectre Pro 200mm fan for the front of the case. It fits, but you can't get the front panel back on. This was my fault for ordering the extra fan online without getting advice on which fan fits. I think the fan required is the standard Spectre 200mm model. In the end, I took the included standard 200mm fan from the top and mounted it at the front. This fitted fine. I then added the Spectre Pro I had mistakenly ordered to the top of the case.
I see that I have used a lot of space on the annoyances of this case, I am happy overall with my new system, but these small details make all the difference during the putting together of a PC.