BitFenix Shinobi: The Budget Ninjaby Dustin Sklavos on June 22, 2011 12:45 AM EST
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Introducing the BitFenix Shinobi (Window)
Compared to some of the vendors we've reviewed cases from thus far, BitFenix seems like a young pup. Antec and In-Win have been around for a long time, and Silverstone has established itself as a go-to for quality enclosures. But BitFenix has been making a lot of waves in a short period of time, producing attractive cases designed to appeal to consumers who are less about bling, be they a gamer or not. Today we're taking a look at BitFenix's Shinobi ATX enclosure (windowed version). With an MSRP of just $69.99, is it the budget ninja we've been looking for?
First impressions when I opened the box for the BitFenix Shinobi were extremely positive. When an enclosure comes out with the price that BitFenix is shipping the Shinobi at, it tends to wear that low price tag on its sleeve. The competition is often gaudy, making heavy use of cheap looking plastic, and such cases frequently aren't particularly user-friendly. The Shinobi on the other hand is actually quite mild by comparison, maybe even austere. It's worth noting that BitFenix offers two different models of Shinobi, one with a window (dubbed the "Shinobi Window") and one without. The windowed version costs an extra $10 and includes tool-less installation for the hard drives. That's what we're looking at today.
|BitFenix Shinobi Window Specifications|
|Motherboard Form Factor||ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX|
|Drive Bays||External||3x 5.25" (includes 5.25"-to-3.5" external or 2.5" internal bay adapter)|
|Cooling||Front||1x 120mm intake fan (3-pin header), one open 120mm fan mount|
|Rear||1x 120mm exhaust fan (3-pin header)|
|Top||2x 120mm/140mm fan mounts|
|Side||1x 120mm fan mount|
|Bottom||1x 120mm fan mount|
|Front I/O Port||-|
|Top I/O Port||4x USB 2.0, headphone and mic jacks|
|Power Supply Size||ATX|
|Clearance||13" without hard drive/10" with hard drive (Expansion Cards), 170mm (CPU HSF), 300mm without bottom fan/180mm with bottom fan (PSU)|
|Dimensions||18.1" x 8.1" x 19.3"|
The Shinobi doesn't include a native 3.5" external bay or 2.5" drive mount for SSDs, but BitFenix does happily include an adapter that can be used for either of these which I'll show you during the assembly. My only complaints regarding the adapter are that there isn't more than one, and that it does take up one of the 5.25" bays. Other than those points, it's a fairly elegant solution.
One other issue you may run into is clearance: while our Zalman CNPS9900 was able to fit with some headroom, you may have a little trouble with larger tower coolers. Likewise, you're not going to be able to fit a 240mm radiator inside the case, since the radiator and fans are liable to butt up against the motherboard. That's not a huge complaint since if you're going to use a 240mm radiator and liquid cooling system, you're probably going to spend more than $69 on your case. Finally, our GeForce GTX 580 did have some clearance issues with hard drives installed behind it, so be forewarned: when using a longer card you'll wind up losing one or two of the copious eight 3.5" bays.
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IvanChess - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - linkI know bottom mounted PSUs are all the rage but with two front 120s, a top mounted PSU would let this case have an intake inline with the CPU and another intake inline with the GPU. I wonder if that would help the thermals.
Impulses - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - linkThat's one thing I like about the cheap Thermaltake M9 I'm using... PSU is in the traditional top location and the drive bays are ALL actually 5.25" bays top to bottom, it comes with a 3.5" drive cage that you can slide into any three of the 5.25" bays (or was it two, I forget) and the same cage mounts a 120mm fan up front...
So I put a DVD burner and card reader up top in line with the PSU, and directly below those I placed the 3.5" drive cage with a fan, and no drives. Hence, I've got a 120mm intake there that blows right across the memory and into my tower HSF, which blows directly unto an exhaust.
I mounted my SSD into a 5.25" bay with a 2.5" to 5.25" adapter (holds two drives so I have the option of going RAID eventually), and I slapped my 3.5" data HDD unto a foam slab on the case floor on the last 5.25" bay, held in place with velcro straps (something I've been doing for years to decouple drives and minimize noise, works better than any grommets or stock soft mount).
I thought about getting another cage for an intake fan for the GPUs but instead I used the lower fan mount on the stock windowed panel of my case, which paces the fan right by the CF GPU's intakes anyway... Air travels in sort of an L from there thru the back GPU exhausts but it does that anyway within the heatshroud, so a front intake wouldn't be any more direct.
Impulses - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - linkNice review, but I don't understand why you chose to test it with the 3.5" drive where you did... It's a budget case, so most people are probably not gonna run SLI/CF on it, and you weren't doing so either so there was no need to have the hard drive blocking all airflow. Having in any of the lower slots would probably lead to significantly lower temps overall. Between that and no side intake or top exhaust (i understand they aren't included), it just seems like you decided to test the worst possible configuration imaginable. If I was BitFenix I definitely wouldn't be pleased...
Impulses - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - linkIf you move the intake fan to the higher mounting position and/or place the hard drive in one of the bottom bays it'd definitely run cooler overall (looks like some airflow would leak to the top thru the gap left between the GPU and the bays), the hard drive wouldn't interfere with SLI/CF there and it's not gonna sit in a dead hot spot with the PSU pulling done air out right next to it.
If you were to add fans you could just leave the hard drive and intake where they are (to help create two distinct zones), invert the rear fan into an intake, and add a top exhaust. Either way, you literally tested the worst possible configuration... Are we assuming that DIY builders are clueless and can't play around a little with fan/drive placement?
Don't get me wrong, the review was great overall, typical Anandtech (you go into way more detail about the product than 95% of sites out there), but I definitely find the tested config to be a poor choice.
Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - linkThe reason why I tested it in this configuration was partly because it made the cabling a bit easier, but also because I deliberately did...maybe not want to handicap it necessarily...but produce a less than ideal scenario so that we could see how it might perform under those circumstances. Sort of like saying "this is as bad as it'll get." Even our thermal tests are a worst case scenario by running Prime95 and FurMark in tandem.
I don't think the Shinobi performed that badly, either, honestly. The Antec Sonata IV was a disappointment; working with the Shinobi was a delight and with enough fans (and the right fans), it could be a stellar cool-and-quiet enclosure. I keep seriously considering moving my rig from my Corsair 600T into the Shinobi actually just because of how much I like how it looks and how easy it is to work with.
Lunyone - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - linkI haven't read the other case reviews that your referring to, but did you/someone test with a similiar frame of mind (worst configuration possible)?? I hope the other cases were test in the similar way, otherwise I'd consider your methods to be a bit sketchy. I do like the subtle look myself and appreciate a case that is like that (CM 690 anyone?). I have worked with several different types of cases (mostly budget ones) and have grown to like tool-less ones for the most part. I like the way the CM 690 is (comes w/3 fans) and can be found for around $70 on sale. This BitFenix case seems like a pretty well built and if priced right will be one that I might purchase in the future. If this case can sell for around $50 on sale than I can see this flying off the shelves!
Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - linkPart of the problem is that other enclosures can't really be handicapped as badly in this way either. I suggested to the BitFenix rep that the drive cages be rotated laterally, which would effiectively eliminate the clearance issue that blocks some of the airflow.
In retrospect I do think I was a bit too harsh in testing this one, and part of that was in wanting to push it as hard as I could. I may wind up revisiting it in the future, as like I said before I'm very fond of what BitFenix has done here. This is a classy case and I don't doubt it can perform better than it did in this review and I'd be more than comfortable in recommending it. The windowless version sells for $59: you sacrifice the hard drive clamps and the side window (with vent), but at $59 I have a hard time thinking of a better deal.
Zoomer - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - linkHow about adding the Antec 300? It routinely sells for under $50; I got mine for $35. You'll have too add fans to the front though.
dac7nco - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - linkOK Dustin,
I'll BUY you the BitFennix Shinobi, including shipping, with some nice quiet fans. You can send me your 600T in return.
iuqiddis - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - linkIs there any chance you can change the fan configuration or add a fan and redo some of the thermals? I'd be very curious to see whether inclusion of an extra fan would make a noticeable difference. Thanks.