Assembling the BitFenix Shinobi XL

While it's easy to complain about BitFenix utilizing a very common design language for the interior of the Shinobi XL, it must be said that this design language also makes assembly a relatively painless process. BitFenix ships the Shinobi XL with the motherboard standoffs already installed in the tray, and the toolless design is largely flawless.

Where I did run into problems is that the motherboard tray itself is missing a hole for a standoff for the Micro-ATX motherboard we use for our testbed. It's not catastrophic, but it does result in a little bit of flex when connecting the case headers to the motherboard. Worth mentioning is that the Shinobi XL doesn't need separate USB 3.0-to-2.0 header adaptors; each USB 3.0 header cable comes with a built-in USB 2.0 header. Since boards with two onboard USB 3.0 headers are pretty rarefied, this is appreciated, though on the flipside it may be difficult at first to figure out which of your USB 3.0 ports are running at 3.0 and which are stuck at 2.0. Note also that the yellow USB port on the top of the case has no data header; instead it just has a SATA power lead (and I appreciate their use of SATA instead of molex).

Installing any kind of drive in the Shinobi XL is a largely painless process, too. The drive trays feature pins on the sides that bend and snap into 3.5" drives while also featuring holes in the bottom for mounting 2.5" drives. The toolless clamps for the 5.25" bays are a little more confusing and require consulting the manual, but you can eschew them entirely and just use screws to secure the drives as well. Expansion cards are just as easy, using the familiar thumbscrews.

Getting the power supply in was easy as well, although one of the screw holes on the PSU didn't quite line up. BitFenix actually has four rubber standoffs the power supply sits on as well as indentations in the motherboard tray that help line up the PSU, making it easy to fit in any standard sized unit.

That's why it's unfortunate that when it comes time to cable the Shinobi XL, everything goes to pot. It's not absolutely awful, but the routing holes in the motherboard tray are frankly just too small and the spacing feels off. There's plenty of space behind the tray, but getting cables back there is another matter entirely, as each of the holes is a fairly tight fit. It doesn't seem so bad at first glance and you can definitely make it work, but the instant you start putting together a fairly busy system (e.g. multiple drives, multiple video cards), I can see things getting very complicated in a hurry.

The interior of the Shinobi XL just isn't that exciting, but outside of the cabling issues it comes together fairly well. Unfortunately, there are other cases in the Shinobi XL's price range (and cheaper) that are easier to put together. I get the distinct feeling this enclosure just isn't going to shine unless it's supporting a proper custom water-cooling rig.

In and Around the BitFenix Shinobi XL Testing Methodology
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  • Chaitanya - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    BitFenix has some really good cases and they innovate when it comes to bringing new cases to market.
  • Pennanen - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    And what exactly has bitfenix given to the case markets? Assuming you werent sarcastic.
  • xbournex - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    SuperCharge, SofTouch, Prodigy, stock water cooling support, brightest LED strips, most dense sleeving extensions, first internet connectivity fan controller, and unnecessary flashy in-your-face look cases.
  • Pennanen - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    Sorry i wasnt specific enought.

    What useful things have bitfenix given to the markets?
  • killerclick - Sunday, July 15, 2012 - link

    Lack of girlfriend detected.
  • cjs150 - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    But the review is nice and thorough

    Dustin you really hit the nail "modern conventions are far from perfect and there's a lot of room for improvement".

    As an example, the case is wide - why not turn the PSU 90 degrees and have the cables feeding directly into the area behind the motherboard. Lian Li at least experiment with different locations.

    I would love to see a case where there is a built in power splitter for the 5.25 bays and Hard drive cages so one molex cable goes to a daughter board which has several socket to run short cables up to the hard drives for example - a bit of imagination would result in a very neat cabling job.

    This case really excels for watercooling. Perfect for using a 200x200 mm radiatior (or even 2, front and top)
  • xbournex - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    The review compares a mATX case 2/3 of the price of this case, an aluminum case with almost no water cooling support that's 2x the price, and ambient temperatures that vary with each review resulting in a default temperature, and noise level being already higher, or lower.

    The case was designed for watercooling in mind, which the reviewer poorly covered. Not thorough if you ask me.
  • xbournex - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    not as thorough as it could be**
  • Olaf van der Spek - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    Hey xbournex,

    Anandtech doesn't test watercooling as far as I know.

    When can we expect some BitFenix mATX cases? :p
  • cjs150 - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    Must admit I cannot remember Anandtech reviewing watercooling either.

    Watercooling is a niche for those who like to have a bit of fun and get their hands dirty (I think that should read "wet") on the innards of their computer.

    I love it, but I know it is not very everyone.

    The case looks as though it would be very good for watercooling possible even better than the legend that is the Silverstone TJ07. Certainly more than capable of cooling two hot running GPUs, a seriously overclocked CPU and maybe even the RAM as well without really breaking sweat. So would be pretty quiet compared to trying to air cool that lot

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