While BitFenix’s debut case, the Colossus, was found lacking in the cooling department, it made up for in it with a unique design. There were enough nifty touches and features that made the case striking and unique to look at and a pleasure to use. Now the fledgling case manufacture is ready to launch its second, more reasonably sized chassis, the midi-tower Survivor.
At a more desk-friendly 230 x 502 x 510mm (W x D x H), the Survivor continues BitFenix’s trend of unique styling. Whereas the Colossus was all about the shiny lights, the Survivor’s exterior is defined by a curved plastic shell that’s very different to the angular boxes we’re used to seeing from midi-tower cases.
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The shell is made from the same hard-wearing, soft-touch plastic material as the Colossus, meaning that it’s mercifully fingerprint resistant. The case is also held together very well and, unlike some plastic-clad casings seems very solid. Made up of five thick separate pieces (the front fascia, roof and floor panels and then two curved rear pieces) the shell manages to make the Survivor look sleek, a bit rugged and utilitarian all at the same time.
However, while the shell gives the Survivor a great look, it’s far from user friendly. Removing the side panels, secured by thumb screws, requires the removal of the two rear shell pieces, which inexplicably are secured by recessed Phillips-head screws and as such require a screwdriver to remove. Similarly, refitting the side panels is best done by completely removing the front fascia plate (which pulls away as one solid piece). This is a dreadful design decision and makes constant tinkering inside the Survivor a real headache. It means that once an upgrade has been installed, you’ll want to leave the side panel off while you check that the new hardware works – if you’re anything like us, that side panel might never find its way back on.
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Beneath the plastic shell is a black painted steel interior that’s solidly made. At the front of the case, behind the grille in the front fascia, there’s a thin 200m intake fan – this mount can also accept two 120mm fans – and there’s a dust filter to keep fluff out. There’s a second 200mm fan in the roof of the case, fitted as an exhaust. There’s also an unoccupied 80/120mm fan mount at the rear of the case; BitFenix again chooses not to ship this case with a rear exhaust fan. As this, in our experience, is a crucial place to have a fan in a case, exhausting much of the heat from the CPU and GPU, its omission is again baffling and doesn’t bode too well for the Survivor’s cooling abilities.
There are some saving graces though, and the Survivor’s roof panel holds some very nifty inclusions. The first is an integrated handle fitted above the roof 200mm exhaust fan that folds smoothly back into the case when not in use. Despite its size, it’s able to support up to 40kg - the case plus 29kg of gear inside – and so is a nice addition when hauling your PC off to a LAN party.
The roof panel also holds the case’s front panel, hidden behind a retractable plate. There are buttons for power, reset and lighting controls for the LEDs of the two fans and the BitFenix logo, as well as an eSATA, two USB 2 and two USB 3 ports. There are the usual headset connections too. However, the action on the blanking plate annoyingly often got stuck when moving back into the closed position.
Dimensions (mm): 230 x 502 x 510 (W x D x H)
Material: Steel, plastic
Front Panel: Power and reset switches, 2 x USB 3, 2 x USB 2, stereo, mic, eSATA, lighting controls
Drive Bays: 3 x internal 5.25in drive bays, 1x internal 5.25in drive bay, 7 x internal 3.5in drive bays
Form factor(s): ATX, micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
Cooling: 200mm roof fan mount (fan supplied), 200mm front fan mount (fan supplied), 120mm rear fan mount (fan not supplied)