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BitFenix Phenom Mini-ITX Review

Manufacturer: BitFenix
UK Price (as reviewed): £69.95 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $79.95 (ex. TAX)

As you may have read in our recent BitFenix Prodigy feature, we're quite keen on the company's funky mini-ITX case. It has enough space and cooling potential for a high-end system, plus is wonderfully easy to work with for a case in this form factor. It has its downsides, though, which include the large, wobbly (but actually very strong) handles/feet plus its larger than many micro-ATX cases.

How to follow the Prodigy up, then, when the original case has sold so well and continues to be popular and more importantly - different. Well, these points are pretty much exactly what BitFenix has taken into consideration with the new Phenom. The name still strikes a chord of disappointment within us somewhere - thankfully this is the fault of a certain CPU manufacturer and not BitFenix, but names aside, the Phenom is certainly much better-looking than the Prodigy.

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The sweeping front panel and elegant lines add an air of minimalism and will likely go down well with clean-look fans. In fact we can see the starkly illuminated interiors and rigid acrylic tubing already.

However, the mini-ITX version we're reviewing here (a micro-ATX version is also available as is one for the Prodigy) is essentially identical on the inside to the Prodigy. In fact even the side panels are difficult to tell apart from with the familiar two USB 3.0 ports, mini jacks and power and reset buttons in the same place, nestled in the bottom corner of the right panel. However, the Prodigy's are smaller.

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The glaringly obvious exception here, though, is the lack of an external 5.25in bay. BitFenix states the fact that so few people use them in addition to most content being streamed or otherwise obtained these days. That may be so, and it was certainly the case that the Prodigy has issues with radiators and optical drives fighting over space in the top. However, while there's more space, this omission is a little disappointing as it means that many fan controllers, bay reservoirs and even just card readers are also out of the equation too.


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The particularly weird thing is that there is still a 5.25in bay on in the inside, so it remains to be seen whether BitFenix might release replacement front fascias for the Phenom like it did with the Prodigy - maybe these could offer a 5.25in cut-out. In any event, another thing we have an issue with is airflow. Mesh-fronted Prodigy's cooled much better than closed-fronted models but the closed-fronted Phenom only has small vents at the sides, and this mesh you can see doesn't all lead straight through into the case. Unlike the Prodigy, there's no side vent either, which could mean our test GPU will suffer.

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The removable top vent is still here though, which adds a more sophisticated look to the top panel than simply offering fan mounts and a grille. The underside, like the Prodigy, sports a PSU fan filter with the case still able to house a full-size ATX PSU.

With the lack of FyberFlex feet, four rubber-bottomed, chrome-edged feet are used to give some ground clearance. The overall effect is of a much more compact case, even if the internals are the same.

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Specifications
  • Dimensions (mm) 250 x 374 x 330 (W x D x H)
  • Material Steel
  • Available colours Black, white (reviewed)
  • Weight 6.5kg
  • Front panel Power, reset, 2 x USB 3, stereo, microphone,
  • Drive bays 6 x 3.5in, 5 x dedicated 2.5in + 6 shared with 3.5in, 1 x 5.25in (internal)
  • Form factor(s) Mini-ITX
  • Cooling 2 x 120mm / 1 x 140/180/200/230 front fan mount (1 x 120mm fan supplied), 2 x 120mm top fan mounts (fans not supplied), 1 x 120/140mm rear fan mount (1 x 120mm fan supplied)
  • CPU cooler clearance 170mm
  • Maximum graphics card length 330mm without HDD cage, 180mm with
  • Maximum PSU length 150mm fully modular, 160mm semi-modular
  • Extras 5.25in to 3.5in/2.5in adaptor, removable dust filters