BitFenix Shinobi Case Review

Today, we are looking at the Shinobi Window Mid Tower ATX case, a very sleek offering by BitFenix.  BitFenix is a very new company to the market. Opening their doors in March of 2010 and their first product (Colossus) shipped in August of 2010. Their product line became available in the US around January of 2011. While a new company they have been in the IT and Gaming industry for a while. Many have backgrounds in Abit (motherboards), Cooler Master, and Corsair, just to name a few. BitFenix was formed to give more flexibility to their product development that they wanted to do.

Specifications

Specifications Courtesy of BitFenix

Gives the option for many many fans in the case. Four USB 2.0 ports on the top of the case along with audio jacks. Some cases claim tool-less installation is possible while in reality they are far from it. Let’s hope BitFenix follows through on this promise.

Packaging

The case was packed very well. There were some pretty big dings and cuts on the shipping box.  At least inside the box the case was without a scratch. Good job to BitFenix for using proper packaging to account for the rough shipping that we see here.  On the outside of the box, there was spec information, a few pictures, and features of the case. The case is sealed in a plastic bag as well. I didn’t hear any screws or parts floating around in the case, they were nicely secured within the case itself, so no worries there.

Front of Box

Front of Box

Back of Box

Back of Box

Side of Box, Some Minor Shipping Damage

Side of Box, Some Minor Shipping Damage

Case out of Box

Case out of Box

 

Case Exterior

Now to the outside of the case. Nice, solid construction on the case, and I really like the look and feel of the plastic portion on the case which gives it a soft touch. Airflow in the front of the case is nicely hidden as it’s part of the case design going from the front panel bottom all the way along to the back with the two channels. Located on the front is the BitFenix emblem. There’s a nice tinted window on the left side, with a spot for a 120 mm fan. The back side has holes with grommets for water cooling tubes  and a few extra air holes for ventilation. Very nice finish all around.

Front Side of Case

Front Side of Case

Back Side of Case

Back Side of Case

Left Side of Case

Left Side of Case

Right Side of Case

Right Side of Case

Nicely done top side of the case, and plenty of air flow for the two 120 mm or 140 mm fans to cool off the interior of the case. Subtle buttons on the top of the case for power/reset that blend with the finish.  The blue power LED is bright, and having it point up toward the ceiling makes my office look really good at night. Then we have the red LED for the HDD’s, which is much dimmer so it doesn’t distract at all.  Four easy to access USB 2.0 ports as well, plus the audio jacks for a headset.  All nice and quick access and blends in nicely to the top of the case.

Top Side of Case

Top Side of Case

Top Front - Power and USB/Audio Jacks

Top Front - Power and USB/Audio Jacks

The rubber feet are included in the case, as well you can see the bottom has a fan spot for not only the PSU to pull in cool air but another location to pull cool air into the case. The photo shows the fan filter on the bottom of the case, it’s a thin sheet of plastic with little holes on it. I’ve never had a case with one like this, typically it’s some type of foam or washable filter. This will help by not restricting the air flow as much yet still keeping the big pieces of dust or animal hair from entering the case. There are four of these, two on the bottom for the PSU and extra 120 mm fan, as well as two (really one 120×2 sheet) on the front side of the case behind the front panel. After a few weeks of testing the fan filters, I haven’t noticed much if any dust in the case unlike my previous box, so I have to say they are doing a very good job.

Bottom Side of Case

Bottom Side of Case

Fan Filter for Bottom of Case

Fan Filter for Bottom of Case

Overall the case looks very slick on the outside. Not much “bling” factor, but it’s very nice to the eyes. All of the air intakes are hidden or incorporated into the design nicely without some overly huge grills taking place, and even on the tinted window it’s hard to see the fan attached to it. With lights inside the case you’d probably see it, but otherwise it’s nice and blends with the black fan mounted to it.

A side note the case is very strongly built, I was able to stand on it with no deflection, that I noticed, and no damage done. I even did a little bounce on it, but didn’t want to stress it too unrealistically.

Case Interior & Accessories

Ah, the interior of the case finally. The guts of the system. The great paint job from the outside moves right onto the inside of this great case. Nice and clean inside. On the back side of the case you can easily see the cut out on the motherboard tray for access to heatsink plates for ease of replacement. As well as good mounting points on the back for cable tie downs. A few cut outs on the motherboard tray also for all the cables to run behind to help clean up the front side of the case. Now, let’s get a closer look at everything.

Interior

Interior

Backside of Motherboard Tray

Backside of Motherboard Tray

First up on the shots is the tool-less 3.5″ drive bay system. Nice and easy system here. These two plates on both sides of the drive bay and a little knob, twist and it comes right out. Very nice feature to have for swapping drives in and out very easily. Only downside is it might be tricky to align the drives into the bay but as long as you have a good line of sight on the drive and holes it shouldn’t take more then a few seconds to put it in or pull it out.

Tool-less 3.5" Drive Bays (Front)

Tool-less 3.5" Drive Bays (Front)

Tool-less 3.5" Drive Bays (Back)

Tool-less 3.5" Drive Bays (Back)

With this right here we show off the tool-less 5.25″ drive bay system. This has its ups compared to the 3.5″ bay version. First, it’s self attached, meaning that it just swings as shown in the pictures. No pieces to lose which is always a plus. Otherwise the great thing about this one is it’s only done on one side. It’s a lot more secure than the 3.5″ bays, so I can see why we can get away with this. With the devices I put in there for the 5.25″ bay, it’s a very snug fit so no need to worry about anything being wobbly.

Tool-less 5.25" Bay

Tool-less 5.25" Bay

Up front here we have the 3.5″ drive bays and 5.25″ drive bays. As you can see below, there is one fan that comes with the case with room for one more above it. These have to be mounted from the outside of the case as shown later. The 5.25″ cage only has three spaces, and the top bay is sporting a 5.25″ to 2.5″/3.5″ adapter. A really nice spot is right above the top bay it has a little room to help stash some cables from viewing/clutter. With no need for airflow up in that area of the case, you might be able to even stick a SSD or two up there, totally hidden from sight.

Front Mounted Fan & 3.5" Drive Bays

Front Mounted Fan & 3.5" Drive Bays

5.25" Drive Bays

5.25" Drive Bays

Taking a look out of the back of the case now, we have the other fan that comes with the case.  High quality 120 mm fans overall, and haven’t had a complaint about them, pretty quiet, and moves air which is always important.  Showing off the PSU mounting area; there are four little, rubber pads for the PSU to sit on to help dampen vibration. The PSU really pushes up to the motherboard tray area to help secure it once you get it attached to the back of the case.

Rear Mounted Fan

Rear Mounted Fan

PSU Mounting Area

PSU Mounting Area

A shot of the motherboard tray area. It has three sided slots for cables to be routed around the back side of the board for cable management. Top side of the photo you will see the top two fan placements for the case (no top fans were included with the case). Now, a really good shot of the tray, which I missed at first but I thought this was a very nice touch. It gives you a list of all available stand-off locations to use per the motherboard size. Now that is a neat feature! To experts that replace motherboards constantly this is really just extra, but to novices builders and even some of us that just have one of those “moments” and forget which stand offs to put on, it can come in handy for that quick double check.

Close Up of Motherboard Tray

Close Up of Motherboard Tray

Motherboard Tray Standoff List

Motherboard Tray Standoff List

Well, a somewhat interior shot.  Here we look under the outer cover of the case showing off how to mount the top and front fans. The top fan holes are quite versatile in that they accept both 120 mm and 140 mm fans. The front is sporting dual 120 mm fans, as well as a fan filter to help reduce dust going into the case. The only reason I can see for taking off either of these covers, is for installation of the fans, and removing the 5.25″ drive bay panels left over from manufacturing. Otherwise, there’s really no need to take either one of these off.  They are independent so you can take either top, front, or both off without any issues.

Top Outside Under Cover

Top Outside Under Cover

Front Outside Under Cover

Front Outside Under Cover

Below is a photo of the case screws that hold the panels on.  Little snug the first time so you might need a screw driver to get them off.  And then we have all the other goodies.  Rubber feet for the case, stand-offs and screws, and even some zip ties to help with the cable management.

Exterior Case Thumb Screws

Exterior Case Thumb Screws

Case Accessories

Case Accessories

Close up of the 5.25″ adapter.  Good part about this, is that it can be internal or externally used.

2 1/2" or 3 1/2" Drive Slot for 5 1/4" Drive Bay

2 1/2" or 3 1/2" Drive Slot for 5 1/4" Drive Bay

Now, what we have here is the installation guide. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of these with a case before. So I took a gander at it and it gave a very nice walk-through of the whole case. How to install a HDD, fan, ODD, etc. Great addition for people with first builds in mind and who want a more step by step guide on how to install their hardware.

Manual

Manual

Details Inside Manual

Details Inside Manual

System Installation

I really didn’t have many issues during installation that wouldn’t be typical for most case installs. Here we have the motherboard bare and the PSU in the case. As seen in the picture, the motherboard just misses the top of the PSU, but there’s still room to easily install items. I put in the motherboard prior to installing the PSU. You can also see in the picture I have three exhaust fans and two intake fans and one more will be on the window itself.

Motherboard and PSU installed

Motherboard and PSU installed

Now with the other gear installed and hooked up, installation went quite smooth and I was happy with it, and my cabling even looks nice compared to what I’ve had in the past.

With everything hooked up

With everything hooked up

Here are two closer shots of the areas. First up is the HDD/SSD bays. Plenty of room, and even more space than expected. The SSD’s do make it look odd in this area just due to there small size and not sitting all the way forward in the bay near the fans.  For the rest of the case, nice and clean without a huge amount of cables going all over the place, so it makes for a cleaner look.  Sorry about that loose 8pin going to the motherboard there, I need an extension piece and it will look much better.

SSD/HDD Area

SSD/HDD Area

Case Interior

Case Interior

Sadly, after installing my heatsink, I couldn’t keep the second exhaust fan on the top side of the case.  Problem would be resolved if I could have rotated my heatsink on the motherboard, but my board won’t allow it. So had to remove the one case fan and had to remove my original clips to hold up the fans. I had to make something on the fly using twisty ties to get my fans mounted, couldn’t find my trusty zip ties. Now if the case was maybe 8-12 mm taller it would probably of fit the case fan and most mounting solutions. Also with the heatsink, I was worried that it would hit the side of the case, but it does actually fit.  Just clears the window on the side of the case by 1-2 mm, but it does fit with no contact.

Heatsink Close Up

Heatsink Close Up

Another issue I ran across during with the installation of my heatsink was the back plate mount as shown below. To get the backplate for my heatsink installed after the motherboard is mounted, I had to loosen the screws on the top of the motherboard and push it out to get the backplate to slip into the holes for mounting; after that, it’s all good. It’s such a small amount needed, 2-3 mm maybe more for the cut out.  For me it was more of an annoyance than anything, though at least I still didn’t have to fully remove the motherboard from the case which is still a plus but not perfect.

Back-Plate mounting problem

Back-Plate mounting problem

Now for the back of the case with cabling. I’m sure with a few proper or modified cables I could really clean up the clutter back here. The zip ties holding the cabling is really nice and works very well to keep cables from going all over the place. As well as making it much easier to get the case cover back on.

The Cabling

The Cabling

Showing a few more pictures of the zip ties on the top edge of the motherboard tray. They’re nice to keep those fan cables from being visible from the front side of the board. Then, the other picture shows where the fan cables can come out and around, and how I had to go around the motherboard tray to connect my SATA cables up to the motherboard.

Top of Motherboard and Wires

Top of Motherboard Tray

Fan Wiring and SATA Cables

Finally, the system is powered up and running. The picture of the power light being turned on doesn’t really do it justice. It’s bright and makes it noticeable in the room. Great for dark rooms and trying to move around without extra lights on.

Back Side of Case With Hardware Installed

Back Side of Case With Hardware Installed

Case Light Active

Case Light Active


System Performance

I don’t have any hardware to measure noise from case to case or nice thermal guns, but I do have some numbers from the CPU and GPU. These tests were done pre-remounting my CPU heatsink (as shown in the pictures above was after remounting). All of the testing was done with my average workloads, between gaming and doing 3D modeling. No extra stress tests where taken into account, but it was with using the same software at same room temperature in an air conditioned room at ~24° C (75° F).

Test System

CPU Intel i7 920 @ 3.67 GHz
Motherboard EVGA X58 SLI
Memory 6GB G.Skill PC3-12800 @ 1600 (8-8-8-25)
Video Card AMD HD 6950 unlocked @ 900/1375
Storage 2x Crucial 128GB (RAID0)
Power Supply Silverstone DA750
Heatsink Thermalright Ultra Extreme 120
OS Windows 7 Ultimate x64

 

Temperatures

Case Shinobi w/Window Antec P180 Modified
Idle Load Idle Load
CPU 39-41° C 58-59° C 41-42° C 60-61° C
GPU 37° C 66° C 38° C 68° C

Not only was it cooler for my gear, it wasn’t nearly as noisy which is always nice when the case is sitting right next to you on the desktop. The fan filters themselves also seem to be doing really well, the inside of the case is pretty clean. While the temps are affected by a few things, the Shinobi has a much better cable management system than my old one, but the big one is that the Shinobi, despite not being able to install two more 120 mm fans into the case, was still cooler.  My old case had eight 120 mm fans moving air around the case, four intake and four exhaust. The Shinobi had five fans, three intake and two exhaust.

Conclusion

While BitFenix might not be a well-known name currently on the market, they sure do know how to make a great case. The stylish look makes it a nice addition to most rooms without it seeming out of place.  There is a large amount of space inside the case for HDD’s or even over-sized GPU’s, a real important factor these days. A solid amount of air flow helps keep the all of the hardware cool. The cable management options help make it look pretty and clean for getting the better airflow if you have the windowed version.

Though there was the few issues I had dealing with the heatsink.  The backplate for the heatsink with the motherboard was a annoyance more than anything for me. I was grateful that I didn’t have to fully remove the motherboard to slip in the backplate.  Now the extra fan above the heatsink, it’s a shame I couldn’t get that in there.  I was looking forward to 2x exhaust fans on top but with the way the heatsink had to face it became an issue not only for the case fan itself but if I wanted a case fan for top exhaust I had to make something up to get the fans to mount to the heatsink. With the tremendous size of heatsinks these days, it is always important to do some quick measurements before purchasing a new case (or a new heatsink for that matter).

Now, after spending my time with the case and having the heatsink issues I’ve had with it, I still find it to be a good choice. Add to that the $59.00 + Shipping for Shinobi in Midnight Black, or $69.00 + Shipping for Shinobi w/ Window in Midnight Black also in Arctic White. Really how can you go wrong with that price? It’s great deal for a mid-tower case and budget-minded with some top-notch features. Would I consider recommending this case? Yes, I would.

Thanks again to BitFenix for providing Overclockers.com with this review sample!  It was very enjoyable.

- Dan Teresinski (Deathman20)

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6 Comments:

deathman20's Avatar
Just wanted to add something else to this. Getting a new motherboard this coming week so I'll see if the issues I had with the heatsink mount and fan positions still exist with the new board. I'll keep everyone updated.
BugFreak's Avatar
Funny thing. I was just looking at this case at performance-pcs and hoping I would see a review here for it. Thanks! Now if I can only find the white edition.

Do you think a radiator would fit on the top without issues similar to your heatsink? Hitting the motherboard, etc..
TollhouseFrank's Avatar
nice looking case.

what CPU Cooler are you using there?
deathman20's Avatar
I'll take a look at this and double check. Though a rad and fans... that might be pushing it depending on your motherboard and the heatsinks for the VRM's and possibly ram. Right now I'd say its either fans or rad in the top. Space for fans on the rad well I wouldn't count on it for majority of systems.

For the white edition, try buying it directly from BitFenix.

Using my trusty Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme. Sadly silly me when I got my new mobo I forgot the mounting clip I need for it so using the stock one right now on my i5 2500k. :/ Shame I want to OC it more!


Have to say with the new motherboard, depending on how the heatsink fits both fans possibly will fit in the top of the case if the fans are venting straight up and out the top of the case. The back mount plate shouldn't be an issue either like I had prior. Hopefully I'll have the necessary bracket by the end of this coming week.
deathman20's Avatar
CPU Mount coming in tonight! Will update once I have it assembled.
deathman20's Avatar
CPU mount successful with my new motherboard for i5 2500k, an Asus P8P67 with the Thermalright Ultra Extreme heatsink with the Venox mounting kit.

Heatsink fits horizontally perfectly fine (didn't try vertical) both fans mounted with original mounting kits I have for it. Second case fan for exhaust on top is now possible.

Mounting on the back plate. Its a tight fit, though its possible to get it in. I think its more dealing with the 1366 mounting kits since the plate would be smaller if it was a true 1155/1156 kit. Loosening the screws on the motherboard is not needed this time to remove or install the backplate at all.

Just wanted to give the update on this for everyone so they know!
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