BitFenix Phenom Mini-ITX Case Review

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BitFenix had great success with their Prodigy ITX case, and now they have an ITX alternative with the Phenom. With SFF systems becoming more and more popular, it’s always nice to have plenty of options in cases. Let’s find out what the BitFenix Phenom has to offer the ITX crowd…

Specifications & Features

(Courtesy of BitFenix)

It’s definitely worth noting that the Phenom also comes in an mATX version for those who need more than one expansion slot.

BitFenix Phenom Mini-ITX Case Specifications
Materials Steel, Plastic, SofTouch™
Colors (Int/Ext) White/White, Black/Black
Dimensions (W x H x D) 250 x 330 x 374 mm
Motherboard Size Mini-ITX
3.5″ Drive Bays 6 (5 + 1 with adapter)
2.5″ Drive Bays 11 (5 + 2 + 2 + 1 + 1 with adapter)
Cooling Top 2x 120 mm (Optional)
Cooling Front 2x 120 mm (1 Included) or 1x 140/180/200/230 mm (Optional)
Cooling Rear 1x 120 mm (Included) or 1x 140 mm (Optional)
Expansion Slots 2
Front Panel I/O 2x USB 3.0, Audio I/O
Power Supply PS2 ATX (Bottom, multi-direction)
Extras Tool-free drive locking, SofTouch™ surface treatment, filtered intakes

Features

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Clean and Modern Styling

Phenom was engineered to be a sleek modern cube design that fits in any environment. Mesh accents on the sides strikingly compliment the clean and uncluttered top, front, and side panels, while the high-gloss BitFenix logo in front provides a perfect contrast to the luxuriously soft matte finish of the SofTouch™ Surface Treatment. These elements combine with the subtle contours of the panels to form a timeless design ideal for a modern décor.

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Superb Flexibility

Tiny but mighty, Phenom Mini-ITX delivers an exceedingly flexible interior. Remove the included FlexCage™ and install a long graphics card up to 330mm in length. Thick radiators up to 240mm can be installed up top, and if you need more water cooling, radiators can be installed in front as well. Those who prefer air cooling will be pleased to see that tall CPU coolers up to 175mm can be mounted with no fuss. When it comes to hardware compatibility, Phenom is truly phenomenal.

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Tremendous Storage Potential

With room for up to six 3.5″ HDDs or eleven 2.5″ SSDs, Phenom Mini-ITX offers a tremendous amount of storage capacity, making it an ideal candidate for your media server or NAS box.

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The Choice Is Yours

Like every system, every environment is also unique. Phenom comes in both mini ITX and micro ATX models, each with both Midnight Black and Arctic White color options.

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Easy to Build

Endlessly fidgeting with hardware to get your system running is no fun, which is why Phenom Mini-ITX offers multiple features to make the build process as easy as possible. Tool-free drive locking mechanisms make installing disks a breeze, while zones for cable management ensure a tidy build. Filtered intakes keep airborne dust on the outside, and a squeeze-to-release FlexCage™ quickly enables room for long graphics cards.

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High-Speed USB 3.0 Connectivity

Media files are constantly increasing in size. With two high speed USB 3.0 ports, you’ll be able to transfer files to Phenom Mini-ITX at speeds up to ten times that of USB 2.0.

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BitFenix Quality

Phenom is packed with small touches that make using and owning a BitFenix chassis an experience. From the slick powder coated interior, to the rolled-edge cable pass-throughs and quick-release dust filters, Phenom embodies the BitFenix experience through and through.

 

The BitFenix Phenom – Exterior

The exterior of this Phenom sample is mostly white with black accents. The front and top of the case has the SofTouch finish, giving it a slightly rubberized feel. The side panels do not have the SofTouch finish and are the typical white painted panels. I was concerned that these two different finishes may cause the colors not to match, but both finishes are the same shade of white.

Right Isometric

Right Isometric

Left Isometric

Left Isometric

The front is bare except for the black BitFenix logo towards the bottom.

Front

Front

The top has a black, 2x 120 mm fan grill which is removable by sliding the lock to the right and lifting it out.

Top

Top

Filter Removed

Filter Removed

Unfortunately, a standard 25 mm thick fan does not fit in the space between the filter and the fan mounting. This means there will always be ~20 mm of wasted space at the top of the case. If the top panel would have been made ~7 mm taller or so, then fans would have fit perfectly up there and made efficient use of the available space.

Top Compartment with 120 x 25 mm Fan

Top Compartment with 120 x 25 mm Fan

The left side panel is completely bare, and the right side panel has the I/O connections consisting of 2x USB 3.0 ports, audio I/O, power button, and reset button. When looking at the sides you’ll also notice a black grill just behind the front of the case, which provides air for the Phenom’s front intake fan.

Left Side Panel

Left Side Panel

Right Side Panel

Right Side Panel

Front Panel I/O Close Up

Front Panel I/O Close Up

Looking at the back, we can see that the PSU sits on the bottom with a horizontal motherboard tray just above it. The rear also has a spot for either a 120 or 140 mm exhaust fan.

Back

Back

Expansion Slot Lock

Expansion Slot Lock

The PSU will slide into the case from the back after the white frame is mounted onto the PSU, then the frame will be attached to the case.

PSU Slot

PSU Slot

PSU Slot Frame

PSU Slot Frame

The PSU intake filter will keep any dust bunnies from making their way into the PSU, and the filter is accessible from the rear of the case for cleaning.

PSU Intake Filter

PSU Intake Filter

On the bottom of the Phenom there are four rubber feet to keep the case off the floor, which allows room for the PSU to intake air. The feet are easily removed by just unscrewing them. Once they’re removed, we can see that each foot has some optional adhesive available by removing the paper from around the screw threads.

Bottom

Bottom

Feet Removed

Feet Removed

With the feet removed, we have access to all six HDD cage mounting screws. These will need to be removed if you want to take the lower HDD cage out of the Phenom.

HDD Cage Mounting Screws

HDD Cage Mounting Screws

The BitFenix Phenom – Interior

The internals may look familiar to those acquainted with the BitFenix Prodigy.

Internal Shot

Internal Shot

Internal Shot

Internal Shot

There are technically three hard drive cages:  a double 3.5″ bay cage mounted to the bottom of the case, a 5.25″ bay + 3.5″ adapter mounted to the top of the case, and a triple 3.5″ bay cage that easily slides in between the other two. The 5.25″ bay by itself is pretty pointless in the Phenom since there isn’t external access to the bay for something like a optical disk drive. I guess a single 5.25″ bay reservoir could still be used in that bay, it just won’t be able to be seen from the outside of the case. All of the drive cages can be removed from the case if you so desire, as shown below. With all of the cages removed, there is still room for up to five 2.5″ drives.

HDD Cages

HDD Cages

Middle HDD Cage Removed

Middle HDD Cage Removed

Bottom HDD Cage Removed

Bottom HDD Cage Removed

All HDD Cages Removed

All HDD Cages Removed

With the drive cages removed, we can see the opposite side panel that sports a unique “cage” for a couple 2.5″ drives and the side panel I/O wiring. We can also see that there is a 2.5″ drive mount in the bottom of the case.

Bottom 2.5" Drive Mount

Bottom 2.5″ Drive Mount

Right Side Panel

Right Side Panel

The PSU cage is made so that the PSU has to be inserted from the rear of the Phenom. There are four rubber standoffs for the PSU to sit on and absorb any vibrations that may occur. We can also see the other side of the PSU intake grill that was mentioned earlier. On the front of the PSU cage there are mounting holes for up to two 2.5″ drives which can only be used when some of the other drive cages are removed.

The motherboard tray was made by just adding four standoffs on top of the PSU cage. This makes the tray horizontal, which means those of you with large heatsinks don’t have to worry about any board flexing.

PSU Cage

PSU Cage

PSU Cage

PSU Cage

Once the 5.25″ bay is removed, we can get clear access to the top of the case. There are spots for two 120 mm fans or a 2×120 mm radiator on this side of the mount.

Top (5.25" Bay Removed)

Top (5.25″ Bay Removed)

The front of the case has mounting for various fan sizes ranging from 120 mm to 230 mm. Also, notice the 5.25″ bay cover has the mounting holes for an upper 120 mm fan, so it would be best not to break the cover off, especially since there isn’t external access to the 5.25″ bay.

Front Panel Removed

Front Panel Removed

2 x 120 mm Front Fans

Top 120 mm Front Fan Mounting

There are two Spectre fans included with the Phenom, one in the front and one in the back. The model number is BFF-SCF-12025KK-RP which, according to BitFenix, is a 1000 RPM fan pushing 43.5 ft3/min of air and producing less than 20 dBA of noise.

Included Top and Rear Fans

Included Top and Rear Fans

Component Installation

I’m using is a Seasonic X750 PSU, which is 160 mm in length. The overall length of the Phenom’s PSU cage is 177 mm, so that gives me ~17 mm to work with. Now, the connectors on the end of the PSU cables stick out 10 mm from the PSU, and that leaves ~7 mm for wire bending to avoid hitting the front of the PSU cage.

I had a very hard time installing this PSU into the Phenom. It took three tries, and I almost gave up after the second attempt. To finally get the PSU to fit, I had to use needle nose pliers to bend my PSU wires 90° at the connectors, turn the Phenom so the the rear was facing up, push the PSU in and hold it in place with my knee and body weight, then secure it with thumbscrews.

The 160 mm is a very common PSU length (hard to find one shorter on NewEgg) and modular wires are commonplace as well. So with the Phenom and other BitFenix ITX cases, the consumer needs to be wary of possible PSU compatibility issues.

However, BtFenix has said that they are in the process of changing the PSU cages in their ITX cases to open end cages (like their Colossus Mini) and these will be implemented into their entire lineup soon. This will fix the issues I had when installing my Seasonic X750.

PSU Installed

PSU Installed

Motherboard installation is very simple with the horizontal tray; just place the board, line up the holes, and mount it in place with the provided screws. A short screwdriver would be preferred, the extra long one I had was a little awkward, but doable.

Motherboard Installed

Motherboard Installed

It’s a little tight putting a 3.5″ drive in the 5.25″ sled and it causes the sled to flex, of course 2.5″ drives fit easily. Both size drives mount with screws through the bottom of the sled.

Drive Sled Tight Fit

Drive Sled Tight Fit

The 3.5″ trays are pretty typical and just wrap around the hard drive with pegs sliding into the side mounting holes of the drive.

3.5" Drive

3.5″ Drive Sled

3.5" Drive in Sled

3.5″ Drive in Sled

I really like the use of the side panel as a 2.5″ drive mount. This cleans up the interior and makes for plenty of room for water cooling components.

Side Panel 2.5" Mount

Side Panel 2.5″ Mount

Side Panel Installed

Side Panel Installed

The GPU is easy to install as well. The small door on the back has to be opened, then the expansion bracket will fit in there and the GPU just drops down into place. Then close the door and use a thumbscrew or two to keep it in place.

GPU Installed

GPU Installed

Conclusion

The BitFenix Phenom is a very sleek ITX/mATX case that makes use of its front and top panels to soften the looks with their rounded edges. The white theme with black accents gives a nice contrast and is pleasing to eye, in my opinion. It’s also available in an entirely black version for those not fond of white cases.

It’s definitely not the smallest ITX case out there, but it’s not looking to fit that role. The extra space provides as many, if not more, hard drive mounts as an ITX board has SATA ports. The space could also be used for custom water cooling loop components. Even without the drive cages, between three and five 2.5″ drives can be mounted (depending on whether the case has a closed or open PSU cage).

The only major downside to this iteration of the Phenom is the closed PSU cage that limits PSU compatibility. My 160 mm fully modular SeaSonic X750 was a very tight fit, but I did eventually get it in there. However, this downside is currently being addressed by BitFenix, so it will be a moot point once the open ended PSU cages filter into the stock.

I think there could have been a little more thought put into the top panel design so that 25 mm thick fans would fit in the space below the top grill. Fans are so close to fitting, and a small 7 mm increase in space would have allowed fans to be installed there. As is, there will be 20 mm of wasted space up top. This isn’t a major concern, just a missed opportunity to make more efficient use of space.

Overall, the Phenom is a great ITX/mATX case which combines plenty interior space, relatively small size, and stylish aesthetics.

Overclockers_clear_approvedClick the stamp for an explanation of what it means.

– Matt T. Green (MattNo5ss)

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Discussion
  1. Whats the thickest fan that would fit up top where you noted a 25mm fan would not fit?
    I think there is a company that makes an 18MM fan. Would that fit?
    18 mm should fit up top, and that would be the max.
    There's plenty of room inside the case for fans, or even a top rad plus fans. The 25 mm fans not fitting up top is just a missed opportunity, not really a downside.
    givmedew
    240 radiator fits up top...
    what fits in the front?

    There are mounting holes for 2x120mm, 140mm, 180mm, 200mm, and 230mm fan sizes.
    cullam3n
    Thanks for the review. In that last picture with the full length video card, would you be able to have the lower hard drive bracket installed?

    Yeah, the lower hard drive cage and the upper 5.25" cage fit easily. According to BitFenix, all the cages can fit if you turn the 3.5" cages 180° and use a plastic/cardboard shim between the GPU and cages.