With the steady growth in the PC gaming, many PC gamers are slowly embracing the DIY route when getting their own systems. Here in the Philippines though, there’s a large segment of the market that have neither the budget nor the compulsion to acquire something premium. This has led to a recent boom in the budget-level gaming market where peripherals, components and accessories arrive in all shapes and sizes. None of that is more true when it comes to the CPU chassis; quite possibly the primary showcase of any gaming system.
BitFenix has recently released the Comrade,Â an entry-level chassis aimed at first-time builders and the budget-conscious consumer. Featuring thatÂ distinct Bitfenix look and style, the Comrade is set to be the base for functional builds without breaking the bank. We’ll take a closer look at the Bitfenix Comrade and see what’s it got going on for it.
- MaterialsÂ Steel, PlasticColor
- (Int/Ext)Â Black/Black, White/White
- Dimensions (WxHxD)Â 185mm x 428.55mm x 470.5mm
- Motherboard SizesÂ Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX
- 5.25â€ Drive BaysÂ x 3
- 3.5â€ Drive BaysÂ x 3
- 2.5â€ Drive BaysÂ x 3
- Cooling FrontÂ 120mm x 2 (optional)
- Cooling RearÂ 120mm x 1 (1 included)
- PCI SlotsÂ 7
- 1 x USB3.0, 1 x USB2.0, HD Audio
- Power SupplyÂ PS2 ATX (bottom, multi direction)
- ExtrasÂ Front Dust Filter, PSU Dust Filter, Tool-Free Drive Locking
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The BitFenix Comrade arrives in a plain brown cardboard box with black bold prints. The sides of the box highlights the features of the chassis.
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The Comrade is sandwiched between two styrofoam inserts and is protected by a plastic bag to prevent scratching and such during transportation.
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Inside the packaging we have a guide, screws and some zip ties for cable management.
Closer Look – Exterior
The Bitfenix Comrade comes in two color variants: black and white. For this review we have the black version. Note that both variants are identical save for the color scheme.
The BitFenix Comrade is a regular mid-tower chassis, clad in a monochrome paint scheme. The sides are plain and have no styling in them at all. BitFenix is aiming at people looking for a sleek chassis with a subtle, aggressive look to it and is whisper quiet hence the lack of any venting holes.
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Checking out the front, we have 3 drive bays covers being the only break-up in the otherwise uniform front facade which curves downwards in the bottom bezel.
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The front panel LEDs and buttons are on the lower right side of the bezel. Along with this are a pair of USB and audio ports.
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A Bitfenix logo is the sole decorative piece in the entire exterior of the Comrade.
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Spinning the case around to check out the back, we can see the single 120mm exhaust mount, the slot for the bottom mount PSU, grommetted holes for watercooling, and vented expansionÂ slot covers.
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The bottom of the Comrade is sealed save for the PSU intake grills which has a removable dust filter with 4 plastic feet to keep the case off the ground.
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Three (3) 5.25″ drive bays are available although its getting rarer these for people to use these bays other than the occasional single CD/DVD drives.
Interior[singlepic id=16838 w=650Â h=650Â float=center]
Inside we can see we got plenty of space to work with. There are cable-management holes in the motherboard tray and the raised stand-offs remove the need for installing stand-off screws.
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The Comrade has 2 sets of drive cages, one for 3.5″ and another for 2.5″ making installing SSDs and HDDs easy. These drive bays are tool-less and you only need slide the trays in to lock them in place. The 5.25″ bays use a twist lock to secure whatever your place there easily.[singlepic id=16847 w=650Â h=650Â float=center]
As mentioned, the Bitfenix Comrade has a bottom-mounted PSU.
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A removable dust filter is installed to safeguard your PSU from dust and other aerial impurities.
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There’s not a lot of cable-management options in the back of the motherboard tray but it does include some routing holes on the side of the board to make life a little less complicated.
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The front panel cables are on the lower side of the front bezel so the cable are easily routed on the lower part of the back of the tray which is easily hidden.
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There isn’t plenty of space to tuck in your cables in the back of the mobo tray. Considering this is a budget case, it can easily be assumed that users will not be using modular PSUs so cable mess with high-wattage mainstream PSUs would easily be an issue with this chassis so we recommend something with a little less cables.
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BitFenix includes a single 120mm rear exhaust fan with the Comrade. Its nothing special but does its job. Its optimized for quiet operation so if you want something more powerful, you’re going for an aftermarket fan.
Removing the front cover reveals the front intake vents for the drive cages.No fans are include for the 2x120mm vents. A removable dust filter is in place for your convenience. The dust filter is tool-less and snaps in and out of place for easy maintenance.[section label=”Assembly”]
Assembly[singlepic id=16860 w=650Â h=650Â float=center]
The Comrade is a mid-tower case and can fully accommodate a standard ATX, micro-ATX or mini-ITX board.
As we’ve mentioned, there’s not plenty of space behind the motherboard tray so cable management with thick/stiff cables will be a problem. Here we have a 750W PSU with a lot of non-modular cables. There’s a ATX12V slot in the back but it is in some awkward position that routes behind the motherboard itself and goes upward which can be tricky for some PSUs with very stiff cables. Some low-capacity PSUs will have shorter cables so take note of that.
Also take note of our tower cooler. It goes beyond the capacity of this chassis so if you will be using a large tower-cooler, make sure it is below 160mm tall.
The 3.5″ drive trays are tool-less and require the user to only slide the tray division to expand and then set the drives in place. The 2.5″ drive trays requires the drive to be fastened via screws. The drives then slide and lock in to place.[singlepic id=16862 w=650Â h=650Â float=center]
There is plenty of space for very long GPUs up to 12″ in length. Putting two of those monster cards in there isn’t recommended though. Hand shown for support.[section label=”Conclusion”]
Conclusion[singlepic id=16849Â w=350Â h=350Â float=right]
This isn’t the first time we’ve encountered this chassis frame before (read our review of the Cougar Archon) and despite the fact that it is an affordable frame, many manufacturers who built around this frame have went out of their way to deck it out with modern features and capabilities usually found in high-end, premium chassis.
The BitFenix Comrade rendition is a good example of a feature-packed case done right. Let’s break down the score to expound further:
Build Quality.Â The Comrade is well-built and sturdy. We’ve commented on how eyeball-scorchingly cheap the Archon was and BitFenix managed to avoid this trap by sticking with a smooth and sleek front instead of a busy look. The plastic is still cheap but you’re not going to be smashing things against the Comrade so I don’t see the point of having space-age polymers going in there.
Functionality.Â The BitFenix Comrade, as mentioned, brings with it tons of time-saving features as well as premium usability touches that you would normally pay a premium for. As we’ve pointed out, there is a limit to how much you can pack in the Comrade and a high-end dual-tower cooler plus two SLI’d custom GTX780s is reasonably well beyond the capabilities of the chassis but if you’re fronting those specs, get a larger capacity chassis. Fact of the matter is still, the BitFenix Comrade is well-equipped to handle specs up to higher-midrange.
Bundle.Â There isn’t much in terms of in-package goodies but you do get quite plenty with the chassis itself. Built-in stand-offs, self-locking trays, tool-less PCI slots and drive bays, etc. that’s plenty of pre-included goodies.
Vaue.Â Here is where it all boils down to. BitFenix intends this chassis for the budget-conscious consumer and with a price tag of $49.00, it is well within reach.
Not everything is bright and sunny for the comrade though. In this day and age where USB3.0 is plenty already plus it being backwards compatible, we just don’t see the point of going 1x USB2.0 and 1x USB3.0 on the front. This would’ve save some cable space as it only needs a single front panel header for the USB3.0.
Another is the lack of space behind the board tray. Cougar remedied this issue on this frame by having an extruded side panel to provide at least an inch more of cable space.
The lack of side window is always a concern for some builders and BitFenix has stated that they are coming up with a windowed version of the Comrade in the future.
Other than those, the BitFenix Comrade serves its purpose well: an easy to build chassis that has plenty of room for future upgrades should you start off with a barebone PC build. Looks are subjective and in our case, we appreciate the subtleties of the Comrade’s facade. Its simple enough to not be distracting yet has that illusion of mystery that BitFenix-design chassis possess.
BitFenix still has some room to improve on the Comrade but as it is, its a fully-functional chassis to suit the needs of a sizable market. Those needing a quiet chassis and don’t bother about showing off the guts of the PC (although that could change soon). The BitFenix Comrade is a top choice for a quiet PC build or a foundation for barebones gaming system that will grow as you upgrade down the road.
We give the BitFenix Comrade our B2G Value Award and B2G Recommended seal.