BitFenix Shadow Review

BitFenix Shadow Mid-Tower Chassis Review


Last year saw us get a salvo of BitFenix chassis for review and still on the tail of all those load is another one to open up the new year. For anyone who has been or at least in part ever wanted to put together a build aimed at housing more than four hard disks, you’d know there’s plenty of options to get in the higher-end spectrum but for the budget builder that may not be case (pun intended).

bitfenix_logo

In this review, we’ll take a look at the more affordable options for building up such a system while still offering the flexibility that most enthusiast builders have come to expect from a brand like BitFenix. Today we take a look at the BitFenix Shadow, another sleek case from the company that again offers much of the features we’ve come to expect from a modern case, all enclosed in a simple and clean exterior. Let’s take a closer look at the BitFenix Shadow.

Specifications

Materials Steel, Plastic
Colors (Int/Ext) Black/Black
Dimensions (WxHxD) 190 x 440 x 506mm
Motherboard Sizes ATX, Micro ATX, Mini-ITX
5.25” Drive Bays x 3
3.5” Drive Bays x 7
2.5” Drive Bays x 1
Cooling Front 120mm x 2 (1 included)
Cooling Bottom 120mm x 1 (optional)
Cooling Rear 120mm x 1 (included) or 92mm x 1 (optional) or 80mm x 1 (optional)
PCI Slots x 7
I/O USB 3.0 x 2, USB 2.0 x 2, HD Audio
Power Supply PS2 ATX (bottom, multi direction)
Extras SofTouchâ„¢ Surface Treatment, selectable red/blue LEDs, removable dust filters, tool-free drive locking mechanisms

Packaging

The common trend amongst case-makers nowadays is to do away with the colored box packaging. In here we see BitFenix employ the familiar brown cardboard box packaging to keep it simple and save some costs in the process. The signature BitFenix packaging has the BitFenix logo adorning the front of the box with the name of the chassis in bold print. Flip over to the back and we have feature highlights of the Shadow in the box enumerating the chassis’ main selling points.

BitFenix Shadow Review

Inside the box, the BitFenix Shadow is protected during transit with styro foam inserts and is covered in a plastic bag. The front of the chassis is positioned in the top-flap so don’t have anyone sitting on the box or you’ll risk some damages on the front.

Closer Look – Exterior

Taking out the Shadow out of the box, we first take a look at its sides. As you can see, both left and right panels are devoid of any styling or visual designs. The side profile of the chassis facade breaks up the otherwise straight look of this viewing angle for the Shadow.

BitFenix Shadow Review

And here we have the front of the BitFenix Shadow. Angled sides taper inwards to give the matte, slate look an edgy appeal and grooves running down the side break up the overall flat look of the bezel. The BitFenix logo crowns the front and really gives it a classic, clean look.

kensei_muguruma

We would also like to point out that the intake vents/slits in the front look like Kensei Muguruma’s Hollow Mask from Bleach. Bankai!

BitFenix Shadow Review

Checking out the back of the Shadow chassis, we see a 120mm vent and grommet holes for external mount watercooling radiators. From this view, we can also see that the BitFenix Shadow has a bottom-mount PSU placement and we have up to 7 expansion slots available to us. Thumbscrews secure the side panels in place and one of the panels has installations for installing a padlock for security.

BitFenix Shadow Review

The front of the Shadow swings left revealing the fully-vented front panel of the chassis. A large intake channel blows over the HDD grills while the three 5.25″ drive bays get vented covers for maximum airflow.

BitFenix Shadow Review

Speaking of airflow, the bottom of the chassis also sports intake for both the PSU and an auxiliary 120mm vent for another bottom mounted fan. Plastic feet keep the Shadow stable but no rubber here for better grip on smooth surfaces.

BitFenix Shadow Review

Neatly placed on top of the front panel are the front I/O ports featuring audio, USB3.0 and USB2.0 ports and the power and reset switches. Sitting between the last USB2.0 and power button are the light on/off switch and color switcher for the built-in LED light which we’ll take a look at later.

Closer Look – Interior

BitFenix Shadow Review

And here we have the interior of the BitFenix Shadow: all 7 HDD slots and three 5.25″ drive bays for a total of up to 10 drives in tandem use. The internal of the chassis is all black with the motherboard tray having pre-built raised stand-offs for ATX, mATX and ITX motherboard support. Cable management holes are present but not as gigantic as the ones on the BitFenix Ghost we’ve taken a look at earlier. A 120mm fan is preinstalled for rear-exhaust duties.

BitFenix Shadow Review

The front intake vent as mentioned, blows air straight to the HDD cage. A single 120mm fan is included for the front intake for HDD bay cooling duties.

BitFenix Shadow Review

A shot of the bottom vents shows us the guards for the vents.

BitFenix Shadow Review

Going back to the front, we can tap the front panel filter to release it and we get access front fans. A 240mm radiator may be mounted here but looping the tubing might be a bit hard and may require a bit of case modifications.

BitFenix Shadow Review

Slamming the filter back in and closing the front panel, the slits in the front serve more than just visual purposes as it becomes the primary breathing holes for the front intake should you choose to shove some high-airflow fans in there.

BitFenix Shadow Review

Removing the remaining side panel, we get access to the back of the motherboard tray where we see the pre-cut holes for cable management. Note that there is some space in the side of the 3.5″ HDD trays where you can tuck away your unused cables since the drive trays all have the SATA and power cables loop inside.

BitFenix Shadow Review

You don’t get much slack for jamming plenty of cables in the back though as the Shadow barely has half-an-inch of clearance from the motherboard tray to the side panel. Add to that the fact that the rear side panel isn’t raised will leave you cramming in the cables unless you do some smart cabling.

System Assembled

BitFenix Shadow Review

Here we have a full-sized ATX board installed. There is plenty of space between the board and the drive cages so you can do some creative cable-management there since the drives will have their ports protrude from this side. The chassis can accommodate a 120mm rear-mount AIO watercooler and has space for tower coolers at below 150mm in height.

We mentioned the built-in LED lighting on the shadow and here it is in both its blue and red setting. The buttons on the front I/O gives us the option to go red to blue or on/off depending on your mood.

Conclusion

Touring around the case, one just can’t shake the feeling of having the passe’ internals weigh down the Shadow. While its exterior is seemingly cool enough, the internal design is something that we don’t see much these days. That said, one has to wonder if the value of the chassis is really worth it. Priced locally at around $79, it sits in a spot where value and form collide with many watered-down version of premium chassis sits from other brands. In the case of the Shadow, we see an older design given a bump to premium status.

Let’s break it down before our verdict. The build quality of the Shadow is good and some of the design cues are worth noting like the overall tool-less design or the fully-vented front panel. The drive locks though give the internal of the chassis a cheap feel and the lack of protrusion or otherwise visual interest give the side panel a dull appeal without the front to give it an appeal.

BitFenix Shadow Review

In terms of features though, the chassis does manage to cater to our deeper desires of storing more storage in a smaller enclosure. While some longer GPUs may cause issues with you stacking all those HDDs inside, we’d easily advise against it as the chassis does get to become quite hot with a fully loaded GTX 780 Ti inside with the stock fans needing a bit more help.

All those said, the BitFenix Shadow is more of a utilitarian chassis other than a high-performance gaming enclosure. With its striking exterior, the BitFenix Shadow offers expansive storage capabilities with its support for up to seven 3.5″ drives and still boasts enough modern machine creds to build your mid-range gaming machine in. With street prices going as low as $60, the BitFenix Shadow is a tough deal to pass up and a highly recommended build for storage server builds that want a stand-out themed case at bargain.

BitFenix backs the Shadow with a 1-year warranty. We give the Bitfenix Shadow our B2G Recommended Award.

B2G_Recommended

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