It’s the role of a technology reviewer to be a distant, impartial arbiter of product quality and success. Personal bias should, ideally, never come into the equation when you’re recommending a product to someone, except... Well, sometimes a brand comes along that really grabs you. The kind of brand that has consistently delivered great products to the extent that just seeing that company’s logo makes you feel like good things are just around the corner.
Thus, I give you... Bitfenix.
I can remember seeing my first Bitfenix cases at Gamescom in Germany a few years ago, and being blown away by them. My second thought (the first being “Whoa!”) was to wonder why these cases weren’t available in Australia; thankfully, it wasn’t long after that that we made contact with crew at Bitfenix, and found out their gear was finally hitting our shores, via our friends at Altech. Oh, happy day.
Since then we’ve not met a Bitfenix case we don’t like. But, more importantly, companies like Bitfenix have pretty much redrawn how we look at case design and value. Designs that once would have ruled the roost now seem over-priced, even under-specced by comparison. It’s hard not to be biased in favour of these guys, and the new mid-range Raider ATX case ain’t helping.
There’s something to be said about a really aggressively styled case, one that looks like it’s something out of the space program or a military trade show. But it’s a look that’s hard to get right, and sometimes you just want a case that is more restrained in its design; a case that’s quietly confident, rather than yelling at the top of its lungs. Bitfenix’s designs are universally laid back, even its higher end gaming models, and the Raider is no exception. The front fascia is a simple piece of curved black mesh, highlighted only by the metallic company logo. The only thing that will break up this simplicity is the addition of an optical drive, but case design tempts you to remove that as soon as you have Windows installed and to then rely on digital services like Steam for installing new games. The mesh is sandwiched between two arcs of rubber-coated metal that sweep up onto the top panel, and there’s more mesh here, in a top fascia that lifts off to reveal an empty 200mm fan mount.
The IO options are also on this strip, with four USB3 ports on one side, and power and activity lights on the other, alongside a very welcome fan controller.
Both sides are plain, so if you’re looking for a windowed case, the Raider’s not ideal. The rear is pretty stark, but features rubber grommetted holes for water cooling, and meshed expansion slot covers for increased airflow.
It’s the airflow aspect of the case that impresses us the most, actually. Bitfenix has started to spin out its fans into a standalone business, and they’re pretty good. You’ll find three of these fans in the Raider, with two covering in-take duty behind the front panel, and another exhausting the now hot air in the rear. At stock, this means you’ve got positive air-pressure building up inside case, helping combat dust build-up.
If you’re really worried about heat, though, there’s the aforementioned 200mm mount at the top (and you can rest assured that nothing too dangerous is going to drop into this mount, thanks to the fine-grade mesh on the case’s top panel), and another optional 120mm mount on the bottom of the Raider, which also features well-made removable mesh filter.
Looking deeper inside the Raider, there’s a lot of room for all kinds of builds. There are two discrete HD cages, featuring tool-less, slide-out caddies for your drives. The top cage can be removed, too, if you’re more interested in having a lengthy video card in your system than a metric crap-tonne of HDDs. Removing the top cage would certainly increase airflow, regardless.
There’s another tool-less clamping option to secure optical drives, and for once this seems rather solid. We’ve known a few 5.25in tool-free designs to be way too prone to breakage, but Bitfenix has gotten it right. The expansion slots, however, rely on old-fashioned screws, just the way we like it. Given the weight of modern video cards, especially higher-end, double or even triple-slot models, you really need something more reliable than dodgy clips.
The mobo plate has a roomy cut-out to help installing new CPU coolers, and there’s a lot of room behind here for hiding away cables. There’s also a mess of well-placed cable slots about the backing plate, each with a soft rubber grommet to protect cables. The PSU mounts on four rubber knobs, too, keeping it secure and quiet at the same time. It’s also worth noting that the upper 200mm fan mount places the fan outside the main metal chassis on the case, making accidental contact with any inadequately secured cables unlikely.
There’s a whole lot to like about the Raider, and very little to complain, but arguably its greatest achievement is that it can be found for a shade under $100 at many outlets. That’s three good fans, fan controller, USB3 connectivity, and a generally great and versatile design for an excellent price.
See? There’s a reason we love Bitfenix! Check out the gallery above and let us know what you think.