It’s no secret that we love the BitFenix Prodigy here in Atomic Towers. We’ve done a first look, gallery and preview of the case, and now it’s time for a full-fledged review. We first saw the Bitfenix Prodigy back in March, when John took a trip over the pond to the BitFenix HQ in Taipei. Ever since, we’ve been dreaming up cool mods and builds that would be possible with this little gem, and for an ITX case it’s surprisingly customisable.
BitFenix hasn’t tried to make the smallest case – that much is obvious when you first open the box. In fact, due to the way the motherboard lays ‘flat’ instead of vertical, the case is rather wide when compared to other mini ITX cases on the market. This depth is a good thing if you’re planning on running some mods and possibly a water loop inside, though if you’re chasing every square centimetre of space saving perhaps you should look elsewhere.
Inside, the top three HDD trays (or more accurately the top rack) are completely removable. This will free up the rear panel for mounting reservoirs or any other modding goodness you may desire. The top of the remaining HDD tray also leaves you with a second ‘flat’ mounting surface for other hardware.
Below the motherboard tray is the ATX mounting bracket for the PSU. It’s filtered, cut to size and completely isolated from the rest of the system. This is useful for water cooling, as if by some tragic accident you do develop a leak, it should be fairly hard for any water to enter your PSU, and will hopefully keep your system alive in the process (don’t laugh, it happens!).
If custom cooling isn’t for you, the top of the case sports a nice 240mm grille to mount either two 120mm fans side-by-side or indeed a nice Corsair H100 or similar 240mm closed-loop radiator. Cleaning radiators has never been easier, as the top filter has a quick release clip, detaching and reattaching with one quick motion and. Simply pop it off, clean the radiator, fans, and the grille, then you’re back to gaming in a couple of minutes. If only my water cooled TJ11 was so easy to maintain!
There are two primary consumers in the mini-ITX market: those who want a small attractive case that sits on (or under) their desk without taking up too much space, or making their living room look like a server room; and the people who want light and easy case to transport to and from friends’ places. Both have been well catered for here, with the carry handles both offering a practical use, and a functional one. The case really does look like modern art in a certain way, and if you grab the white one it’s bound to fit in well with all of the iHipster products floating around your house (hey! –ed).
Stock airflow is all you need for a case of this size, and with two 120mm fans it’s actually more than a lot of similarly priced ATX cases come with. The biggest problem you’ll likely encounter is the video card length. With the orientation of the motherboard, the PCI lane will line up to come into the path of the HDD tray pinch clips that keep the HDD tray secure. If your video card is any longer than 180mm it flat out won’t fit; well, unless you remove the two offending HDD trays.
Some people may care more about this more than others, but you can still have two 3.5in drive bays and up to four 2.5in drives, using various mounting points hidden around the case. Of course, not everyone likes to choose between a longer graphics card (read: more powerful graphics card) and a large HDD capacity, especially when this case isn’t actually that small.
The final challenge to overcome with the Prodigy is, of course, cable routing and tidying. With such a compact bottom half to this case there are very few places to cram or neatly hide masses of cables. For this reason you will almost certainly want a modular PSU, and perhaps even re-size and re-sleeve your PSU manually. It sounds like a lot of work, but that’s what a case like this is all about. What’s system building without a bit of modding fun?
If you don’t want to pull out, cut or change anything, the case is still a very nice piece of kit, however we feel its potential is only truly unlocked when you start to make use of the extra room given to you. Sure, one could argue that the extra breathing space inside the case is good for airflow, but we’d argue that any wasted space inside a case is just that. Either fill it with hard drives as an attractive media centre, or rip out a couple of HDD trays and make the ultimate water-cooled mini frag box!