The BitFenix brand has been on the ascendency in the enthusiast mind share over the last couple of years, mainly due to the success of its iconic small form factor offering — Prodigy. Today we look at a new revision of the enclosure which literally can pack a lot more hardware under the hood.
BitFenix “Prodigy M” Manufacturer Specifications:
|Colors (Int/Ext)||Black/Black, White/White|
|Dimensions (WxHxD)||250 x 404 x 359mm|
|Motherboard Sizes||Micro ATX, Mini-ITX|
|5.25” Drive Bays||x 1 (removable)|
|3.5” Drive Bays||x 4 (2 + 2)|
|2.5” Drive Bays||x 5 (3 + 2)|
|Cooling Top||120mm x 2 (optional)|
|Cooling Bottom||120mm x 2 (1 included) or 200mm x 1(optional) or 230mm x 1 (optional)|
|Cooling Rear||120mm x 1 (included) or 140mm x 1 (optional)|
|PCI Slots||x 5|
|I/O||USB 3.0 x 2, HD Audio|
|Power Supply||PS2 ATX (bottom, multi direction)|
|Extras||FyberFlex™ Composite handles, SofTouch™ surface treatment, heat shield|
The biggest change from the original mini-ITX-only Prodigy design is the restructuring of the case interior to support microATX motherboards (which means you can use Intel X79 HEDT motherboards like the Rampage IV GENE with a 12-core IVB-EP Xeon), and consequently five expansion slots (from just two), allowing the possibility of a dual-card GPU setup. Otherwise, the external dimensions of the case remains the same, as well as the SofTouch™ surface treatment on the panels and the iconic FyberFlex™ carrying handles which are extremely handy when transporting the system around.
Below, we find a variety of screw mounting holes that can support one of the following setups:
- 2 x 120mm fans
- 1 x 200mm / 230mm fan
- 2 x 3.5″ hard drives
The system power supply is also angled such that it will take in fresh air from the front and exhaust hot air to the bottom.
The twin side panels of the Prodigy M are inter-changeable and secured with large thumbscrews. On one of them, we find the aspirational inclusion of two USB 3.0 ports, and even a system reset (very rare in enclosures nowadays, but still useful in some cases) next to the power button. The only bummer is that the audio ports are not labelled or color-coded, which means new users would have to re-plug their headset 50% of the time.
Moving on to the interior, we find enough depth to fit a long graphics card like the Radeon HD 7990 (12 inch), although such buyers would have to be careful about their choice of power supply (<150mm). The Cooler Master Silent Pro M Power used in this case barely fits, and some of the modular cables had to be removed. We used a mini-ITX board here (Asus Maximus VI Impact, the long awaited review for it will be published soon) and a 120mm water cooling kit (Corsair H75).
As you can see from the picture below, a lot of cable management-fu is needed to keep things in check, and obviously more so if a microATX motherboard and dual-graphics card setup was used. Still, it isn’t as tight as some of the other SFF cases we’ve come across, and things can be pretty managable with a few cable ties and carefully researched component choices.
On our test rig, we installed 2 x 4tB WD Black drives (ought to be enough for most people right?) on the bottom and an SSD (up to 2 x 2.5″ drives) on the side panel behind the motherboard.
If you would somehow need more internal storage, BitFenix provides a metal bracket mounted on top of the motherboard that can hold another 2 x 2.5″ + 2 x 3.5″ drives. We can’t recommend doing this though, as the SATA power and data cabling itself would be mind boggling, with the added thermals being another concern.
BitFenix bundles three non-LED/PWM 120mm fans that are pre-installed on top (two) and as the rear exhaust (one). They are quiet in normal operation and push a decent amount of air.
A 240mm water-cooling radiator can be mounted the top, although it can be a stretch trying to get it over some taller graphic cards onto the CPU below.
Overall despite some cabling challenges which is not unexpected in small form factor systems, we find the BitFenix Prodigy M to be a practical and well engineered enclosure to work with. Build quality was top notch (all the panels fit to a T) and there was no sharp corners that could spill blood. This is the undisputed choice if you are the type who might occasionally carry your system around and still want the equivalent of a nuclear reactor inside (e.g to Lan Parties). There is also growing internet community of case-modding enthusiasts with custom paint jobs and lighting accessories to this case, owing to its versatility and user-centric design.
The icing on the cake would be its attractive pricing – it’s USD$89.99 on NewEgg and SGD$149 in Singapore Sim Lim Square shops, much cheaper than similar enthusiast-oriented cases from BitFenix’s competitors. The Prodigy M is also available in “Arctic White”.
Great looks and modding potential
Excellent build quality
Light and Easy to Carry
Great value for money
Needs some cable management magic if densely packed