BitFenix Shinobi XL Review

BitFenix Shinobi XL Review

BitFenix Shinobi XL Review

Introduction

It seems as though the XL has already been around so long, so many of you have been patiently waiting for its official UK release. Well today with a lovely exclusive UK window of opportunity its now time for OC3D to pass its judgemental eyes across the BitFenix Shinobi XL! Has it been worth the wait, can the watercooling support really be that good for that much money...? All questions that will be answered in our video review!


Specifications

MaterialsSteel, Plastic
Color (Int/Ext) Black/Black
Dimensions (HxWxD)570 x 245 x 557mm (ATX Full Tower)
Motherboard SizesMini-ITX, mATX, ATX, XL-ATX
5.25” Drive Baysx 5
3.5” Drive Baysx 7
2.5” Drive Baysx 8 (using 3.5" drive bays and 5.25" adapter)
Cooling Front1 x 230mm (included), or 3 x 120mm (optional)
Cooling Rear1 x 120mm (included), or 1 x 140mm (optional)
Cooling Top2 x 230mm (x 1 included), or 3 x 120mm (optional)
Cooling Bottom2 x 120mm (optional)
PCI Slots9
I/O1 x SuperCharge™, 4 x USB 3.0, HD Audio
Power SupplyPS2 ATX (bottom, multi direction)
ExtrasSuperior watercooling support, FlexCage™, SofTouch™ Surface Treatment, filtered intakes, tool-free drive locking
Maximum CPU Cooler Height181.1mm
Maximum Expansion Card Length334mm (with HDD cage) / 487mm (with HDD cage removed)
Maximum MB Tray Clearance (rear)32.5mm



Video Review




Conclusion

My oh my what a complicated one this will be. Its an epic case there is no doubt of that and it smashes in at an awesome price point of just £119.99 at SpecialTech so what do you get for your 120 hard earned British pounds? Well watch the video if you want the ins and outs but we will skim over the basics here.

The internals are essentially a Colossus with 360mm radiator support in the roof and in the front, but they have decided to make the case XL-ATX compatable and have added an extra PCI slot in the back to make this possible. Trouble is by doing this the extra room needed for the PCI slot has basically been lost from the roof and this means reducing the possible radiator thickness that you could use now up to a maximum 55mm thickness + a normal sized fan. For a case that's heavily aimed at water cooling this in my eyes is fail. The Colossus supported a 60mm thick rad but this now doesn't. Sad times. Its the same story in the front, there's acres of room there but the cut out in the optical bays just isn't big enough and limits radiators to a maximum thickness of just 50mm + a set of normal fans. If structural rigidity was an issue here simple move able support rods could have been moved / removed at the users discretion depending on their own needs.

For a mass market case we also feel that not having any HDD support when using the front mount for a radiator is also a massive oversight considering the space in the floor of the case. It actually comes down to a choice with the single optical bay above a 360mm rad mounted in the front to a HDD or and optical drive.... We would always favor the HDD but we are fully aware many of you still live in the dark ages and insist on an optical in your rigs!

Airflow to the front radiator is also ~very~ limited with an increase of 4c on our basic system during some brief testing that will only be made worse the more heat you put into the rad. Seeing as the external plastics is basically a body kit we think it would have been a much better idea to make the front panel thicker and have added some ventilation slots down the sides to have allowed the rad to breathe a little easier. Talking of the externals it would have also have been a master stroke to have been able to fit fans underneath the roof grill (outside of the main chassis but underneath the roof grill panel) as it is there are some roof beams that completely block this and this is yet another area that could have easily been addressed to make this case that little bit better.

This may all seem negative but we wanted to bring its little flaws to your attention, because from an engineers point of view all these issues could have been quickly and cheaply rectified to have made this case an absolute no brainer. Sure the basic styling will not appeal to everyone but the case was so close to being perfect on the features department its beyond Frustrating. Its still very much worth its gold award but let it be known BitFenix that it only *JUST* got it. If you had put a little more thought into this case we would have been shouting from the roof tops as one of the best water cooling cases to ever been released. As it stands now its just another good case that should be an option on a short list rather than your only sensible option.

So close yet still so far. Im off for a cry!

   

Thanks to BitFenix for the XL on review here today, you can discuss your thoughts in our forums.

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Most Recent Comments

15-03-2012, 11:28:13

tinytomlogan


Its time for the BitFenix Shinobi XL to get the exclusive OC3D case treatment!

Continue Reading

15-03-2012, 11:35:09

dugdiamond
i like.... i like alot.

i may be using these for my future farm-drones

15-03-2012, 11:47:13

Zanc
Hope sometime soon i can finally replace my antec 300!

15-03-2012, 11:50:17

SieB
I am a bit disappointed in this case to be honest.

It is a decent case, but, it looks cheap, the frame is really thin and it looks a bit weak, the "dust filter" or should I say pointless mesh on the front is poor.

I don't want it to sound like I am slagging BitFenix off or anything like that, I actually like BitFenix, but the quality and features of this case are lacking compared to cases that cost just a bit more, or even around the same price. The lack of those few extra mm for full sized rads is a big let down as well, if it hadn't been for that, the quality and lack of features could have been overlooked a little due to it having great radiator support. With no real place for a drive bay res or your HDDs with a rad in the front, little room for mounting a pump and a cylinder res, it lets its self down.

The customization options are it's saving grace, really, being able to customize it and choose the window of your choice is good. But it doesn't really make up for the bad points, in "my" opinion, the case is a Silver award at best.

If you are looking for a watercooling case, then I would spend the extra 30 and get the Switch 810, and i'm not just saying that because I have one, but because for that extra 30 you get a lot more. *

15-03-2012, 13:17:28

nothingspecial
I have to agree with SieB here, for the potential it has to be so good, it falls short in so many ways.

All the little problems add up to a big one and it loses out on tough competition, not only from the Switch 810, but in that price range from the CM Stormtrooper as well.

15-03-2012, 13:20:25

King Damager
Solid review, I think personally I prefer this to the 810. I know the 810 has a few more features, but this is slightly more of an empty shell, and therefore I can see plenty of customisability options there I understand why people may want the 810 over this, but yeah, I'd say it depends what you want on which one to choose. I'd imagine looks can play a part in this as well. Not to mention it's at a cracking value at the 30 less. Taking a Dremel to that roof support bar wouldn't be too bad an idea, and same with the optical drive issue...

I have thought about the HDD mounting, with a bit of modification, you could mount your HDDs on the back of the motherboard tray if it's 30mm gap?

I have to agree the lack of suppport for full size rads is a bit annoying, but an Alphacool in the front and an SR1 in the top (I've seen some sites offering to ship cases with SR1 pre-installed). Or a 240mm in the bottom would be a possible idea.

Also, Black and Gold - JPS, Black and Gold, New Renault xD Wish they're were more colour options for gold though - sleeve, watercooling etc...

Oh, and you have a close relationship with BitFenix, not NZXT (42 minutes around about)

Anyway, solid review

kd

15-03-2012, 14:08:33

UkGouki
i would love one of those cases but being a poorper living on sick benifit doesnt help so wish i could go back to work

15-03-2012, 14:46:00

airdeano
my take-away from this is:

BitFenix is watching and listening to the public. although some aspects fell short, some considerations can be made.

the one thing i didn't hear was how well the case performs as just an air case. i know the anticipation for this

case was to be epic out-of-the-box performer, but it is not the case for a full on liquid rig without major

reconstruction. simple 2-120 or 2-140 seems to be a close fix-it, but all that room to be left without cooling

potential. so my question is:

is this an air case, liquid case or either?

pricing is everything and there are a lot of choices to make when considering the type of performance and what has

to be considered to make the performance happen. i liked the BitFenix Shinobi, dunna know if I'll like the Shinobi XL

that much more..

i did get more from the Fractal Arc Midi, XL and R3 case reviews than this review on both sides of cooling with emphasis

on the liquid side. Tom, it was a good review and with the extra options available from BitFenix for the case was cleanly

presented.

Tom, appreciate the points of interest of the BitFenix Shinobi XL, thank you.

airdeano

15-03-2012, 14:47:09

badtaylorx
not a shinobi fan to begin with so i dont really care for it....you're 100% right tho...could have been epic!!

BTW...you do know it's a Bitfenix....not an NZXT right???

15-03-2012, 15:55:57

Luscious
It would be nice if case manufacturers did standardize on a 60mm radiator size, the benefits of which would give users far more case choices when it came to real water-cooling, not the half-ass attempts requiring post-purchase work using a dremel.

Maybe they should begin the design process with a 360 push/pull at the top and a 240 push/pull at the bottom/front. Build the drive bays and motherboard tray AROUND those, then add the top, front, back and sides. This isn't rocket science or expensive to do. NZXT 810 nailed it 99% except for that cross brace.

Good review as always TTL! You rock!

15-03-2012, 17:00:17

Elky
Well my Shinobi XL arrived yesterday.

I had a quick look at it but the TTL review confirmed my suspicions. He has the kit lying around to test fit it and yes no support for the rads I would have liked to put in it.

On the other hand I've always liked a classic and sober look. For me it scores big points there. The stripped case itself is a good base for moddifying I must say. I could mod it so it gets close to what Tom called "the epic case it could have been". But will require cutting parts out and fabricating brackets

Tom mentioned the reinfrocements under the mesh. Well they could easily be cut out if wanted to allow enough space on the inside of the case to fit a 60mm rad. How? http://forum.overclock3d.net/index.php?/topic/42204-shinobi-xl-roof-mod/

In general it's a very cool case and you could put a "bolt in" watercooling system in. If you choose your parts wisely. It's price is good. And the future possibilities of these modding accesories are great. I definetly want that black case badge. Truthfully it sounded alot better when they announced it, But it's not a bad case just depends on what you wanna use it for.

Will put pictures on the forum once I start building a rig in this case, but still need alot of parts. So might be a while. Also expect it to be modded for real watercooling.

15-03-2012, 18:12:54

Ruthless
TBH the front rad problem can be solved in 5 minutes with a dremel, throw a 80mm thick rad in there and a 54mm thick in the roof (should just fit) and bobs your uncle. get a few mesh 5.25 covers for the front airflow problem, a hard drive should just be able to squeeze in behind the motherboard tray with a bit of velcro the reservoir is a bit of a problem

15-03-2012, 18:29:33

Lollipop
I really LOVE my normal Shinobi, i think the size of the case makes it look bad.

15-03-2012, 18:36:36

urobulos
Any thoughts on the case when it comes to air cooling? I'm looking for a full tower case to replace my Utgard and this is at the top of my list, followed by the Fractal Define XL and the old Cosmos of the Pure Black variety. One thing that worries me is your reference to the Colossus DNA of this case. The original Colossus had abysmal temp scores on air cooling when reviewed on another UK tech site. Bitfenix defended their product by stating that adding a 140mm rear exhaust fan improves air cooling dramatically. This seems to be the setup they replicated in the Shinobi XL. Also, how loud are the case fans. I'm guessing that with the size of the fans, they are quiet, but I'm concerned about the amount of air they are pushing. I can buy an extra fan or two if I have to, but I'd rather keep it at stock since when it comes to decent fans, a pair pushes the case into 130-150 territory.

I don't want very low temps, good or average air cooling performance is good enough. Right now I'm using an i7 920 with a Gelid Tranquillo, sitting in a Gigabyte X58 UD3R, GPU is the, rather quiet, Asus GTX580 Direct CUII with its huge triple slot cooler. I will stick with that for the foreseeable future. Running everything at stock right now, but will be overclocking them soon as some games start to stutter a little bit at the highest settings.

Do you think this case is a good choice considering the components it will have to cool? Sorry for the long winded post.

16-03-2012, 08:44:40

Mr Muggles
imo in a years time I can see TTL looking back on this review and wondering why he gave it any award at all. It's bland, has no features and overpriced. For a 100 there are many better cases out there imo

16-03-2012, 08:46:23

Mr Muggles
Quote:
Originally Posted by SieB View Post

I am a bit disappointed in this case to be honest.

It is a decent case, but, it looks cheap, the frame is really thin and it looks a bit weak, the "dust filter" or should I say pointless mesh on the front is poor.

I don't want it to sound like I am slagging BitFenix off or anything like that, I actually like BitFenix, but the quality and features of this case are lacking compared to cases that cost just a bit more, or even around the same price. The lack of those few extra mm for full sized rads is a big let down as well, if it hadn't been for that, the quality and lack of features could have been overlooked a little due to it having great radiator support. With no real place for a drive bay res or your HDDs with a rad in the front, little room for mounting a pump and a cylinder res, it lets its self down.

The customization options are it's saving grace, really, being able to customize it and choose the window of your choice is good. But it doesn't really make up for the bad points, in "my" opinion, the case is a Silver award at best.

If you are looking for a watercooling case, then I would spend the extra 30 and get the Switch 810, and i'm not just saying that because I have one, but because for that extra 30 you get a lot more. *
Plus it's a fantastic modern case with lots of bells and whistles

16-03-2012, 20:51:23

C3mods
I think it is good for the money beside what it is lacking like Tom said. I personally like the looks of the case and changing the badge and mesh strips to add contrast is a nice feature.

The NZXT switch looks like a great case also, so I am torn between the two, one is a little more complete in being able to watercool while the other has more of a subdued look to it which I would get the strips to add contrast to it. So I would say it depended on the build and look I was going for which one I would choose.

30-03-2012, 16:31:59

MaXiMiZe
Solid case. Nice review
Reply
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