Building a System
I have always been a proponent of the view that you can’t really evaluate a case without building a system in it. For this build I’m using a rather old X58 motherboard, but hey, ATX is ATX, so let’s get started.
Things look pretty good with just the motherboard installed. The central locating peg positions the motherboard perfectly, and although I was initially a little skeptical of the “punched-up screw mounts” this case uses in lieu of brass standoffs, everything when in smoothly.
But one problem showed up immediately: with no cutouts at the top of the case, there’s no way to run the EPS-12V power cable behind the motherboard to its 8-pin plug. This means that the cable will have to run across the motherboard, which I hate.
Well, it could be worse, I suppose: I ran the cable at the front of the motherboard, then made a sudden turn to loop under the CPU cooler and back to the connector.
Speaking of the CPU cooler, the large cutout makes mounting the cooler backplate easy. In this image you’ll see a “notch” at the upper right which kinda looks like it was intended for the aforementioned EPS-12V cable, but it’s occluded by the motherboard, so its real purpose is a mystery.
BitFenix claims the Shadow will support graphics cards up to 320mm long. This is technically true but should be amended to note “as long as there aren’t any 3.5″ drives in front of the card.” This GTX280 is only 267mm long and there’s no room for a drive in front of it.
The rear card slots use a separate retainer piece; a design that helps reduce the front-to-back measurement of the case by 1/2″ or so.
Since there’s no room for cables behind the motherboard, they have to go in front of the motherboard. This works out better than I’d have thought it would, actually. Although there are no dedicated tie-down points in the case, I was able to use a couple of random holes as anchor points to host a few zip ties to keep things tidy.
A reasonably easy build, overall. With two hard drives and a single optical drive, there’s plenty of room in the case for tucking away extra cables, and since there’s no side window we’re only concerned about serviceability and air flow, not aesthetics as such.
So, what do I think of this case overall?