Mid-tower Case Final Thoughts
The BitFenix Shadow is definitely a budget case, and if you’re used to working with cases in the $100-and-up range, you’ll see little cost-cutting measures everywhere you look: only the front door is SofTouch; standoff-less motherboard mounting, internal rather than external dust filters, and a very plain external appearance (except for the front). A lack of cable routing options and tie-down points drives the point home. If you’re building a high performance system, note that the case cooling options are limited with only four fan mounting positions and no top ventilation options.
For my test build, though, most of this made little difference. You can’t route cables behind the motherboard tray, but aside from the EPS-12V cable, this wasn’t an issue, since the design of the case makes it easy to route cables in front of the tray. Using the plastic tool-less drive mounting mechanisms was easy and drives seemed very secure once they were latched in. Overall, this was a pretty easy case to build in.
Yes, a couple of things were annoying: the design of the internal filters at the bottom of the case is silly: does BitFenix honestly expect people to remove their power supply to clean its filter? And the odd mounting of the front panel makes removal unnecessarily difficult (yes, I installed the Spectre Pro LED fans. You can only see them when the front cover is open, but they look cool!), but once you have your fans set up, you probably will never need to remove the front panel again.
So it comes down to a matter of value and expectations. Don’t expect the amenities of an expensive case, and you’ll probably appreciate the bang for the buck you’ll get with the BitFenix Shadow.
BitFenix Shadow Conclusion
With 26 different case offerings at last count, BitFenix seems intent on covering every possible niche in the market. While some of their cases push the boundaries of design, the Shadow offers a standard ATX mid-tower design spiced up with enough extras to help distinguish it from its competition. It’s an easy case to build in, although having to route the EPS-12V cable over the motherboard seems so last-decade.
Don’t expect Colossus-like levels of visual appeal, as this case is subtle to the point of invisibility: it’s a plain black rectangle relieved only by the BitFenix logo on the front panel and the LED lighting strip at the bottom (if it’s turned on). The quality of construction is good, though, with all panels and parts fitting well.
Functionally, the case has limited cooling options and the single 2.5″ mount is surprising these days. Helping offset this are the two front mounts for 120mm fans with the easily-removable front dust filter, when means you can set up cooling adequate for an NVIDIA SLI or AMD CrossFireX system.
+ Dust filters
+ Room for plenty of 5.25″ and 3.5″ devices
+ Subtle external case lighting
+ Easy to build in
+ Room for large graphics cards and CPU coolers
+ Front fan mounts for keeping graphics cards cool
– 2.5″ device mounting seems an afterthought
– Internal dust filters inconvenient to clean
– EPS-12V cable must be routed over motherboard
– Limited cooling ability; no place for 240mm radiator and no top ventilation