BitFenix Prodigy M Overview
While the Prodigy M uses the same dimensions as the original Prodigy, there was some retooling necessary to fit mATX components. Let’s take a look outside and see what has changed.
The outside is essentially unchanged from the original Prodigy, at least from the front. For reference, the “face plate” is about an inch taller and wider than a Letter size sheet of paper (8.5 x 11 inches). While I don’t have any on hand to confirm, I’m going to assume the face plates are interchangeable with BitFenix’s aftermarket fascias so you can even swap out panels with something more your style (if the black mesh doesn’t do it for you).
The side panels are pretty simple – the right side contains the two USB 3.0 ports along with headphone/mic jacks and the power and reset buttons. The blue LEDs for the power and HDD activity indicators are blinding when viewed straight on (as with any LED…), but as the left and right panels are interchangeable this is easily mitigated by placing the I/O cluster on a side facing away from you (if the lights become an issue). There is another reason to swap the left and right panels, as we’ll see later.
The top is again essentially unchanged from the mini-ITX version of the BitFenix Prodigy, and that means a 240mm radiator (or just two 120mm fans) are easily installed under the latched dust filter using the same round hole mesh over a honeycomb plastic frame as the front.
Now things get interesting. In an obvious departure from the original Prodigy, the rear of the Prodigy M clues us in to some changes under the hood. Using an inverted motherboard orientation, the micro ATX format ends up placing hot GPUs towards the top of the Prodigy with a 120/140mm exhaust fan placed beside the rear I/O cluster (a 120mm BitFenix Spectre fan comes stock in this location). There are five PCI slots allowing for “overhanging” dual slot graphics cards in a Crossfire or SLI configuration. The component cards are held in place by a thumbscrew and sliding bar, but cards can be fastened down with screws if you want the extra security.
Unchanged are the molded FyberFlex composite handles, composed of a flexible material covered with BitFenix’s “SofTouch” coating. While the edges can get a little sharp, the slight flex serves to dampen any vibrations of the chassis – a unique benefit. As handles, they work pretty well too, if you don’t mind the slightly too-sharp edge (and let’s face it, if you’re reading this article you could probably stand to toughen up your hands a bit – or is that too…callous? Don’t worry, I put myself in that category too! Err… I mean, back in the good ole days we carried 100 lb full towers uphill both ways – and we liked it!).
In another departure from the original design to accommodate the mATX form factor, the bottom showcases a magnetic heat shield and the PSU mount. The heat shield covers a 230mm fan mount, or two 120mm fans (a radiator *might* fit here, but that would vary considerably depending on the brand and orientation of the hoses, etc.). The purpose of the shield is to block hot PSU exhaust from re-entering the case if you decide to place your 3.5″ drives on the “floor” of the Prodigy M (there’s room for two). The magnets are strong enough to hold the shield in place, but it has a tendency to move around in transit – sitting on a desk it should be just fine.