Lately, BitFenix has been trying to keep us busy with a full on assault of new cases that they have released over the past month or so. Most of the designs are similar in nature to what we will be reviewing today. The chassis we are here to review today is a simpler setup; it is a chassis for builders, or even beginners who just don't want to throw a bunch of money into a chassis. We all know there is plenty of need for these types of cases, either to keep overall costs down to pass on to your customers, or for those who feel that spending over $50 for a case is like trying to pull teeth from a bird.
We have seen many of these cost-effective mid-tower designs over the years, but in our minds, it has always sort of been a back and forth between what BitFenix was doing, and what NZXT had to offer. Both have the same basic concept of offering air flow options, only shipping with a fan or two at most. At the same time, they also try to offer things like wire management, tool-free mechanisms, and even color coordinated wires with the traditional black on black theme that most of these cases come in.
The thing is, BitFenix has always tried to offer things using a much different approach to aesthetics than its competition, and this latest sample fits all of the molds we expect from both this class of cases, and what we know from BitFenix in the past.
Join us as we take a break from the huge, and fully appointed monster towers that we usually deliver, and take a step back to appreciate the more economical side of case design. The reason we have you here today is to look at the BitFenix Shadow mid-tower chassis. While this chassis does fall into the below $100 price range, lately we have seen some really stellar designs that we can get in this form factor, and even at some really great prices. So, while this market is always open for more competition, the bar is set mighty high, and we will see soon enough if this chassis from BitFenix should come out of the dark and be seen, or if it should just lurk in the shadows and be forgotten.
While the BitFenix Shadow is made of steel and ABS plastic just like most other chassis, the external aesthetics are pretty plain. To dress things up a bit, the front offers an angled front door that receives a rubberized coating; and along with a few small vents to either side of it, there is a logo placed low on the front door. As for the rest of the chassis that is easily visible, it is just flat expanses of steel that have a textured black finish applied inside and out. Inside of its more compact dimensions, this mid-tower is still designed to fit Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, and ATX motherboards.
On the inside you will find three 5.25" bays, followed by seven bays for 3.5" drives, oriented front to back. On the floor inside of the HDD rack, there are holes to screw down a single 2.5" drive. The cooling system consists of a 120mm fan in the front, and another in the rear of the chassis. The chassis also offers optional locations to place an additional 120mm fan in the front, or in the floor. Also, if for some reason you feel the need, the rear fan can be replaced with a 92mm fan.
Switching gears again, the chart takes us to the seven expansion slots, then off to the top of the chassis to discuss the front I/O panel. The chart then goes on to discuss the PSU size, the SofTouch treatment, LEDs, dust filters, and the tool-free mechanisms on all of the bays.
Looking around all of the usual places, we find the Shadow has decent availability, and appears at many different e-tailers. We also see that the pricing is pretty level, no matter where you locate this mid-tower chassis; all of the pricing we saw was on the mark of $79.99 U.S. dollars. While it doesn't take huge leaps and bounds to fill out eighty dollars' worth of casing, when it comes down to cost versus return, it is a limiting factor to some extent. Considering what many $50 cases have to offer, and what newer $100 designs bring these days, we will see soon enough if this chassis is worth the cost, and just how well it stacks up to the rest of the cases in this price range.