BitFenix Nova Case Review
We’ve seen quite a few BitFenix cases here at pcG from the colossal Colossus to the little Pandora and we’ve been pretty impressed with what we’ve seen. BitFenix seem to have a spceific design goal, that’s based around providing a good looking functional case for a small amount of money. Well it would appear that the next case that we are about to take a look at, takes this idea to the next level.
This is the BitFenix Nova, an ATX case with a side window for the paltry sum of £27!? But what do you get for your £27, well you get: An full ATX case with seven expansion slots, measuring in at 183mm (W) x 437mm (H) x 465mm (D), that’s constructed from aluminium, steel and plastic. The Nova features a single 5.25″ drive bay, an internal drive cage supporting up to four HDDs or one SSD, a dedicated additional SSD mount, a single 120mm exhaust fan and a dust filter for the PSU. The whole case weighs in at a featherweight 4.8kg and supports Graphics Cards up to 320mm in length, CPU Coolers up to 160mm in length and Power Supplies up to 220mm in length. Not bad for £27 eh! If you want to save another few pounds there’s a regular (non side window) version also (here). The Nova is also available in either black (as we have here) or white.
As one would expect for a case costing as little as the BitFenix Nova, the box isn’t too much to write home about! The Nova arrived at pcG in a plain brown cardboard box with a black image of the Nova (well two Novas actually!) on the front. In addition to this we have the brand and product name.
The back of the box provides further information on the case including images, dimensions a features. Also you can see that the Nova is available in both a regular version and a Window version, just in case you wanted to save yourself even more money! 😉
On opening the box we can see that the Nova is adequately packaged for a case costing this much. With the case protected by two hard foam bumpers and wrapped in a plastic bag.
Hiding within the case we find a useful Quick Installation Guide, with some useful diagrams showing the construction of the Nova, as well as a small bag of screws etc, that also housed a small PC speaker (not sure who uses these!?).
At the time of review, the BitFenix Nova is retailing at Overclockers UK for approximately £27 and comes with a 1 year warranty.
courtesy of BitFenix
|Colors||Black – White|
|Motherboard||ATX, Micro ATX, Mini-ITX (7 expansion slots)|
|CPU Cooler||up to 160mm tall|
|VGA||up to 320mm long and up to 140mm tall|
|Power Supply||up to 220mm long|
|5.25” ODD Slots||1|
|3.5” HDD Slots||4|
|2.5” SSD Slots||2|
|Dust Filter Bottom||slide-out PSU Dust Filter|
|Cooling Front||120mm x 2|
|Cooling Rear||120mm x 1 (included)|
|I/O||USB 3.0 x 1, USB 2.0 x 1, HD Audio MIC & Headphone, Power LED (white), HDD LED (red)|
|Dimensions (WxHxD)||183 x 437 x 465 mm – 7.20 x 17.20 x 18.30 inch|
|Weight||4.8Kg – 10.6lbs|
|Special Features||Closed Frontpanel to block noise, Frontpanel sidevents for good airflow, Large window sidepanel, pre-installed mainboard stand-offs, ruberized anti-slip casefeet, PSU dust filter|
First impressions of the BitFenix Nova are along the lines of, wow this case feels a bit light and flimsy, in fact it feels cheap to me! Oh, hold on; it is cheap! In fact it might just be the cheapest case (with a side window) that we’ve ever seen here at pcG! Now, for some that might be a bad thing and if it is, then this case is likely not for you. But the BitFenix Nova is all about value and at just £27, it’s almost difficult to know what to expect. Let’s stake a tour then and see what we get for this very small sum of money, just don’t expect too much… 😉
The left side of the BitFenix Nova features a good size perspex window allowing you to show of the PC within, the window itself is well placed as it is back away from the front of the case, so you cant see those ugly HDDs etc. Both the right and left side panel are made from aluminium and are very thin (but then what did you expect!). Both panels are secured at the back by way of two thumb screws. Note there is no lip on the back of the panels making removing the panel a little more awkward than it should be. Also note the section of ventilation near the front of the case that’s there to support fans in the front of the case should you wish to install them.
Looking at the front of the BitFenix Nova we can see that it’s pretty basic and we can see it’s made of plastic. At the top there’s a single 5.25″ drive bay and at the bottom there’s a simple silver BitFenix logo. At the very top we find the main control panel comprising of (from left to right): Power LED, Drive Activity LED, USB 2.0 port, USB 3.0 port, Power Button, Audio (headphones & microphone) and Reset switch. A single USB 2.0 port and a single USB 3.0 port seems a little stingy though, but this is a budget case don’t forget…
The back of the case features a standard layout with no frills. At the top left we have the main I/O cut-out and to the right we have the only pre-installed fan in the case, a 1200 RPM fan acting as an exhaust. Above the fan there’s actually some press-out holes for water cooling support (I’m sure this practice is now all but dead!). Below this we find the seven expansion slots and one of the biggest bugbears of mine and that’s press-out slots that are then secured by some form of bracket! Please BitFenix stop this practice as it’s antiquated by today’s standards and makes this already budget case (calm down James it’s only £27!) feel cheap and nasty!
Looking at the base of the BitFenix Nova we can see that the case itself sits up off of the surface by approximately 15mm on plastic legs that are further fitted with some rubber feet, which is nice to see. At the back there’s a good sized PSU filer that simply slides out at the back of the case for cleaning. Note the use of rivets meaning that the drive cage hiding within is not removable, unfortunately.
Removing the left side panel, by way of unscrewing the two thumb screws we get to have a look at the interior of the BitFenix Nova for the first time. What we find is a simple yet spacious interior, free from almost any form of features! There’s a basic motherboard tray pre-fitted with six stand-offs and at the back we can clearly see the installed 120mm fan (that has no illumination BTW). The vertical right hand bracket hides the sins behind that basically just consists of a simple (non removable) drive cage. Just above the lower section of the vertical bracket (almost central) the grilled area is in fact one of two 2.5″/SSD mounts, the other is on the top of the drive cage itself. What’s nice to see here (well done BitFenix!) is the use of black cabling, no pesky coloured cables lurking here…
Looking at the case from the other side with the panel removed we can now see there’s very little cabling space on the right, meaning that all of your cabling needs to be done over on the left where there’s more room. Over on the left we can now see that basic drive cage that’s has no caddies or such like, it’s all screws from here on in guys! There’s also a glaring omission here (look top right), can you see what it is yet!? 😉
The front panel of the case can be removed should you wish, this is simply done by pulling at the bottom of the case. Just be gentle as these plastic clips are known to break easily. With the panel removed we can see clearly where we could install two additional 120mm fans should we wish. It’s actually quite nice to be able to remove the front panel completely (during install) and put it to one side.
I noted a couple of points of interest during my first impressions. The first of which is just how badly the small rubber mounts for the Power Supply have been fitted (see image above left). While the other is simply a gratuitous shot of the 120mm 1200RPM BitFenix Fan, that features no illumination!
Now I cant say that I’m impressed with the BitFenix Nova, but then to think a £27 case is going to impress may simply be foolish anyway! What we have here is a cheap case, made from cheap materials, where the materials are thin and build quality is low! And, to be honest that’s exactly what I would expect for this sort of money! yet the case is still very usable and will undeniably house a decent Gaming PC, although it may get a little hot! 😉
|Case||BitFenix Nova||Power Supply||Corsair Professional Series AX 760i|
|Motherboard||ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 GAMING K6||CPU||Intel Core i5-6600K|
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-U12S||RAM||G Skill Ripjaws 4 16GB|
|Graphics Card||EVGA GeForce GTX 980Ti Classified||SSD||HyperX FURY 120GB|
As there are no drive caddies or sleds for the BitFenix Nova, it’s just a case of finding some screws luckily the Nova comes with plenty of options, but these two drives will be fitted later. Our test motherboard assembly consists of an ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K6, Intel Core i5-6600K, Noctua NH-U12S and 8GB of G.Skill Ripjaws DDR4 memory. With these components to hand it was time to crack on with the installation…
The first task was to install the Corsair AX760i Power Supply fan side down as the BitFenix Nova features a PSU dust filter in the bottom of the case. The PSU fitted with ease and according to BitFenix the Nova will accommodate PSUs up to 220mm in length. In fact from looking at it, there would appear to be nothing in the way for PSUs that may be longer than 200mm in length!
At first I was very unhappy when I went to install the motherboard assembly as it soon became obvious that there was no 8-pin CPU power cable cut-out, normally found in the top left corner. After a fair amount of name calling, cursing and swearing, I found that the cable fitted fine behind the motherboard itself (between the MB and the back of the case) and the cable could simply be looped into position (see image above centre). By design is this? Not too sure, but it seems to work… 🙂
The rest of the cabling was a surprisingly simple affair mainly brought about by the fact that there’s so little in the Nova, therefore cabling is actually easier than normal. Ok so there’s no rubber grommets and there’s certain holes that aren’t there (namely for the 8-pin power cable and the HD audio cable), but when you consider the cost of the case, it would be foolish to moan at this point, I think.
The drive cage in the Nova is a simple aluminium frame, that’s actually pretty flimsy, but it is capable of holding up to four HDDs or a single SSD. The reason that it can only accommodate one SSD is the fact that there are no caddies or sleds to support 2.5″ drive/s. Therefore I fitted our Seagate 1TB SHDD drive near the bottom of the cage and the HyperX Fury SSD to the mount at the top of the cage. All of this was done with the screws provided.
The last component to install was our new Graphics Card the EVGA 980Ti Classified, now while BitFenix claim that the Nova can accommodate Graphics cards up to 320mm in length, I struggled a little when getting the 980Ti into the case as the opening is smaller than the space within. This means that the card needs to go in at an angle and be maneuvered into position. This is not helped by the poor expansion slot setup that BitFenix have gone for that sees the expansion slots inline with the back of the case, instead of indented as normal. But she fits anyway… 😉
Overall the build looks good IMHO and when you consider what you’ve paid for the case, it does indeed house all of those components with relative ease! Although note how close the loop on the cables for the GPU are to the side of the case (very close!). Now let’s see if it can keep those components cool, although with only one fan I fear it’s a little unlikely…
At pcGameware we use Prime95 and ASRock’s F-Stream utility to evaluate CPU temperatures and voltage, and we use MSI Afterburner to evaluate the GPU temperatures. Of course Prime95 being a CPU stress test also helps to generate heat for us to check the case thermals. We also use UNiGiNE Heaven 4.0 for GPU temperature testing.
CPU performance testing is carried out using Prime95 (Small FFT) to stress the CPU. Each run is timed for 15 mins and the maximum temperature is recorded for all cores and then the average core heat is taken. Testing was carried out with an overclocked Intel Core i5-6600K at 4.4GHz courtesy of the ASRock UEFI.
GPU performance testing is carried out by running UNiGiNE Heaven 4.0 for 15 minutes and then by recording the maximum GPU temperature.
* All case fans (x1 in the case of the BitFenix Nova) and the CPU Cooler (Noctua NH-U12S) are run at 100% throughout testing. To ascertain case noise levels, the GPU fans are set to their lowest setting and the CPU Cooler fan is unplugged, whilst the dBA is recorded from 1m away.
|Case||Ambient Temperature||Max CPU Temperature (core average)||Delta Temperature|
|Cooler Master HAF XB||21.00||58.00||37.00|
Apologies first for these grids being a little sparse, but we have just cut over to a new Gaming Test Rig and now a new GPU in the form of our EVGA 980Ti Classified. As we have changed the motherboard, CPU, CPU Cooler, RAM and GPU all of the old thermal results are simply no longer comparable. Please bear with us as we expand our range of tested hardware…
Well with only one fan in the case, at the back acting as an exhaust, the cooling of the BitFenix Nova was never going to be great! Our overclocked Intel Core i5-6600K reached a maximum temperature of 65 (43 Delta) degrees Celsius while overclocked to 4.4GHz during our Prime 95 Torture Test. Now while that’s still fine for everyday Gaming its still some 6 degrees off of our test case (Cooler Master HAF XB) that’s got three fans. Obviously adding a fan or two into the front of the Nova would improve thing markedly.
|Case||Ambient Temperature||Max GPU Temperature||Delta Temperature|
|Cooler Master HAF XB||22.00||79.00||57.00|
Keeping your Graphics Card cool when Gaming is far more important than keeping your CPU cool, but again the Nova puts in a poor performance due to the lack of any intake fans. With a maximum GPU temperature of 84 degrees (61 Delta) Celsius the Nova is some 4 degrees hotter than our test case (Cooler Master HAF XB). If you’re seriously considering this case for Gaming, then you’re really going to want to add a couple of intake fans up front. Although this is going to add at least another £10 to the cost of the case.
With only one 120mm fan running at approximately 1200RPM there’s a positive side to the lack of cooling and that’s the fact that there’s very little noise! I managed to measure a low 35dBA using our test equipment, which is more than fine for everyday use, unless you’re looking for silence that is!
To bemoan the BitFenix Nova‘s low quality and or its lack of cooling would be to miss the point of this case entirely! This is a usable case, with a side window that can house a modern Gaming rig with ease, and it costs just £27! Although you might want to just add an additional fan or two…
The budget BitFenix Nova arrived at pcG in a predictably budget brown cardboard box, with some basic black printing. Yet the case within was still packaged well with hard foam blocks and covered in a plastic bag. Taking the Nova out of the box it soon becomes apparent just how light the Nova is, and just how thin the materials used are. But it’s still a pretty good looking case, in the fact that it’s a regular looking case, nothing to fall in love with and nothing to really dislike either!
Before we talk any more about the BitFenix Nova we just need to get one thing out of the way, and that’s its price! At £27 its hard to know what to expect from a case with a side widow, but I know that I wouldn’t expect much! And to be honest you don’t get much, but that’s no bad thing as really what did you expect!? The Nova is functional and it WILL house a decent modern Gaming Rig and to be fair I wouldn’t expect it to do much more than that.
The side panels are thin, yet work well enough, the PSU bay mounts were badly aligned, there’s no dedicated hole for the 8-pin CPU power cable, and the press out expansion slots are simply horrible IMHO (sorry BitFenix). But because of its simple design the interior is nicely uncluttered and there’s a fair amount of room inside, although there not much cable management space at the back of the case. And of course there’s only one fan (rear 120mm exhaust) pre-installed although a further two can be fitted to the front of the case.
Installation was a pretty straightforward affair with the only annoyance being the lack of a 8-pin CPU power cutout (the cable had to be run under the MB), the press-out expansion slots and the difficulty of getting our Graphics Card into the case, as the aperture is smaller than the maximum Graphics Card length supported. But once completed there’s no denying that you can end up with a pretty tidy looking build.
Of course when it comes to there area of cooling the BitFenix Nova was never going to perform well, thanks to the single 120mm fan fitted. Although CPU temperature was still well within guidelines with our overclocked (4.4GHz) Intel Core i5-6600K running with a maximum temperature of 65 degrees Celsius. The Graphics Card cooling was also poor with our new EVGA 980Ti Classified topping out at 84 degrees Celsius. Of course we know that cooling could be improved if we were to fit those addition two 120mm fans in the front of the case. But don’t forget this easily adds another £10 to the cost!
To conclude then, the BitFenix delivers exactly what I would expect from a full ATX case costing as little as £27 (at the time of review). So it’s cheap then? Yes, it uses cheap materials, the build quality is below par and it feels cheap too! But thankfully it is cheap, yet it will still house a modern day Gaming PC with ease, therefore I’m sure BitFenix’s mission goal has been accomplished. In my mind to expect much more from a case costing just £27 is simply unfair…
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Many thanks to BitFenix for providing this sample for review