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BitFenix Pandora Case Review

January 28th, 2015 Mike Leave a comment Go to comments

Overview

 

BitFenix are a company I’m sure you’re all aware of, after having built themselves a solid reputation for making affordable and often outlandish PC cases aimed at Gamers. They always had a certain styling to them that catches your imagination, makes them desirable and easily identifiable as a BitFenix product. What you probably aren’t aware of, is that whilst they’ve made massive strides since the companies founding, BitFenix are still a fairly young company who are just approaching their fifth birthday! Shocking isn’t it?

It almost feels like we’ve had the likes of the Prodigy and Colossus since the dawn of time! Then you’ve got to face the fact that the Prodigy practically kick-started the current popularity for small form factor cases, which caused a myriad of other manufacturers to follow suit and get in on the action. Yet here is a case that sees BitFenix go off at a slightly different tangent, perhaps even more grown up!? With the new BitFenix Pandora they still have the small form factor, but out goes the trademark BitFenix SofTouch and bold cheerful colours and in comes high quality brushed aluminium a stylish look of elegance that you wouldn’t associate with BitFenix at all. Is this a bad thing? Well your just going to have to read on to find out! πŸ˜‰

 

BitFenix Logo Large ‘Clean styling, innovative features, and exceptional build quality – Pandora represents the next level of BitFenix chassis design. The soft curved design is surrounded by luxuriously brushed aluminium side panels that give the entire case a timelessly elegant look that melds perfectly with any modern dΓ©cor. On the front of the case is another innovation dubbed BitFenix ICONβ„’ – a programmable display that can be customized with a simple drag-and-drop interface, making it simple to personalize the look of your case whenever inspiration strikes. Despite its slim 160mm width, Pandora can accommodate high-octane hardware, such as 240mm water cooling radiators, and expansion cards up to 350mm in length. Users are able to house up to two 3.5″ HDDs or three 2.5″ SSDs, and to keep all of this hardware running cool, a direct airflow design along with smart cable management features help ensure everything runs frosty. Friendly features like pre-installed standoffs and pop-off screwless side panels help get your system up and running quickly, while magnetic dust filters allow for easy clean up. ‘

 

BitFenix Pandora - box front BitFenix Pandora - box back

 

The BitFenix Pandora arrived at pcG within a brown cardboard box (I’ve always been curious about Pandora’s box πŸ˜‰ ) with that familiar styling we’ve often seen before from BitFenix. The front of which is dominated by a huge BitFenix logo, beneath this is the case name and at the bottom is the company web address. Looking to the sides there are two black stripes which give the impression that the front of the box is trying to mirror the front image of the case itself.

Over on the predominately black back, we have three images of the BitFenix Pandora, pointing at the case’s key features which are as follows:

  • BitFenix ICON Programmable Display
  • Brushed Aluminium Side Panel
  • Optional Window Side Panel
  • Supports 240mm Radiators
  • Supports Long Graphics Card up to 350mm

 

BitFenix Pandora - box left BitFenix Pandora - box right

 

The left side of the box gives us the model specific details. Our particular review sample is the black windowed version. The BitFenix Pandora is available in no fewer than eight different versions. Black or silver, with or without window, or a combination of these within the Core edition, which doesn’t feature the BitFenix ICON programmable LCD display.

Whilst on the right side of the box we have another image of the Pandora hidden within and a list of the case features (see Specifications/Features below).

 

BitFenix Pandora - unboxing BitFenix Pandora - unpacking

 

Opening up the box reveals the BitFenix Pandora to be suitably protected within a large plastic bag and wedged within two hard polystyrene blocks.

 

BitFenix Pandora - contents

 

  • BitFenix Pandora Case
  • Quick Installation Guide
  • Fittings
  • Cable Ties
  • Velcro Strips
  • HDD Anti-vibration Washers
  • Motherboard Stand-off Grip Tool
  • 3mm Hex Key
  • Aluminium BitFenix Logo

 

At the time of review, the BitFenix Pandora is retailing for approximately Β£99.97 on Amazon or from OverclockersUK at Β£94.99 and comes with a 12 month warranty.

 

Specifications/Features

courtesy of BitFenix

 

Features

Elegant Slim Design
At just 160mm wide, Pandora features a timeless slim design that fits in any modern dΓ©cor. The sleek curved styling makes it look every bit as elegant in the living room as the computer room, making Pandora an ideal chassis for a media or living room PC.
BitFenix ICONβ„’ Programmable Display
Pandora is the first chassis to feature BitFenix ICON, a fully programmable display that connects to your system. With ICON, you can easily change the BitFenix logo with your own custom image. Featuring a simple and intuitive interface, BitFenix ICON makes customizing the look of your case as easy as drag-and-drop.
Brushed Aluminium Side Panels
Adorning both sides of Pandora are two curved side panels that come in both black and silver. Crafted from solid aluminum and featuring a matte brushed finish, these side panels not only help dissipate heat from the system, but also give Pandora an undeniably timeless look.
Advanced Hardware Compatibility
Despite its svelte build, Pandora can accommodate a plethora of high-end hardware, including graphics cards up to 350mm in length, and even a 240mm water cooling radiator. On the storage side, Pandora can hold up to two 3.5″ hard drives or three 2.5″ SSDs, making it an impressively capable system with styling to match.
Direct Airflow Design
To help keep your hardware cool, Pandora employs smart layout and cable management features to ensure that cool air from the front fan locations can reach your graphics card and CPU. By minimizing cable clutter and locating fans where they are needed most, Pandora can effectively keep system temperatures manageable despite its slim form factor.
DIY Friendly
Building inside a small case is generally a nightmare, which is why Pandora smartly designed for quick and easy installation. Pre-installed standoffs make it easy to install your motherboard, while easy pop-off side panels give you quick access to your system’s internals. Across the power supply location is a unique cable management bracket that makes it easy to keep your power cables under control and maintain optimal airflow.

BitFenix Quality
Like all BitFenix chassis, Pandora includes the same attention to detail that makes owning a BitFenix chassis an entirely new experience. Quick release dust filters throughout the case help keep internals clean while being easy to wash, and rolled-edge cable pass-throughs prevent damage to cables and fingers alike. Add to that anti-vibration washers throughout and a luxurious powder-coated interior, and Pandora represents the quintessential BitFenix experience.

 

Specifications

Materials Aluminum, Steel, Plastic
Colours (Int/Ext) Black/Black, Black/Silver
Dimensions (WxHxD) 160 x 420 x 465
Motherboard Sizes Micro ATX, Mini-ITX
LCD 2.4″ TFT, 240 x 320
3.5” Drive Bays x 2
2.5” Drive Bays x 3
Cooling Top 120mm x 1 (included)
Cooling Front 120mm x 2 (1 included)
PCI Slots x 5
I/O USB 3.0 x 2, HD Audio
Power Supply PS2 ATX, up to 180mm in length
Extras Brushed Aluminum Side Panels, BitFenix ICON Programmable Display, Cable Management

* Additional details available here

 

First Impressions

 

I have to admit to being rather excited by the opportunity to take a closer look at the BitFenix Pandora, having been a fan of their products since the release of the BitFenix Colossus. Because of this my expectations were high (maybe too high?!?), some of which were met, whilst others gone amiss…

 

BitFenix Pandora - front BitFenix Pandora - back

 

From the front we can see the BitFenix Pandora is one incredibly lithe case measuring 420mm heigh and just 160mm wide (to put that into perspective, our Corsair AX760i power supply is 150mm wide). Which given the rather lovely curved black brushed aluminium side panels and glossy black front panel, somehow make the Pandora look slimmer still. It certainly looks striking, but for anyone out there who has seen a BitFenix case before, you may be struck by something else as well. This being the lack of the BitFenix logo, an oddity when you consider their phoenix logo is one of the most recognizable and best looking in the industry (if you’ve got it, flaunt it right!?) and is certainly a first for a BitFenix case. Instead there is a mass expanse of glossy black plastic. The reason behind this? Well the Pandora is the first case to feature the BitFenix ICON, a programmable LCD display (pretty cool eh?). Of course just in-case you prefer the physical logo, BitFenix have even included a stick on aluminium case badge in the box.

Around the back and we can see the Pandora features the very same curved styling as the front, but this time the curvature isn’t broken to show off the front panel. You could be forgiven for thinking that either could even be used as a carry handle of sorts; which I personally wouldn’t recommend to anyone who values their fingers. The brushed aluminium areas all have nicely finished edges, but are narrow enough to be uncomfortable to hold. At the bottom we have a PSU cut-out, above which are five expansion slots, the motherboard cut-out and a brick-bond air vent. You may have noticed beside the expansion slots is a curved plastic cover, this simply pulls off to reveal the expansion slot thumb-screws. Yet because of the fixed aluminium frame on the rear, their isn’t enough space between the frame and the expansion slots for traditional thumb-screws, so BitFenix have chosen to use 3mm hex thumb-screws instead (hence the inclusion of the hex key). Although I really like the design and styling, I’m guessing these are going to be incredibly fiddly and impractical. Perhaps the use of standard thumb-screws and a removable frame on the rear would have been better!?

 

BitFenix Pandora - top BitFenix Pandora - bottom

 

The very top of the BitFenix Pandora is one of the tidiest functional top panels I’ve seen in a very long time. At the very front we have the case controls and I/O panel, behind which lies a removable panel that features a fine dust filter.

Beneath the Pandora we find four good quality feet with foam padding to prevent the case from slipping. To the rear we have an air vent for use as an intake for a power supply, that also features a magnetic dust-filter. Behind the front feet are four cut-outs for rubber ant-vibration washers for both 2.5″ and 3.5″ storage drives, then at the very front an ample finger slot to remove the front panel or front dust filter with ease.

 

BitFenix Pandora - left BitFenix Pandora - right

 

Looking to the left of the BitFenix Pandora, we can see the beautiful curvature towards the front and back (doesn’t everything look better with curves? πŸ˜‰ ). The aluminium panels have a vertical hairline brushed texture, which combined with the inverted L shaped window looks very good indeed. You’ll notice the lower part of the window is actually there to show off the drive cage behind it and more importantly the 2.5″ drive you’ll be installing into it.

The right panel is identical bar the lack of a window. This certainly isn’t a bad thing when the brushed aluminium looks this good, but it was from this view I noticed two issues. Although I love the brushed aluminium look, it does have a fairly rough texture which means it marks fairly easily. The other being the aluminium panels having no clearance from the surface the case is on. Admittedly this shouldn’t be a major issue, but you’ll need to be cautions when moving the case around your desktop so you don’t end up marking the desk surface. Rather nicely and to help with the aesthetics, instead of using thumb-screws to hold the side panels in place, BitFenix have chosen to use push-pins. So with a little force the side panels can easily be pulled off or pushed back on.

 

BitFenix Pandora - right panel removed BitFenix Pandora - left panel removed

 

Despite its lithe and compact appearance 160mm(W) x 420mm(H) x 465mm(D), with the side panels removed the BitFenix Pandora appears surprisingly roomy inside. This is of course hugely helped by the lack of an ODD bay or traditional storage drive cages, something I’m a huge fan of as I honestly don’t remember the last time I used an ODD of any kind. The motherboard tray to the left is pre-fitted with the stand-offs (always a good thing, for some reason this is one of my least favourite jobs in the world…). We have a huge CPU Cooler cut-out, above which is another for your 8-pin power cable. To the right is a further three cable cut-outs for cable routing, none of which feature rubber grommets, but are nicely folded over and smooth enough to prevent any cable damage. Then right at the foot we have a huge cut-out running from front to back.

Although the amount of cut-outs for routing is a very welcome sight as are the nine sensibly placed tie off points, the spacing behind the motherboard tray isn’t. At the front end we have 15mm, just enough for a 2.5″ storage drive to be fitted via the mount in the upper left, but over to the right and the space is barely 10mm, which could cause potential issues for all bar flat or very flexible power cables.

 

BitFenix Pandora - top fan mount BitFenix Pandora - front fan mount

 

Because the BitFenix is very narrow, there isn’t enough space for a typical exhaust fan mount on the rear of the case, so to get around this BitFenix have placed a slightly staggered 120mm fan mount with a pre-installed BitFenix Spectre fan above the area where your CPU Cooler will reside. Then looking to the front we find another pre-installed 120mm BitFenix Spectre fan. Despite their fairly average performance (1000Β±10% RPM, 43.5Β±10% CFM), they are very quiet with a noise rating of <20dB.  

BitFenix Pandora - front panel removed BitFenix Pandora - top panel removed

 

The Pandora front panel is easily removed and when done so we find a huge magnetic dust-filter. Behind this we see the case features two 120mm fan mounts, but rather than standard round mounts, we have long rectangular ones. This isn’t just to give you a better ability to position your front fans, but to allow for a higher degree of compatibility with 240mm radiators. On the reverse of the plastic front panel you’ll probably have noticed a small black box. This is to house the BitFenix ICON, a 2.4″ 240mm(W) x 320mm(H) TFT LCD panel, which is re-programmable and powered via a USB 2.0 cable that plugs straight into your motherboard.

Taking a closer look at the top of the case with the other huge dust-filter removed, we can see a massive open space, to the front of which there’s a mounting space for a hidden 3.5″ storage drive with anti-vibration dampeners. Something I do find a little odd, is with the amount of space here, why haven’t BitFenix allowed the end user the option of using this area for an additional 120mm (or even two)?

 

BitFenix Pandora - 2.5inch storage drive mount front BitFenix Pandora - 2.5inch storage drive mount rear

 

Despite its narrow figure and the lack of traditional storage drive rack, the BitFenix Pandora offers a surprisingly flexible array of mounting space for storage drives. We have the previously mentioned 3.5″ drive space up in the roof cavity, then at foot of the case an odd looking platform that allows for a side mounted 2.5″ drive (handy to display your latest high speed SSD), behind which lies a floor mount for your choice of either 3.5″ or 2.5″ storage drives. Above this platform we have two rubber grommeted cut-outs to help aid cable management. Behind the motherboard tray is yet another 2.5″ drive mount, leaving the end user the opportunity of using a total of four storage drives.

 

BitFenix Pandora - psu mount BitFenix Pandora - front panel controls

 

Looking towards the PSU bay, we can see BitFenix have included four rubber anti-vibration mounts for your chosen PSU. The huge cut-out beneath the motherboard tray allows for easier cable management and also as an access point in which to mount your PSU.

Here we have a closer look at the top mounted case I/O panel, which consists of the following:

  • Power On/Off
  • Audio (Headphone/Mricrophone)
  • USB 3.0 (x2)
  • Reset

A fairly simple panel, but enough to suit your needs and it’s nicely styled to follow the curvature of the case and illuminate white when the Pandora is on. Something I’m not so keen on is the actual buttons themselves, which seem overly chunky and perhaps a little cheap due to there hollow sounding plastic construct (they kinda remind me of those from an old VCR player).

Overall I like the look of the Pandora very much. It features a nice and small footprint, the curved brushed aluminium panels all look lovely when on and I like the out-of-the-box thinking with the new BitFenix ICON LCD panel, but when viewed from the front I can’t help but think of my old Thermaltake Kandalf, Kandalf LCS and Armor cases (I’m all dewy-eyed now…). We best get it tested!

 

Hardware Installation

 

  • Test Rig Setup

  • Case BitFenix Pandora Power Supply Corsair Professional Series AX 760i
    Motherboard MSI Z97M GAMING CPU Intel Core i5-4690K
    CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U9S RAM HyperX Savage 2400MHz 8GB Kit
    Graphics Card XFX AMD Radeon R9 290X DD Black Edition SSD HyperX FURY 120GB

     

    Noctua NH-U9S MSI Z97M GAMING

    *The BitFenix Pandora is an MATX case, therefore our regular ASRock Fatal1ty Z97X Killer ATX Motherboard will not fit. So for the purpose of this review we shall be using the MSI Z97M GAMING MATX motherboard. With a maximum CPU cooler height of 134mm, clearly the of 158mm Raijintek Themis wasn’t going to work, so in comes the 125mm Noctua NH-U9S instead. All other Test Rig components are however the same.

     

    BitFenix Pandora - installed

     

    Installing the pcG Test Rig equipment within the BitFenix Pandora was fairly straightforward, but also slightly more awkward than I feel it needed to be… First up is motherboard I/O shield and MSI Z97M GAMING MATX itself, because the motherboard stand-offs are pre-installed the job is made all the easier. The i5-4690K, Noctua NH-U9S and HyperX Savage are all then installed without a hitch. In goes the HyperX Fury SSD into the 2.5″ side mount, a spare OCZ Vertex 3 in the rear mount and a 3.5″ Seagate Barracuda in the floor. To save having to work in a confined space, all releveant power cables are then plugged into the Corsair AX760i, which is then installed via the large cut-out and I set about cable management. The cable cut-outs are all very well placed, with only a minor hindrance of having to remove the top 120mm fan before feeding through the 8pin CPU power cable (which surprised me as I think the Pandora is the first BitFenix case I’ve actually been able to use this cut-out for this actual purpose!). The front panel headers cables are all entirely black and of a good length, making it easy to thread them through to the right locations, then to make life a little easier I remove the front panel to plug in data and power cables for the HyperX Fury and Seagate Barracuda. In fact the large open space of the main chassis makes installation incredibly easy! πŸ™‚

     

    BitFenix Pandora - installed left panel on BitFenix Pandora - installed panel on angled

     

    I then go to install the XFX R9 290X DD Black Edition test GPU. In order to do so you have to remove a plastic blanking plate plate to reveal the hex thumb-screws holding the expansion plates in place. Which if I’m honest I found to be rather annoying… Despite BitFenix including a 3mm hex key in the box, removing or replacing the thumb-screws is fiddly owing to the nature of the curved panel on the rear (sadly I’ve fat fingers and I’m not incredibly patient). Then fitting the graphics card proved to be very tight. The BitFenix Pandora allows for graphics cards up to 350mm in length, but it says no where about the maximum width (BitFenix aren’t the only manufacturers guilty of this and I feel it needs to be addressed 😑 ). Our XFX R9 290X DD Black Edition test cards are 143mm wide and I would not attempt to fit anything wider, in fact I’m pretty certain this GPU only just fits because the shroud has curved edges.

    Which finally leaves popping the front and side panels back on so that I can stand back and admire Pandora’s box! Or very nearly at least… The windowed panel goes on fine as does the front, but the right panel won’t stay on (not entirely down to my legendary cable mismanagement either). This is mainly down to the 8pin CPU and 24pin motherboard power cables being too thick and the Corsair SATA power cables being too stiff around the plug ends for them to sit flush against the case. A quick cable re-route ensues and then any excess cables hidden out of site behind the storage drive cage. Looks pretty good doesn’t it!?

     

    BitFenix Pandora - icon lcd logo bitfenix BitFenix Pandora - ICON software BitFenix Pandora - icon lcd logo pcG2

     

    One of the biggest draw points and key features of the Pandora, is the new BitFenix ICON. This is a 2.4β€³ 240mm(W) x 320mm(H) TFT LCD screen that is programmable to display any static image you could possibly want, just as long as the image file is in a JPG or PNG format and exactly 240mm(W) x 320mm(H) (easily done via MS Paint or Photoshop). The ICON’s default image is the BitFenix icon (above left image) and to change it you’ll need to download the Pandora Display APP (available here). Once installed, all you have to do is drag the image you wish displayed over the BitFenix ICON Windows icon, then within a matter of seconds you’ll have the image you’ve always wanted (here is the pcG logo you always wanted πŸ˜‰ ). The ICON is a cool idea. The screen itself despite not being top notch ultra HD quality, is surprisingly quite good and the viewing angle is a lot better than I expected. BitFenix have actaully been quite clever here as the curved aluminium on the front obscures, the ICON when looked at from an acute angle.

     

    Testing Methodology/Setup

     

    At pcGameware we use Prime95 and CoreTemp to evaluate CPU temperatures 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 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 a small overclock on the i5-4690K of 4.0GHz via MSI OC Genie

    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 (x2 in the case of the BitFenix Pandora) and the CPU Cooler (Noctua NH-U9S) are run at 100% throughout testing. To find out the case noise levels, the GPU fans are set to their lowest setting and the CPU Cooler fan is unplugged, whilst the dB is recorded from 1m away.

     

    Hardware Performance

     

    CPU-Z - BitFenix Pandora - 4.0GHz

    CPU-Z – 4.0GHz

    Prime95 - BitFenix Pandora - 4.0GHz

    Prime95 – 4.0GHz

  • CPU RESULTSBitFenix Pandora with Noctua NH-U9S and Intel i5-4690K @ 4.0GHz
  • Case Ambient Temperature Max CPU Temperature (core average) Delta Temperature
    BitFenix Pandora 24.00 76.00 52.00
    Fractal Design Core 1100 22.50 79.25 56.75
    In Win 901 23.00 79.50 56.50

     

    The BitFenix Pandora does a pretty reasonably job in feeding air to the Noctua NH-U9S cooling our 4.0GHz overclocked i5-4690K, but the results certainly aren’t overwhelming. With a maximum average core temperature of 76.00C (52.00C Delta), the highly stressed CPU is still within its safe thermal levels, but I personally would prefer to see the temperature on the other side of 70.00C. Could this be because the Pandora ships with basic BitFenix Spectre fans? Well despite their slightly below average performance (1000Β±10% RPM, 43.5Β±10% CFM), they aren’t entirely to blame. You see the Pandora features a large good quality magnetic dust-filter which sits behind the front panel, which is certainly no bad thing, but because it is of good quality it also features a pretty dense weave and is also strengthened by the plastic frame being of a honeycomb mesh effect. Sadly the basic fan on the front isn’t quite man enough to pull a decent amount of air through. However if you remove the dust-filter altogether, all of a sudden the maximum average core temperature drops to 70.25C (46.75C Delta), which is 5.75C (5.25C Delta) cooler. Which means BitFenix have kind of shot themselves in the foot…

     

  • GPU RESULTS – BitFenix Pandora with XFX AMD Radeon R9 290X DD Black Edition – STOCK (Core: 1050MHz/ Mem: 5000MHz)
  • Case Ambient Temperature Max GPU Temperature Delta Temperature
    Cooler Master HAF XB 24.00 80.00 56.00
    NZXT S340 22.00 80.00 58.00
    Xigmatek Aquila 23.50 84.00 60.50
    BitFenix Pandora 24.00 87.00 63.00
    In Win 901 22.50 89.00 66.50
    Fractal Design Core 1100 24.00 94.00 70.00

     

    We all know the AMD R9 290X is one hot graphics card which can happily reach its 94.00C throttle limit within a fairly short space of time. However our XFX DD Black Edition offers possibly the best cooling solution for this molten beast, with an average temperature of approximately 83.00C (60.00C Delta) across all case tests so far. Which means the BitFenix Pandora doesn’t do a bad job at all, but could easily be improved by the addition of another 120mm fan in the spare mount behind the front panel.

     

  • Acoustic Performance
  • In the area of acoustics, the BitFenix Pandora excels. With both case fans set at 100%, the case produces just 23dB. Yes, I know the Spectre case fans are fairly low RPM (1000Β±10%) and are with <20dB certainly very quiet, but I'd argue it that it also shows how solidly built the Pandora actually is (I've come across plenty of much noisier cases with similar fans).  

    Final Thoughts

     

    I always get a little excited when I hear we’re about to receive a new product from BitFenix and the new BitFenix Pandora proves no exception.

    The BitFenix Pandora arrived at pcG in the familiar brown cardboard box of a BitFenix product. Within which the case itself was well protected within a clear plastic bag and two polystyrene blocks. Once out of the box, the case certainly looked like no BitFenix case before it. Without the trademark BitFenix SofTouch or bold colours in sight, the elegance and gentle curves of the brushed aluminium pop-off side panels is certainly a brave change of direction for BitFenix and it pays off handsomely. The Pandora looks very nice indeed! Measuring in at just 160mm(W) x 420mm(H) x 465mm(D) it not only looks good, but is incredibly lithe, putting the width in to perspective, a standard ATX power supply measures 150mm wide, just 10mm less than the Pandora itself! Then on top of this, it features a large ‘L’ shaped window to show off all your hardware inside, with a rather cool alternative way of displaying your latest high speed SSD courtesy of a vertical mount. Another key feature of the aesthetics of the Pandora is the all new BitFenix ICON, a full colour programmable 240mm(W) x 320mm(H) TFT LCD screen. Which is a great way of personalising your new build and it’s surprisingly very easy to do. In fact visually my only gripe is the piano black front panel that surrounds the ICON, because of its highly glossy nature, it is not only a fingerprint magnet, but tends to attract dust too (perhaps I should sack the cleaner!?).

    Once inside Pandora’s box, we find a surprisingly large amount of open space. Helped along by the lack of ODD an bay and traditional storage drive cages; by doing so BitFenix have allowed enough space in the front for 2x 120mm fans (1x pre-installed) and a vertically mounted 240mm radiator. There’s also no need to fret about the lack of drive space as it even has mounting space for a either 3x 2.5″ and 1x 3.5″ or 2x 2.5″ and 2x 3.5″, which is ample storage for any Gaming rig.

    Despite its slim build, cable management isn’t too bad either, although it’ll take a few goes to get it to a point you’re happy with as the space behind the motherboard tray is very narrow measuring 15mm at its widest point (around the 2.5″ drive mount), down to an impractical 10mm behind the motherboard tray itself. Of course when you work out that the big cavity in front of the PSU and behind the drive cage is the perfect hiding spot for excess cables, even that becomes a breeze. The big area I wasn’t so happy with during the installation was for the graphics card. I can understand the choice of hex thumb-screws for the expansion blanking plates, but due to the beautifully curved aluminium frame on the rear causing a confined space, they are somewhat fiddly and a pain to work with (surely it would’ve been easier to make this frame removable?). Then we have Graphics Card width. The Pandora may accept a GPU with a maximum length of 350mm, but where it is so slim struggles with a width of 143mm as of the likes of our XFX R9 290X DD Black Edition test cards. This is a complaint not solely aimed at BitFenix, but to pretty much every case manufacturer out there, ‘please document the maximum width of a graphics card we can use in your cases!” as to my knowledge I’m pretty sure no one does. πŸ™ But as cases become smaller we see it becoming a bigger problem…

    Then we have thermal performance where the BitFenix is certainly adequate, keeping our i5-4690K with its moderate 4.0GHz overclock at a reasonable 76.00C (52.00C Delta) averaged across all cores, with the XFX R9 290X producing a maximum temperature of 87.00C (63.00C Delta). Neither of which is ground breaking, but I’d certainly be happy with them on a daily basis. Of course you could point the finger at the two fairly average BitFenix Spectre (1000Β±10% RPM, 43.5Β±10% CFM) fans included within the box, but they also help to keep the noise down too, with the Pandora producing just 23dB with both fans running at 100%. Personally I enjoy the silence and think this is actually a pretty good trade off.

    The BitFenix Pandora is available is several guises, the basic Core edition is priced at around Β£80 up to the windowed case at approximately Β£100. You may think Β£20 is pretty steep for a window, but don’t forget you’re also getting the BitFenix ICON, which in my eyes is not a bad price for the extras. I like the BitFenix Pandora, sure it has one or two small oddities about it, but for your money your getting an MATX case that is both sleek and unique.

     

    Verdict

    Please Share, Like & Comment below, we really value your thoughts and opinions…



    Where possible we always use Amazon’s price for Value…


      Design/Quality pcGameware awards the BitFenix Pandora a Silver
    Performance
    Value
    Overall

     

    Many thanks to BitFenix for providing this sample for review

     


    1. Tom
      January 29th, 2015 at 15:37 | #1

      Hey there! Just wanted to say that the maximum GPU width *is* on Bitfenix’s product page for the Pandora (http://www.bitfenix.com/global/en/products/chassis/pandora#support). Even though they say 120mm, I’ve found most GPUs with the power connectors “in-line” with the top of the PCI slot (even if they’re perpendicular to the card) should fit, as the connectors are generally the troublesome part πŸ™‚ Slim cases can be tricky but worth it IMO πŸ˜€

    2. Mike
      January 29th, 2015 at 16:18 | #2

      Hi Tom. Good spot. I don’t know if that was added after the review or I missed it. I still think it would be nice if it had been clearer on the website, within the installation guide and perhaps even the right width. πŸ˜‰

      I have to admit I still like the case though and certainly worth a buy.

    3. Tom
      January 30th, 2015 at 17:44 | #3

      @Mike
      Yeah, not sure how long that’s been up (and it really should be under specs instead of support probably) – and while I should be ashamed to mention this, I didn’t even look in the manual to see if those dimensions were in there… I only figured this out because someone had asked me about an R9 295, and so I measured the Pandora I had…only to find out Bitfenix had already answered that question πŸ™‚ Agreed there should be some sort of “GPU width/height” measurement standard though – is it from the motherboard tray? The top of the PCI-E slot? With/without connector? I just settled on ~3cm from the top of the PCI slot to the side panel, as there are far too many confusing measurements that could be done otherwise πŸ™‚

    4. Tom
      January 30th, 2015 at 17:45 | #4

      (Also, thanks for the review! Always enjoy these types of articles πŸ™‚ )

      • James
        January 30th, 2015 at 18:19 | #5

        Thanks for reading Tom… πŸ˜‰

        ATB pcG James

    5. Wesley
      June 26th, 2015 at 07:59 | #6

      Hi there,

      Im currently doing a Pandora build myself and just bumped into a question when picking the parts for it. The card that i want is the MSI GTX960 4G, do you think it will fit? It does say on the MSI page that the card is 139mm, if your R9 was able to fit, this would too, right?

      Cheers!

      • James
        June 26th, 2015 at 08:24 | #7

        Yep that will fit fine! πŸ˜‰

    6. Wesley
      June 26th, 2015 at 08:32 | #8

      @James
      Thank you for the reply James.

      Oh!! That’s great then, cox i personally prefer the MSI one due to the LED logo LOL! haha

      • James
        June 26th, 2015 at 08:34 | #9

        Hehehe, that’s what we like to hear! Have a great day… πŸ˜‰