BitFenix Prodigy M Case Review
   
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BitFenix Prodigy M Case Review

February 19th, 2015 James Leave a comment Go to comments

Overview

 

It’s been a while since I’ve looked at a BitFenix Case, the last few though have all been either Gold or Silver award winners! Therefore I’m rather looking forward to taking a look at one of the latest cases (well latest colours, at least!) as the BitFenix Prodigy has actually been around for over a couple of years now. But this is no normal Prodigy and it’s not even one of the original colours. What we have here is the BitFenix Prodigy M (BFC-PRM-300-RRXKK-RP – Red Edition). The M denotes that unlike the original Prodigy that was designed for MITX motherboards, the Prodigy M (as you may have guessed) is designed for MATX motherboards.

The Prodigy M is made from steel and plastic and (actually) supports both MITX and MATX and measures in at (WxHxD): 250 x 404 x 359mm. The case comes equipped with two 120mm fans and a features a single 5.25″ drive bay and supports up to four 3.5″ drives or five 2.5″ drives. There’s five PCIE slots meaning that the Prodigy M is also SLI and CrossFire capable. There’s even water cooling support, as in the roof of the case there’s support for up to a 240mm radiator (albeit a slim one!). The case is also coated with BitFenix’s impressive surface treatment SofTouch™, although this only covers the plastic parts, the two side panels and the top of the case are painted and match surprisingly well!

 

BitFenix Logo Large ‘Reimagined with micro ATX compatibility, Prodigy M enables users to install multiple expansion cards while maintaining the same compact dimensions and sleek look of the original Prodigy. Suspended with two FyberFlex Composite handles for shock absorption, Prodigy M can be easily transported to the next room or to the next LAN party. Prodigy M now also comes in several vibrant colors to match virtually any décor. The inside is incredibly flexible, offering space for SLI or Crossfire dual graphics technology, up to four 3.5″ hard drives or five 2.5″ SSDs, and even space for slim 240mm radiators. A magnetic heat shield is also included should you decide to fill the bottom with hard drives rather than fans. With BitFenix SofTouch Surface Treatment, a massive CPU cooler cutout, and rolled-edge cable pass-throughs, the small case that does it all returns with a vengeance. ‘
BitFenix Prodigy M - box front BitFenix Prodigy M - box back

 

The front of the eco-friendly box, that we are now accustomed to seeing, features a large BitFenix logo, the Podigy M name and the company’s web address.

The back of the box is a little more interesting highlighting various features of the Prodigy M by way of three basic images.

 

BitFenix Prodigy M - box open

 

Opening the top of the box allows us to get a glimpse of the Red Prodigy M hiding within, as you can see the case is covered with a plastic bag and sandwiched between two polystyrene blocks. There’s a Quick Installation Guide too…

 

BitFenix Prodigy M - accessories
  • Quick Installation Guide
  • BitFenix Limited Warranty
  • USB 2.0 to USB 3.0 adapter
  • Cable ties
  • Various screws and stand-offs etc
  • Stand-Off insertion tool (always handy)

 

Within the case we find a small box containing the rest of the case’s accessories, these are shown and listed above.

At the time of review, the BitFenix Prodigy M is retailing for approximately £65 at Overclockers UK or on Amazonfor £69 and comes with a 1 year warranty.

 

Specifications/Features

courtesy of BitFenix

 

Specs
Materials Steel, Plastic
Colors (Int/Ext) Black/Black, White/White
Dimensions (WxHxD) 250 x 404 x 359mm
Motherboard Sizes Micro ATX, Mini-ITX
5.25” Drive Bays x 1 (removable.”if install an ODD,can not install an HDD on the top position of the HDD rail”)
3.5” Drive Bays x 4 (x3 with ODD installed)
2.5” Drive Bays x 5 (3 + 2)
Cooling Top 120mm x 2 (optional)
Cooling Bottom 120mm x 2 (1 included) or 200mm x 1(optional) or 230mm x 1 (optional)
Cooling Rear 120mm x 1 (included) or 140mm x 1 (optional)
PCI Slots x 5
I/O USB 3.0 x 2, HD Audio
Power Supply PS2 ATX (bottom, multi direction)
Extras FyberFlex™ Composite handles, SofTouch™ surface treatment, heat shield
Models
Prodigy M Midnight Black BFC-PRM-300-KKXSK-RP
Prodigy M Arctic White BFC-PRM-300-WWWKW-RP
Prodigy M Fire Red BFC-PRM-300-RRXKK-RP
Prodigy M Atomic Orange BFC-PRM-300-OOXKK-RP
Prodigy M Vivid Green BFC-PRM-300-BBXKK-RP
Prodigy M Cobalt Blue BFC-PRM-300-GGXKK-RP
Prodigy M Window Midnight Black BFC-PRM-300-KKWSK-RP
Prodigy M Window Arctic White BFC-PRM-300-WWWKW-RP
Prodigy M Window Fire Red BFC-PRM-300-RRWKK-RP
Prodigy M Window Atomic Orange BFC-PRM-300-OOWKK-RP
Prodigy M Window Vivid Green BFC-PRM-300-GGWKK-RP
Prodigy M Window Cobalt Blue BFC-PRM-300-BBWKK-RP

* Additional details available here

 

First Impressions

 

First impressions of the BitFenix Prodigy M are very good, the case is immediately likeable thanks to its boutique styling. It’s kind of (I hate using this word, but) cute, yet cool; in that ‘all the best things come in small packages’ kind of way! Of course the red colour (other colours are available) also helps to give the Prodigy immediate appeal, in fact I’m not sure I ever tested a red case before…

 

BitFenix Prodigy M

 

As the BitFenix Prodigy is a somewhat minimalist case there’s not that much to see; but the front panel is made from plastic meaning that it features BitFenix’s SofTouch™ surface treatment. At the bottom we have a black BitFenix logo and at the top we find a single 5.25″ drive bay with blanking plate. This is surrounded by a black panel that features air vents all around the outside for cooling.

As you can see from looking at the back of the case, the BitFenix Prodigy M features a rather unusual layout, as the M-ATX motherboard is effectively upside down. At the top we see the five PCIE slots on the right, with a cooling vent to the left. But what’s that screw in the middle for? Well that locks all of the PCIE brackets in position, no need for screws (loosen and lift up and then push back into position and tighten to lock). Below this we see the a 120mm intake fan, one of only two fitted to the case. To the right of this we have the main motherboard I/O shield cut-out. And in the lower far right corner, built into the case we have a PSU socket!? More on this later…

 

BitFenix Prodigy M - front   BitFenix Prodigy M - back

 

Looking at the top of the BitFenix Prodigy M we can see that it is dominated by a large black mesh grill. This grill is removable by way of the switch at the back of the panel.

With the panel removed we can clearly see room for either a couple of 120mm fans and/or a 240mm radiator, impressive support for such a small case.

Flipping the case over allows us to take a look at the underside, there’s not much here but what we can see is the (oddly positioned) PSU bay and the pre-installed 120mm intake fan on the right. The plethora of holes support either x2 120mm fans, x1 230mm fan or even a couple of HDDs.

 

BitFenix Prodigy M - top BitFenix Prodigy M - top (panel removed) BitFenix Prodigy M - bottom

 

Looking at the left side of the BitFenix Prodigy M, there’s really nothing to see, no really there isn’t! 😉

There’s also not much to see on the other side either, but we do have the main controls for the case. This comprises of main power button and reset button, below this there are the audio ports (headphone & microphone). Each audio port seems to have an associated LED, but these are in fact the main power LED and the disk activity LED. Both of these LED illuminate blue, which is an odd colour for a red case, assuming all of the coloured Prodigy M’s use the same blue LEDs, I’m confident white would have been a better choice!? Below this there are two USB 3.0 sockets.

As you can see from the image above right the right panel comes equipped with cabling (never a good idea this), these cables obviously support the aforementioned controls built into the panel. The downside is that every time you remove the panel, you have to unplug all of the cables from both the side panel (power switch/reset switch, audio, power LED & disk LED) and the motherboard (USB 3.0). 🙁 Apparently, those black mesh cages built into the side panel can be used to fit another two 2.5″ drives, but quite why you would want to attach more cables to the side panel I really don’t know…

 

BitFenix Prodigy M - left BitFenix Prodigy M - right BitFenix Prodigy M - right side panel

 

The left (and the right for that matter) side panel can be removed by removing two (very nice) thumb screws. With the left panel removed we can see the main motherboard tray (strange as the MB normally sits on the other side of a case) and its associated CPU cut-out. The area to the right of this will actually house the Power Supply once fitted.

Removing the right side panel allows us to take a better look at the interior of the Prodigy M, although it’s somewhat obscured by that massive bracket. This bracket is there to support either x2 HDDs or x3 SSDs. An odd design decision in my mind, as it would be easier to store the drives in the floor or on the other side of the case behind the side panel. You can also see the ODD bracket in the top left of the case, this can also be removed if not required, by way of 4 screws. You can also now clearly see the positioning of the two 120mm fans; x1 intake fan in the floor and a single intake fan at the back (that’s right two intake fans!).

 

BitFenix Prodigy M - left side panel (removed) BitFenix Prodigy M - right side panel (removed)

 

The final image (above right) sees the BitFenix Prodigy M with all of its panels and brackets removed (well apart from the front panel itself and the ODD cage, that are both removable). As you can see the main drive bracket has been removed (for now), this is done by removing just four screws and should aide installation, I hope…

 

BitFenix Prodigy M - drive bracket BitFenix Prodigy M - naked

 

Below left we can see the 120mm intake fan in the back of the case. The other image not only shows the other 120mm intake fan in the floor, but also shows a rather strange cable lurking in the bottom of the case. Those that have been reading (or even just looking at pictures) will have noticed that the BitFenix Prodigy M has a power socket at the back of the case!? A cable is pre-fitted to this socket and allows for an alternative placement for the PSU! The Power Supply in the Prodigy M effectively hangs in the FRONT of the case!? Therefore this cable runs along the bottom of the case to connect the socket at the back to your PSU at the front, a good idea, we’ll have to see…

 

BitFenix Prodigy M - exhaust fan BitFenix Prodigy M - intake fan

 

The BitFenix Prodigy is a good looking case, but there are some quirky design decisions throughout. The cabled side panel, the HDD/SSD bracket on the right side of the case and the strange PSU placement means that installation is not likely to be straightforward, wish me luck… 😉

 

Hardware Installation

 

  • Test Rig Setup

  • Case BitFenix Prodigy M 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

     

    The first task that I undertook when installing the pcG Test Rig into the BitFenix Prodigy M was the fitment of the Corsair AX760i Power Supply. The odd placement of the PSU in the Prodigy M utilises a bracket, this was removed from the case (one thumb screw) and then screwed to the back of the PSU.

    The PSU was then introduced back into the case, not forgetting to attach the power cable first! The Power Supply was then secured using the bracket and the single thumb screw, quite clever really, but is it necessary!?

    Note the odd placement of the excess power cable, this can be routed in the case or outside as I have done. Trust me with this build you want as little IN the case as possible… 😉

     

    BitFenix Prodigy M - PSU bracket BitFenix Prodigy M - PSU installed BitFenix Prodigy M - PSU adapter cable

     

    The next task was to assemble and install the motherboard assembly, in this build we will be using a MSI Z97M GAMING MATX board as our regular ASRock Fatal1ty Z97X Killer wont fit. Because of the size of the motherboard and the case we will also be using a Noctua NH-U9S cooler, the memory and the SSD come courtesy of HyperX in the form of 8GB of Savage 2400MHz RAM and a Fury 120GB SSD.

    With the motherboard assembly complete it’s time to get it into the Prodigy M (after installing the I/O shield of course!), it’s a tight fit but it does fit! It was at this point that the fun (READ: frustration) started as after the motherboard had been secured to the case by way of eight screws, is started to look at cabling up. Unfortunately there’s no accessible hole for the CPU 8-pin cable to go through, well not when the motherboard is in place anyway. The hole that is there can only be accessed (yes you guessed it) when the motherboard is out, so out came the motherboard, in went the cable and it was back to cabling again…

    As you can see from the images below things inside the BitFenix Prodigy M get very tight very quickly, look at the close proximity that the main 24-pin power plug/cable has to the side of the PSU. Again it does fit, but only just and it’s damn hard work getting it to fit, I hope I don’t have to remove this motherboard again! Guess what happens next… 🙁

    That’s right the whole lot had to come back out as I was now struggling to fit our 295mm XFX R9 290X DD Black Edition Graphics Card, is it too long? No, because according to the box the case supports Graphics Cards up to 320mm!? Well that may be the case (haha) if there’s no PSU in the case as not only does the PSU get in the way, but more importantly the cables exiting the PSU are in the way. I had to rotate the PSU into a specific orientation to gain just enough space to fit the the Graphics Card. Again it fits, but only just…

     

    BitFenix Prodigy M - motherboard assembly BitFenix Prodigy M - 24-pin power cable BitFenix Prodigy M - PSU cabling

     

    With the motherboard assembly now in and the Graphics Card powered up, it was time to turn my attention to the drives. Now while the Prodigy M seems to offer lots of options, x2 in the floor (HDD only), x3 on the vertical bracket and/or x2 in the right side panel, none of them are a particularly good option, why? Well because which ever way you cut it you’re going to have unsightly cables trailing across your build. As you can see I opted for using the vertical side bracket as I didn’t want to connect cables to the side panel. Even this though was a little awkward as the panel edges interfere with the SATA power cable, making it difficult to fit, again it did fit but only just!

    Looking down from the top of the BitFenix Prodigy M, reveals a rather cool sight, cool because that Graphics Card should be able to suck a nice amount of fresh/cool air through that opening.

    Taking a look at the left side of the case we can see how little cabling there is (just the 8-pin CPU & two fan cables), now while that may be a good thing, it might beg the question where has all the cabling gone. Bundled inside the case that’s where, as there is no dedicated cabling space in the Prodigy M, meaning you need to make it up as you go along.

     

    BitFenix Prodigy M - right (installed) BitFenix Prodigy M - top (panel removed GPU) BitFenix Prodigy M - left (installed)

     

    Now while the finished build may look pretty good, it’s been a bit of a journey. For me at this point I have a love hate relationship with the BitFenix Prodigy M, I love the look of the final build, but, well you get the idea… 😉

     

    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 (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 a small overclock on the i5-4690K of 4.0GHz courtesy of MSI’s 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 Prodigy M) and the CPU Cooler (Noctua NH-U9S) 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 dB is recorded from 1m away.

     

    Hardware Performance

     

    BitFenix Prodigy M - CPU-Z BitFenix Prodigy M - Core Temp

     

  • CPU RESULTSBitFenix Prodigy M 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
    BitFenix Prodigy M 23.00 78.50 55.50
    Fractal Design Core 1100 22.50 79.25 56.75
    In Win 901 23.00 79.50 56.50

    * Thermals Explained

     

    We’ve not seen that many MATX cases here at pcG, that’s why there are so few in the grid above. But from what I can see the BitFenix Prodigy M seems to perform its CPU cooling duties well. Keeping our overclocked (4.0GHz) Intel Core i5-4690K at an average of 78.50C (55.50C Delta) during the Prime 95 benchmark. All the more impressive when you consider that the case only has two 120mm fans and, as we well know from the installation (oh don’t get me started!), there’s not a lot of free space inside either…

     

  • GPU RESULTSBitFenix Prodigy M 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
    BitFenix Prodigy M 22.50 83.00 60.50
    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

     

    Cooling our rather toasty test card (XFX R9 290X DD Black Edition) is no easy task, as the Hawaii XT based GPUs do get very warm, with a thermal throttle limit of 94.00C. A maximum temperature of 83.00C (60.50C Delta) places the BitFenix Prodigy M in the top three, again very impressive considering the case features only two (low noise/rpm) fans! Actually the Prodigy M has performed far better than I would have expected, and I now feeling a little more upbeat after that lengthy installation procedure (ok James, enough about the install, we know, we know!).

     

  • Acoustic Performance
  • Due to the fact that the BitFenix Prodigy M is only fitted with two low rpm 120mm fans, noise is kept to a minimum. In fact there’s likely to be more noise coming from the CPU Cooler or your Graphics Card. With the CPU Cooler unplugged and the GPU at idle and the case fans at 100%, noise was measured (from 1m away) at a paltry 31dB. That’s as close as we are going to get to silence, well in the pcG office anyway.

     

    Final Thoughts

     

    You could say that I have a love hate relationship with the BitFenix Prodigy M, the installation may have been frustrating but the end result almost makes up for all of the cursing and the swearing!

    The BitFenix Prodigy arrived at pcG well packaged and in (what is now the norm) an eco friendly brown cardboard box. After peering inside and taking a look at the lovely red (other colours are available) Prodigy M hiding within, my interest in the case was already beginning to climb. Once out of the box things get even better as the Prodigy M is one good looking (little) case, enhanced of course by BitFenix’s SofTouch™ surface treatment that covers the plastic panels.

    Removing the panels (left and right) and removing the main drive bracket that spans the right side of the case sees the BitFenix Prodigy M almost naked and there seems to be plenty of space (can you feel the but coming). BUT there isn’t, well there is but most of it will be taken up by the Power Supplu once fitted. Our test PSU (Corsair AX 760i) is actually quite short at only 160mm, but once in the case there’s not much room left.

    There’s quite of few odd design choices in the Prodigy M, the first of which is the actual placement of the PSU itself, which hangs (on a bracket) at the front of the case!? The next odd choice is the fact that there are no holes for cable management and no cable management space, the first issue saw me removing the motherboard again as you need to fit the CPU 8-pin cable BEFORE you install the motherboard!? With the motherboard assembly in the place the next task after the 8-pin is to attach the 24-pin, but that PSU gets in the way!? The bend in the cable is so tight, it’s just to damn easy to break something! Fitting our test Graphics Card (XFX R9 290X DD Black Edition) which is incidentally 25mm shorter than the recommended maximum, was a nightmare! Why because that PSU is in the way again, it’s not the fact that the PSU itself fouls on the GPU it’s the cables hanging out of it. This is made worse by the fact that the Prodigy M doesn’t have normal PCIE brackets, opting for some rather unusual bracket system that secures all PCIE brackets in place at once, the problem is that you need even more space to fit your GPU because now you have to lift it over this bracket!? The problems continue when you search for storage options in this ever decreasing space, especially if you’re using SSDs; with the options being x2 in the side panel!? or x3 in that bracket we removed earlier. Not wanting to attach cables to the side panel I opted to fit one SSD to the side panel bracket, this of course leads cables trailing all over the place. Finally the last hurdle is to fit the side panels, the left is easy, just two thumb screws, but the right has cabling attached and it’s cabling you will want to use. You now have to wire up (power, reset buttons, audio, LED indicator and USB 3.0) to the inside of your case! Hopefully that has given you some idea of the installation of a system into the BitFenix Prodigy M, total time spent around 3-4 hours. Time well spent?

    Surprisingly the answer to that is, Yes! I have to admit the end result, after the blood, sweat and tears of the install, is impressive, as what you end up with is a smart, cool looking little case that many will admire. The good news doesn’t stop there either as not only does the case look good, it cools pretty well too, even with only two low RPM 120mm fans. Both the results in our benchmarks were more than respectable, with a maximum overclocked CPU temperature average of 78.50C and a GPU maximum of 83.00C, the latter is particularly impressive considering our toasty AMD R9 290X test card.

    Acoustically the BitFenix Prodigy M performs extremely well, with both case fans at 100% I recorded one of the lowest (if not the lowest) decibel readings ever recorded at just 31dB. This makes the cooling performance seem all the more impressive…

    Hopefully you’ll now know/understand my love hate relationship with the BitFenix Prodigy M, on the one hand the installation is a bit of a nightmare (especially if you have a large (275mm +) Graphics Card, and there’s undeniably some rather odd design choices that really don’t help. But if you can get past this (and I did, but I did loose a few hairs!) then what you’ll end up with is a lovely looking little case, that not only cools better than you would think, but it’s quiet too! And it wont cost the earth either…

     

    Verdict

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    Overclockers UK

    BitFenix Prodigy M


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

     

    Many thanks to BitFenix for providing this sample for review

     


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