BitFenix Ronin Case Review
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BitFenix Ronin Case Review

November 18th, 2014 Mike Leave a comment Go to comments

 

Overview

 

And now for something completely different… Ok, well being a case from BitFenix isn’t that different, but the BitFenix Ronin (BFC-RON-300-KKWSK-RP) certainly isn’t as flamboyant as some of their other high profile cases, yep I’m pointing my finger at the Prodigy, Colossus and even the latest Pandora cases. So without the BitFenix trademark creative flair what does the Ronin have to offer us? A sleek modern design featuring subtle curves, contrasting textures and clean lines. Water cooling ready with space for 240mm radiators in both the roof or front (why not both!). Six 120mm fan mounts (or even two 140mm for the roof if you’d prefer). Flexcage: two fully removing drive cages ensuring compatibility for even the largest of Graphic Cards. The Ronin is DIY friendly offering a huge CPU cutout and tool-free 5.25″ and 3.5″ drive bays, even the drive cages are tool-free, dust filters for both 120mm front fan mounts and a huge magnetic dust filter for the PSU and 120mm floor fan mount. Then to throw in that little BitFenix flair we’ve been missing, the Ronin also features SofTouch, a massive windowed side panel to show off all the hardware you love to see inside, but also a cleverly designed Stealth Cover to hide all the hardware you don’t!

So far it sounds pretty impressive, let’s take a closer look!

 

BitFenix - Logo ‘A warrior with no master. A case with no equal. Ronin combines a dark, stealthy design with enhanced hardware compatibility for a chassis built for vengeance. Micro-mesh strips provide additional ventilation, while the large window side panel with innovative Stealth Cover enables you to simultaneously show off the hardware you want and hide away the parts you don’t. To keep things frosty, Ronin can be outfitted with up to five fans, or a top-mounted 240mm water cooling radiator for superb cooling potential. Install up to six HDDs or SSDs inside the included FlexCage™, or slide out the middle section to make room for even the longest graphics cards. Equipped with a bevy of DIY friendly features and signature BitFenix SofTouch™ Surface Treatment, Ronin vanquishes your opponents in style. ‘

 

BitFenix Ronin - box front BitFenix Ronin - box back

 

The BitFenix Ronin arrived in the now familiar and unassuming brown box. On the front is a large black BitFenix logo with the company web address beneath it.

On the back of the box we have four different images of the Ronin and a break down of its features as follows.

Features

  • BitFenix SofTouch™ surface treatment
  • Interchangeable Mesh Strip
  • Huge Side Panel Window
  • Fits 240mm Water Cooling Radiators
  • Fits Long Graphics Cards
  • Innovative Stealth Cover

 

BitFenix Ronin - unboxing BitFenix Ronin - unpacking

 

The BitFenix Ronin is suitably well packaged in a protective bag and sandwiched between two hard polystyrene blocks.

 

BitFenix Ronin - contents

 

Contents

  • BitFenix Ronin Case
  • Quick Installation Guide
  • 5.25″ drive bay adapter x 1
  • 120mm Dust Filter x2 (Pre-installed x1)
  • PSU and 120mm Dust Filter (Pre-installed)
  • Lock Loop x 1
  • Fitting

At the time of review, the BitFenix Ronin is available from Amazon for £78.54 or from OverclockersUK for £69.95 with a typical 12 month warranty.

 

Specifications/Features

courtesy of BitFenix

 

Material SofTouch™, Plastic, Steel
Colour (Int/Ext) Black/Black
Dimensions (WxHxD) 205 x 483 x 505mm
Motherboard Sizes Mini-ITX, mATX, ATX
5.25” Drive Bays 3
3.5” Drive Bays 6 (3+3)
2.5” Drive Bays 6 (using 3.5″ trays
Cooling Front 120mm x 2 (1 included)
Cooling Rear 120mm x 1 (included)
Cooling Top 120mm x 2 (optional) or 140mm x 2 (optional)
Cooling Bottom 120mm x 1 (optional)
PCI Slots 7
I/O Panel USB 3.0 x 2, USB 2.0 x 2, HD Audio
Power Supply PS2 ATX (bottom, multi direction)
Extras/Features Stealth Cover, SofTouch™ surface treatment, filtered intakes, tool-free drive locking
Model Number BFC-RON-300-KKWSK-RP

* Additional details available here

 

First Impressions

 

Straight out of the box and I’m already impressed with the BitFenix Ronin. It’s nice and light weighing just 7.5kg and measures 205mm(W)x483mm(H)x505mm(D) which means it’s just the right size for a midi tower. Of more importance are its looks and with that huge side window and curved corners it looks great.

BitFenix Ronin - front BitFenix Ronin - back

 

From the front (and everywhere else!) we can see the BitFenix Ronin is almost entirely matte black. Not only that, but apart from the removable mesh strips running down the sides, the entire panel is covered in BitFenix SofTouch which I’m a huge fan of. The lower part of the hard plastic front panel is entirely covered in small holes, making for a pin-hole styled mesh. On the lower part of the panel we have the typical and always welcome silver brushed aluminium BitFenix badge. On the upper part of the panel, the Ronin features three 5.25″ blanking plates. Unlike many cases I’ve seen in recent times, these blanking plates are solid, offering no flex and stay exactly where they are supposed to be.

Around the back and starting from top to bottom, we have a pull slot for removing the top panel, motherboard I/O cutout, 120mm fan mount (pre-installed), seven expansion slots with fitted blanking plates, two round cutouts with rubber grommets for water cooling, then last but not least the PSU cutout.

 

BitFenix Ronin - top BitFenix Ronin - bottom

 

From above We get to see the same styling as on the front panel, except this time the perforations very nearly cover the entire panel. Right at the very front is the case front I/O panel. This features two USB 2.0, two USB 3.0, mic in and audio out, power and reset (the tiny one to the right) switch, as well as power and HDD LED indicators.

Whilst underneath we have four round plastic feet with silver rims and rubber anti-slip pads, a finger slot to remove the front panel with and a bloody great big magnetic dust filter covering the PSU and 120mm floor fan mount.

 

BitFenix Ronin - left BitFenix Ronin - box right

 

From the left we can see the nicely curved edging to the top and front panels I mentioned earlier. The sides of the top and front panel are coated in BitFenix SofTouch whilst the left and right panels are powder coated matte black. One of the big features of the Ronin is the left panel window, which is very nearly big enough to take up the entire panel (sadly for me it’s also highly reflective), which is just what you want to show off all your hardware.

 

BitFenix Ronin - left panel off BitFenix Ronin - left panel and shield off BitFenix Ronin - right panel off

 

After removing the left panel we immediately get to see another of the key features of the BitFenix Ronin, the Stealth Cover. This is made from a hard black plastic made to look like carbon fibre (also highly reflective). This is fitted simply by hooking it around the front of the chassis, then fixing it in place with three fixed plastic pins. Personally I don’t like the look of drive bays, PSUs and cables trailing around the case, so this to me is a brilliant idea.

Once the Stealth Cover is removed we get to see the BitFenix Ronin interior. Along the drive cage upright and in the lower left, we can see the mounts for the now removed Stealth Cover. To the right we have three 5.25″ ODD bays which feature tool-free latches on one side. Beneath these are six HDD slots. Over to the left of course, we have the motherboard tray with relevant cutouts.

Over on the opposite site we get a clearer look at the motherboard tray cutouts and can see exactly how big the CPU cutout is. Dotted around the back off the tray and conveniently surrounding all of the typical cable routes are twenty two cable tie mounts, which may seem a little excessive, but it’ll certainly make cable management a damn site easier. All of the internal chassis is typically well finished and powder coated black.

 

BitFenix Ronin - psu and lower fan mount BitFenix Ronin - rear fan mount

 

Looking to the floor and we get to see the PSU bay. This is plenty big enough for even oversized Power Supplies and has four anti-vibration mounts to help keep any noise produced at bay. Just to the right of this is an additional 120mm fan mount.

At the CPU exhaust port, the BitFenix Ronin features a typical 120mm fan mount. This comes pre-installed with a BitFenix Spectre 120mm fan which can run at 1000±10% RPM delivering 43.5±10% CFM whilst only producing <20 dB-A. Granted its perhaps not the best fan in the world, but certainly enough for the task in hand and incredibly quiet.  

BitFenix Ronin - front panel off2 BitFenix Ronin - top fan mount BitFenix Ronin - top panel off 2

 

Popping off the front panel from the BitFenix Ronin, reveals all three 5.25″ optical disk drive bays, one of which is open, while the other two are covered by snap off blanking plates. Just beneath these the Ronin features a single pre-installed 120mm Spectre fan (just like on the rear exhaust) and dust filter, just above these is another 120mm fan mount and it would seem BitFenix had already decided you will be using this mount as they rather nicely included a second dust filter for it.

Looking up inside the roof cavity gives us a better view of the top fan mounts and perhaps more importantly their potential. I say this because for a mid tower case it offers compatibility for 2x 120mm or 2x 140mm fans, then by removing the roof panel there is even room for a 120, 140, 240 or 280mm radiator in push or pull configuration. From the layout I’d hazard a guess that BitFenix had the intention of those fans pulling air out of the case and being fitted on the external part of the chassis as they’ve included a cutout for fan cables.

 

BitFenix Ronin - drive cages removed BitFenix Ronin - drive sleds

 

Another welcome feature of the BitFenix Ronin which seems rather lacking in many mid tower cases today, is the ability to remove one or even both of the drive cages. Better still both are even of a tool-free design! This will come in very handy for oversized Graphics Cards or perhaps even a 240mm radiator.

The two removable drive cages both feature three drive sleds apiece. For any 3.5″ HDD these are entirely tool-free, but for any 2.5″ or SSD you’ll still have to screw them in. I guess it’s only a matter of time before manufacturers start producing tool-free 2.5″ caddies as it isn’t like SSDs have become popular is it?

 

BitFenix Ronin - iso BitFenix Ronin - iso panel off

 

Now I’ve gone through all the detailed intricacies of the BitFenix Ronin, it’s a good time to stand back and enjoy the view. Despite being of a minimal design, the Ronin is very solidly built and I personally think it looks great. The pin hole air vents offer something a little different from the typical brick bond or honeycomb mesh and is refreshing to see. The addition of the huge window to show off all the hardware you want to see and the Stealth Cover to hide away all the wares you don’t is brilliant and something I’d hope to see on more cases in the future. In fact I can pick up on just the one niggle so far and that is just the lack of a white variation. 😉

 

Hardware Installation

 

  • Test Rig Setup

  • Case BitFenix Ronin Power Supply Corsair AX760i
    Motherboard MSI Z87 G45 GAMING CPU Intel Core i5-4670K
    CPU Cooler Raijintek Themis RAM HyperX Savage 2400MHz 8GB Kit
    Graphics Card MSI GTX 980 GAMING 4G SSD HyperX Fury 120GB

     

    BitFenix Ronin - installed with plate BitFenix Ronin - cable management

    Installing into the BitFenix Ronin was a breeze. All of the cut-outs on the motherboard tray are exactly where you want them to be whilst offering you just the right amount of space you need to make installation a doddle, yet not too much to make cable management more awkward than necessary. Because this particular build involves most of the usual pcG test components, the MSI Z87 G45 GAMING, Intel i5-4670K, Raijintek Themis and HyperX Savage assembly, was simply lifted out of the Cooler Master HAF XB test case, then planted straight into the BitFenix Ronin. All of the case and fan cables were then plugged into the motherboard, relevant SATA cables and both the 8 and 24 pin ATX cables plugged in. The HyperX Fury SSD and Seagate Barracuda 2TB were both attached to caddies, slid into a drive cage and plugged in. Something new you might have spotted in the Test Rig hardware, is the inclusion of the new MSI GTX 980 GAMING 4G. This card was chosen for two reasons. The first being its gargantuan size, at 279mm(L) x 140mm(W) x 36m(D) it is currently one of the largest Graphics Cards available and poses an extreme test for the build itself. Secondly (and probably more importantly) our regular MSI R9 290 GAMING 4GB test GPUs are currently unavailable whilst attached to water blocks in our Cosmos X Gaming Build. Of course the card itself posed no threat to the Ronin build and slotted in easily with no problems and without even having to remove either HDD cage. The two 8pin power cables were then attached to the MSI 980, leaving only the Test PSU and cable management to go. You may be wondering why I chose to leave fitting the Corsair AX760i power supply until last? Well the simple reason for this is I wanted to utilise the cut-outs beside the PSU for the Ronin Front Panel and HD Audio cables to give a tidier all round appearance. Oh, also for all you eagle eyed readers out there, you may have also noticed I also installed a Creative Sound Blaster Zx. This was purely because I also had headsets to test out during the review time (it’s a hard life eh? 😉 ).

    Which leaves the best job until last… Or not as the case may be. I can happily turn round to anyone and say I hate cable management (I really do), to the point that one of the first things I’ll look at in any case for myself is ‘exactly how much space does it offer for me to dump a multitude of excess cable in?’. Well the good news is that the BitFenix Ronin has probably got more tie off points than any other case I’ve seen before with 27 behind the motherboard tray alone! This makes short work of tidying up all the clutter and dare I say the job more pleasurable?!? Sadly it wasn’t until tidying up the cables that I stumbled across one small potential problem. Remember I had already had the motherboard, CPU, CPU Cooler and RAM assembly pieced together before the build? Well if I hadn’t I probably would’ve spotted this sooner. Take a quick look at the CPU cut-out (see above right image). Whilst it is big it does pose one small issue for anyone with a large CPU cooler backplate. That being if the plate is larger than average you will need to assemble it prior to case installation, otherwise your not going to be able to squeeze the plate in behind the motherboard very easily.

     

    BitFenix Ronin - installed with window BitFenix Ronin - installed iso

    So the BitFenix Ronin test build is finished, leaving me with just the Stealth Cover, side panels to re-fit and cables to plug in. So before I do the latter, it’s time to admire the BitFenix Ronin, to which I’m sure you’ll agree looks rather good. The Stealth Plate in particular whilst looking nothing exciting in itself whilst out of the case, hides all those unsightly bits you don’t want to see and helps draw your attention to all the lovely hardware inside. I think the only way it could be improved upon now is with some LED to light it all up!

     

    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, but what about GPU’s? Why we use UNiGiNE Heaven 4.0 of course!

    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 in °C. Testing was carried out at both 3.4GHz (Stock) and at 4.0GHz (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 Ronin) and the CPU Cooler (Raijintek Themis) are run at 100% throughout testing. To find out the case noise levels, the GPU fans are set to their lowest setting (that would be 0 for the 980) and the CPU Cooler fan is unplugged, whilst the dB is recorded from 1m away.

     

    Hardware Performance

     

  • CPU RESULTS – BitFenix Ronin with Raijintek Themis and Intel I5-4670K @ 4.0GHz (via UEFI)
  • Case Ambient Temperature Max CPU Temperature (core average) Delta Temperature
    BitFenix Shinobi XL 22.50 65.00 42.50
    Cooler Master Cosmos 2 25.00 68.50 43.50
    Cooler Master Cosmos SE 19.50 63.00 43.50
    Phanteks Enthoo Luxe 22.00 65.75 43.75
    Aerocool DS200 24.50 70.50 45.50
    BitFenix Phenom 21.00 66.50 45.50
    BitFenix Shadow 24.00 70.25 46.25
    Cooler Master HAF XB 19.50 68.00 48.50
    Aerocool DS Cube 25.50 74.25 48.75
    BitFenix Ronin 24.00 76.00 52.00
    BitFenix Neos 26.00 78.25 52.25
    BitFenix Comrade 21.50 74.00 52.50
    Raijintek Agos 25.00 79.00 54.00
    BitFenix Colossus 22.50 81.25 58.75
    SilverStone Precision PS10 22.00 81.50 59.50

     

    The table above shows that the BitFenix Ronin doesn’t offer the greatest of cooling when the i5-4670k receives a minor 4.0GHz overclock. Admittedly at 76.00C (52.00C Delta) it isn’t going to cause any issue, I would however prefer it on the lower side of 70.00C, but it’s really nothing to worry about.

     

    Prime95 - BitFenix Ronin @ 3.4GHz

    Prime95 – BitFenix Ronin @ 3.4GHz (fans @ 100%)

    Prime95 - BitFenix Ronin @ 4.0GHz

    Prime95 – BitFenix Ronin @ 4.0GHz (fans @ 100%)

    Prime95 - BitFenix Ronin @ 4.5GHz

    Prime95 – BitFenix Ronin @ 4.5GHz (fans @ 100%)

     

  • CPU RESULTS – BitFenix Ronin with Raijintek Themis and Intel I5-4670K
  • CPU GHz Ambient Temperature Max CPU Temperature (core average) Delta Temperature
    3.4GHz 23.50 67.50 44.00
    4.0GHz 24.00 76.00 52.00
    4.5GHz 24.00 82.25 58.25

     

    To get the bigger picture I also tested the BitFenix Ronin temperatures with the i5-4670K at its stock speed of 3.4GHz. The Ronin performed more respectably with the lower clock speed with a maximum average core temperature of 67.50C (44.00C Delta), but with a larger overclock of 4.5GHz the maximum average core temperature rose to 82.25C (58.25C Delta). This again won’t cause the build any issues, but still higher than I’d like to run the rig on a daily basis. These temperatures I would put purely down to the two Spectre fans not being quite man enough for the job in hand. The BitFenix Spectre 120mm fans can run at 1000±10% RPM delivering 43.5±10% CFM, which is enough to keep air moving within the case, but if you want anything cooler I’d recommend some fans that offer slightly higher performance.

     

  • GPU RESULTS – BitFenix Ronin with MSI GTX 980 GAMING 4G – STOCK (Core: 1317MHz/ Mem: 7010MHz)
  • Case Ambient Temperature Max GPU Temperature Delta Temperature
    Cooler Master HAF XB 24.00 65.00 41.00
    BitFenix Ronin 22.50 68.00 45.50

     

    Luckily the test Graphics Card used in this build is an incredibly cool card (unlike our red hot R9 290s!). The MSI GTX 980 GAMING 4G reached a maximum temperature of 68.00C (45.50C Delta), which was cool enough for me to Game, I mean work on whilst testing the most demanding of Games.

     

  • Acoustic Performance
  • Sound (or rather the lack thereof) is a particularly strong area for the BitFenix Ronin. The MSI 980 GAMING test GPU with fans set at 100% will create 50dB of sound in our Cooler Master HAF XB test case, where as the Ronin dampens that down by 7dB to 43dB. It’s a similar story for our test CPU Cooler the Raijintek Themis. Whilst this little cooler is working at 100% in the HAF XB, it produces 47dB of noise. This I personally find too high (unless wearing a headset of course), but once inside the Ronin the sound is reduced to a far more ear friendly 40dB. It is also worth bearing in mind the BitFenix Ronin offers no sound dampening of any kind. Components aside, the two BitFenix Spectre fans pre-installed within the Ronin when running at 100% knock out a paltry 23dB of noise!

     

    Final Thoughts

     

    The BitFenix Ronin arrived at pcG in the familiar and unassuming brown box we have become accustomed to from BitFenix. The case itself was safely packaged within a plastic bag and two polystyrene blocks.

    Once out of the box be can clearly see the Ronin is one of BitFenix’s more modestly styled cases and certainly shares very little of the same creative flair as seen in the Prodigy, Colossus or even the latest Pandora range. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t look good though, with its minimalistic black styling, perforated front and top cover air vents (both of which feature the BitFenix signature SofTouch coating), huge window and simple but brilliant Stealth Cover, I personally feel the Ronin is one of the best looking mid tower cases currently available.

    Building inside the BitFenix Ronin was also very nice and easy. The internal layout offers plenty of space to work in with every cable cut-out well placed and cable management is again incredibly easy courtesy of the plethora the cable tie mounts strategically placed around the motherboard tray. The case offers six HDD caddies by way of two tool-free removable cages, making the Ronin compatible with Graphics Cards of any size. The removable drive cages also allows for additional space for a 120 or 240mm radiator to compliment the available space in the roof for either a 120, 140, 240 or 280mm radiator. The Ronin certainly offers a lot of water cooling potential, which I find rather surprising for a case weighing just 7.5kg and measuring 205mm(W)x483mm(H)x505mm(D).

    The BitFenix Ronin even turns out to be acoustically very quiet even despite the lack of sound dampening materials, which is partly helped by the near silence of the two BitFenix Spectre 120mm fans producing just 23dB whilst running at 100%. Which sadly also leads to the Ronin’s biggest problem. Despite the Spectre fans being incredibly quiet, they are relatively low on the performance side with a rated speed of 1000±10% RPM. This means when the Intel i5-4670K received a small overclock and set at 4.0GHz, the maximum average core temperature recorded was 76.00C (52.00C Delta), which is fair to middling. This of course could be easily remedied by adding in additional fans to any of the five empty 120mm fan mounts, upgrading the fans altogether or even by using any of those spacious mounting areas for an AIO (All In One) or custom water cooling solution.

    With a current retail price of £70.00/£80.00, the Ronin offers you a simple, but stylish mid tower case with the same high level of build quality we have come to expect from BitFenix. With the addition of the huge window, Stealth Cover and the potential for water cooling, the BitFenix Ronin offers you a pretty comprehensive all round package. The only thing that really lets it down is the need for more or better fans. If you can get over the latter, it’s a case I’m sure you’ll be happy to own.

     

    Verdict

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    BitFenix Ronin



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

     

    Many thanks to BitFenix for providing this sample for review

     



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