BitFenix Shinobi XL Case Review
   
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BitFenix Shinobi XL Case Review

September 7th, 2014 James Leave a comment Go to comments

Overview

 

Over the last few months we’ve seen a few small mATX cases from the likes of BitFenix and Aerocool, but not so many tower ATX cases. Therefore we thought it was about time we had a bit of a change. Enter the BitFenix Shinobi XL, we have the white, windowed version (BFC-SNX-500-WWW1-RP) but the case is also available without a window and in black. The XL is based on the original Shinobi, but the XL has been expanded to provided a far roomier case with more possibilities for cooling, both air and water. Due to its size the Shinobi XL can swallow (whole!) the following motherboard Form Factors Mini-ITX, mATX, ATX, XL-ATX). Of course that extra room also caters for longer Graphics Cards with support for 377mm (with HDD cage) and 492mm (with HDD cage removed). Water cooling support is catered for by supporting x2 360mm radiators to be installed. The Shinobi XL also features four SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports and the all-new BitFenix SuperCharge™ port for high speed charging. In addition to this the case comes with three pre-installed Spectre™ fans x1 230mm in the roof, x1 230mm in the front and x1 120mm in the rear. And the outer body of the case features Bitfenix’s impressive SofTouch™ Surface Treatment.

 

BitFenix Shinobi XL - box BitFenix Shinobi XL - box open

 

The BitFenix Shinobi XL was well packaged in a plain brown box with a large BitFenix logo on the front (yes that box is the right way up, it’s the sticker that’s not!). 😉

Opening the box we can see that the case is well packaged with soft foam and is covered with a plastic bag.

 

BitFenix Shinobi XL - box contents

 

Other than the case itself we have a Quick Installation Guide (that’s actually pretty good!), a Drive Bay Adapter and a box of bits. In the box of bits we find not only a raft of screws etc, but also a USB 3.0 to 2.0 adapter, some cable clips and ties and the rather useful stand-off installation tool. This allows you to install the stand-offs with a screwdriver.

At the time of review, the BitFenix Shinobi XL (white, windowed version) is retailing for approximately £130 on Amazon and comes with a 1 year warranty.

 

Specifications/Features

courtesy of BitFenix

Materials Steel, Plastic
Color (Int/Ext) Black/Black, White/White
Dimensions (HxWxD) 570 x 245 x 557mm (ATX Full Tower)
Motherboard Sizes Mini-ITX, mATX, ATX, XL-ATX, E-ATX
5.25” Drive Bays x 5
3.5” Drive Bays x 7
2.5” Drive Bays x 8 (using 3.5″ drive bays and 5.25″ adapter)
Cooling Front 1 x 230mm (included), or 3 x 120mm (optional)
Cooling Rear 1 x 120mm (included), or 1 x 140mm (optional)
Cooling Top 2 x 230mm (x 1 included), or 3 x 120mm (optional)
Cooling Bottom 2 x 120mm (optional)
PCI Slots 9
I/O 1 x SuperCharge™, 4 x USB 3.0, HD Audio
Power Supply PS2 ATX (bottom, multi direction)
Extras Superior watercooling support, FlexCage™, SofTouch™ Surface Treatment, filtered intakes, tool-free drive locking
Maximum CPU Cooler Height 181.1mm
Maximum Expansion Card Length 334mm (with HDD cage) / 487mm (with HDD cage removed)
Maximum MB Tray Clearance (rear) 32.5mm
Models
Black (Black Mesh) BFC-SNX-500-KKW1-RP
White (Black Mesh) BFC-SNX-500-WWW1-RP

* Additional details available here

 

First Impressions

 

BitFenix Shinobi XL

 

First impressions are very good, but then I have to admit I am a bit of a sucker for large white tower cases! Bit the BitFenix Shinobi XL really looks pretty good, I especially like the black mesh accent strips that run across the front and top of the case. It’s subtle but it gives the Shinobi XL a touch of class. The window is in the perfect position and the correct shape, meaning that you don’t get to see those pesky drive cages. You’d be surprised how many other manufacturers get this wrong…

 

BitFenix Shinobi XL - top BitFenix Shinobi XL - controls BitFenix Shinobi XL - top removed

 

Looking at the top of the case gives you some idea of its size, at the back (image above left) you can just about see the position of the pre-installed 230mm Spectre™ fan. At the front we find power & reset buttons, microphone & headphone ports, x4 USB 3.0 ports (that’s a first, although I don’t know of a MB that supports this!) and a SuperCharge™ port (the orange one!). This port supplies 2.5A of current for charging your mobile devices; including phones, portable consoles, and even tablets – up to 5 times that of USB 2.0, what a great idea! 😉

Taking the top off the case allows you to clearly see the support for up to three 120mm fans and a 360mm radiator within. Getting the top off was a little scary though, there was a lot of tugging and a fair bit of creaking…

 

BitFenix Shinobi XL - left BitFenix Shinobi XL - right

 

On the left side of the case we have a perfectly placed window that does a great job of showing of you rig within but hiding those rather ugly drive cages. The perspex window is held in place by twelve plastic clips and this is a good thing, read on to find out why… 😉

The right panel has no window and is made from a single sheet of steel, it’s secured with two thumb screws the same as the left panel.

 

BitFenix Shinobi XL - front BitFenix Shinobi XL - front removed BitFenix Shinobi XL - box back

 

Looking at the front of the case you get to appreciate the clean cut look of the Shinobi XL, note the impressive amount of 5 1/4″ drive bays, five! The centrally mounted BitFenix logo, while looking good, unfortunately doesn’t illuminate!

As you can see from the images above, the front panel can be removed (more tugging and creaking!), revealing the front intake filter covering the 230mm fan. As you can see there’s excellent support for additional fans and water cooling; (x3 120mm) or up to a 360mm internal radiator.

Taking a look at the back of the Shinobi XL we can see the impressive nine (yes that’s 9) expansion slots. In addition to this we have the four water cooling holes at the top (although this is blast from the past IMHO!). The 120mm fan, with support for a 140mm and finally the PSU cut-out at the bottom.

 

BitFenix Shinobi XL - bottom

 

Flipping the case over allows us to see the underside of the BitFenix Shinobi XL. At the back we have a removable filter for the Power Supply that can be slid out at the rear. At the front we have an additional two filters for the two optional 120mm fan locations. These front fan filters are held in place with plastic pins, which while ok is not ideal if you wish to clean them! Near the front filter we can also see four silver screws, these help to hold the removable drive cage in place.

 

BitFenix Shinobi XL - inside BitFenix Shinobi XL - top & rear fans BitFenix Shinobi XL - inside (wiring)

 

Taking the left side panel off allows you to see the cavernous interior of the BitFenix Shinobi XL. There’s plenty of support here for even the craziest of builds! As mentioned earlier there’s motherboard support for the following Form Factors (Mini-ITX, mATX, ATX, XL-ATX). The case has plenty of well positioned grommets and a large CPU cut-out to ease those CPU cooler back-plate installations, there’s also rubber mounts for your PSU to sit upon. On the right we have the two main drive cages, the lower supports both HDDs and SSDs, while the upper supports your 5.25″ drives. Both of these cages are actually removable by way of screws, and that’s always good to hear! Also note the number of cable tie positions, to help with cable management, I can count 16! 😉

Sticking my head inside the case allows me to check out the 230mm Spectre™ fan in the roof and the 120mm exhaust fan. You can also see the space where a 360mm radiator could live, should you want to water cool your system.

Twisting my head around (somewhat like an owl) allows me to see into the front of the case and see all of the wiring for the front panel. Note the four large black cables to support the four USB 3.0 ports and the small black/red cable providing direct power for the SuperCharge™ port.

 

Hardware Installation

 

  • Test Rig Setup

  • Case BitFenix Shinobi XL Power Supply Corsair AX760i
    Motherboard MSI Z87 G45 GAMING CPU Intel Core i7-4670K
    CPU Cooler Raijintek Themis RAM Kingston HyperX Beast 8GB 2400MHz
    Graphics Card MSI R9 290 GAMING OC Edition SSD Kingston Fury 120GB SSD

     

    As there’s so much room inside the BitFenix Shinobi XL, there was no removal of anything first, I was able to get straight on with the build. The first job was to install the Corsair AX760i power supply, a simple enough job. After installing an additional seven stand-offs with the handy stand-off socket supplied it was time for the motherboard. I removed the motherboard assembly (MB, CPU, RAM & Cooler) from the Test Rig case (Cooler Master HAF XB) and placed it straight into the Shinobi XL.

     

    BitFenix Shinobi XL - installation

     

    Next it was time for some wiring, all of this was found to be easy enough, although it was at this point that I discovered me first real gripe! The grommets are useless, not because they don’t work per se, but because they just fall out when you shove a cable through them, arghh! The drives were also installed (x1 SDD and x1 HDD), these were placed in the lower section of the removable drive cage.

     

    BitFenix Shinobi XL - drives

     

    Finally the Graphics Card was installed and cabled up and we were good to go. A very easy stress, free installation (apart from those grommets!), thanks mainly due to some good design and that spacious interior. Even though I didn’t use them, I did also notice that the quick release mechanisms for the 5.25″ drive bays were also pretty poor and didn’t seem to want to operate properly, they also feel very plasticy.

     

    BitFenix Shinobi XL - complete BitFenix Shinobi XL - complete (window)

     

    At the end of the build when I came to install the final left side panel I was in for a bit of a surprise. I had left the outer plastic film on the left side panel (that protects the perspex window) up until this point, but now it was time to remove it… But I couldn’t; rather amusingly the film was actually attached to the window and not the panel, meaning that the edge of the film was now sandwiched between the window and the side panel! This meant removing the perspex window, in order to remove the film, easily done by removing the plastic pins, but not a good sign…

     

    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 at both 3.4GHz (Stock) and at 4.0GHz.

    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 (x3 in the case of the BitFenix Shinobi XL) and the CPU Cooler (Raijintek Themis) are ran at 100% throughout testing.

     

    Hardware Performance

     

  • CPU RESULTS – BitFenix Shinobi XL with Raijintek Themis and Intel I5-4670K @ 3.4GHz (Stock)
  • Case Ambient Temperature Max CPU Temperature (core average) Delta Temperature
    Cooler Master Cosmos SE 19.00 47.25 28.25
    BitFenix Shinobi XL 23.00 53.00 30.00
    BitFenix Phenom (Micro-ATX) 20.00 53.50 33.50
    Cooler Master HAF XB 26.50 64.25 37.75
    BitFenix Neos 24.50 65.00 40.50
    BitFenix Shadow 23.50 64.25 40.75
    BitFenix Comrade 20.00 63.00 43.00
    Aerocool DS Cube 25.50 68.75 43.25
    BitFenix Colossus 20.50 64.75 44.25

     

    Wow, well I wasn’t expecting that; the BitFenix Shinobi XL achieves the second best Delta temperature of any case yet tested, with a Delta of just 30 degrees in the 3.4GHz test, just a couple of degrees behind the mighty Cooler Master Cosmos SE. Let’s up the temperature a little and see what happens at 4.0GHz…

     

  • CPU RESULTS – BitFenix Shinobi XL 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 SE 19.50 63.00 43.50
    BitFenix Phenom (Micro-ATX) 21.00 66.50 45.50
    BitFenix Shadow 24.00 70.25 46.25
    BitFenix Neos 26.00 78.25 52.25
    BitFenix Comrade 21.50 74.00 52.50
    Cooler Master HAF XB 19.50 68.00 48.50
    Aerocool DS Cube 25.50 74.25 48.75
    BitFenix Colossus 22.50 81.25 58.75

     

    Adding a little heat seems to help (hold on that doesn’t sound right!), the Shinobi XL beats the Cosmos SE and takes the top spot with an impressive Delta temperature of 42.5 degrees. Impressive CPU cooling results for the Shinobi XL then, even more impressive is that it’s achieved with just three fans (albeit two very big ones!)… 😉

     

  • GPU RESULTS – BitFenix Shinobi XL with MSI R9 290 GAMING – OC MODE (Core: Core: 1007MHz / Mem: 5000MHz)
  • Case Ambient Temperature Max GPU Temperature Delta Temperature
    Cooler Master HAF XB 27.50 86.00 58.50
    BitFenix Shinobi XL 22.50 81.00 58.50
    Cooler Master Cosmos SE 21.50 86.00 64.50
    BitFenix Colossus 21.00 87.00 66.00
    Aerocool DS Cube 25.50 94.00 68.50
    BitFenix Shadow 24.50 94.00 69.50
    BitFenix Neos 24.50 94.00 69.50
    BitFenix Phenom (Micro-ATX) 21.00 94.00 73.00
    BitFenix Comrade 20.00 94.00 74.00

     

    We use the AMD R9 290 as we know it’s one hot GPU, it starts throttling at 94 degrees! Luckily the Shinobi XL did a great job of keeping the 290 in check. During the Unigine test the highest recorded temperature of just 81 degrees is very impressive, equaling our Test Rig (Cooler Master HAF XB) Delta temperature of 58.50 degrees. So top honors again for the Shinobi XL.

     

  • Acoustic Performance
  • With all of the fans at 100% (the setup for testing) the Shinobi XL kicks out a decent amount of noise, but at 48db it’s not offensive in any way, and thanks to those 230mm fans the sound’s not high pitched either, more of a dull hum.

     

    Final Thoughts

     

    I must admit to falling for the BitFenix Shinobi XL, maybe that’s because I’m a bit of a sucker for full tower, white cases with massive amounts of room inside making your build nice and easy, whilst proving great water cooling support! 😉

    Yes, I rather like the Shinobi XL, I like the styling, it’s simple yet elegant with that black mesh strip on the front and top helping to lift the case into the premium category. Of course the BitFenix SofTouch™ Surface Treatment also adds to the overall quality feel. The four USB 3.0 ports are also impressive as is the SuperCharge™ port, that I’ve actually been using and it really works good! The left side window is also beautifully placed meaning that it hides what you don’t want to see and shows off what you do. There’s some dust filter too, although all are little difficult to get at to clean. The white is also, well, not very white, I guess some might say a dirty white; it’s fine in the metal so to speak, but put it next to something that’s really white and well, you get the picture…

    Installing our test system into the Shinobi XL was a doddle, and was completed within 30 minutes. The build was not without a couple of minor frustrations though, the grommets all just fall out when trying to pass cables through them, due to the flange being not wide enough. And the 5.25″ locking drive bay mechanisms are also a little plasticy, they work (I think, as I didn’t put in a Optical Drive) but they feel a little poor in operation.

    When it comes to performance though the BitFenix Shinobi XL is a winner, bettering/matching all previous tested cases in the OC CPU and GPU thermal department. Impressive considering the case only ships with three fans (x2 230mm and x1 120mm). Even more impressive is the fact that it does this with relatively low nose (48db), thanks in part to the low rotational speed of those 230mm fans.

    The BitFenix Shinobi may have some minor build quality issues, but to be honest it hasn’t dented my enthusiasm for the case. With its great overall design, excellent cooling and a decent price the case, makes a case for itself (haha!). Add to this excellent support for a plethora of drives and water cooling support for up to x2 360mm radiators and there’s no doubt in my mind that the BitFenix Shinobi XL is a desirable piece of kit!

     

    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 Shinobi XL a Silver
    Performance
    Value
    Overall

     

    Many thanks to BitFenix for providing this sample for review

     



    1. ShinobiXLOwner
      September 9th, 2014 at 20:25 | #1

      I recently built a new rig with the black, non-windowed version of the Shinobi XL case. I agree with the review.

      I did install an optical drive – I’ve always preferred NON tool-less attachments; but it seems solid enough once in place.

      The grommets do migrate out of their holes but you can snap them back into place without too much trouble.

      I installed a Corsair Hydro H110 (280mm); and the only realistic place to attach it to the case is at the top. However, the pre-fitted bolt holes do not align with those on the Hydro. This is a only a minor problem as you can put the bolts through the mesh and the end result is the same. Of course, you have to take out the large top mount fan to make room.

      The case is largely metal, with plastic where appropriate; it *feels* solid. I don’t actually like the soft-touch coating, it’s frankly kind of creepy feeling.

      In summary – if you want a large case where installation doesn’t result in bloody knuckles, it’s a good choice. If you value a classy looking case with ample space for water cooling, drives, multiple GPUS; it’s a good choice. And if you want a high end quality case that doesn’t scream, “LOOK AT ME I’M A GAMER! I GET MORE FPS FROM MY COLD CATHODES! I AM SOOO COOL!”, it’s a GREAT case.

      • James
        September 9th, 2014 at 20:40 | #2

        You obviously know your BitFenix Shinobi XL well, maybe you should be working here… Thanks the for comment! 😉