BitFenix Shinobi XL Case Review
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.
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.
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.
courtesy of BitFenix
|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)|
|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|
|Black (Black Mesh)||BFC-SNX-500-KKW1-RP|
|White (Black Mesh)||BFC-SNX-500-WWW1-RP|
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…
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
|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|
|Aerocool DS Cube||25.50||68.75||43.25|
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…
|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|
|Cooler Master HAF XB||19.50||68.00||48.50|
|Aerocool DS Cube||25.50||74.25||48.75|
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!)… 😉
|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|
|Aerocool DS Cube||25.50||94.00||68.50|
|BitFenix Phenom (Micro-ATX)||21.00||94.00||73.00|
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.
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.
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!
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Many thanks to BitFenix for providing this sample for review