In and Around the BitFenix Prodigy

You could be forgiven for mistaking the BitFenix Prodigy for a tiny plastic-and-steel Mac Pro tower. The Prodigy isn't quite as small as some Mini-ITX cases are, but it's still a remarkably wee enclosure for the expandability it provides.

The front of the Prodigy is entirely plastic mesh except for the BitFenix logo, including the shield for the single external 5.25" bay. It's a clean design, but given the soft plastic handles and supports of the enclosure (more on those in a second), it means that the power button, LEDs, and I/O cluster had to go somewhere else. That somewhere else is the right side panel; this won't seem too unusual to users familiar with some of Lian Li's designs, but it does limit how you can place and orient the Prodigy. As for the left side panel, that simply includes a substantial vent to help cool full-length video cards.

When the BitFenix rep asked me what I thought of the Prodigy, I did point out that I wasn't a fan of the plastic handles and supports. If you look at the photos, you can see the bottom supports bow in a little bit. This is by design, but the problem is that the material feels too flexible and I don't think it's quite stable enough on carpet. It's easy to get the case to rock back and forth, something I'm not fond of when a desktop build often includes things like optical drives and mechanical hard disks. The justification was that using the soft, flexible plastic keeps the weight of the Prodigy down (and probably costs along with it), but I personally would've taken an extra couple of pounds if it meant a more stable support. The top features a lockable, removable 240mm vent for accessing the two mounts on the top of the case.

Moving to the back of the case, we can start to get an idea of how BitFenix intended the Prodigy to come together. The power supply bay is almost dead center of the bottom, and there's a removable faceplate for it to allow you to slide the PSU in from the back. Having the supports give the bottom of the case some clearance is perfect for the PSU air intake--necessary, really--but again I wish they were sturdier. There are also a pair of expansion slots held in place by thumbscrews, and the exhaust fan mount is equipped with a 120mm fan but is capable of supporting 140mm.

Taking the side panels off is as easy as removing the four thumbscrews on the back of the case, but in the process we discover what I consider one of the major flaws of the design: the I/O cluster in the right panel is completely mounted to the panel itself. This runs the risk of making the Prodigy harder to wire than it needs to be. There are also two 2.5" drive bays built into the side panel, again complicating wiring but not as much.

The interior is pretty ingenious, though. The standoffs for a mini-ITX board are already in place, and there are holes in the left and right of the tray for routing power cables from the power supply mounted below. The primary drive cage is also very easily removable by simply squeezing the two plastic levers, and the included instruction manual details how virtually all of the drive cages (including the bottom one and the optical drive bay) can be removed.

Frankly, I quite like how the Prodigy looks and feels. Apart from two issues at first sight (the material used for the handles and supports and the I/O cluster being mounted to the side panel), this promises to actually be a fairly easy assembly given we're dealing with a mini-ITX case. More than that, it's the kind of case that pretty much begs to be tinkered with.

Introducing the BitFenix Prodigy Assembling the BitFenix Prodigy
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  • ggathagan - Saturday, June 02, 2012 - link

    If you don't care about overclocking, go with the H77 based board:
    http://www.asus.com/Motherboards/Intel_Socket_1155...
    It doesn't have the daughter card.

    For an ITX system that cannot do CF or SLI, the only thing you give up with H77 is overclocking support., and I'm not sure if that means no multiplier *and* no BCLK adjustments, or simply no multiplier adjustments.

    If you must have Z77, there's the ASRock Z77E-ITX LGA:
    http://www.asrock.com/mb/overview.asp?Model=Z77E-I...
    Reply
  • HardwareDufus - Saturday, June 02, 2012 - link

    Really would like to get the Asus P8Z77-I Deluxe.

    Mini-ITX cases are just either too small or too big.

    What would be ideal is simply the following:

    Height: 16cm (~6.25")
    Width: 24cm (~9.5")
    Depth: 24cm (~9.5")

    1 x slim CD/DVD (external)
    2 x 2.5" HD (internal)
    150W internal mini-powersupply w/ external brick.
    2 x slim120cm (each side) silent fans.
    Front mount the following: LEDs, Switch, USB2/3, mic & headphone jacks, smartcard reader (look how small something like the dynex dx-cr6n1 is..that could be mounted vertically above or below usb ports).
    very short/thin cables for slim miniSATA, SATA data/power, ATXpower.

    just need a mini-ITX board with 2 case fan headers and a cpu fan header. Asus has that.

    Honestly, can't see why Travala won't modify the C138 to be something like this!

    The added depth would give a little more space between the case powersupply and memory modules of the mainboard.

    The added height would allow for a little taller heatsink...and a bit more space around the 2.5" SSD drives which would mount below the slimBlueRayDVD.

    The added width would make the side mounted intake and exhaust fans (blow across the whole system...so that heat from power supply and system board never run into each other...rather it's a laminar air flow. And if you wanted a monster video card i lieu of one of the fans, you'd have space for that..
    Reply
  • randinspace - Saturday, June 02, 2012 - link

    Anybody else wondering what Anand would've chosen to stick in one of these for his home theater if it had been on the market? Personally, I've been extremely tempted to gut a cheap HP I bought last year and stick its innards into one of these babies ever since they launched. The only thing that's held me back is indecision regarding what mini-itx board to buy for it... Either way, great review, as usual.

    ... Ah looks like other people were indeed asking themselves "what would Anand do?" if Twitter is any indication.
    Reply
  • nashville - Saturday, June 02, 2012 - link

    im liking this very much! Reply
  • zlandar - Saturday, June 02, 2012 - link

    This case has a height of 16". I use a Silverstone GD6 which has a height of 6". Measuring my entertainment console (Z-line with two lower shelves below the TV) the clearance is 9-10".

    Too bad because the biggest drawbacks of the Silverstone are the poor height clearance for cpu coolers and pain in the ass assembly. All the desktop-style HTPC cases seem to suffer from the cpu cooler height limitation.
    Reply
  • HardwareDufus - Saturday, June 02, 2012 - link

    Mini-ITX cases are just either too small or too big.

    What would be ideal is simply the following:

    Height: 16cm (~6.25")
    Width: 24cm (~9.5")
    Depth: 24cm (~9.5")

    1 x slim CD/DVD (external)
    2 x 2.5" HD (internal)
    150W internal mini-powersupply w/ external brick.
    2 x slim120cm (each side) silent fans.
    Front mount the following: LEDs, Switch, USB2/3, mic & headphone jacks, smartcard reader (look how small something like the dynex dx-cr6n1 is..that could be mounted vertically above or below usb ports).
    very short/thin cables for slim miniSATA, SATA data/power, ATXpower.

    just need a mini-ITX board with 2 case fan headers and a cpu fan header. Asus has that.

    Honestly, can't see why Travala won't modify the C138 to be something like this!

    The added depth would give a little more space between the case powersupply and memory modules of the mainboard.

    The added height would allow for a little taller heatsink...and a bit more space around the 2.5" SSD drives which would mount below the slimBlueRayDVD.

    The added width would make the side mounted intake and exhaust fans (blow across the whole system...so that heat from power supply and system board never run into each other...rather it's a laminar air flow. And if you wanted a monster video card i lieu of one of the fans, you'd have space for that..

    Really would like to get the Asus P8Z77-I Deluxe. so a case with these parameters would help me accomodate the odd daughter board and not have fan clearance issue (I would have that with my present setup).
    Reply
  • HardwareDufus - Saturday, June 02, 2012 - link

    Actually, i wouldnt even mind a slight stretch of the height to 20cm... (~7.75") then you could fit a SilverStone SFX ST45SF 450 watt Power Supply Review in the bottom of the case below the motherboard and move the SSDs under the motherboard as well.

    This would remove some hot stuff from the front of the case and give you a more standard power supply.

    Thinking I need to do a drawing eventually...
    So, I'd take:
    Height: 20cm (~7.75")
    Width: 24cm (~9.5")
    Depth: 24cm (~9.5")

    Not allot of wasted space when you consider the cross airflow objectives. And in this design..surely there is room if someone wanted an additional couple of spaces for additonal 2.5" drives...but I think anyone wanting more than 2 harddrives is not the audience for this style/shape of mini-ITX anyway..
    Reply
  • Laststop311 - Sunday, June 03, 2012 - link

    Getting ready to build an awesome lan party mini itx box. Asus has a really special mini itx board out for Z77 chipset. Since there isn't enough room for a large phase cpu power supply a board for the power phases actually plugs into the itx board, giving you equal overclocking abilities as the large atx board. Asus basically eliminated the one negative plaguing every other itx board.

    I'll be removing the drive cage to fit a full size GTX 690 GPU. Have to go dual card gpu since only 2 expansion slots on the case and I need to run 2560x1440.

    2x4GB 1866Mhz Cas 9 Ram seems to be the sweet spot for price performance ratio. Ram above 1866Mhz is just a rip off price

    256GB Crucial m4's are just a steal now and will make a nice sized boot/app/game install drive installed on right side panel

    Won't have room for a soundcard, I hope the integrated sound is ok.

    14x Blu Ray RW combo drive

    3TB WD AV-GP on bottom

    Corsair H80 rad in push pull attatched to exhause area

    i7-3770k OC'd to 4.3Ghz

    Seasonic X650 Gold PSU hybrid fan

    upgraded 230mm front fan

    upgraded 140mm exhaust fan

    2x high static pressure noctua 120mm fans in push pull to replace default corsair fans

    psu installed upside down for fresh supply of cold air direct to psu

    indigo extreme thermal interface.

    What I love about this build is the fact it will be a nice tiny easy to carry light lan gaming box but the great part is it will totally smoke anything my friends got, even full atx towers it will leave in the dust. I think this is the dawning of new champion in the desktop space. Mini ITX is the future of most desktops. I guarantee the system will run faster than most peoples full size rigs here
    Reply
  • Guges - Monday, September 03, 2012 - link

    Any chance you could post a picture of your set up...curious to see how everything fits in there...considering building something similar...not sure if we really need the radiator...I think the 4 upgraded fans would be good. Reply
  • wiz329 - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    I'm new to computer building, and i'm thinking of building this case. Did you put the 2x nocturna fans on the ceiling of the case, or how do you have those configured? Reply

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