In and Around the BitFenix Ghost

Honestly, the detailed examination of the build quality of the BitFenix Ghost is where the case actually seems to fall apart the most under scrutiny. You'll see later on that assembly wasn't an issue, but BitFenix doesn't seem to have done as good a job skirting the line between cheap and inexpensive with the Ghost as they typically have. I don't think it's a poor value, far from it, but when you're accustomed to seeing excellent values from a company it does come as a bit of a shock to see something that feels merely competitive.

BitFenix did away with their usual soft-touch plastic finish, the finish that went such a long way towards making the cases feel like quality, and instead are using a more basic plastic finish for the fascia, door, and top shell. The lines are clean and smooth while still having a touch of distinction, and I'm always fond of the black and gunmetal gray duo. The problem is that the building materials feel thin; sure the door swings open in either direction, but when you see how it's held together (plastic snapped around a plastic peg) you suddenly feel a little more skeptical. I harped on the mechanism Corsair used in the 550D, but even that feels a little more reliable than what BitFenix has going on here.

Where I think they did very right was in putting all of the I/O on top of the case so that the door was only really relevant for muffling noise from the dual front intake fans and the optical drive. This is pretty much an ideal setup, and the cubby for the hotswap SATA bay has a hinge that snaps open and shut, keeping those clean lines and surfaces. I don't live in a vacuum, though; some of my peers have commented on the top vent of the Ghost being counterproductive for containing noise, while others don't see it as a problem. I honestly can't say I go either way on it. I don't personally think it contributes substantially to the noise and I do feel it's a net gain, but your mileage may vary.

Opening and closing the Ghost, on the other hand, is kind of an ordeal and was something that really should've been rethought. While the side panels employ thumbscrews, the panels themselves are held on by locking into notches similar to how old, super-cheap cases have. This isn't an ideal way to handle this by any stretch of the imagination, as it does virtually nothing to curtail potential rattling but it does making closing up far more difficult than it has any right to be. A hinged design with some kind of sound-muffling material where the panels make contact with the chassis might have been a better call.

As for the interior of the Ghost, BitFenix got most of it right. In keeping costs down they include only two of their 120mm Spectre fans, one in the front as an intake and one in the back as an exhaust, and the overall number of fan mounts in the Ghost are more likely to result in a negative pressure airflow than a positive one.

Ignoring the minor annoyance of getting inside the case, though, the design is remarkably progressive. While neither drive cage is removable, I'm incredibly pleased to see a smaller 2.5" drive cage above the 3.5" drive cage, and BitFenix includes 2.5" trays. It's ridiculous how long it's taken for a vendor to produce a toolless 2.5" drive mounting design like this. There's also a peg in the center of the motherboard tray for lining up the board, and all of the board mounts are essentially extruded from the tray itself.

While I'm unimpressed with the quality of materials employed in building the Ghost, I also can't really deny that I like the aesthetic, and that I'm pleased with the conveniences that went into the design of the interior. BitFenix isn't breaking any bold new ground with their airflow design, but there's at least some refinement going on here towards making the case easier to build in. I'm also happy to see that they haven't dispensed with the 3.5" external bay, as those are still very useful for card readers.

Introducing the BitFenix Ghost Assembling the BitFenix Ghost
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  • rickon66 - Saturday, November 10, 2012 - link

    I too hate doors on cases. The Antec 1100 is still the overall cooling champ and it is almost as quiet while doing it with no door. Reply
  • IceClaec - Saturday, November 10, 2012 - link

    According to NewEgg, it should be 8.27" x 20.55" x 20.08" Reply
  • Apetn - Saturday, November 10, 2012 - link

    Last paragraph on 'noise and thermal testing, stock' you say addition of BitFenix fans when I'm pretty sure you added Be Quiet! fans. Reply
  • Grok42 - Saturday, November 10, 2012 - link

    It seems that cases are stuck in the past and I'm losing hope that they will ever move forward. I'm not claiming Dustin shares my concerns but he certainly shared some level of frustration when he commented that it seems unbelievable that this is the first case he has seen to provide obvious and reasonable support for 2.5" drives. My big beef is why do I have to put up with all those useless 5.25" drives?

    Drop the external bays and you do lose the option to put a legacy optical drive inside your computer. However, so much else would be gained that it would easily offset this lose even for those few that still need an optical drive and have to use an external one.

    Better cooling. 6-8 additional 3.5" or 2.5" bays. The case no longer needs a door improving cooling and cost. The width of the 5.25" drives to some degree define the width of the case which could now be narrower. Instead of adding additional 3.5" and 2.5" drives the entire case could get smaller.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    Narrower case -> you lose the ability to use the biggest, baddest tower coolers and/or you lose area behind the mainboard to route cables
    And external 5.25" drive bays can be re purposed in tons of ways, I personally have a "ODD Slim Drive + 2.5" HDD + 2xUSB" adapter thing in one and a 6 x 2.5" HDD adapter in the other 5.25" bays of my TJ-08E. Since I don't use the internal 3.5" drive cage (wanted the space for my water cooling pump and reservoir), I now have easy access to all my hard drives and extra front USB ports. There are tons of adapters for multiple 3.5" HDDs in 5.25" bays with hot swap capabilities etc.
    Reply
  • Grok42 - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    Completely agree that narrowing the case has downsides like you mentioned. The question is to what degree these would be problems. Given that every case I've seen is basically designed to be as wide as a 5.25" bay plus the thickness of 4 pieces of sheet metal I would guess that the depth is driven by the 5.25" bay and not so much on cooling and cable routing needs. The funny thing is that the 5.25" format was setup back before any processor needed active cooling much less tower coolers. I would add to your list of negative effects that it will make it less stable, although how much depends a lot on other decisions like where the PSU is located.

    I'm glad you've overcome your cases disability. Imagine how much easier and cheaper if the case had simply come with additional 2.5" and 3.5" bays instead? Of course I also am a huge fan of the bays being removable so the case can be worked on easier or for better airflow. Typically 5.25" bays are not removable because they are the width of the case and simply made structurally part of it.
    Reply
  • Bonesdad - Saturday, November 10, 2012 - link

    Nice review...love seeing cases like these. Something well built and nice clean lines with a more grown up look. What was that last horrid case reviewed here - Cougar Challenger? Stay far away from anything like that. Need more cases like this... Reply
  • cjs150 - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    "While neither drive cage is removable"

    Give me 5 mins with a dremel and a drill and I promise you they will be!

    Very nice review, the case is not bad, just not good enough.

    My main compliant is that the case designers are playing safe. With the exception of Lian Li nobody is really experimenting - the interior is the same as 5 years ago. In fact over the last 10 years the only noticeable change is moving the PSU from the top to the bottom.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - link

    Have you not been paying attention to SilverStone?

    And Lian Li are much tamer than you'd like to think. They keep experimenting but most of the time they never actually fix the problems that have dogged most of their enclosures in my reviews: poor build quality, awkward drive mounts, and needlessly complicated assembly.
    Reply
  • dingetje - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Anyone have the Cooler Master HAF-XB ? Reply

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