Conclusion: Shortlist It

While my experiences with the BitFenix Prodigy weren't universally positive, they were pretty close. The Prodigy is a pretty auspicious design for BitFenix; their previous cases were generally stellar, but this is a remarkably unique design. It may not be aluminum like Lian Li's mini-ITX enclosures, but its internal design is in many ways light years ahead of what they're doing. At the same time, despite being very smitten by the SilverStone FT03 Mini, I have to confess the Prodigy stole my heart. Really, though, the two shouldn't be strictly compared as they're intended for different use cases.

When you're dealing with a fairly daring design like the Prodigy, it's a little easier to let the designers off the hook for decisions that turned out questionable. I think the side-mounted I/O might be problematic, but the real issue is having all of the cabling coming off the side panel. While you can disconnect most of those cables from the side panel, this is a problem Lian Li has already solved by simply having the I/O cluster be a part of the chassis and having the side panel snap in around it. I also think the handles and supports should absolutely be metal. I love the look, but they feel chintzy. Alignment of the screws around the expansion slots in the back needs to be rethought, too, and I think BitFenix might want to either consider switching to just using an SFX power supply or adjusting the orientation of the power supply. As it stands, not being able to use a modular power supply in a small case like this hurts.

Of course, problems like these are a lot easier to forgive when you're looking at a $79 price tag. Yet what makes that price tag turn from reasonable into a virtual steal is the fact that the Prodigy's thermal and acoustic performance is stellar. The vast amount of expandability in the enclosure also gives enthusiasts more room to play, experiment, and optimize. As a hobbyist, there's real appeal for me in reviewing a case that not only functions admirably out of the box but also offers the promise of still better performance and flexibility.

Going with mini-ITX for a main desktop has traditionally involved a series of major compromises, but BitFenix takes a lot of them off the board with the Prodigy. The price tag is incredibly competitive, the performance is there, and it has room to grow. BitFenix's engineers need to work out some of the teething issues with the design, but the territory here feels uncharted enough to cut them some slack. As it stands, for $79 you're simply not going to do better than the Prodigy for a mini-ITX case, end of discussion. And that absolutely makes it worthy of AnandTech's Bronze Editors' Choice award.

Noise and Thermal Testing, Dedicated GPU
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  • Saketai - Friday, June 01, 2012 - link

    Very interesting times in the Mini-ITX world.

    Now if only these were on Newegg...
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, June 01, 2012 - link

    The best place to get BitFenix cases in the states right now is NCIXUS.com. NewEgg, for some reason, just refuses to carry BitFenix stuff. Reply
  • crimson117 - Friday, June 01, 2012 - link

    Probably can't agree on volume / pricing details. Reply
  • Taft12 - Friday, June 01, 2012 - link

    When your stuff's not on Newegg, there *IS* no volume. Pressure from customers on both parties will get the deal done though.

    NCIXUS is a fine alternative in the meantime (a fine alternative all the time, actually). Does Tiger Direct carry Bitfenix?
    Reply
  • crimson117 - Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - link

    It's there now, fwiw: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8... Reply
  • Matt355 - Friday, June 01, 2012 - link

    Wow. That store slipped under the radar. I've been buying parts for years and had never heard of it. Reply
  • VoraciousGorak - Friday, June 01, 2012 - link

    I'll probably be corrected here in a moment, but I *think* they were Canada only for a long time, only recently opening a United States-servicing website. They are definitely worth a look, I've bought a few things from there. Reply
  • randinspace - Saturday, June 02, 2012 - link

    There's one issue with shopping from us.NCIX.com that's either a minor curiosity or an extreme annoyance depending on your perspective and/or situation: because they're a Canadian company doing business in America (even shipping out of California...) they SOMEHOW raise red flags with certain bank/credit card companies' anti-fraud units when you buy from them using a credit card. NCIX (hilariously) informs you of this snafu during the order process/on their site so I wasn't blindsided, and I think they take paypal which would presumably be a solution, but there's nothing like wrangling with the completely automated anti-fraud process of your bank at 10 in the morning when you're trying to get something else done.

    On the bright side they purport to be working on a solution to that issue (getting a US bank account? Having enough people tell their banks that they actually placed an order with them?), and from time to time they have sales on things people actually want (as opposed to Rosewill adaptor kits, items with MIRs that will never be fulfilled, and refurbished <320GB HDDs) that put Newegg to shame.
    Reply
  • Guspaz - Saturday, June 02, 2012 - link

    They're one of if not the biggest online computer stores in Canada (been around since 1996). There are a bunch of sister companies that operate separate stores like DIrectCanada, BestDirect, etc.

    I can't speak to their US service, but they're not a small fly-by-night. They're basically the Canadian equivalent of NewEgg (other than NewEgg Canada, obviously).
    Reply
  • anactoraaron - Friday, June 01, 2012 - link

    In Newegg's defense, they are really trying to sell watches and power tools... wtf happened to the 'egg anyway?? Reply

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