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
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • Zoomer - Saturday, June 9, 2012 - link

    They got IPOed
  • Norseman4 - Saturday, June 2, 2012 - link

    Currently it's nowhere, even as listing the case as "not yet available", but you can pre-order. (Shipping mid June. 79.99 w/ free shipping)

    Additionally, NewEgg looks like they will carry it, since they have placeholders (out-of-stock, Image coming soon, that sort of thing) for both the blank and the white case. (Currently showing 79.99 w/ 15.88 shipping)

    Other retailers may also carry it since the BitFenix site shows 9 resellers, but does not include the 'Egg
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, June 3, 2012 - link

    While Newegg does a ton of enthusiast business, I'd say BitFenix would be happier to get their stuff on Amazon first. *Everyone* has heard of Amazon; Newegg is big, but not quite that big.
  • Zoomer - Saturday, June 9, 2012 - link

    They could just do that themselves right now by shipping a bunch to amazon under the fulfilled by amazon program.
  • oDii - Friday, June 1, 2012 - link

    As someone who regrets building a WHS box in an fully populated Lian Li PC-Q08, this looks like they were so close to getting it right! Just needed one more 3.5" drive bay. To be honest, it looks like there's a decent amount of room between the drive bays, so I'm surprised they didn't just reduce that and increase the available bays...
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, June 1, 2012 - link

    You need more than five? Theoretically you can pop another one in the 5.25" bay, or alternatively, switch to 2.5" drives depending on your capacity needs.
  • Streetwind - Friday, June 1, 2012 - link

    There's actually a ton more drive bays in there than it looks like. If you wanted to go all out, you could mount, all at the same time:

    - Five 3.5" drives in the HDD cages
    - One 2.5" drive in a mounting bracket below the bottom HDD cage
    - Two 2.5" drives in mounting brackets between the bottom HDD cage and the power supply bay
    - Two 2.5" drives in mounting brackets on the right side panel
    - Four 2.5" drives in a (third party) 5.25-to-2.5 adapter in place of the optical drive

    So yeah, while you can't do a RAID with six 3.5" drives, that's still a hell of a lot of storage for a mini-ITX case.
  • tjoynt - Friday, June 1, 2012 - link

    Just curious: why do you regret using the Lian Li PC-Q08? Or do you regret using WHS? ;)
  • oDii - Friday, June 1, 2012 - link

    WHS V1 is fine for slow, slightly protected storage.

    My problem with the PC-Q08 is that once you start loading it up - lots of disks, standard ATX sized PSU (maybe slightly longer due to modular cables) - there just isn't enough room for everything. At the moment after the last time I took everything out of it, I put the HDD activity cable around the wrong way - and still haven't corrected because of how much of a pain opening it and accessing even small things in it is.

    Perhaps to even slightly talk against my own argument of "needs more drive bays!"; the Q08 stacks the drives so close together that the cable between the SATA power connector leads becomes a major cable management problem - if it sticks out too much, you can't put the case back together. Similarly, you're pretty much forced to use 90 degrees rotated SATA data cables as standard cables would break the plastic supports of the drives they're attached to long before you managed to wrestle the side panel back on.

    The positive thing about the Prodigy is that it seems like they've really got that general accessibility down with the rotated motherboard tray, as Dustin mentions on page 3.

    I guess this case would be great for someone dabbling with ZFS - few disks, and a few locations for ZFS cache/ZIL.
  • sheltem - Friday, June 1, 2012 - link

    Too bad the Lian Li Q25 was released afterwards. It's a bit taller, but not as wide, because it ditches the dvd drives and has 5 hot swap hard drive bays. The side panels comes off easier.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now