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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  • Guspaz - Saturday, June 2, 2012 - link

    I ended up buying the Lian-Li LanCool PC-K12 and putting some hotswap bays in it; it holds 15x3.5" drives. I also have 2x2.5" drives in there for boot, but that's kind of a kludge, since they're not mounted to anything except a 2.5" to 3.5" adapter that is loose in the case. Still, that many SATA cables in a case, the drive sled isn't budging.
  • Matt355 - Friday, June 1, 2012 - link

    I Don't know why he doesn't like it but I didn't use the Li PC-Q08 because I was building a WHS and didn't need a optical drive or a big fan in front. The LIAN LI PC-Q25B has 5 hot swop bays and allows you to install 2 or 3 at the bottom of the case. I'm currently running 5 drives in mine 5 3.5 drives and 1 SSD.
  • Matt355 - Friday, June 1, 2012 - link

    Try the LIAN LI PC-Q25B Thats what I used for my WHS.
  • Synomenon - Friday, June 1, 2012 - link

    So when are these going to be available for purchase in the US? Is it too late for Bitfenix to take recommendations and critiques from reviews to improve the case before making it available for purchase?
  • ImSpartacus - Friday, June 1, 2012 - link

    It's already available at NCIX's US site.
  • ImSpartacus - Friday, June 1, 2012 - link

    My bad, that's just a preorder.
  • LOUiECOG - Friday, June 1, 2012 - link

    If you click on it, it actually says they have some in stock. I'm not sure if they'll send it to you right away or not since it states preorder. But they do say they have it in stock.
  • xbournex - Friday, June 1, 2012 - link

    It'll be available early July guys, and we're laying the eggs down pretty soon around that time as well!
  • B3an - Friday, June 1, 2012 - link

    It's nice to see a case that doesn't look like a piece of shit, as if a 10 year old designed it or someone stuck some random plastic parts together with glue.
  • Matt355 - Friday, June 1, 2012 - link

    Have you seen the Cubitek Mini Tank.

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