BitFenix Outlaw: When Inexpensive Doesn't Mean Cheapby Dustin Sklavos on December 23, 2011 5:00 PM EST
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In and Around the BitFenix Outlaw
When you first look at photos of the BitFenix Outlaw, you could be forgiven for thinking the pictures are mirrored. That's not the case, though: the Outlaw uses an inverted design that orients the processor with the bottom of the enclosure and the expansion cards near the top while keeping the power supply mounted below the motherboard. It's an interesting gamble (similar in some ways to BTX), but more on that in a bit.
For the exterior, BitFenix continues to employ their "Soft Touch" plastic, and that plastic goes a long way towards making the case feel more expensive than it really is. It's a fantastic improvement on the more traditionally used garden variety SECC steel or glossy plastic, as it's both aesthetically appealing, nicer to the touch, and at least feels a bit more practical. There are three external 5.25" drive bays with very simple, clean drive shields that pop out in the traditional fashion (pressure from the back), and then the left and right sides of the fascia are ventilated to allow the intake of cool air into the enclosure. BitFenix also smartly places the quad of USB 2.0 ports, audio jacks, and power and reset buttons on the top front of the case.
Since the motherboard is inverted in the Outlaw, the left side of the case is flat while the right side is ventilated with space for a pair of intake fans. Meanwhile, the back looks like any modern enclosure, just mirrored, with a single 120mm exhaust fan (the other fans being casualties of the price point). The top has space for two 120mm fans, and there's also room in the bottom for another 120mm fan. Hidden behind the front fascia are also mounts for two more fans. If you're willing to invest just a little, the Outlaw can probably go a long way.
When we pop the Outlaw open, we get a better look at how everything comes together. It reminds me a lot of the interior of the Rosewill Ranger, with the space behind the optical drives and hard drive bays designated for cable management, but BitFenix's design here is much smarter. The hard drive bays aren't oriented laterally, which does complicate matters a little, but in the Outlaw the more old-fashioned front-to-back alignment does make more sense. By doing this and lining the drive bays up against the right panel, there's a substantial amount of space behind the drive cage for stashing cables, and the mounting holes in the motherboard tray and beneath the cage are ideal for it.
I'm honestly quite fond of the Outlaw's design. While the interior feels like one large machined piece of steel, it's organized in a sensible fashion. BitFenix's engineering inside is clean and at least appears to be functional (though we'll have to get to assembly to see for sure). I also just like the aesthetics overall; it's a $50 case, but it's not chintzy looking or gaudy.
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Sgt. Stinger - Friday, December 23, 2011 - linkBitFenix is definitley an interesting company. They seem to be a very small operation, and thats probably why they get to these amazing price points.
BTW, what happened to this review earlier today? Saw it at work, but when i tried to continue to the next page, the review was down... Puzzled me a bit :)
JarredWalton - Friday, December 23, 2011 - linkSomeone changed the post time to later in the day, probably to give another article time at the top.
Andrew Rockefeller - Friday, December 23, 2011 - linkI'm a fan of the left-handed mount arrangement. TBH, I've thought that everyone has been doing it wrong all these years. The next step is to abandon multiple 5.25" bays in mid-towers.
know of fence - Saturday, December 24, 2011 - linkCurrent case designs may very well be outdated in a year or two.
Abandon the ugly, stupid drive bays (in favor of external drives), ditch ALL front interfaces and move USB, audio and the power switch to the top of the desk (like a docking bay). It's a no-brainer.
Andrew Rockefeller - Saturday, December 24, 2011 - linkFor my own needs, I couldn't agree more. I do however accept that would make it just a little too niche right now. 2 years, absolutely.
Strangely, I actually sketched up an external front panel remote a few years back. Glad to hear that there are others out there thinking along the same lines.
...which makes me think. What if someone designed a case with an external slimline optical enclosure which included the standard front panel functions?? We might finally get rid of gaudy plastic fascias altogether. The external enclosure could even be a standalone product connecting back to a PCI bracket.
StevePeters - Friday, December 23, 2011 - linkAm I seeing the photos correctly - it looks like there is no space at all between the tray and side cover (and none is needed)? I am starting to think that the guys at BitFenix must actually use they cases themselves - they sure look like they know what works!
JonnyDough - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link"BitFenix has opted for a negative pressure design instead of a positive pressure one, with the exhaust fan pulling air out of the back of the case instead of placing a fan in the front and letting the fan in the heatsink do the rest of the work."
Preferable. Reason? Noise.
jwcalla - Friday, December 23, 2011 - linkDo people still buy cases this big?
colmiak - Saturday, December 24, 2011 - linkthis is kind of an unimportant detail but i'll ask anyway.. ;p
is the logo seen on the bottom of the case on microcenter's site removable?
i dont see it on your review case and it looks much nicer like that!
Dustin Sklavos - Saturday, December 24, 2011 - linkIt's not removable; it's not affixed to begin with. ;)