BitFenix Ronin Case Reviewby Dustin Sklavos on July 22, 2013 12:00 PM EST
- Posted in
In and Around the BitFenix Ronin
Where BitFenix has been consistently successful in my opinion is their ability to produce cases that are aesthetically pleasing and look more expensive than they are. The soft-touch surface treatment goes a long way in differentiating their products from conventional steel boxes, and the Ronin is no exception. Also atypical is their tendency to avoid gaudy enclosure designs and styles; BitFenix is one of those rare companies able to produce a distinctive black box. If absolutely nothing else, the Ronin is at least a looker.
The front and top panels of the Ronin feature black mesh trims along the sides that sandwich a perforated soft-touch shell that allows air to flow in and out of the enclosure. At the front of the top panel are a pair of USB 3.0 ports, a pair of USB 2.0 ports, and the traditional mic and headphone jacks. The power button is large; the reset button tiny and recessed, and the power LED and IDE activity LED are blue and red respectively. It's a clean and simple design and it works. Both panels also pop on and off easily enough, but require just enough force that they feel secure when in place.
BitFenix differentiates the Ronin from other cases through the use of their "Stealth Cover"; there's a large window on the left side panel, but the stealth cover hides cabling and drives and endeavors to provide a fairly clean look at the case interior. While I'm used to dealing with reflective case windows, the one on the Ronin seems to be particularly reflective, so my apologies there. The stealth cover itself is an interesting wrinkle, though.
The side panels are held in place with thumbscrews, but unfortunately they're notched instead of hinged. This is less of an issue on a case this small; on larger cases it can be difficult to properly apply pressure everywhere it needs to be to get the notches to line up. The stealth cover is held in place with three snaps.
Once you're inside, there isn't anything too exciting to report. The cage housing the top trio of drive sleds is easily removable, and BitFenix's traditional toolless mechanisms for the 5.25" drive bays are in place. Of some concern are the slightly narrow cable routing holes, the extremely small one where the AUX 12V line would go, and the unusually small cutout in the motherboard tray for cooler backplates. You'll want to pay attention to this when we get to assembly.
As I mentioned before, the Ronin is ultimately on the smaller side of ATX cases. That's a trade-off individual consumers will have to make; the reduction in case width means 120mm fans are the order of the day during a period when many manufacturers are transitioning to 140mm fans. The two fans are placed in the rear exhaust and the top front intake, leaving the bottom one unoccupied. Whether or not the stealth cover is appealing is for the individual user to decide, but it's at least unique to the Ronin and I can see its purpose.
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1Angelreloaded - Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - linkInnovation, is a relative term to the user, some feature some users find attractive are to some a nightmare or not pleasing, to me while thumb screws are nice and fast, they are unsightly on a case, and all I can say is "Since when did we become that lazy, to not use a screwdriver?". Moot point but I'm waiting for a Case manufacturer to have a prefabricated modular case that doesn't have industrial designed segments, and doesn't cost an arm or a leg like MM or Caselabs. there is a distinction to what can be considered "Premium" or "Ingenuity" and in the PC world I have to say form and function is a must otherwise companies like LaCie would have went the way of the dodo. We need a new version of mainstream and Enthusiast parts, and a definitive separation of the two. TBH the whole x79 sandy-e is way behind on features of the native chipset and even with Ivy-e being released for the socket its simply not practical for the pricepoint while on the mainstream z77 and z87 you are stuck with onboard graphics that you pay for but can't use without taking a hit on your fps. I diverge from the point sorry, Cases are very very similar in that respect the only definition between the 2 different market segments is price and features we should have, that should be a no brainer simply are not there yet, or are in overpriced cases in which your better putting your money elsewhere, like people have done before no ssd drive cage, no problem that's what Velcro is for.
techxx - Monday, July 22, 2013 - linkThat is a shame. IIRC though, there are supposed to be some new Mini-ITX cases from them on the horizon. Full ATX cases just don't make sense to me anymore anyway! Micro-ATX should be the largest form factor on the market now, with Mini-ITX being the norm.
RagnarKon - Monday, July 22, 2013 - linkWhile I do welcome innovation in the mini-ATX and especially the micro-ATX market... ATX cases absolutely make sense to me. On my main system I have every PCIe slot filled (except the one blocked by the GPU cooler) and I'm not even running an SLI setup.
Also, I am disappoint BitFenix... I had high hopes.
Grok42 - Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - linkI would agree with everything techxx said with a small exception that he probably assumed wasn't needed be explicitly said. Is there a place for ATX cases? Sure, I plan on using ATX for my home servers for the foreseeable future. However, the world doesn't need another ATX case. What we need are many more mITX and mATX designs.
techxx - Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - linkThere will always be that 0.01% of users who require a full-ATX case while the remaining 99.99% would be more than adequately covered with a mini-ITX or micro-ATX case. Unless you have 3-way SLI or a ton of PCI devices (which makes you even rarer), m-ITX and micro-ATX pack one hell of a punch nowadays.
Aeolus98 - Monday, July 22, 2013 - linkIt seems like what they're trying to do is to keep the case looking streamlined, with no unevenness on the sides, so that dictates a (fairly) standard in through the front, out through the back and top. It's a great design when executed properly, even with no gpu fan vent, like the HAF or the antec 1200. They should have put more fan space on the front and bumped it up from 2x120mm to 2x140mm to provide a bit of airflow. I don't really see your point about price, though, with the second 120mm on the front it could possibly be on par with something like the antec 900 series, while that costs a bit more OTOH.
DanNeely - Monday, July 22, 2013 - linkWhy do you only have 2 comparison systems for the full fat test? Looking at the NZXT 530 review from a few days ago there are several others that could've been added to help fill the table out.
kelstertx - Monday, July 22, 2013 - linkNot everyone uses multiple 2-slot-wide video cards and makes monster systems with 4 drives that need 3+ fans to cool. This case would be perfectly fine for 90% of the systems I end up making for friends and family -- those only get a single 120mm fan, and it's rare that they even have standalone video cards. Yes, the price does need to come down a bit, and someone looking to load this thing to the hilt might do better to look elsewhere, but keep in mind that the gamer market is a small percentage of the market, compared to all the people who just do email, web browsing, and facebook stuff. So I'd say a "miss" for high power gamers with unlimited budgets... but a nice looking and totally usable, albeit slightly expensive case that would be more than fine for everyone I know personally.
JDG1980 - Monday, July 22, 2013 - linkAny modern ATX case of reasonable quality will cool a single-GPU system. The question is why you should buy the Ronin instead of, say, the Fractal Design Define R4 (which is about the same price and much quieter, with better thermals) or the Antec GX700 (which costs only $59 and bests the Ronin in everything but idle noise levels). I'm just not seeing the value proposition here.
Grok42 - Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - linkI'm with you on your build style. Keep it simple and inexpensive. What doesn't follow is why you would use this case. For something without a GPU it seems like an small mATX and mITX would be perfect.