We like the look, we like the solid feel that the extra heavy doors deliver, and, of course, we have been a fan of this interior since we first saw the Prodigy. The SofTouch at the top and bottom takes all the glare off this chassis as it blends into the shadows. Also, adding just a slight angle to the front bezel gives this Phenom Mini-ITX a more aggressive stance than the Core V1 we just saw. The modularity of the ODD is terrific considering the fact that there is no external use for it. Along with the FlexCage, the front of the motherboard tray support, the right side panel, and the bay adapter, if you were looking for a 2.5" drive storage server, even then the Phenom stands tall with its eleven locations.
We understand a lot of the decisions made with this refresh, but there are some things we would like to see in a chassis with this sort of price tag. For starters, the front intake is very limited, and over time, you will end up with dusty circles on the mesh from the fans trying to gasp air through those tiny holes. Secondly, we would have appreciated a filter that wasn't something we had to bend tabs on the mesh for, or run the entire bezel under the sink to accomplish basic cleaning. Also, we would have loved if this time around, the motherboard tray could have been a bit longer, and then just offered a modular 2.5" drive tray so that longer PSUs could fit.
However, we also understand the cost in tooling and manufacturing to redesign the interior. While we really appreciated the USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 adapter, we would have also loved some Molex to three-pin adapters or something, rather than having to use the motherboard headers. Considering there is no way outside of the motherboard PWM to control the fans, and no way to add an external fan controller, we may as well have the option to go full bore with the fans for this cost.
While we do understand the methodology to the release of this case, we are left thinking maybe this just isn't enough. This is a nice looking chassis, and may very well sway Prodigy haters into buying the Phenom instead. However, for nearly $100, we expected more than a new face and top, some feet under the chassis, and heavier door panels. Maybe it is just that we have already seen this chassis in its most basic form over and over in press, on forums, and in any mod gallery you want to look at.
We do want to give BitFenix credit on the redesigned exterior, as it will do just what they say it will. The BitFenix Phenom will blend into the room, offer tons of cooling options for air cooling or water cooling, offer modularity, and provide a really impressive amount of drive locations. It is just that sitting in our seat, we would have preferred to see a bit more, rather than seeing a new dress on a chassis we saw two years ago. While still an effective design for the time, at this price, it is rather likely that those on the fence will pass on this design, and move on to something more evolved for today's market, and much less 2012.
PRICING: You can find the BitFenix Phenom Mini-ITX chassis for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.
United States: The BitFenix Phenom (BLACK) retails for $79.99 at Amazon, and the BitFenix Phenom (WHITE) retails for $85.87 at Amazon.
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