As I sit back and try to think of the cases I have seen that are specifically designed with silence of operation in mind, only a handful or less really stick out. Think about that for a minute. Out of all the cases I have seen in my time with TweakTown, there have been maybe ten entries to this segment. To me that leaves a huge gaping hold for manufacturers to delve into, since the trend in all computing seems to be moving away from fast and loud to a more subdued quick yet silent approach. I for one was sold on the value of silence when I was first introduced to Noctua, and ever since, my PCs all run quiet, whether air or water cooled.
One manufacturer to step into the huge empty hole is BitFenix with its latest release of cases. Things that come to mind that definitely need to be addressed to make for a successful silent build are based first off the choice of fans. The Spectre Series of fans has always done well here, so BitFenix is already on the right path with its current offerings. Then of course you should also address the places that tend to resonate noise in a typical build, and that is the front of the chassis as the air passes in, and the side panels where vibrations tend to go right through a steel panel. In this design there is the more typical cloth composite materials used on the side panels, but BitFenix was also busy developing the Serenitek Silencing material that backs the front door of this new design.
There are plenty more features we are used to from BitFenix as well as some other new offerings not usually seen, but I need to save something for the rest of the review. For now, get yourself situated, because the Ghost mid-tower chassis from BitFenix is well worth your time to have a look at what it has to offer.
Even though there were some slight issues with the sample I was sent, I really think the Ghost is a case many buyers will gravitate to for any of their future builds - I just think it is that cool. Continue on through the specifications and packaging images, because I don't think by the time you see this case you will be disagreeing with my last statement.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
Externally the Ghost is pretty simple looking at first glance as the entire exterior is closed off and covered with NanoChrome surface treatment. This is where BitFenix take a blend of a high temperature glaze with metallic dust to get a metallic gunmetal grey color with a finish that is smooth as the end product. Behind the aluminum logo on the front is a door that will swing open exposing both the Serenitek material along with the ventilation in the front that allows the Ghost to breathe.
Both side panels are flat with no openings to keep in the noise, as well as being backed with more sound absorbing material. On the top you will find the front I/O panel containing USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and audio jacks at the front. Just behind is an S4 Hot Swap bay, and moving back further there is a removable mesh panel that will allow for a pair of fans to be installed under it. At the back you find all the usual suspects including three holes for water cooling tubing. The bottom of the chassis has a removable dust filter, a large frame for the feet that doubles for a place to add 30mm strips of Alchemy cables to give the Ghost an under glow.
On the inside of the Ghost you have three 5.25" bays followed by a rack with room for a card reader as well as three 2.5" drives. If you need a little more room for longer cards, the side of the 2.5" drives is removable. Then at the bottom there is the standard drive rack that holds four 3.5" hard drives. There is room at the top for a thin dual radiator above the motherboard tray that can hold ATX, Micro-ATX or Mini-ITX motherboards.
In the floor there is room for the PSU and you are also given the option to install a 120mm or 140mm fan. At the back, along with the cut outs for the PSU and rear I/O, you also have seven slots with covers that lock into place without the need for screws. To cool the Ghost while keeping noise levels down, you have a Spectre 120mm fan in front of the drive rack assembly, and another placed in the back to exhaust the chassis, anything else is optional.
Surprisingly enough, when I went to look for anyone currently listing the Ghost, Google only came up with one location. That would be Newegg with its listing of $99.99, and there is an additional $14.99 for shipping. Now it isn't hard to satisfy me with a $100 chassis, and from what we covered just in the charts, without even having a peek at the Ghost yet, I think the feature set speaks loudly. On top of all the basic and more advanced offerings, at this price we are also gaining silence with plenty of attention to that area to keep the Ghost near silent even with it right next to you.
With all of that incorporated into this pricing, I think you will see it like I do, and realize compared to other cases in this range, BitFenix has stepped up.
The Ghost comes in a plain brown box with black printing on it displaying the BitFenix logo and the chassis name and site address at the bottom.
On the right panel you start with the logo and Ghost name, pass the handle, and are now looking at a rendering of the front and top of the Ghost. Before you get to the thick black stripe at the bottom you have the specifications chart displayed.
On the back there are three renderings of the Ghost from different angles. Around the images the features are pointed out like the radiator accommodations, the coating, hot swap bay, etc. It also shows at the bottom of the chassis is room for the Alchemy kits.
The last panel has very little to offer besides the model number displayed on the sticker near the bottom, although the sticker to the right does display the warranty information.
Inside of the box you find the Ghost is shipped with Styrofoam on both ends to protect it from major drops. You also have the plastic liner that should keep the foam from marring the NanoChrome surface. Even though the inner packaging and the box appear to be fine, there is a lot of rattling going on inside of this case that I need to find the cause of.
BitFenix Ghost Chassis
On the front, there are only two lines to follow. These would be the one at the top and the one near the bottom that separates the bezel from the door that will swing open in the middle. Just so you know who made the chassis at a glance, the aluminium BitFenix logo is displayed at the bottom.
From the factory the hinges are on the left and it allows the door to open as you see it here. On the back of the door there is the rubberized material that BitFenix are calling Serenitek, and is there to absorb noises and vibrations. On the bezel you have three removable 5.25" bay covers, a 3.5" bay cover, and the mesh at the bottom is removable to gain access to the fans.
The front I/O is the first thing you run into at the top of the Ghost. It houses the activity LEDs, audio jacks, USB 2.0 ports, USB 3.0 ports, and the large power button and tiny reset button.
Just behind that is a panel that you can push on so that the latches release that allows you to open the compartment to expose the S4 Hot Swap bay that is SATA III.
Then just behind the S4 is a large mesh covered area. The section also is latch released and allows you plenty of room to mount cooling options.
You can fit a dual 120mm radiator, even with it facing down in this hole, or you can mount the fans here and the radiator inside the case. Either way there is lots of room for them.
Since windows allow sound to travel out, the Ghost comes flat and plain on the sides. There are a couple of body lines at the top, running down the front and the arch at the bottom to help add a bit of styling.
In the back there is the tall top plastic before you run into the I/O and exhaust fan. Below that is a bit of ventilation to the right of the seven expansion slots, and above the PSU mounting at the bottom.
The right side of the chassis is basically a mirror image of the left side. This also means since the front door swing is reversible, the Ghost will look exactly the same if it sits to your right or your left side.
Under the chassis the feet are attached to a much larger support rail that runs around the bottom of the chassis and gives it the arch on the sides. In the center is a very large dust filter for easy cleaning and dust free innards.
Inside the Ghost
Inside of both of the door panels you will find this large sheet of cloth base sound absorbing material that stretches as far as it can to the edges without blocking the panel from sliding onto the chassis properly.
Our first look inside of the chassis shows that the wiring is bundled well. You can also see that the 3.5" hard drive rack is full of accessories and also has the instructions and hardware.
The three 5.25" bays at the top all have tool-free clips on this side to lock devices in place, but it requires the use of screws on the other side if you feel these clamps aren't secure enough, which they are.
In the middle is a card reader or floppy drive bays with three 2.5" drive bays under it. The left side of the three bays will come off to allow more room if needed.
At the bottom of the chassis you are then given four bays to add in 3.5" hard drives. All of these bays use plastic trays the slip over the drives and slide into the bays and lock into place.
Looking up at the roof of the Ghost you can see that not only can you use 120mm fans, there are also mounting holes for 140mm fans, and there is a large support in the middle to keep the chassis square with this large opening.
Inside the Ghost Continued
The motherboard tray has a really large access hole, four large wire management holes, and raised threaded bumps as risers, except for the center one. That is a peg to help hold the motherboard in place.
At the bottom, there will be a PSU on the left, but if it is short enough, you also will have the option to install a 120mm or 140mm fan in the floor in front of it.
At the back you can see the 120mm Spectre exhaust fan just above the three knock outs for water cooling. Then you see the bay covers that just clip in and don't need screws to keep them in place.
There is roughly one half of an inch inset from the inside of the door panel to the back side of the motherboard tray. This isn't a huge amount of room, but it is enough to get the job done cleanly, but keep in mind there are no windows or vents to see inside anyway, so the wiring can easily be run up front as well.
There is a SATA data cable and a SATA power plug for the S4 that aren't in the image, but what is contains the F_Panel connections, USB 2.0, HD Audio, and the USB 3.0 connection with a 2.0 adapter on it.
Remember when I said I heard some rattling? Well, here is why. The frame at the bottom is broken cleanly into two pieces, and all of the pins and clips that hold the front bezel in place are sheared off. The funny thing about all of this is that the packaging shows no signs of such abuse to have occurred.
Accessories and Documentation
Part of the included hardware contains the SATA cover for the S4 bay to keep them clean and dust free. You also get grommets for the oval holes in the motherboard tray along with four rubber support pads.
I have to assume the risers are to replace the stud type on the tray, and you also get four long fan screws to add a second fan in the front. Then you see the seven expansion slot screws to hold cards in place. The bottom row has 12 screws to secure the motherboard and PSU, then six screws for the 5.25" bays, and a whole mess of tiny screws to use for adding 2.5" drives to the 3.5" trays.
These plastic trays were stuck in the 3.5" bays during its trip, but out of the bags you can see there are four for the 3.5" drives that will accept 2.5" drives, as well as a set of three specifically for the 2.5" drives.
I was also given two 30cm Alchemy LED strips, both are blue, and they are sent along to put under the chassis giving the chassis a glow that almost makes the case look like it is floating.
The quick start guide is plain black and white throughout to cut costs on the stuff that isn't used all the time to allow for all the features and goodies we just saw to come at this price.
Opening it to the middle I found a front fan installation guide insert added to the manual that covers everything else from start to finish with these top notch illustrations and basic text descriptions.
With a bit of super glue and the time it took me to get this far in the images, the base of the chassis is now one solid piece so I went ahead and added the Alchemy strips to it before I screwed it back onto the case. I also had to add pair of screws to the front to attach the bottom of the bezel to keep it from falling off the front since the pins were all sheared off.
The Build and Finished Product
Since the bezel was removed for me, I just set it to the left to show that all of the wiring is attached, and this has to be off to get to the bay covers. You can also see the front intake fan and the removable dust filter in front of it.
Just by removing the door, squeezing the hinge clips, and inserting them on the other side you can easily reverse the door swing as I did for this image and the rest of the build. Since the DVD drive is hidden by the door, it really doesn't matter, but it lines up perfectly and the clips hold it really securely.
I had no issues with the build of fitment of any of the components. The motherboard went in easy, all of the wiring makes it to its destination, and there is plenty of room for tons of gear in here.
Around back the rear I/O shield snapped right in, the thumbscrews for the HIS Radeon HD 7950 went in easily, and while a bit tight getting it in there, the PSU screws line right up as well.
In the back I was able to run everything I wanted to behind the tray. Even with the thicker group of wiring off to the left all bundled up I had no issues placing the panel over this.
Then I went ahead and closed up to make sure everything lines up and that my ghetto modding is still holding tight in the front. I am pleased to say that the Ghost does look nice sitting here, even if subdued a little bit.
Same for the other side of the Ghost. As you can see the panel isn't bowing and all of the body lines are square with each other.
When you fire up the Ghost for the first time, looking back at the I/O panel, you have a solid white LED on the left indicating system power. Just to the right there is the flicker of another white LED as the SSD is being used during the boot process.
This is why the last image had a blue cast to it. With the chassis running, you can't really hear much, but with the Alchemy kits installed under it, you can definitely see it.
Right off the bat I have to discuss the damage to the Ghost. There is something funny that went on here and I don't think anyone would have picked up on it until this case was delivered to whoever was lucky enough to get it - in this instance it was me. The reason no one would have caught this is that I strongly believe this chassis was dropped at the factory before it went into the box. With the amount of force required to snap the base of the chassis and shear off all of the front bezels support system, and the packaging has only a few rub marks with occasional snags here and there. The cardboard box and the foam were in perfect condition, and had it not been for the rattling I was hearing, until I took the tape off the bezel and it moved did I have any idea what had happened. I'm just glad that I got this issue and it wasn't a chassis that made it out to BitFenix customers.
The Ghost as a mid-tower chassis with a $100 price tag, but the feature set is jam packed. Let's see now, there is the NanoChrome coating that has never been done before, there is the Serenitek sound proofing that is brand new as well, and we can't forget the S4 hot swap bay on the top with SATA III speed. While we are there I may as well cover the room in the top for either the fans or a radiator, and with plenty of room inside, above the motherboard tray, water cooling in the Ghost is easy to achieve. I also like that that front door can swing in either directions as simply as squeezing a clip and pushing the hinge into the other side. This is something that every case maker should take notice of because this is how you do it right.
I know there are only two 120mm Spectre fans included, and the choice to use the Noctua CPU cooler isn't going to add any noise, I really wanted to see what their idea of silence was. As the machine booted and I stepped back to take the images, if it weren't for the lights glowing, I wouldn't have known it was on. I literally had to be within a foot of the case before I could even hear a slight hum. Not only that, but you really don't hear much of anything until you get near the back of the chassis. With the sound proofing in the front and on the sides, the Ghost really is silent in operation. I kind of skipped over the lights as I mentioned them, but with the 30cm Alchemy kits under the Ghost it adds a mist that it floats on, and you can make that mist any color you wish, just make sure to set aside a little more money for them.
I am willing to overlook the damage, because I know the guys over at BitFenix, and whether it be my case, or if it should be your unluckiest day and you got this chassis, those guys would put things in motion as soon as possible to rectify the situation and keep you as a customer happy. This is because even though mine is slightly modified, I still want to use it for a daily driver. Never have I seen a case at the $99.99 price point that has silence, subdued styling, yet covers all of your needs and adds a bit of optional flash to users who like LEDs.
I have to give credit where it is due, and BitFenix won me over with the Ghost, and this mid-tower chassis is going to be in a lot of homes this Christmas - that is my guess.