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BitFenix Comrade Mid-Tower Chassis Review

BitFenix Comrade Mid-Tower Chassis Review

We have also received the brother to the Neos chassis for review. Take a look at the more aesthetically simplistic Comrade case. Let's see what Chad says.

@chad_sebring
Chad Sebring
Published Tue, Aug 5 2014 9:15 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:33 PM CDT
Rating: 84%Manufacturer: BitFenix

Introduction, Specifications and Pricing

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VIEW GALLERY - 32 IMAGES

It is time for yet another chassis in the BitFenix lineup, and this chassis is a close relative to the Neos chassis we looked at recently. With this design implementation, there is only one major change to the chassis, and it all lies in the aesthetics; more specifically, the front bezel. Where we saw lots of mesh and angular lines in the frame of the Neos' bezel, this time around, things are much more streamlined, and there are just subtle design details that break up the more solid design.

With the cases being nearly identical, we know that we get a recently tooled interior design that offers almost everything a case builder needs to get a basic system built, without much fuss and effort. Of course, the design keeps things like the SofTouch panel that BitFenix is known for, but overall, the outside of this chassis is far more simplistic. This chassis also comes in two forms and flavors; it can be had in both black and white, and there is also an optional left side window if you want to see what is inside of it.

Since we already have a pretty good idea of what to expect with this latest chassis from BitFenix to be reviewed, the Comrade mid-tower chassis, we may as well get straight to the point, and cover the chassis in its entirety. Stick with us as we deliver the BitFenix Comrade in all of its glory, and you can decide if this is the next economically friendly chassis for you.

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As most cases are, the Comrade is made mostly of steel that is painted throughout, with the exception of the plastic used for filters, feet, and the bezel. As we mentioned previously, there are two color choices, and even though this chart does not specify, there is a windowed option out there as well. The chassis is pretty compact since it is within mid-tower size requirements, but it can still house Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, or ATX motherboards, with a bit of room to spare.

The rest of the interior offers a trio of 5.25" drives, where the Neos only offered two, but this is due to a new location for the I/O panel. There is room for three 3.5" drives in the lowest rack, and in a thinner rack above it, there is also room for three 2.5" drives. At the back of the chassis there are seven expansion slots, as well as a pair of holes with grommets in them to allow for external water cooling. Speaking of cooling, in this design there is room for a pair of 120mm fans in the front of the chassis, behind a removable dust filter, but there are no fans located here when shipped. The other location for cooling the chassis can be found at the back of the Comrade, where the included 120mm fan is installed as an exhaust.

What it really boils down to is whether or not the styling of the Comrade wins over the Neos we just looked at. However, there is one other major consideration to take into account as well. Although the Neos is more striking with the various color options of both the chassis and the mesh inserts, this Comrade is a bit plainer to look at. However, the pricing of the Comrade is also considerably less than the Neos.

While the pricing of the Neos is much closer to the $70 mark, we are finding the Comrade to be listed just about everywhere we look, regardless of color choice, for just $49.99. Since the Comrade offers most of the same features at a lower price point, those savings could be used for fans, or to help stretch a budget build that much further; you could spring for a larger SSD, or spend a bit more on an aftermarket cooler. These are all good reasons to consider the Comrade, and after we show you the ins and outs of this mid-tower chassis, you will likely see it in the same light we do. In our opinion, the Comrade is pretty well laid out, and it has a good feature set for its cost.

PRICING: You can find the BitFenix Comrade 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 Comrade (Black, no window) retails for $49.00 at Amazon, and the BitFenix Comrade (White, no window) retails for $49.00 at Amazon. The BitFenix Comrade (Black, w/ window) retails for $72.29 at Amazon, and the BitFenix Comrade (White, w/ window) retails for $76.11 at Amazon.

Packaging

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Just like rest of the BitFenix cases we have recently seen, the Comrade also comes in a plain brown box with black printing for the logo, chassis name, and the stripe at the bottom displaying BitFenix web address.

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To the right of that, we find this panel that offers the company and chassis name at the top. Below the handle there is a rendering of the front bezel view, just above a full list of specifications.

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Under the chassis name, the back panel offers three renderings of different views of the chassis, with five features being pointed out around them.

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We were also sent the Comrade in both color choices. While both the white and black versions we have do not have a window, we could have used one from the Neos if we wanted to, since both the Comrade and the Neos share the same base chassis.

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Being the first of the pair to leave the box, we have the black version still wrapped in its shipping attire. The thin Styrofoam used at the top and bottom, as well as a plastic liner used under it, were enough to deliver both of the Comrades to us in great shape.

BitFenix Comrade Mid-Tower Chassis

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The front bezel is made of plastic, but it offers that SofTouch coating we have come to expect from BitFenix. To offer some style, around the outside edge there is a thin groove that continues to the bottom as it passes three angled slits on either side. Down the center we find three bay covers, and we find the logo much further below them.

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Behind where the bezel attaches to the chassis, we can see that the rest of the top of the chassis is a solid steel panel, which wraps around both sides, and meets the top edges of the door panels.

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In this image, we not only see that left side panel is not much more than a black, textured, painted steel panel, but we can also see how the texture plays against the smoother surface of the front bezel.

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Here, the top starts with a pair of holes and grommets to allow for water cooling, which are next to the rear I/O, but above the rear exhaust. Then we find seven expansion slots. One slot has a missing cover, and the rest are break-out covers; all of which have the mounting spots covered with a plastic cap. Of course, that leaves the PSU to go in the bottom.

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There is not much more going on with the right side of the chassis than what we were offered in the view of the left side. Although, there is one main difference; the difference being that this side is where BitFenix placed the front I/O panel.

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As we moved in closer for a better view, we find the I/O panel starts off with the power, followed by the reset button, which is then followed up by two LED indicators, and a pair of 3.5mm HD audio jacks. Things finish at the bottom with a single USB 2.0 connection, as well as a single port for USB 3.0.

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Finishing the tour of the exterior brings us to this image. We find the Comrade has plastic feet that do tend to slide around a bit, but we can also see a removable dust filter under where the PSU will be installed.

Inside the Comrade

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Removing the bezel shows the bay covers are clipped in, and we also see that ventilation is restricted to the angled slits, and the hole at the bottom for removal access. The front of the chassis keeps the wiring attached, and there is also a large dust filter for the optional intake fans.

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After taking the panels off of the chassis, we now have an unimpeded view of the interior. We find the wiring is left to simply flop about the interior during shipping, but the hardware and manual can be found under the lowest tray, in the HDD rack.

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With the I/O panel moved, we now can use all three of the 5.25" bays offered in the design of this chassis. All three bays offer tool-free mechanisms to lock devices in place, and can also be supported by screws on the other side.

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For storage, we find two different cages, with three trays each. The upper 2.5" drive trays allows drives to be screwed in. The lower bays accommodate 3.5" hard drives, as the trays expand and shrink back together to hold them. We also found these trays to be drilled for 2.5" drives as well.

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The motherboard tray does offer a wire management hole to the left of the CPU cooler access hole, and there are four more down the right side. The entire bottom is open. To mount the motherboard, you will use either the steel bumps, or for Micro-ATX boards, you willl need to install a few standoffs.

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The floor of the chassis does not offer an optional cooling location in front of the PSU mounts. The back of the chassis has tabs to align the power supply, but there are also steel bumps on the floor to help raise the fan grill off the floor, and allow it to be mounted more easily.

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We find the only fan supplied in the chassis inside of the rear of the chassis. This is a low speed, low volume, three-pin powered 120mm fan. We cannot see the expansion slot mounting, as it is on the outside in order to give us just a bit more room on the interior.

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There is not a whole lot of room behind the motherboard tray for much of any wiring; most of that is contained at the bottom, or off to the left behind the bays.

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From the front I/O panel, we have the ribbon cable containing connections for the buttons, and LEDs. We also find an HD audio plug, a USB 2.0 plug, and a native USB 3.0 plug that needs to be connected to the motherboard.

Accessories and Documentation

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Inside of a larger bag, there is a much smaller bag containing what we see here. There are standoffs for smaller motherboards, and six hex-head screws for the PSU, or expansion slots. At the bottom, we find a handful of M3 screws for drive mounting, nine motherboard screws, and six pointed screws with no real assignment.

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BitFenix also includes a solid expansion slot cover for the top slot that is blank when the chassis is shipped. We also found four longer zip ties to help strap in the chassis wiring.

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The quick installation guide is more of a full manual. The guide describes the parts, shows angles of the chassis and points features out. It even covers all of the basic components, and how they are to be installed into the chassis. Anyone, ranging in experience from a beginner to an experienced system builder, will easily be able to get all their gear into this chassis with the help of this guide.

Case Build and Finished Product

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Without a window in play on the side panel, we were much less concerned with trying to hide everything. Even so, we still have plenty of room for this ATX based system, a longer than stock video card, and with a modular PSU, there is little mess to be found anyways.

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When we popped in the dust shield we did notice the chassis had been slightly dented inward. Although, it was not enough to cause concern, as we just pulled it back into line. The card went in fine, but we could have used more screws. The PSU is nice and tight in the bottom.

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Since we went ahead and ran the PSU leads on the front side, all we had to deal with here is the front I/O wiring. While it is nothing special, it is easy to see how we could run more wiring here, off to the left of course.

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Without using an optical drive, and the fact that there is no window in our chassis, we are left with much of the same view as we had when we first removed the packaging. The finished build is just clean and simple; there is nothing too aggressive about it, and it is something that will fit in almost anywhere.

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As we set the chassis up for testing, we found that both of the LEDs are white, even though we only have the system power LED currently active. At this point, we went ahead and snuck that white version back in, just to remind you of the color options of the Comrade. Also, when running, performance suffers with just one fan, but on the flip side, you have to get super close to the rear of the chassis to even hear that fan running.

Final Thoughts

Being completely honest is what we are all about, and while the Neos is the better looking of the two cases being offered with this interior layout, we do see the need, and the place for the Comrade. For those of you who were into what we showed off in the Neos, but aren't willing to shell out that much money for flashy colors and a bunch of mesh, well the Comrade is the BitFenix chassis for you. The Comrade offers all of the same abilities, and even takes back the third optical bay by relocating the front I/O panel, so internally, you actually get more bang for your buck.

We still find the hardware kit to be a bit lacking. We have no idea why there are short pointed screws in this kit, or why are there not enough screws for the expansion slots. While we don't like break-out covers, in economically friendly designs, it is usually what happens, so we will sort of overlook that aspect. We did like the Comrade's silence, but you are going to need to invest in some extra fans if you have any plans to run more than stock settings on any of the hardware. The last complaint is more of a personal quirk, but all the same: while we like that there is a dust filter for the intake, having to remove the bezel for cleaning each time is excessive. However, at this price point, concessions have to be made in some form.

It is very handy to have a fully equipped front I/O panel with a fan controller that takes the fans from full speed at 42dB, to a more suitable level for most users at 30 dB when the toggle is set to the lower fan speed setting. It is also very handy to have a chassis that can house motherboards over the ATX standard. Some cases offered from Corsair have had a bend in the tray that would prevent that, but it's not present here.

When it comes down to it, we do find the $49.99 price attractive. While this may be a great choice for system builders, or a beginner with lower powered hardware, it will take some work to make it worthy of housing a gaming system, and keeping temperatures under control. There is definitely a use, and need for cases of this type, and BitFenix does have something worthy of your attention if you are looking for a case on a budget.

We know there are some slightly better designs out there in this price range, and that will be reflected in the numbers you are about to see. However, as the Comrade is the kid brother to the Neos, with much less flash and business going on, we feel that BitFenix will indeed sell these cases without mush issue.

PRICING: You can find the BitFenix Comrade 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 Comrade (Black, no window) retails for $49.00 at Amazon, and the BitFenix Comrade (White, no window) retails for $49.00 at Amazon. The BitFenix Comrade (Black, w/ window) retails for $72.29 at Amazon, and the BitFenix Comrade (White, w/ window) retails for $76.11 at Amazon.

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After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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