BitFenix Phenom M Micro-ATX Chassis
When building a new PC, the case is sometimes the last hardware out of the bunch to get a personal treatment. With that said, we often see builders revolving the build around other components. While it’s not a bad idea, presentation is still important. After all, we firmly believe that while performance is king, presentation is the queen.
The Phenom M is an elegant proposal from BitFenix, boasting a Micro ATX form factor support, while still maintaining a small and sleek stature. The case is designed around the critically acclaimed BitFenix Prodigy’s chassis, specifically the M version, but has been devoid of most external features found at the said case. Now without further ado, let us check it out, and see what this case could do.
FEATURES & SPECIFICATIONS: SEE THE LINK
|Materials||Steel, Plastic, SofTouch™|
|Colors (Int/Ext)||Black/Black, White/White|
|Dimensions (WxHxD)||250 x 330 x 374mm|
|Motherboard Sizes||Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX|
|3.5” Drive Bays||x 5 (4 + 1 using included adapter)|
|2.5” Drive Bays||x 5 (2 + 2 + 1 using included adapter)|
|Cooling Top||120mm x 2 (optional)|
|Cooling Bottom||120mm x 2 (1 included) or 200mm x 1(optional) or 230mm x 1 (optional)|
|Cooling Rear||120mm x 1 (included) or 140mm x 1 (optional)|
|PCI Slots||x 5|
|I/O||USB 3.0 x 2, HD Audio|
|Power Supply||PS2 ATX (bottom, multi direction)|
|Extras||SofTouch™ surface treatment, magnetic heat shield|
PACKAGING & CONTENTS:
BitFenix stayed true to their no nonsense packaging, similar to that of the Shinobi’s, and other BitFenix cases. Up front, we’ve got a huge BitFenix logo, along with the model name of the case inside. Can’t miss it really.
The back has different images of the case, showcasing its notable features and internals. The side features the Phenom M’s specifications, in-case you love reading numbers.
Opening the box reveals the quick installation guide, together with the well packed BitFenix Phenom M. SRSLY.
The accessory box of the BitFenix Phenom M is well tucked inside the case itself. Accessories includes a 5.25 to 3.5/2.5 bay, a USB3.0 to 2.0 header, some zip ties, and a plethora of screws, motherboard stand-offs, washers, and rubber o-rings. The rubber o-rings should be used in combination of the HDD screws so you could slide the HDD in place inside the case. More about this feature later.
CLOSER LOOK (EXTERIOR):
Out of the box, the BitFenix Phenom M immediately awed us with its sleek presentation. I mean look at that thing. It is small, it is cute, it’s elegant, and it looks like a work of art. Really apt for its name. The BitFenix SofTouch™ treatment also did a great job on showcasing the case; Eliminating the possibility of hard light to bounce back from it, while at the same time, providing a smooth surface. That’s like hitting 2 birds with one stone.
Up front, the Phenom M is devoid of any I/O components, with only the brushed BitFenix logo present on it. Clearly, BitFenix designed this case majorly for looks, and then functionality follows.
At 250 x 330 x 374mm, the BitFenix Phenom M sure is a compact, boxy looking mATX case. The sides of the front panel, though meshed for intake, only has a limited amount of perforation via small holes running from top to bottom. They probably did this for rigidity purposes, but I expected a more full-blown intake feature.
The front panel I/O of the BitFenix Phenom M is situated at the side panel via a custom made PCB. The panel I/O consists of 2xUSB3.0 ports, 2x HD audio ports, and a power + restart button. This very side panel also features a removable SSD mounting bracket that supports up to 2x 2.5″ drives.
Here’s another look at the front panel, with a book for size comparison. The book is around 250mm long, similar to the width of the case.
The back panel features a clean looking, well ventilated err… panel. The fan mount supports 120mm to 140mm fan, with a single 120mm fan included. The end of the PSU extension cable is also situated here.
The Phenom M features a quick release, single thumb screw driven PCI-E slot locking mechanism. This is great for on the fly expansion card installation. You actually need it. More about this later.
The top panel of the Phenom M also sports a matte finish, courtesy of the SofTouch™ surface treatment. This side also features a stylish removable fan filter. Nice.
The BitFenix Phenom M supports 2x 120mm fans or a 240mm radiator. We tried installing standard 120mm fans at the top most part of the bracket but the space just wont cut it. You’re better off installing the fans inside, or opt for a slimmer intake fan. – If you could find one. Make that two.
Focusing at the bottom of the case, we could see that BitFenix has carefully considered the layout and features of this very part when it comes to styling, airflow, and thermal shielding. The first thing you’ll actually notice on this part is the placement of the PSU, from which the exhaust actually blows air. Adding to that, BitFenix flared up this side of the case with high quality case feet that offers a good contrast to the Phenom’s elegant styling and pallet.
For expansion and additional cooling purposes, BitFenix had this side of the case equipped with a single 120mm fan. You could install another 120mm fan here or a single 200/230mm fan. This side also features pre-drilled holes for the HDDs if you wish to add more storage capacity.
If you wish to add an HDD, or completely isolate the internal hardwares of the case from the PSU’s heat, the magnetic cover got you err… covered. It’s a simple addition to the case’s features but it’s indispensable.
CLOSER LOOK (INTERIOR):
I find the side panels of the Phenom M easy to remove, and are actually one of the main parts that contributed much weight to the case. Without both in our way, we could see that the inside of the Phenom is pretty compact, as there are virtually zero cable management area here.
The motherboard tray area has a huge CPU cutout which is nice. It does however, have a limited amount of space for the cables, with a small hole for the 4+4 pin CPU power connector at the lower left edge of the tray.
The Phenom M has an included SSD+HDD mounting bracket that supports 3x 2.5″ drives and 2x 3.5″ drives. When both sides of the bracket are populated, you’ll have around 150mm of clearance from the bracket to the motherboard’s PCB, so you really have to choose your CPU cooler properly if you wish to use the included side mounted HDD+SSD bay.
The front of the BitFenix Phenom M supports myriads of fan options, but the fan mounts are pretty useless since the PSU is situated in this area. Again, this case virtually features the same frame with its brothers.
The PSU mounting area features a bracket so you don’t have to cram your fingers when installing the PSU. The PSU’s extension cable goes below the bracket, and features an angled female port.
The top of the case has a 5.25″ bay that goes along with the 3.5″ + 2.5″ adapter. You can’t really use this space for ODDs and such since the front bezel of the Phenom M doesn’t feature any cutout for such devices. Installing the bay adapter on this area will block the closes 120mm fan mount too. Good thing we could remove the bay.
The top, as said earlier, supports 240mm radiators, and 2x 120mm fans. Do note that installing a rad + fans will block the last 2 slots of the motherboard.
BitFenix equipped the Phenom M with 2x 120mm Spectre fans. I just kinda wished that BitFenix included a single 140mm, along with another 230mm at the bottom instead of these two.
INSTALLATION & FINISHED BUILD:
Installing parts inside the BitFenix Phenom M isn’t that hard as it looks. The case, while it’s compact, gave us enough amount of room to play with, but planning ahead of the build process is still recommended. We started out with the PSU, since we want to see how the cables will look inside the case, prior to installing the motherboard; Giving ourselves an insight on where to route them.
The PSU is easy to install, though the angled extension cable proved to be a tight fit. Good thing BitFenix gave the bottom part of the PSU tray enough headroom for the extension cable to pivot just in case the socket orientation of the PSU is peculiar. – Similar to our EVGA 500B PSU.
Next up is the motherboard. We never really encounter any roadblocks with its installation process, as BitFenix already provided us some pre-installed mounting stand-offs. However, the hole for the 4+4-pin CPU power connector is so small for our power connector’s headers to penetrate it.
Removing the front bezel is an easy feat, if you wish to remove the 5.25″ bay for additional space. You just have to unscrew some screws, remove the bay, and off yah go.
We’ve got ample amount of space at the side of the PSU area for our cables to be tucked in and away from the preying eyes of critics. If you want to maximize space, you’re better off with a modular/sleeved PSU.
The top panel, if populated by a 240mm radiator, could serve as makeshift cable management space as well. I kinda wished BitFenix added a secondary mesh around this area so we still could hide cables around here even without a rad. That’s a BitFenix Alchemy 3-pin Y-split cable by the way.
Since both side panels of the Phenom M are interchangeable, we decided to install the flexible SSD mount at the left (motherboard tray area) side panel. This means that you could also install the side panel with the I/O ports on the other side of the case. Take note that if you wish to do that, you have to sacrifice the space at the PSU area.
Installing a 240mm cooler is an easy feat, but is not advisable since you’re going to block the last 2 motherboard slots, the headers, and will pose a thermal issue with your GFX card. Adding to that, some AIO coolers, such as the Corsair H100i, has a short hose, combined with restricted amount of play. That said, we cannot position the hoses properly at the furthest side of the case. No expansion card for me I guess.
With the cables and storage drive tucked at the back, the finished build of our Phenom M based system looks totally clean and free from obtrusive cables. – Aww yiss. Sweet mother of boards, look at that case. Just look at it!
We do love the Phenom M’s aesthetics, and how well our hardwares blends well with the case, but as you can see from the picture above, we completely disregarded the side panel with the I/O ports since it’s a pain in the arse to install with our current configuration. Again, you could install it at the other side to make things easier for you. Just make sure that it has enough space at the PSU area.
VALUE & CONCLUSION:
The BitFenix Phenom M is a case that is easy to fall in love with. It features an elegant, no non-sense styling and is fit to be seen even at the most sophisticated living room spaces. Something that I really like about it. It’s also noteworthy to add that this very case, even with its diminutive stature feels really sturdy. In fact, we were surprised by its build quality from top to bottom, including the side panels. Totally top notch this side of the industry.
Though it is a case easy to fall in love with, there are things that you need to be aware of if you’re looking forward to build a PC revolving around it. First off is the lack of a unified cable management area, along with the obtrusive and pretty useless 5.25″ bay at the top. Another gripe would be the I/O panel which is pain in the arse if you’re going to install it on its default position. Good thing that BitFenix gave us the option to use tha panel on the other side of the case. Cooling option is something you need to consider too, as you’re left with only a handful of options: You could go with a 120/140mm AIO cooler to maximize expansion, opt for a beefier 240mm radiator configuration sacrificing expansion for better CPU cooling, or go with a more traditional tower cooler to maximize both expansion and cooling capabilities. Some crazy folks will probably go for an extra mile as we’ve seen some builds with the Phenom M utilizing a custom loop.
Clearly, the BitFenix Phenom M is an enclosure that is not a 100% ideal for those who prefer the “set and forget it” kind of things, but is perhaps built for those who carefully plan and execute. Simply put that it is a case apt for the seasoned builders who consider PCs not only as a tool for production and recreation alone, but is also for those who consider building a PC as a passion. Something that they could be really be proud of whether it’s going to be placed on a dektop, or as a part of their living room entertainment piece.
The BitFenix Phenom M is already available with an SRP of around 3, 999 Pesos. This is already a pretty good proposal from the guys at BitFenix, considering that you’ll get more bang for your buck with a Micro-ATX motherboard compared to an ITX one. I highly recommend this case for those who wants to build a sleek and compact looking PC without sacrificing expand-ability. Watch out for the caveats though.
- Elegant enclosure
- Top notch build quality
- Plenty of storage options
- Available in two colors
- Good value for money
- SofTouch™ surface treatment
- Cable management
- 5.25″ bay is an afterthought
- Awkward side panel I/O