BitFenix Prodigy - Undoubtedly The Best

11/16/2012 9:12:36 AM

Not without faults, but beats the competition for just $97.5

BitFenix has clearly approached its new mini-ITX case, the Prodigy, with a focus on flexibility and capability, as opposed to getting everything into the smallest possible box. This means that it's the largest and heaviest case on test (it isn't far off Silverstone’s compact Micro-ATXTJ08-E in the volume stakes at 26 liters). It also boasts cooling capabilities of cases twice its size, while still being undeniably small and compact.

Description: BitFenix Prodigy

The Prodigy's exterior is dominated by its curved FyberFlex handles, fitted to both the top and bottom of the core chassis. Doubling as handles and case feet, the FyberFlex material is incredibly hard-wearing and, true to its name, very flexible, while remaining stiff enough to double as either a case foot or carry handle. However, the use of FyberFlex in the permanent case feet means that the Prodigy wobbles alarmingly with the lightest touch. Thankfully/, the FyberFlex panels are removable, allowing you to substitute them for case feet of your own, albeit at added expense.

Remove the handles and the Prodigy isn't that much larger than competing chassis, yet it offers a great deal of cooling potential. The mesh front fascia, secured with push-pins, hides a grilled front that can mount a host of cooling fans, from 120mm to 230mm, without compromising any of the interior fittings. The dust filter-equipped roof also has mounts for a pair of 120mm fans, while the rear fan mount can accommodate either a 120mm or 140mm fan.

The result is a case capable of mounting the kind of cooling equipment you'd expect in a full-sized tower chassis, but in a box little bigger than a desktop sub­woofer. Even better, the pair of roof-mounted 120mm fan mounts can accommodate a full-depth, dual 120mm water- cooling radiator, something that even new full-sized cases such as the Fractal Design Define R4, are unable to offer As standard, BitFenix pairs the case with two 120mm fins, one of which acts as a front intake while the other is a rear exhaust.

Alongside its array of cooling fan mounts, the Prodigy is also extensively ventilated. The left side panel is perforated, as is the floor of the case, although only the latter sports a removable dust filter for the floor's PSU mount. Oddly, the case's front panel connectors are found on the right-hand side panel, with a pair of USB3 ports, headphone and microphone jacks, and both power and reset buttons matching the connector arrays of the competition.

Description: BitFenix Prodigy

BitFenix Prodigy

However, the case's exterior isn't without fault, and we were surprised to find the side panels were a little loose around their front fitting points, and therefore had a tendency to rattle. Similarly to the FyberFlex feet, it's an annoying fault that's easily remedied with some spare rubber spacers or tape, but it still detracted from what is otherwise a solid and well put-together case.

Removing the aforementioned side panels, the Prodigy's interior is incredibly roomy for a mini-ITX chassis, placing the motherboard tray directly above the PSU mount. Despite the open interior, the Prodigy can mount five 3.5i n drives in a pair of fully removable drives cages (although you'll need to remove the upper three mounts if you have a graphics card that's longer than 180mm). There are also four more 2.5in drive mounts dotted around the interior of the case, as well as a removable 5.25in drive mount in the case's roof, the removal of which is required for mounting a roof radiator.

The decision to place the motherboard flat in the case on top of the PSU cage means there's 175mm of CPU cooler headroom too, so installing our test system was a snap. The PSU cage doubles as a place to tuck your unused captive PSU cabling too and, as it's equipped with cable-routing holes, cable tidying is straightforward, helping to keep airflow-interrupting cables out of the way.

With our test kit fitted and under thermal load, the Prodigy made the other cases on test look pedestrian, with a CPU delta T of 43°C and a GPU delta T of 48°C - both results were the best on test by some distance.

Description: With our test kit fitted and under thermal load, the Prodigy makes the other cases on test look pedestrian.

With our test kit fitted and under thermal load, the Prodigy makes the other cases on test look pedestrian.

In fact, the GPU temperature was 10°C cooler than the next best case, giving the Prodigy a huge advantage. Not only that, but the noise from the stock pair of fans was pleasantly unobtrusive, even at full speed. With the Prodigy's highly expandable cooling, there's plenty of room to improve it too.


The BitFenix Prodigy isn't without its flaws, namely its wobbly FyberFlex feet and slightly loose side panels, but these issues can be remedied easily and cheaply. It also compensates for these problems with its great cooling capabilities, and the flexibility to mount high­end water-cooling equipment should you wish. What's more, building a system inside the Prodigy is straightforward, and it's available for a bargain price of $97.5. While it isn't the smallest mini- ITX case on test, it's undoubtedly the best.

Pros and cons

Phoenix: Brilliant cooling; flexible fan mounts; room for dual-120mm radiator; just $97.5

Ashes: Comparatively large; wobbly FyberFlex base; side panels rattle slightly


How much?

Price: $97.5 inc VAT



Cooling: 28/30

Features: 19/20

Design: 24/30

Value: 19/20

Overall: 90%


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