Author: Chris Ledenican
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/BitFenix_Outlaw/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.
BitFenix is quickly becoming known for building high-quality cases that markt at affordable prices. The entry-level chassis market as it stands is lacking in creativity and overall design, so it is refreshing to see a company focus on the market segment with the intent to create cases that are both affordable as well as appealing.
The BitFenix case examined today is the Outlaw, which comes equipped with support for eight internal case fans, four hard drives and even has SSD support. The case also sports an inverted design that optimizes the internal placement of the components. This allows the Outlaw to support some of the largest graphics cards on the market. In addition, the Outlaw also utilizes the patented BitFenix SofTouch Surface treatment to enhance the case's external appearance.
With all the case has to offer, it is surprising that BitFenix has managed to keep the MSRP below $50. At this price point the Outlaw is positioned amongst the most affordable cases on the market, and as such has little to really live up to. However, with all the included features and inverted design we are intrigued to see how the case stacks up in comparison to other sub $100 options currently on the market.
|Dimensions (H xW xD)||438 x 180 x 478 mm (ATX Mid Tower)|
|Motherboard Sizes||Mini-ITX, mATX, ATX|
|5.25" Drive Bays||x4|
|3.5" Drive Bays||x4|
|2.5" Drive Bays||x1|
|Cooling Front||2 x 120mm (optional)|
|Cooling Rear||1 x 120mm (included)|
|Cooling Top||2 x 120mm (optional)|
|Cooling Bottom||1 x 120mm (optional)|
|Cooling Side Panel||2 x 120/140mm (optional)|
|I/O||4 x USB2.0, Audio|
|Power Supply||PS2 ATX (bottom, multi direction)|
The Outlaw comes packaged in a plain box that includes three separate illustrations on the front along with a few of the key features. Overall the packaging is simple, but Bitfenix did a good job highlighting the main features of the case.
The Bitfenix Outlaw is a small mid-sized tower that measures 438 x 180 x 478 mm, and sports an all-black paint job. The front panel of the case includes three removable 5.25" bay covers and a slick plastic cover that has openings along the sides for ventilation. The entire front bezel also utilizes a signature BitFenix SofTouch design that improves the aesthetics in comparison to other cases in this price segment, but also reduces smudging and fingerprints on the bezel.
From the back we get our first indication that the Outlaw's design is far from conventional. As you can see, the PS2 ATX power supply opening is still mounted at the bottom of the chassis, but since the motherboard tray is inverted, the rear fan and expansion opening are reversed. This means their layout is opposite of a standard case, so the add-on cards such as graphics and sound cards end up being positioned at the top of the case while the motherboard I/O ports are found at the bottom.
Both of the side panels found on the Outlaw utilize the same design, but the prominent panel includes a 280mm perforated vent at the back that can accommodate either dual 120mm, or 120mm case fans. Additionally, each panel is secured to the case via two thumb screws that when unfastened allow the user to remove move the panel. This facilitates easy access to the internal chassis on both sides of the case.
The control panel of the case is found at the top portion of the front bezel and includes four USB 2.0 ports, audio in/out jacks, a power button and a small reset button. Overall, nothing too exciting, but the four USB 2.0 ports alone prove robust for the Outlaw's price range. Behind the control panel, along the top of the case, are two perforated ventilation holes that can accommodate either dual 120mm fans or a 240mm radiator.
While the case uses an inverted motherboard tray, the front bays still use a standard ATX design. This is clearly evident with the front bezel removed, as the Outlaw has three 5.25" drive bays along top half of the chassis, while the bottom is set up to accommodate dual 120mm case fans. In total the Outlaw supports up to eight fans without any user modification.
The inverted layout of the motherboard tray is actually a smart move on BitFenix's part. First of all, the reversed design facilitates the installation of large graphics cards by ensuring the installed hard drives do not encroach in the add-on card area's. This means the Outlaw can easily accommodate some of the largest graphics cards on the market such as the HD 6970. Additionally, since the Outlaw is a mid-sized chassis that includes seven expansion slots, CrossFire and SLI setups should not be an issue.
The motherboard tray supports all Mini-ITX, mATX, ATX form factor boards, and has a back-plate access hole cutout toward the bottom of the tray. To help cool the processor, the Outlaw comes equipped with a single 120mm exhaust fan at the rear of the case. This is the only fan included with the Outlaw, so we are intrigued to see if the stock configuration is as efficient as a more conventional design.
Installation of the external 5.25" drives is done in the same manner as most other cases on the market. This consists of first removing a single bay cover,and then sliding the drive though the front of the chassis. However, since the Outlaw doesn't utilize a tool-free design, any drive installed within the chassis still needs to be secured via thumbscrews. Also, since the front bezel of the Outlaw uses a bowed out design, the front of the drive will not sit flush with the panel.
In total the Outlaw can accommodate up to four internal 3.5" drives. Like the 5.25" drives we looked at before, all the hard drives installed within the chassis are secured via thumbscrews. This is not uncommon for a case in this price range, and actually we prefer it over the generic locking clips that some other manufactures use in conjunction with their entry level cases. In addition, the Outlaw comes with a 2.5" mount, which allows the Outlaw to support a 2.5" SSD, or small form factor HDD.
While the back-plate cutout isn't the largest we have seen, it matched perfectly with our X58 based motherboard. This made switching out heatsinks extremely easy, as we did not have to remove the motherboard while switching between our CPU coolers.
Installing our products into the Outlaw was easier than expected, and we only ran into a few small issues. When installing the Corsair H100 water cooler, we realized the tubes were not long enough to stretch around the back-end of our graphics card, so we were not able to install both the H100 and HD 6970 at the same time. Overall this is not a big issue considering the MSRP of the case, but it did mean we had to adjust the configuration and test the GPU and CPU temperatures at different times.
While the case couldn't support our test system entirely, we were still pleased with the overall support of the case. As you can see from the images below, not only will the Outlaw support high-end components, but it also has excellent cable management via convex panel that has over an inch of internal volume.
For testing I maintained an ambient room temperature of 70°F and used HWMonitor to monitor each component's internal temperature. The idle temperatures were taken after the computer remained on, but with no operating load for an hour. The load tests were taken after 30 minute tests of Prime95 and Furmark were performed. For HDD testing HDTune was used.
When it came to thermal efficiency the Outlaw delivered mixed results. Both the processor and hard drives were adequately cooled, so at least in those areas the Outlaw scored high marks. However, when it came to the graphics card and chipset, the inverted design proved to be less efficient. Our test system is partly to blame there though, as our MSI X58 chipset tends to run on the hot side, and since the GPU is above the chipset the heat coming off of it was blocked. This in turn increased the temperature of both the GPU and chipset. Adding a few additional case fans can fix this, but at the stock configuration the Outlaw is not going to be the most efficiently cooled case on the market.
Our initial thoughts going into the BitFenix Outlaw review was that at $49, all the case had to do was not fall apart while we were testing it. Not only did it not fall apart, but we came out of the review surprised with all this case has to offer. While there were some flaws with the design, the case itself is actually a well rounded product, and definitely worth the asking price.
Firstly the exterior of the Outlaw is unlike many other cases in this market segment, as it is not made of generic plastic that is fastened to generic steel. Instead, BitFenix has managed to produce a rather sleek looking chassis that uses the SofTouch Surface treatment to improve the visuals of the case all while reducing the appearance of fingerprints. The Outlaw is also surprisingly equipped to support up to eight case fans, and is even able to accommodate an internal water-cooling radiator at the top of the chassis. These are welcome features, and ones not usually found in cases that have an MSRP of $49.
The interior of the Outlaw is also quite well equipped, but there were some flaws that prevented us from installing all of our high-end hardware and the thermal performance tended to be sub-standard. The first issue we ran into during installation was that our Corsair H100 and HD 6970 could not simultaneously fit into the case. Both had the appropriate internal volume to fit, but there was not enough tubing to reach the CPU socket after maneuvering them around the graphics card. We were able to use the products within the chassis, just not at the same time.
Since our H100 didn’t work out we switched over to a Cooler Master Hyper 612 Evo, which is a tower style air cooler with standard dimensions. Here too we noticed some issues: while the Evo isn't a large cooler, we were still not able to close the main side panel with the heatsink installed. The issue was that the heatpipes projected slightly out of the case, making it impossible to attach the side panel without damaging either the panel or the case. Since the Evo has standard dimensions for a tower cooler, it leads us to believe that the Outlaw would have similar issues with the majority of similar heatsinks on the market.
At only $49, the BitFenix outlaw is a steal. However, it doesn’t come without issues. Our only recommendation would be to ensure that all the products you intend to use will fit into the chassis before committing to it. Other than that, the Outlaw is a great case that really stands out in the $49 price segment.
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