BitFenix Ghost Case Review: Begging for the Premium Treatmentby Dustin Sklavos on November 10, 2012 12:01 AM EST
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Introducing the BitFenix Ghost
In the short time that they've been around, BitFenix has consistently proven an interest and willingness to design cases that are at the feature curve while being price competitive and offering a distinctive aesthetic and features. It sounds like a PR line, but it's true: the Merc series are among the best budget cases on the market, the Shinobi is a solid case in its own right, and the Prodigy was actually selling out for months after its release. In many ways they remind me of Corsair and Fractal Design; in the enclosure business for a short time, but continually making strides and ensuring each release is worth some attention.
That's true again today with the launch of BitFenix's first case tuned for silence, the Ghost. It eschews some of the design language that's become de rigeur for BitFenix (specifically the soft-touch plastic surface), but has some smart new design choices and more importantly, it hits a price point silent cases very rarely hit (outside of NZXT's H2): $99. So does the Ghost live up to its potential, or does it just leave us begging for more?
While I'm always on the lookout for a case to replace my venerable SilverStone FT02, very few promising candidates have ever come through that struck my tastes specifically. Yet the Ghost threatened to do exactly that, with its sleek, boxy design, ample watercooling support, and acoustic dampening materials. I'd been looking forward to reviewing the Ghost since I first saw it online. As you'll see the further we get into the review, this is a case I really wanted to succeed, not just for consumers everywhere but for myself as well.
|BitFenix Ghost Specifications|
|Motherboard Form Factor||ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX|
|Drive Bays||External||3x 5.25", 1x 3.5"|
|Internal||4x 3.5"/2.5", 3x 2.5"|
|Cooling||Front||1x 120mm intake fan, 1x 120mm fan mount|
|Rear||1x 120mm exhaust fan|
|Top||1x 230mm/200mm fan mount or 2x 120mm/140mm fan mounts|
|Bottom||1x 120mm/140mm fan mount|
|I/O Port||2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic, hotswap SATA bay|
|Power Supply Size||ATX|
|GPU||12.5" / 318mm|
8.3" x 20.6" x 20.1"
210mm x 522mm x 510mm
Removable fan filters
Hotswap SATA bay
Noise dampening padding
Support for 240mm/280mm radiator in top of case
The Ghost also features a door that's hinged on both sides similar to the design Corsair employed on their fancier (and pricier) Obsidian 550D. While it's not the smallest case, it does feel a bit smaller than the norm while also making exceptionally smart use of its dimensions. The hotswap bay in the top of the enclosure fits perfectly with allowing for increased height for installing a radiator in the top fan mounts. Many cases that advertise being able to support a 240mm radiator will actually run into trouble if you try to install one due to limited clearance. It's all well and good to be able to get a radiator in, but you do need to actually install fans on it, too.
With all that said, I think Fractal Design hit the mark and BitFenix missed it by supporting a 140mm exhaust fan as well as dual 140mm intakes in the Define R4. 120mm may be the standard, but 140mm fans are becoming increasingly common and they're often more efficient for the noise than the smaller fans are. I personally would've loved to have seen a 140mm exhaust fan or at least support for one on the Ghost, even if it meant slightly widening the case.
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rickon66 - Saturday, November 10, 2012 - linkI too hate doors on cases. The Antec 1100 is still the overall cooling champ and it is almost as quiet while doing it with no door.
IceClaec - Saturday, November 10, 2012 - linkAccording to NewEgg, it should be 8.27" x 20.55" x 20.08"
Apetn - Saturday, November 10, 2012 - linkLast paragraph on 'noise and thermal testing, stock' you say addition of BitFenix fans when I'm pretty sure you added Be Quiet! fans.
Grok42 - Saturday, November 10, 2012 - linkIt seems that cases are stuck in the past and I'm losing hope that they will ever move forward. I'm not claiming Dustin shares my concerns but he certainly shared some level of frustration when he commented that it seems unbelievable that this is the first case he has seen to provide obvious and reasonable support for 2.5" drives. My big beef is why do I have to put up with all those useless 5.25" drives?
Drop the external bays and you do lose the option to put a legacy optical drive inside your computer. However, so much else would be gained that it would easily offset this lose even for those few that still need an optical drive and have to use an external one.
Better cooling. 6-8 additional 3.5" or 2.5" bays. The case no longer needs a door improving cooling and cost. The width of the 5.25" drives to some degree define the width of the case which could now be narrower. Instead of adding additional 3.5" and 2.5" drives the entire case could get smaller.
Death666Angel - Monday, November 12, 2012 - linkNarrower case -> you lose the ability to use the biggest, baddest tower coolers and/or you lose area behind the mainboard to route cables
And external 5.25" drive bays can be re purposed in tons of ways, I personally have a "ODD Slim Drive + 2.5" HDD + 2xUSB" adapter thing in one and a 6 x 2.5" HDD adapter in the other 5.25" bays of my TJ-08E. Since I don't use the internal 3.5" drive cage (wanted the space for my water cooling pump and reservoir), I now have easy access to all my hard drives and extra front USB ports. There are tons of adapters for multiple 3.5" HDDs in 5.25" bays with hot swap capabilities etc.
Grok42 - Monday, November 12, 2012 - linkCompletely agree that narrowing the case has downsides like you mentioned. The question is to what degree these would be problems. Given that every case I've seen is basically designed to be as wide as a 5.25" bay plus the thickness of 4 pieces of sheet metal I would guess that the depth is driven by the 5.25" bay and not so much on cooling and cable routing needs. The funny thing is that the 5.25" format was setup back before any processor needed active cooling much less tower coolers. I would add to your list of negative effects that it will make it less stable, although how much depends a lot on other decisions like where the PSU is located.
I'm glad you've overcome your cases disability. Imagine how much easier and cheaper if the case had simply come with additional 2.5" and 3.5" bays instead? Of course I also am a huge fan of the bays being removable so the case can be worked on easier or for better airflow. Typically 5.25" bays are not removable because they are the width of the case and simply made structurally part of it.
Bonesdad - Saturday, November 10, 2012 - linkNice review...love seeing cases like these. Something well built and nice clean lines with a more grown up look. What was that last horrid case reviewed here - Cougar Challenger? Stay far away from anything like that. Need more cases like this...
cjs150 - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link"While neither drive cage is removable"
Give me 5 mins with a dremel and a drill and I promise you they will be!
Very nice review, the case is not bad, just not good enough.
My main compliant is that the case designers are playing safe. With the exception of Lian Li nobody is really experimenting - the interior is the same as 5 years ago. In fact over the last 10 years the only noticeable change is moving the PSU from the top to the bottom.
Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - linkHave you not been paying attention to SilverStone?
And Lian Li are much tamer than you'd like to think. They keep experimenting but most of the time they never actually fix the problems that have dogged most of their enclosures in my reviews: poor build quality, awkward drive mounts, and needlessly complicated assembly.
dingetje - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - linkAnyone have the Cooler Master HAF-XB ?