In and Around the BitFenix Ronin

Where BitFenix has been consistently successful in my opinion is their ability to produce cases that are aesthetically pleasing and look more expensive than they are. The soft-touch surface treatment goes a long way in differentiating their products from conventional steel boxes, and the Ronin is no exception. Also atypical is their tendency to avoid gaudy enclosure designs and styles; BitFenix is one of those rare companies able to produce a distinctive black box. If absolutely nothing else, the Ronin is at least a looker.

The front and top panels of the Ronin feature black mesh trims along the sides that sandwich a perforated soft-touch shell that allows air to flow in and out of the enclosure. At the front of the top panel are a pair of USB 3.0 ports, a pair of USB 2.0 ports, and the traditional mic and headphone jacks. The power button is large; the reset button tiny and recessed, and the power LED and IDE activity LED are blue and red respectively. It's a clean and simple design and it works. Both panels also pop on and off easily enough, but require just enough force that they feel secure when in place.

BitFenix differentiates the Ronin from other cases through the use of their "Stealth Cover"; there's a large window on the left side panel, but the stealth cover hides cabling and drives and endeavors to provide a fairly clean look at the case interior. While I'm used to dealing with reflective case windows, the one on the Ronin seems to be particularly reflective, so my apologies there. The stealth cover itself is an interesting wrinkle, though.

The side panels are held in place with thumbscrews, but unfortunately they're notched instead of hinged. This is less of an issue on a case this small; on larger cases it can be difficult to properly apply pressure everywhere it needs to be to get the notches to line up. The stealth cover is held in place with three snaps.

Once you're inside, there isn't anything too exciting to report. The cage housing the top trio of drive sleds is easily removable, and BitFenix's traditional toolless mechanisms for the 5.25" drive bays are in place. Of some concern are the slightly narrow cable routing holes, the extremely small one where the AUX 12V line would go, and the unusually small cutout in the motherboard tray for cooler backplates. You'll want to pay attention to this when we get to assembly.

As I mentioned before, the Ronin is ultimately on the smaller side of ATX cases. That's a trade-off individual consumers will have to make; the reduction in case width means 120mm fans are the order of the day during a period when many manufacturers are transitioning to 140mm fans. The two fans are placed in the rear exhaust and the top front intake, leaving the bottom one unoccupied. Whether or not the stealth cover is appealing is for the individual user to decide, but it's at least unique to the Ronin and I can see its purpose.

Introducing the BitFenix Ronin Assembling the BitFenix Ronin
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  • kmmatney - Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - link

    I agree. I have a factory overclocked video card, and a "reasonably" overclocked i5, and I get plenty of cooling with a single, slow 120mm fan. While my case just has 2 120mm fans, I only use one, and keep the other unused for a spare (and to keep the system extremely quiet). I will say the price is a little high for this case, though. I think anyone buying this case would be using a single video card, so it would be more useful to test with that. Reply
  • twtech - Monday, July 22, 2013 - link

    As soon as I saw what the inside of it looked like, I knew the cooling was going to suffer. There's no room for airflow. I wonder what the thermals would be like with just one graphics card. Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, July 22, 2013 - link

    The standard test is done with a single 560. Only the full fat has dual GPUs (580s). Reply
  • GprophetB - Monday, July 22, 2013 - link

    THE BOWL IS BACK Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Monday, July 22, 2013 - link

    This is them creating a slightly more expensive case to sell the other cases. They make this product to hit those people who look at $99 or greater cases. Then anyone who reads a review sees they should go back to the more prevalent, cheaper cases, which they do.

    It's like advertisement for the entire brand because everytime someone goes to read about this product as it's in the running, they're going to see someone saying, "Hey, go check out Shinobi instead."

    Bam, Shinobi sells. It's savvy.
    Reply
  • fluxtatic - Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - link

    Reminds me of some of the Dell Optiplexes at work. That's not a good thing. Reply
  • ShieTar - Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - link

    Can anybody explain to me why Bitfenix would not include 2 140mm fans for the top slots? They do include them for the Shinobi XXL, and they do a great job of moving alot of air through the case, especially when combined with both front and bottom intakes. So why skip the 5 bucks on fan cost, and cripple the case in the process? Do they just expect everybody to buy their own fans anyways? Reply
  • Minion4Hire - Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - link

    Dustin, I'm very confused. You're recommending the Shinobi over the Ronin solely because it's cheaper? But the Shinobi's thermal performance isn't really much better. It's only advantage is a 120mm side mount. If someone intends on installing two beefy graphics cards as you've done here (which you did not do in the Shinobi review) I can't imagine they're going to have a much better time in the default configuration which is otherwise identical to the Ronin.

    The Ronin looks like a prettier Shinobi. I just don't feel it's a fair performance comparison to make when you tested the Shinobi with only a single GPU. If anything I would think - assuming only one GPU - that the Ronin would perfom similarly to its spiritual predecessor.
    Reply
  • samsp99 - Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - link

    Looking at the photo above, I thought it was of smoke showing the airflow in the case. Which makes me think - hey how about doing photo's of the airflow, particularly for cases with a window. Reply
  • werver - Saturday, July 27, 2013 - link

    I was very suprised about the difference in test results of the Ronin between Anandtech.com and Computerbase.de. They write: "Bitfenix succeeded to get a very good balance between noise levels and temperature". How is such a difference possible? Reply

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