Unfortunately due to the image restrictions on Neowin, I have had to leave out a few photos and I have also had to combine a few groups of images/photos together e.g. the temperatures.
This is a relatively new case by BitFenix and is referred to as having the best out of the box cooling out of all their cases, of course this will be put to the test later on!
And I apologize in advance for probably the longest post ever!
Lets get started!
Main specs of the BitFenix Raider:
- Materials - Steel & Plastic
- Dimensions - 210 x 500 x 493mm (ATX Mid Tower)
- Motherboard Sizes - Mini-ITX, mATX, ATX
- 5.25" Drive Bays - x 4
- 3.5" Drive Bays - x 6
- 2.5" Drive Bays - x 7
- Cooling Front - 2 x 120mm (included) or 1 x 200mm (optional)
- Cooling Rear - 1 x 120mm (included)
- Cooling Top - 1 x 200mm (optional)
- Cooling Bottom - 1 x 120mm (optional)
- PCI Slots - x 7
- I/O - 4 x USB3.0, HD Audio
- Power Supply - PS2 ATX (bottom, multi direction)Weight - 8.52 kg
The packaging isn’t anything exciting or flashy like Antec's boxing. The Raider comes in a plain brown cardboard box with black images of the case and some of the key features of the Raider. Of course inside, it is protected with two pieces of polystyrene on either side and the case itself in a see through plastic bag. However, this is irrelevant to me as the more important thing is the product itself
Once you get the box opened and everything out, you have a small brown card board box, which contains all the screws (all the screws are black), feet, cable ties and the speaker.
You also receive a very small user guide. It is well laid out with very brief explanations and images, however, not everything is covered. The screws could have been identified better using images rather than just text as they are all similar in look and size.
For the instructions, it shows that the top panel can be completely removed with no wires showing, obviously this is not the case (no pun intended ) as there are wires connected to the top panel (the I/O wires and the fans wires connected to the manual control switch) and you can’t fully remove the top panel due to this, you have to slide it around. The guide is decent enough for newbies, however, it could be much better.
Outside of the case:
The case looks great! Very nice and sleek looking, the three main things, which stand out immediately are; the BitFenix logo on the front panel at the bottom, this really adds some character to the case; the mesh panel contours from the back of the top panel all the way to the bottom of the front panel, this is obviously for optimum cooling performance and also gives the case a very nice unique look as well. Last but not least, the BitFenix trademark, known as the SofTouch finish (essentially this is a hard soft rubber texture) on the sides of the top and the front mesh panels. This really is a great material and probably my favourite that I have seen used on a case yet! Not only is it super soft with its luxurious matte finish, but it resists fingerprints! Even smudge and stain marks! If your hands are a bit sweaty, you will leave a "sweat patch", however, this evaporates after a few seconds by itself, it is pretty much the same material that is used on the top of the DeathAdder mouse by Razer, but much smoother!
The Raider case seemed heavier compared to my Sonata 3, especially once everything was fitted inside, which was a bit surprising as the Raider is, in actual fact, lighter than the Sonata 3. The Raider weighs in at 8.52kg and the Sonata 3 at 9.1kg (with nothing inside the cases), I can attribute this to the difference in the dimensions with the Raider case being larger, and therefore, harder to move around within the small working area on my desk.
On the bottom of the case, you have two dust filters, one for the PSU and one for the 120mm fan, which can be mounted inside the case at the bottom, both can be slid out easily. Personally, for me this is a bit of a hassle (more due to where my case sits though) as you have to move the entire case if you want to slide the PSU dust filter out via the back and the 120mm bottom fan dust filter out via the left side of the case. Both filters are of similar quality to the front dust filters of the P182, a very fine, thin mesh material.
You can also remove the top and front mesh panel of the Raider in order to clean the front dust filter. The top mesh panel and front mesh panel are easy enough to remove, all that is required is a tug, no need to remove screws or anything else and both panels are very secured once locked down in place. However, in terms of quickness and ease of accessibility for getting to the bare top and especially the front it's a bit too much of a hassle. It would be better if they were both separate and you didn’t have to remove the top panel in order to access the front. Unfortunately, due to the positioning of my case, it means that I have to remove all the wires and move the case away from my table, in order to access the top and the front. I must stress though, that these observations are based on my own specific table layout and where my case is situated, as demonstrated in my photos included in this review.
As you can see in the photo below, the front panel has foam padding instead of a very thin, fine mesh like the dust filters on the bottom of the case. This is good for reducing noise levels, however, I am sure that this will have some impact to the airflow. Surprisingly, there is no dust filtering on the top mesh panel, my concern is that dust floating around in my room will be able to get through there easily enough, especially if you don't have a 200mm fan at the top to exhaust hot air. I am sure that if the same foam padding used on the front had been used on the top panel, the case would have been even quieter! Of course at the cost of higher temps though.
The side doors of the Raider are a basic bit of metal that have been spray painted black and aren’t too bad for finger prints, however, you can see some marks depending on the light and angles from which you look at it, compared to my Sonata 3, this is a blessing as it is a finger print magnet especially the sides, as they had a glossy black paint finish (which also give the case a cheap look to it) and the front door was just basic plastic.
I also really like the fact that the side panels of the Raider are spray painted black as now I don’t have the glare/nearly a mirror reflection of my monitor showing on the side door! Like it was with the glossy black side door on the Sonata 3.
Overall, I am more impressed with the P182's better finish with regards to the external materials housing the case, it has a nice gun black metal sleekness on the sides and front. However, overall I do prefer the looks of the Raider as it has more character to it!
On the top panel, you have four 3.0 USB ports (can also be used as 2.0 USB ports) along with the headphone and microphone jack connectors. On the other side of the top panel, you have the standard activity and power LED, which are both blue LEDs, they are perfectly fine for brightness. However, you can see the blue light shining through the top mesh panel as well, I would have liked it, if all the light was cut off from that. On the same side, you have the standard power and reset switches and just above these buttons you have one of my favourite features of the Raider, the manual fan controller! This allows you to control five fans RPM by just sliding the control to your desired position.
With the Sonata 3, I had to open the case up via the side panel and switch to low, medium or high and with the P182, you had to reach around the back of the case to adjust the fan speeds.
I would like to see a separate controller for each fan, rather than the one controlling all of them (up to five fans). Of course having this many controllers would look messy, but you could have them in a concealment in the SofTouch panel, where you have a small slide out door or a door that opens via a hinge or something similar.
But, it is still the best implementation for ease and quick access that I have seen on a case yet. Lastly, instead of the slider for adjusting the speed being super smooth, I would rather it have a click noise and feedback instead.
I found the Raider's feet pretty poor, you cannot screw them in at all, they are stuck on by sticky pads, which aren’t very sticky at all really. During the set-up of my rig into this new case, they came off three times and this was with no dragging about on the floor. In fact, I would recommend using a strong glue to attach them instead of using the sticky pads. I will do this sometime in the future when I am working on or adding a new component to the case again.
The feet for the Sonata 3 and P182 are also stuck on to the bottom of the case, however, not once have they come off whereas the Raider's feet have.
Inside the Case:
Firstly, the side panels for the right and left side are one of the main things that make the case feel cost efficient, they are quite flimsy and bend very easily. For example, when I fitted the side panel on the case where the cable management area is situated, the side panel actually had protrusions in it where the cables were not properly tied down and were too bulky. This was causing it to flex.
The side panels lock into the case by the standard slide and lock type and are secured with two thumbscrews. I would have liked the panels on both sides (more so the left) to have fitted in better as even when screwed in you can see a gap all the way around the panel.
As you can see, the case has an all black theme, all the cables are black and personally I really like this about the case, hate silver/plain insides None of the cables are braided at all though and would have been an even nicer touch if they were. I also took a photo of my Sonata 3 insides.
The I/O cables and the USB 3.0 and 2.0 connectors!
As you can see, there are rubber grommets for cable management, which are very nice and make cable management great, they can make any system look very nice & tidy, however the rubber grommets should be glued on, as quite a few times when I pushed the cables (more so the 24 pin) through, the entire rubber grommet also came off.
At the bottom of the case inside, there are four rubber mounts for the PSU, this is to stop vibrations and seems to do the job perfectly well!
Now onto the fans that are supplied with this case, they aren’t standard OEM cheap ones, they are BitFenix Spectre fans, which cost about £5 to buy separately. These fans have fluid dynamic bearings, which essentially means that everything is kept running nice and smoothly and this helps the fans to have a longer lifespan and more silent when running. The fans are made out of thermoplastic crystalline polymer, which is essentially a matte finish, so they are also high quality in terms of looks. According to BitFenix, here are some important figures for the Spectre fans:
Noise - 20 dB-A
Speed - 1000±10% RPM
Airflow - 43.5±10% CFM
Air Pressure - 0.62 mmH2O.
Lets compare that information to an Antec tri cool 120mm fan, which are used in the Sonata 3 and the P182!
Stats taken from Silentpcreview (unfortunately no air pressure readings):
Noise - 36 dBA
Speed - 1930 RPM
Airflow - 53 CFM
Noise - 27 dBA
RPM - 1430 RPM
Airflow - 36 CFM
Noise - 20 dBA
Speed - 870 RPM
Airflow - 21 CFM
At the front, there are 2x120mm BitFenix Spectre fans, at the back there is 1x120mm BitFenix Spectre fan. You can mount 1x120mm fan at the bottom (however with a slightly longer PSU, there wouldn’t be an awful lot of room to work with and there could possibly be an issue trying to fit a fan with the larger than average PSU) and 1x200mm fan at the top. You can also use a single 200mm fan at the front, however sadly, you can’t use 2x120mm fans on the top.
There are four tool-less 5.25” bays along with six tool-less 3.5” HDD bays (two bays hold three hard drives each). The very neat thing here is that you can fit either 3.5” or 2.5” without having to buy a 3rd party 3.5" to 2.5" hard drive converter caddy, which would cost about £5 for a decent one, you just have to use the screws supplied for the 2.5” drives. There are also four holes on the bottom of the case situated in the hard drive compartment area, where you can screw in an additional 2.5" drive.
There are seven PCI brackets, which are all meshed, in theory, this will help to dissipate some heat out, which would gather around the sound cards and GPUs and any other components connected by PCI connections and of course these are held in place by thumb screws, once again the screws are very tight and difficult to remove and put back, so a screwdriver may be required.
Instead of being able to completely remove the middle hard drive cage like with other cases, with the Raider, you only remove all the hard drive holders/caddies and remove the left side plate so this means that you can easily fit the longest GPU in there now (up to 38cm), not only that, but it also allows for better airflow as there is less obstruction blocking the path of the front 120mm fan now!
However, I found it to not be the best way of removing the side plate as you kind of have to really pull in order to get it out, would be much better if it was a smooth action/process.
There isn't much room for long GPUs when the side plate is attached again, I would say that the Sonata 3 has just a tiny bit more room. So if your wanting/needing to use the top drive bay then you may not be able to fit a longer than average 6950/6970 or a 570/580 in, especially if the PCI connectors are on the end.
Cable management area:
There is quite a lot of room at the back for the cables, 23mm for cables, but there are hardly any cable loops, most of them are located near the rubber grommets, which is great, however, there should be more in total and more evenly spread out.
You have a massive hole for access to the back of the motherboard where the CPU heatsink is located, so there should be no problems whatsoever with any type of motherboards and the heatsink layout.
The components, which are going into the case are as follows:
- Intel i5 750 (stock clocks)
- Gigabyte GA-P55-UD3
- 2x4GB Corsair XMS 3
- HIS 4850 512MB IceQ4 Turbo
- Antec EarthWatts 500W PSU
- Four Hard drives, two are western digital green and the other 2 are Samsung (one is a F3 1TB)
- Gelid Tranquillo Rev.2 Heat sink
Firstly, with the standard motherboard stand-offs, you also get a motherboard stand-off grip tool, which is for loosening and tightening the stand-offs. I found this very useful.
Overall, I have to be honest, I did find it a rather difficult and a long process of getting my rig set-up and cables tidied. This is also due to my PSU, it has all the cables as standard and none of them apart from the ATX 24 pin is braided. Once everything is done, the entire inside of the case looks very clean, in fact one of the cleanest set-ups ever I have to say, considering I don’t have any fancy braided cables etc. and so it is well worth the time it took to get everything done! Will have to get a modular PSU sometime!
With my Sonata 3, it was much quicker, but then I didn’t have any cable management to worry about in the first place and everything was set up for easy and quick access. The P182 installation of a new rig is harder and longer than the Raider, largely due to the bottom hard drive cage and a thick fan taking up a lot of room and isn’t made any easier by having a modular PSU, where the cables are extremely inflexible!
If the Raider had no cable management at the back then it would have been a quick and easy installation and I also have to bear in mind that this is the first proper case with cable management that I have worked with.
Here is a photo of my rig in the Sonata 3 and in the Raider:
I found it quite difficult with the screws, sometimes I had to get the screwdriver out for the thumb screws particularly the PCI brackets and the case panels thumb screws, even for screwing them back in, I had to use the screwdriver.
This area really concerns me now. The hard drive bay. There needs to be more of a gap between the hard drives as when placed directly above/below one another, there is virtually no space between them, with the Sonata 3 and P182, there is about 1cm of spacing between each one. With the Raider and all three hard drives placed in the bottom bay, my temps were hitting much higher than the Sonata 3 (hitting up to 38 degrees!) despite there being 2x120mm fans directly in front of the hard drives for the Raider as opposed to no fan at all for the hard drive area in the Sonata 3. This also impacts airflow thus, affecting the rest of the components temps, since, none of that air being pulled in by the 2x120mm fans at the front is getting through to the rest of the case, in other words pretty much being obstructed completely.
As soon as I seen those temps on HW monitor, I turned the PC off and opened the case up and rearranged the hard drives, so there is now a big gap between each one and the temps have gone back down by a decent amount.
Considering how great the cable management is for the Raider, I am surprised that BitFenix didn’t give an option to buy a side panel with a window, with a case like this and how tidy you can make it with a sexy all black interior, it really would look great to be able to see your main components with subtle lighting, of course this could still come as an option in the future or if you want, get the jigsaw out!
I should also mention that one of the USB ports on the top panel isn't working and when I first went to power the PC on, it wasn't booting at all, in the end the reason for this was due to the reset and power I/O headers being labelled the wrong way round. And the I/O panel at the back of the case seems to bump out quite a bit around the middle.
I am sure that if you bought the case and something wasn't working correctly or not how you would have liked, the etailer or BitFenix themselves will sort something out.
The Raider is made out of mostly steel and the only plastic parts of the case are the top and front mesh panels, the hard drive caddies and the 5.25" drive bays. The build quality is very good overall, particularly the insides, the case feels very sturdy and everything fits securely and tightly to their right places apart from the side panels and the feet, which are the only things that don't seem as great as the rest of the case.
My Sonata 3 is also made from steel (0.8mm cold rolled steel, for durability) and plastic, the only areas where plastic is used is the front door. Overall it has very good build quality, the door isn't the highest of quality or the best though.
Without a doubt the P182 is still the best for overall build quality, everything feels solid and the panels fit the sides perfectly (and have 3 layers to dampen sound out even more).
This is one of the most important things for me when it comes to deciding which case to get! The Raider is louder than my Sonata 3 by a very small amount, however you really have to listen and pay attention in order to notice the difference between them, this is with the Antec tri-cool 120mm in my Sonata 3 set to low and the Raider set to low as well, this is pretty impressive I have to say considering there are 3x120mm fans in the Raider as opposed to just the 1x120mm fan in my Sonata 3!
Even when turning the fans to high for the Raider, it is still exceptionally quite! At first I thought “this can’t be right, I can barely hear any difference at all between low and high”. I even thought to myself the controller for the fans must be broken or not all of them are increasing in RPM as the difference is very subtle but just about noticeable if you pay enough attention. I even had to take the side panel off and put my head near the fans to be absolutely sure about the noise and even placing my hand at the back and front in order to see if there was an increase in airflow! The noise levels are even more impressive considering the mesh design/panels, making it is pretty much open from the back of the top to the bottom of the front.
The Antec tri-cool set to high is extremely noisy. The P182 with every fan set to low apart from the bottom (medium speed) is slightly noisier than the Raider (when fans are set to low), judging by my hearing, this is how I would rate them for noise levels:
High fan speeds – Antec P182 > sonata 3 > raider
P182 being the loudest and the Raider being the quietest
Low fan speeds – sonata 3 > raider > P182
Sonata 3 being the quietest and the P182 being the loudest
However with the fans set to low on the Raider, I can hear the GPU fan much more now when it is under heavy load i.e. gaming, as opposed to the Sonata 3, this is due to the thin flimsy side panels on the Raider.
If BitFenix made the side panels a bit thicker, this would not be as much of an issue then. The open design of the mesh panels at the top probably also play a part in this.
The main thing about these BitFenix Spectre fans is that they are super quiet at low and even high settings!
Here are some decibel readings that I took on my Android Smartphone (Samsung Galaxy Spica/i5700) using this Android app:
Firstly, DO NOT put too much thought into these readings, as they are not going to be as accurate as a proper decibel meter, this is to just try and show you the difference in perceived sound between the fan speeds.
The distance that my mobile was placed (with the microphone facing the cases) from the case is 19cm, this is roughly how far I sit from the case.
Going from left to right, the fan increases from low to medium and finally high speed:
Here is a chart for the decibel readings chart:
20dB - Rustling Leaves
30dB - Quiet whisper at 3ft.
40 dB- Quiet resendtial area, Park
Due to the P182 bottom fan not being changed at all, you could assume that from the medium decibel reading for both the Sonata 3 and the P182, that the difference could be -/+ 1 for the low and high speed tests.
Another thing that really irritates me is minor vibrations noises from a loose screw, a loose molex wire touching the case and making a very slight vibrating noise every few seconds.
My Sonata 3 was terrible for this due to the door handle on the side panel, this was easily fixed by putting a ton of blu-tack on the door handle on the inside part
The Raider is much better overall so far, however there are some very slight vibration noises the odd time, which are quite irritating for me personally. I think it is coming from the front panel somewhere, as when I press firmly against it, the vibrating stops. However, once again, most people will probably have their cases under theirs desks or further away, so this shouldn't be an issue. You only notice it, when you try to listen for it as well.
The hard drive racks, despite not feeling or looking of high quality, seem to cope very well with hard drive vibrations (but still loud enough, again this could be improved by having thicker side panels), the Sonata 3, which had firm aluminium brackets and silicone grommets with the hard drive being screwed in was worse for vibration noise.
I was expecting impressive cooling performance from this case considering the type and the amount of fans that are included in the Raider and the comment from BitFenix "being the best out of the box cooling for their cases".
Unfortunately, I found it a little disappointing. I will post all the temps first and give my thoughts after.
I used HW monitor for recording the temps.
The figures in the first column are current temperatures, second column are minimum temperatures and the third column are the maximum temperatures.
Sonata 3 (left) VS Raider (right):
Testing under minimal usage, which is just general web browsing:
Testing under load usage, approximately 20 minutes of BF 3 online per each fan speed setting, this is the most demanding real world application for my PC:
I skipped the medium fan speed tests, as I thought this is for load usage and that you would want the best possible cooling, so have just recorded the high fan speed temps;
So as you can see for yourself, according to my tests, the case/fans don’t seem to be very good for cooling performance, especially when set to low speed using the manual fan controller, which is a bit disappointing especially when compared to the Sonata 3, which only had 1x120mm Antec tri cool fan at the back.
This could also be down to the foam padding used on the front mesh panel and the lack of holes around the hard drive cage, which means that cool air can’t get pushed through at all. This could also possibly be due to the PSU being mounted on the bottom of the Raider as heat rises, whereas in the Sonata the PSU was mounted at the top (however, the Antec EarthWatts 500W PSU according to a lot of expert reviews, is one of the coolest running PSU there is).
However, as I said before, the fans are extremely quite even on the high speed. I am sure that the temps would decrease by a bit more with better cooling fans like the Akassa Apaches, which are also very quiet! And also further reduce the temps by adding a 200mm fan to the top.
I may add a BitFenix Spectre 200mm (due to how quiet the 120mm are, the 200mm can only be quieter and better! ) to the top panel of the Raider sometime in the future and update this review with the new temps
I was going to record the temperatures for the P182 case, however the CPU had a stock cooler, the GPU was only connected to one monitor (GPUs run hotter when connected to 2+ monitors) and in total there are six hard drives and they aren't all the same, however, I did have a look at the temperatures and they were very cool running (except the CPU) even with two fans set to low and the bottom fan set to medium. Cooler than the Raider and the Sonata 3.
Overall the case really is great especially considering the price (around £70), it is just let down by a few little niggles that unfortunately are a bit of an issue for me, but then again from my experience with the P182 and the Sonata 3 and looking at other cases, none of them are perfect in look or features!
One thing, which is great about this case for many PC enthusiasts, is that it looks like a very moddable chassis, plenty of things that you could do with it!
There are also slots at the top of the case at the back for water cooling. Personally, from my view if you are going to have a full water cooling set-up running, this might not be the best case as there wouldn’t be enough room for everything, but I'm sure that with some modding, it could be done to make plenty of room!
The cooling performance is the biggest disappointment for this case, the temps could improve by a good bit with a 200mm fan mounted at the top as well and if really necessary a 120mm at the bottom.
Some things that I haven't mentioned, which I would like to see tweaked/improved a bit:
- I would like the USB ports to be on the front mesh panel, maybe have a small concealment/sliding door or something so that they can be hidden when they aren’t needed
- I would also prefer the manual fan controller being on the front mesh panel as well
- Slide out dust filters for the front mesh panel, like the Sonata 3, but to be able to pull them out from the side
Of course some people may have different opinions on hard drive temps though, some say that it doesn't matter as long as they don't go over 45 degrees and don't change constantly within a 5+/- degree difference as the metal heats and cools thus, expanding and contracting and obviously with mechanical hard drives, it is best to avoid this.
So, to conclude this review/comparison, if you ignore the issues that I have mentioned (which are mostly personal preference) and the stock cooling performance and look at all the great things about the case and spend a bit extra on better cooling/more fans, then there really is very little on the market that can beat the Raider overall for the price of it. The Raider has even more potential regarding cooling performance for the users if they're prepared to replace the current fans or/and add an additional 200mm to the top.
This was my first BitFenix case/product and will most certainly not be my last one!
- Cable management
- Lots of room at the back
- Very nice looking case overall
- Four USB 3.0 with 2.0 connectivity built-in
- Very quiet
- 3x120mm fans supplied
- Manual fan controller on the top panel, controls up to five fans
- Nice finish all round especially the SofTouch
- Overall Build Quality
- Some parts of the case, like the feet and side doors, give the case a cost efficient feel to it
- Rubber grommets are not glued on
- Not an easy and quick process in order to clean the front dust filter of the case thoroughly
- Not enough cable loops near the very back
- Poor cooling performance out of the box given the amount of fans and specs of them
Thanks for taking the time to read this! I hope that this review has proved useful for people that are considering a new case around £70-80