BitFenix Pandora Review
Although we've enjoyed the various SFF cases based on the Prodigy chassis, we have for some time been craving something new. Well the boys at BitFenix labs must have heard our cries because they've been very busy indeed. The Pandora is a small(ish) form factor case able to accept both M-ITX and M-ATX motherboards. We say smallish because at 160x420x465mm (WxHxD) it's only just a little smaller than a great many mid towers able to accept full size ATX boards. The most interesting measurement in there though is the width. 160mm is pretty damn slim, and even more surprising when you consider the Pandora is able to take full size ATX PS2 PSUs. When you look at the other key measurements regarding internal capacity you get to thinking that maybe the case would have been better named the Tardis. CPU coolers up to 124mm in height, and GPUs up to 350mm are all a possibility, but with the prodigious water cooling support offered in the front of the case we think it much more likely that the owners of this case will go for one of the many 240 AIOs or, if they fancy a bit of a challenge a custom loop based on one of Alphacool’s 240mm Monstas, making full use of the maximum 95mm of space on offer. We were particularly impressed with the thought that has gone into forming the rad mounting holes as long slots. Not only does this mean the rad or even just fans can be moved up or down the case front, but it also means that you will be able to mount a pair of 120mm based AIOs in there, giving you the option to cool both your CPU and GPU should you so desire.
From the outside the Pandora is no less impressive, with the elegant brushed Aluminium side panels seamlessly wrapping round the front of the case leaving a contrasting vertical piano gloss strip between them. It's in this strip that the Pandora hides its secret. A press of the short travel power button located discretely at the front edge of the case top powers up the Pandora and as if by magic the BitFenix logo illuminates from a stealth mounted 2.4" LED display. Dig deeper and it becomes apparent that via the downloadable ICON software it's eminently possible to have any 240x320 resolution colour image displayed here, and with the software able to accept JPG, PNG or GIF files there's a lot of formats to choose from.
BitFenix haven't scrimped on features either. Along long GPUs and water cooling, M-ITX and M-ATX support comes room for five PCI devices, space then for fat graphics or even a two card set up, remembering that the lower card will be sucking hard on the top of the PSU. There's accommodation inside for up to three 2.5" drives as well as a pair of 3.5" HDDs although these are somewhat dispersed throughout the case meaning that if you intend to fully utilise them you're going to have fun with the cabling. If there's an area where the Pandora does let itself down a little it's in the cable management. Although they do include a removable cable management cage to help stash away unwanted or unused lengths, and have cable management holes in the motherboard tray along with cable tie points on the reverse there's actually precious little space to work in, with only between 5 and 10mm of room it took us several re adjustments to get the side panel back on, and you know how fastidious we are about cable management.
With the full fat black or Silver windowed version cost £94, we think BitFenix have managed to bring the Pandora home at a very reasonable price, especially when you get your hands on it in feel for yourself the inherent quality on offer here. In a rather astute move BitFenix also offer a non-windowed version and a core model that brings everything the main model does but lacks the LED screen. This core model comes in at £10 less than the full fat version and although it's nice to have the choice we can't help but suspect for the sake of an extra tenner most people will opt for the top of the range Pandora.
Competition wise there are a quite a lot of cases that offer what the Pandora does, but we think few that offer it in such a stylish package and even less, if any that offer the ability to display your own logo on the front of the case. To this end the Pandora scoops a gold as well as our Innovation award for the ICON screen and software.
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