BitFenix Nova Mid-Tower Case
I can remember the first time I heard of BitFenix, they were an unknown company that was pushing the boundaries by releasing a case with four USB 3.0 ports, at a time when many case manufacturers were just beginning to include two USB 3.0 ports. From that point, BitFenix is one of those companies that has never failed to impress me with their products. They focus on manufacturing high quality products, while keeping to a budget friendly price. One of their latest cases is the Nova, it is a mid-tower case, that is geared to the extreme budget minded individuals.
The BitFenix Nova can be found online starting at $58.97 with free shipping
depending on the model you choose; of which there are a total of two main models, offered in Black or White. We will be looking at the Black Windowed version of the Nova, which is sold under part number BFX-NOV-100-KKWSK-RP, and can be purchased for $69.00 with free shipping
No matter which version of the BitFenix Nova you purchase they are similar in overall features. These features include a single 5.25" device bay, front USB 3.0, multiple storage options, high quality construction, a solid noise-blocking front panel, and several other features squeezed into a budget friendly case.
Like most manufacturers, BitFenix has opted to package the Nova in a no-frills plain cardboard box. This doesn't detract from the case as it is a very common method of packaging, and most are purchased online. The front of the box provides a glimpse of the case and the make/model. If you do need to know a little about the case, BitFenix has you covered on the back of the box, where they have placed a couple different views of the base, along with listing the cooling and storage features. As shipping is the most common delivery method, the case is packaged in a standard fashion, nestled between two large foam blocks that will protect it from most shipping damage.
For a low cost case, you shouldn't expect too much in the way of accessories. There should be plenty of screws to successfully build your system. According to the installation guide, BitFenix includes 10 motherboard screws, 3 front panel screws, a speaker, 4 2.5" hard drive screws, 16 3.5" hard drive screws, and 3 motherboard standoffs. Our review sample included all of these, plus some extra screws.
BitFenix Nova Features
- Closed front panel to block noise
- Front panel side vents for good airflow
- Pre-installed mainboard stand-offs
- Ruberized anti-slip casefeet
- PSU dust filter
|BitFenix Nova Specifications
||Black - White
||ATX, Micro ATX, Mini-ITX (7 expansion slots)
||up to 160mm tall
||up to 320mm long and up to 140mm tall
||up to 220mm long
|5.25" ODD Slots
|3.5" HDD Slots
|2.5" SSD Slots
|Dust Filter Bottom
||slide-out PSU Dust Filter
||120mm x 2
||120mm x 1 (included)
||USB 3.0 x 1, USB 2.0 x 1, HD Audio Mic & Headphone, Power LED (white), HDD LED (red)
||183 x 437 x 465mm - 7.20 x 17.20 x 18.30 inch
||4.8Kg - 10.6lbs
Black - BFX-NOV-100-KKWSK-RP
White - BFX-NOV-100-WWWKK-RPNova Steel Side Panel
Black - BFX-NOV-100-KKXSK-RP
White - BFX-NOV-100-WWXKK-RP
Let's take a quick look at what the BitFenix Nova looks like.
BitFenix Nova External Impressions
As we mentioned, the BitFenix Nova is available in two colors, Black or White. BitFenix provided us with the Black version, with the side panel window. The side panel window is protected with a sheet of plastic cling to keep it damage free. I found that the Nova feels extremely light, as it only weighs around 10lbs empty. What surprised me though is even though it feels light, it is extremely well built, and should be able to withstand years of abuse.
While some manufacturers are moving away from including 5.25" device bays, BitFenix has included one on the Nova. Otherwise the front panel is solid, with the BitFenix logo near the bottom. A solid front panel is helpful at reducing a little noise, but can provide air flow issues. BitFenix has taken care of the potential air flow issues by putting air holes along the sides.
The front panel pulls away from the frame with a little tug from the bottom. The front panel cables aren't routed, rather pushed through one of the 5.25" device bays. While there is only one 5.25" bay on the front panel, there are actually three 5.25" bays (one above and one below the exposed 5.25" bay). Below the 5.25" bays is room for two 120mm fans, which are not included.
The top panel of the BitFenix Nova is solid, which means no additional fans can be installed in the top panel. The front I/O cluster is slightly angled at the top and features a pretty light weight cluster of controls. There is the standard reset button, microphone/headphone 3.5mm jacks, and a large power button. For front storage, BitFenix has configured one USB 2.0 and one SuperSpeed USB 3.0. For a basic case I can see this being useful, making it have two USB 3.0 would be my preference though. Anybody with an internal USB 3.0 header on the their motherboard can use two USB 3.0 ports, which is backwards compatible to USB 2.0, so this just seems like a missed opportunity.
Turning the case to the side, we see there isn't anything really going on with the side panel. Depending on the model you will either have a solid panel or a windowed panel. The windowed side panel has a large window that measures approximately 9in x 13in (L x H), and is easily removable by a few tabs. This should be plenty to provide a good view of the system. With the front panel being solid, the side of the front panel is vented allowing some airflow into the case.
Taking a look at the back panel, we find some very common features. At the top of the case are three holes for external water coolers, you'll have to punch these out if you are going to utilize them, however in a budget system this is probably not going to be used. There is space for the exhaust fan, which has been raised a little from the case to help reduce airflow noise; this is limited to 120mm which is a bit of a let down. Since this is a mid-tower, there are seven expansion slots, only the first cover has a removable cover, the others will need to be snapped out of their slots. Here we find something that BitFenix added, a little security cover for the expansion slots, it's held in place with two screws which are easily removed so it's just a little deterent. Finally, we have the space for a bottom mounted power supply. The two side panels are held in place with two thumbscrews on each side making it easy to remove the panels.
With a bottom mounted power supply, it will pull cool air in from the bottom of the case, which will also pull in dust. BitFenix has put a bottom filter for the power supply air intake. This helps keep things running cool, and clean.
Nothing very exciting happening on the bottom of the case, there are four feet that have anti-slide rubber pads to keep it from moving around on a desk. Each of the feet raise the case about 5/8 of an inch off the surface, which is plenty of room for the bottom mounted power supply to get fresh air; the removable filter covers the entire length of the vented area, around 5 inches in length. There are no other vents on the bottom of the case to allow for a bottom mounted fan.
BitFenix Nova Internal Impressions
Internally, the Nova has a black interior, with a pretty basic but functional design. BitFenix has preinstalled six motherboard standoffs for a standard ATX motherboard. The motherboard tray is recessed a little, meaning the four vertical cable management holes will end up being at the same level as the motherboard. There are three smaller holes in the motherboard tray, typically for cable management, however these would only be useful for mATX motherboards, and we'll see shortly that they're useless anyways. For the CPU cooler support bracket, there is a rather large hole to have access to the bracket post installation.
There is one easy to use tool-less mechanism to secure your 5.25" device. The other two bays can be used for additional hard drive storage, if you have the right bracket. Immediately below the 5.25" bays is a 3.5" bay for a hard drive.
Taking a look at the other 3.5" bays from the inside, we find three additional 3.5" hard drive bays, with one 2.5" bay on top of these. The other 2.5" bay is designed to use the metal panel to secure the drive to it.
For the power supply area, BitFenix has installed four raised feet to elevate the power supply. On each of these there is a piece of rubber to help reduce vibration from the power supply fan.
Nothing unexpected to see on the back panel. As we previously mentioned, the seven expansion slots have covers, with only the first one being readily removable. The other six will need to be popped out before using those slots. BitFenix did not include any additional covers though, so you'll only want to remove the ones you need.
Behind the motherboard tray we see that BitFenix included a second tool-less mechanism on this side of the case as well. On the back of the motherboard tray, there are no places to secure any cables, however on the space with the vertical cable management holes, there are three cable tie locations.
No places to secure cables on the back of the motherboard tray, that's because there is pratically no space for cable management behind the motherboard tray. The one area that there is room for cables is just under 1/2 inch which will be taken up pretty quickly with the 24-pin motherboard power. No cable management options is a disappointment, however keeping in mind that target audience of a budget oriented case, this can be easily overlooked.
BitFenix Nova Hardware Install
Building a complete system within the BitFenix Nova wasn't difficult. It does take a little planning if you want to get cable management done as well as possible in the limited amount of space to route cables. Even with minimal cable management you can get a nice looking system that anybody should be proud of. For this particular build, we installed an ASUS A88X-PRO ATX motherboard, EVGA GTX 275 graphics card, KLEVV DDR3 memory, Lepa G 650W power supply, Cooler Master Hyper 212 CPU cooler, Seagate 1.5TB Hard Drive, and two SSD's.
Installing hard drives is done simply by sliding the drives into the appropriate slot and securing them with screws. The three 3.5" drive bays have rails to support the drive while you secure them. Of the two 2.5" drive locations, the one directly on top of the 3.5" cage is extremely simple as it rests on top of the cage while you secure it. The second 2.5" drive will need to be held in place while you secure it, which is still extremely easy as the drives are lightweight.
The Nova will support tall CPU coolers up to 160mm in height, we installed the CoolerMaster Hyper 212 cooler, which comes in at 159mm. The other option is to install a 120mm AIO liquid cooler on the rear of the case. Unfortunately, this is the only place you can install an AIO liquid cooler, without modifying the case. Graphics cards won't be an issue either, as the Nova supports up to 320mm long cards. Which means it'll support virtually any graphics cards, except maybe the ultra long cards. Most of the current long cards are well under 320mm; the eVGA GTX 275 we installed measures 266mm so plenty of room left.
After everything is installed and we are ready to start looking at cable management, we can flip the case around and see that there are very few options. If you plan your system out wisely, you might be able to use flat or loosly wrapped cables to squeeze the 8-pin ATX power cable under the motherboard. Otherwise you have a couple other options, if the cable is long enough (or use an extension) you can route the cable behind the motherboard tray and through the top hole. The other option is to route the cable the best way possible on the front of the motherboard. With the limited amount of space behind the tray, the 24-pin power cable took up a large portion of the space with a few of the SATA data cables being routed through the holes as well. Even if you route a few cables on the front of the motherboard tray, you can make them look decent if you secure them together and out of the way. In the space behind 3.5" drive cage and the 2.5" drives you can store extra cables, just be sure to keep them bundled up and secured.
One thing I noticed after building the system, I'm glad I installed the CPU cooler before installing the motherboard. There are some small spacing issues with the cutout in the motherboard tray. While it's impossible for any company to account for the small differences in the CPU location for every type of CPU, making the hole as large as possible is a plus, making it easier for the end user to install a CPU cooler without needing to dismantle their system.
With everything installed and connected, we can put the side panels back into place and take a look at our new system. The window is large enough to allow you to see the major components. While I was installing cables, I did make one small change to the way the hard drives were installed. Previously I had the 3.5" hard drive in the top location, I moved it down to the second, purely to allow me to use a right-angle SATA cable on the SSD. The SSD that is attached to the side panel of the cage, you won't have a choice, you will have to have a straight SATA cable, and will most likely need to use the end SATA power connector as the drives connections are pretty close to the cage. Other than that, the cables are nicely routed out of the view, with the exception of the 8-pin AUX power connector at the top, I'd like to do something a little different with that, however I don't have an extension currently available.
Final Thoughts and Conclusions
Sometimes we get so used to looking at the top of the line cases, we forget about the budget class. If we take a look at these budget minded cases with their target audience in mind, we should realize we will miss out on several advanced features we commonly find in the more expensive cases such as fully tool-less installation, a large number of cooling options, and a customizable interior. What we should focus is on is whether the construction is of similar quality, and the key necessary features are included.
With the Nova, BitFenix has done just that. They took a look at what the key features are that are a requirement and built those into a case designed for the budget minded consumer while maintaining BitFenix's high quality construction. The Nova might not support large liquid cooling radiators, but that's about the only thing it doesn't support. Within the Nova, you can install up to an ATX motherboard, three 120mm fans for cooler, tall CPU coolers, long graphics cards, and many hard drives. BitFenix has even designed the Nova to support two SSD's. BitFenix even included a power supply filter, an expansion slot security cover
The only thing I was disappointed in with the BitFenix Nova, is that they opted to include a single USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports on the front panel. It seems to be a waste to only include one USB 3.0 port when the internal USB 3.0 header supports two connections. While this is a budget oriented case, it would also be nice if at least one additional 120mm fan was included in the front, even if that means raising the price a little.
One aspect of the Nova that we didn't discuss is the possibility of using the Nova as a good choice for an introduction to case mods. There are many different options to what can be modded on the Nova, and with it being such a low price, it won't hurt the budget too badly if you make a mistake.
The BitFenix Nova can be found in two versions, with or without a side panel windows. In addition it is available in Black or White. The model we took a look at, BFX-NOV-100-KKWSK-RP, can be found online for $69.99 with free shipping
. For that price, you are getting a well built case that will support all kinds of hardware, and a 1 year warranty.
Legit Bottom Line:
The BitFenix Nova is a well built budget minded case that if you pick the right components you can make a great looking system. The build quality of the Nova maintains what we have come to expect from BitFenix, a great looking exterior, with solid construction.