BitFenix Shinobi XL Full Tower
As a company BitFenix is the new kid on the block, but they have put out some very nice cases. One of those is a midtower by the name of Shinobi. BitFenix has now taken the original design of the Shinobi expanded and tweaked it into a full tower called the Shinobi XL.
The Shinobi XL has five external 5.25" bays, seven 3.5" drive bays, nine expansion slots, and can hold XL-ATX motherboards like the GIGABYTE G1.Assassin. The Shinobi XL can aslo handle video cards up to 334mm in length with HDD cage in place, or up to 487mm with the hard drive cage removed. The Shinobi XL also has a massive 182.1mm or 7.1" of head room for CPU air coolers. Most current high-end super coolers stand only 6.2" tall.
For air cooling the Shinobi XL comes with a BitFenix Spectre 230mm front intake, BitFenix Spectre 230mm top exhaust, and BitFenix Spectre 120mm rear exhuast. The top 230mm can be expanded to two, or switched out for three 120mm fans. The front 230mm can be switched out for trippled 120mm fans as well. The rear 120mm can be switched out for a 140mm fan. There is even space in the bottom for another pair of 120mm fans.
If water cooling is how you roll then the Shinobi XL can handle 3x120 radiator up top up to 80mm thick with fans. It can hold another 3x120 in the front up to 84mm thick with fans or a 2x120 in the bottom, all out of the box with no cutting or hacking on your nice new case.
On the front of the Shinobi XL the front panel has four Super Speed USB3.0 ports, and one of BitFenix’s Super Charge ports. The Super Charge port provides up to 2.5A of current for charging your mobile gear.
Features of the BitFenix Shinobi XL
- Classic BitFenix Shinobi Styling: The lineage is undeniable - Shinobi XL comes with same ventilated mesh fan vents and brushed aluminum logo of the original Shinobi for a clean modern look. The understated yet bold BitFenix design shines through with Shinobi XL, offering a bold chassis that shows you mean business.
- Superior Water Cooling Support: The stealthiest warriors need to have ice running through their veins. Designed with water cooling in mind, Shinobi XL delivers the flexibility to outfit it with a large variety of watercooling setups. It supports a triple radiator on top, a triple radiator in front, or a dual radiator on the bottom out of the box, making it an ideal chassis for the watercooling enthusiast.
- XL-ATX Compatibility: The bigger they are, the harder they hit. Sporting plenty of room and nine PCI slots, Shinobi XL accommodates even XL-ATX motherboards with ease – perfect for building a monster rig that obliterates anything in its path.
- BitFenix SuperCharge Port: Quickness is the key to survival, which is why Shinobi XL comes with a BitFenix SuperCharge Port. This latest innovation from the BitFenix Labs supplies up to 2.5A of current for charging your mobile devices, including phones, portable consoles, and even tablets - up to 5 times that of USB 2.0. With BitFenix SuperCharge, your mobile gear is always charged and ready.
- Four SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Ports: Pioneered on the BitFenix Raider, Shinobi XL also comes with four SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports, delivering blazing fast file transfers and plenty of connectivity for your SuperSpeed devices. And if your motherboard doesn’t have two internal USB 3.0 headers, these ports can also be used as USB 2.0 with the included 9-pin headers.
- BitFenix FlexCage Hard Disk Rack: Shinobi XL is equipped with the new BitFenix FlexCage. This hard disk rack can be rotated for a parallel hard disk configuration, or removed entirely to make room for water cooling equipment. Whether you’re looking for increased airflow or space for extreme liquid cooling, Shinobi XL adapts.
- BitFenix Spectre Cooling: Shinobi XL comes loaded with three BitFenix Spectre fans. Two 230mm Spectres adorn the top and front, and a 120mm Spectre provides exhaust in the back. With Shinobi XL, you get premium cooling right out of the box.
- BitFenix SofTouch Surface Treatment: Shinobi XL also comes coated with signature BitFenix SofTouch Surface Treatment, which lends a premium matte finish and a luxurious soft feel. Resistant to fingerprints and scratches, SofTouch keeps your Shinobi XL looking great.
- Hassle-Free Installation: Rubber grommeted cable holes and over 3cm of space behind the motherboard tray offer superb cable management, while the tool-free drive locking mechanisms help you get your rig up and running quickly. Add to that dust filtered air intakes, a 5.25" drive bay adapter for additional hard disks or card readers, and a large CPU cooler cutout, and Shinobi XL could be the easiest, most pain-free build you've ever experienced.
Specifications of the BitFenix Shinobi XL:
- Materials: Steel, Plastic
- Color (Int/Ext): Black/Black
- Dimensions (HxWxD): 570 x 245 x 557mm (ATX Full Tower)
- Motherboard Sizes: Mini-ITX, mATX, ATX, XL-ATX
- Drive Bays:
- 5.25”: 5
- 3.5”: 7
- 2.5”: 8 (using 3.5" drive bays and 5.25" adapter)
- Front: 1 x 230mm (included), or 3 x 120mm (optional)
- Rear: 1 x 120mm (included), or 1 x 140mm (optional)
- Top: 2 x 230mm (x 1 included), or 3 x 120mm (optional)
- Bottom: 2 x 120mm (optional)
- No Side Window: $149
- Side Window: $159
Unboxing the Shinobi XL
The front of the box is simple, with a nice polite do not drop sticker.
On the top is the large Shinobi XL logo, and a sticker showing that we got the version with a side window. Also another polite do not drop sticker.
The sides show a nice image of the case, along with another sticker stating it was the window version.
On the back is a couple images of the case pointing out features both inside and outside the case.
The Shinobi XL comes wrapped in plastic and cradled in foam. The side panel window has a protective sheet on the outside as well
External Impressions of the Shinobi XL
Looking at the outside it’s easy to see the heritage from the original Shinobi. At the top are the five 5.25” external drive bays. Just under the bays is a brush aluminum BitFenix logo. The front and top bezels have the BitFenix SofTouch coating.
Pretty much the whole top of the Shinobi XL is mesh for the top exhaust that is setup to accommodate up to three 120mm fans or dual 230mm fans.
Down the sides of both the top and front panels are small mesh vents that allow air to be pulled in. In the very front of the top panel is the I/O ports and switches.
From left to right: BitFenix SuperCharge port, four Super Speed USB3.0 ports, Audio ports, power and reset buttons.
The right side of the Shinobi XL is blank.
Looking at the rear there are 4 water cooling holes, rear exhaust that can accommodate either 120 or 140mm fans. Below that are nine vented expansion slots, and the power supply area.
The bottom of the Shinobi XL has 3 vents. The case feet are screwed on and each have a rubber pad on it to keep the case from sliding around or damaging your furniture or floor.
The vent under the power supply can be pull out the back of the case for cleaning.
The two forward vent screens are attached with push pin style fasteners. To remove these for cleaning the case has to be turned on its side.
I want to point out that during this review we did manage to break the top panel. We take off the panels a number of times to take all the pictures you see here, but usually nothing breaks. When pulling the top panel off for the second time I managed to break the posts that hold the top panel to the case. This is the first BitFenix case that we have managed to break! It might have received some damage during shipping (Asia to North America) or we just pulled it off at the wrong angle. We just wanted to point it out as usually this doesn't happen. .
Moving Inside the Shinobi XL
Pulling the side panel off you can get a feel for the room in the case. The Shinobi XL can handle video cards up to 334mm in length with HDD cage in place or up to 487mm with the hard drive cage removed. The Shinobi XL also has a massive 182.1mm or 7.1" of head room for CPU air coolers. Most current high-end super coolers stand only 6.2" tall. Each of the 5.25” bays are tool-less, the HDD trays will hold either 2.5” or 3.5” drives.
The drive cage can hold seven 2.5” or 3.5” hard drives. The cage can also be turned so that drives run front to back rather than side to side. It can also be removed completely to make room for water cooling either in the bottom of the case or in the front.
With the cage removed there is space for two 120mm fans or a single 240mm radiator in the bottom of the case.
I like what BitFenix has done with the USB3.0 cables. Since there are two cables for the 4 front ports, and most current motherboards only have one internal USB3.0 header, BitFenix melded in a USB2.0 pigtail to the USB3.0 cable. Similar to how most cases have AC97 and HD audio connections on one cable. As I will show in the install section the USB2.0 pigtail is long enough to leave the big USB3.0 connector behind the motherboard tray and reach the USB header on the motherboard. Very nice BitFenix, very nice.
Another thing BitFenix did that I like, and wish more would do, is not have a molex connector for powering the front panel. Rather a SATA style connector. Yes, I know the molex is a necessary evil for some things, but I would like it to go away.
In the back is the power supply area. There are rubber posts for the power supply to rest on that help reduce noise and vibration.
On the back are the 9 expansion slots with thumbscrews and the included rear 120mm exhaust fan.
The top has a preinstalled 230mm exhaust fan, but it is setup to accept three 120mm fans or up to a 3x120 radiator. With the triple radiatior setup you will lose the top two 5.25” bays. The space for the rad and fans is 80mm max total thickness.
Same for the front as well. If the drive cage is removed the front 230mm intake fan can be swapped for 3x120 radiator or three 120mm fans. You do loose the three lower drive bays with the triple fan setup. The max thickness for rad and fans here is 84mm.
Pulling the front panel off we can see there is a front intake filter screen. The bottom three 5.25” bay have the third 120mm fan mount and vent in the stiffener plates. If you remove these plates you lose the mounting points as there is no way to put them back once removed.
On the right side BitFenix gave the Shinobi plenty places and space to tie and hide wires out of the way.
Between the motherboard tray and the side panel is 32.5mm of space.
Water Cooling options
I decided to see how well the Shinobi XL would handle some of the water cooling parts I had laying around. So I pulled the Swiftech H20-220 Edge HD kit out of its home and put it in the front of the Shinobi XL. The fan mounting holes in the case didn’t line up perfect but I could bolt through the vent mesh on the front panel. This was due the way the pump is integrated into the radiator. One thing I did like is that with the system installed this way I could gain access to the fill port rather easily by pulling the front panel off and accessing it through the 5.25 bays.
Next I put in a Swiftech MCR320 quiet power radiator I had in to see how it all lined up.
With the fittings down the holes didn’t line up 100%. They were off just slightly because the rad had to be raised to clear the lower vent mounts. So this meant that the bottom holes would have no screws. If the push pin fasteners are removed it would be clear the radiator, but if large compression style fittings are used then you would run into issues with the bump in the case floor.
Looking at the front you can see the how the pattern is off.
With the triple radiator in the top of the case the fittings have to go to the front side of the case due cases rear I/O area. This could be a issue when clearing fittings and tubing around drive bay devices. With the triple radiator in the top, with a push/pull fan setup you will lose the top two 5.25” bays, only the top 5.25” bay if you go with a single pull configuration. With dual 360 radiators, depending on thickness and fan configuration you could lose all of the 5.25” bays.
Installing the System
BitFenix provides a nice range of mounting accessories. Stand-off installer tool, mother board stand-off’s, screws, wire ties, and stick-on wire clamps.
There are 5 different types of screws included for fans, motherboard hold down, power supply, optical drives, and HDD screws. Also included is a nice tool that slips over the motherboard stand-off for tightening them.
Bifenix also includes a 5.25” to 2.5/3.5” bay adaptor. This has a removable 3.5” faceplate that is also coated in the SofTouch material. The hard drive mounting holes are in the bottom of the tray.
If you remove the main drive cage from the case to make room for water cooling you can mount your hard drive to the adaptor and mount it in a 5.25” bay.
Same for a 2.5” drive.
The way the mounting pattern is in the tray it looks like you could mount both a 3.5 and 2.5 drives. I tried it, you would have to break out the Dremel to cut some of the tray away. It would have been nice to have the ability to mount both.
After some trying different radiator placements I settled in on a triple radiator in the top and the Swiftech H20-220 Edge HD kit up front. I wasn’t able to fully finish the loop as I need some different fittings, and I was out of tubing. I have enough built to show there is tons of room in the Shinobi XL.
At the bottom of the case there is space to tuck wires in between the case and the power supply body. This was handy as the power supply I have for this system is not modular. Also you can see the USB2.0 pigtail reaches from the wire routing hole up to the header on the motherboard easily. The USB3.0 plug is wire tied to a tie point on the other side.
Moving around to the back of the case we can see the rest of the wiring. There was ample room for all my wiring. Even with the non-modular power supply I did not have to hunt for a place to stash wires for a clean look.
I was able to hide a bulk of the wiring between the radiator and the side panel and wire tied it to the front grill to keep it out of sight.
In the 5.25” bay area, I found that I needed to get some different fittings to help clear the drives better. This also shows how quick the drive bay space gets eaten up. I have the radiator mounted straight to the case frame. With the straight fittings I have it starts getting tight.
Under the optical drive there is some space, but not enough to allow for a drive to be installed here. If I was using a standard dual 120 radiator I wouldn’t have the clearance issues. Which at some point in the near future, the HD Edge kit will get pulled out and replaced with a standard dual radiator. This will allow for drives to drop down, better clearance to the top triple radiator for push/pull configuration. It is impressive to get all that I have in the Shinobi XL with no modding what so ever, and the best part it was easy.
Final Thoughts of the Shinobi XL
BitFenix has a very nice case on its hands with the Shinobi XL. The Shinobi XL has loads of features, room for the largest of hardware, and can pack a fair bit of water cooling options out of the box without mods. The front I/O panel having 4 USB 3.0 ports along with the SuperCharge port is really nice. The SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports are made even nicer by the fact that BitFenix thought of users with older boards with no USB 3.0 internal headers and incorporated USB 2.0 plugs into the case wiring, so no adaptors to lose.
From the start with the Shinobi XL I was mainly focused on water cooling, and how much I could cram in the case and not cut on something. I was very happy with what I was able to put in the Shinobi XL, and how easy it went together. I was not too thrilled how my Swiftech H20-220 Edge HD kit fit, but that is not the fault of the case and I’m already in the process getting a parts list together to finish the loop.
Wire management in the Shinobi XL was a breeze, plenty of room behind the motherboard tray and places to tie wires up. Even with my non modular power supply I was able to get a clean look. In all the time I spent with the Shinobi XL I only had one real issue with it and that was with the top panel breaking after being removed a couple times. I wasn't being rough with it, so I was a little shocked it it broke and feel that BitFenix needs to look at the strength of of the plastic a bit.
BitFenix has said that the MSRP for the US is $149 for the non window version, and $159 for the windowed version we looked at today. We found the windowed version for $159.99 plus shipping on Newegg. At those prices the Shinobi XL is attractive for those wanting a large case or need a case they don't have to do any mods to get water cooling installed. At $150-160 range the Shinobi XL is competing against cases like the Cooler Master HAF932, CM Storm Trooper, and Silver Stone Raven. Not all of those can handle XL-ATX motherboards or have 9 expansion slots. The more subtle style of the Shinobi XL is also not as aggressive as those cases either. That is a plus to those who to not care for the aggressive looks of cases like the HAF and CM Storm lines.
Legit Bottom Line: The Shinobi XL from BitFenix is a very well laid out case, that can take the biggest of air coolers and video cards, and can also be outfitted with water cooling with no mods. If you're in the market for a full tower with loads of room, put the Shinobi XL on the short list.